Br, Joche-Albert Ly

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At the time of his arrival in Yen Tai (Chefoo), Brother Albert was suffering intensely from a scrupulous conscience which almost drove him to despair.

It was a Franciscan, Father Ariztegui, who eventually helped him to rid himself of his scruples through a filial confidence in the Blessed Mother.

Father Ariztegui was a first-rate missionary during the first decade of the XX century in the central province of Shensi. He brought to himself such admiration from his confreres that the bishop of Sian, capital city of the province, in agreement with his missionaries, determined to erect the vicariate of Yenan in the northern sector of the province, and confide it to the zeal and prudence of Father Ariztegui. Everything went very smoothly and nobody doubted that he would be elected bishop of Yenan, when, by some sloppy cunning, Msgr. Celestino Ibanez, an unknown man from Palencia, was elected and consecrated. The surprise was changed into stupefaction. Nevertheless, history confirmed that the election was fortuitous.
It so happened that a mischievous person in the curia, as it is said, ruined the plans through an incident of little historical importance. Father Ibanez had been relegated to the district designed to become the future vicariate, as if punished by Msgr. Goette, his Dutch bishop. But tired of his remoteness to the semi-deserted regions, he wrote to a confrere in Rome, begging him to intercede on his behalf with the Minister General, to rescue him from his exile. He even proposed that he be sent to the missions in the Holy Land. The Spanish confrere, with greater prestige, answered him by return mail, to remain quiet, very quiet, for he would make him bishop of Yenan… And against universal expectation, the curial handling gave the “apetecido” result that caused the logical disappointment of Father Ariztegui. Afterwards, the latter was sent to other missions and finally to Yen Tai, where, his exceptional merits won him the duties of pro-vicar and Delegate of the Minister General, or something like it.
Around the years 1932 or 1933, he preached the spiritual exercises to the Marists of Yen Tai and Wei Hai Wei, assembled in the Chung Cheng College in Yean Tai. Brother Provincial attended the retreat and with a great practical sense proposed to his Brothers that once they had come to the end of the retreat and they had made their confession, they should see the retreat master in full freedom to talk about spiritual matters, and make known to him their possible doubts, difficulties or temptations. Father Ariztegui’s virtues were manifest and appealing. The Marist Brothers very willingly complied; Brother Provincial was the first to do so. A long queue of Brothers waiting for advice formed at the Preacher’s door. In the queue were Brother Cyril Chiang and Brother Albert Ly who took the lead.
Shortly after Brother Albert Ly had entered the room, the Brothers waiting outside heard with dismay that the conversation between the retreat-master and Brother Albert was increasing in volume and animosity. Soon, the following dialogue, rather shouted than spoken, was heard by all present:

-You cannot go to hell!

-Why? How do you know, Father?

-Are you a child of Mary?

-Yes, I am…

-Well, then, you cannot go to hell! Every Marist Brother is Mary’s child. Persevere your vocation and you will not be lost because you are a Marist.

-Are you sure? Insisted the troubled Brother

-Absolutely! Positively! A Marist Brother cannot be damned because he is a child of Mary!

Thus shouted the Franciscan, exasperated by the unfounded fears of the young Brother, as he tried to communicate his own heart-felt convictions.

The Brothers standing outside looked at each other meaningfully. Brother Cyril Chiang, who reports the incident, says that the words: “Because you are Mary’s child, because you are a Marist! That is why you cannot go to hell!” made in him a lasting impression. This consoling principle found its fulfilment in the life of Brother Albert Ly himself.

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