The Blood of Sacrifice

In 1968, my father was killed in action in Quang Nam province, the Republic of South Vietnam. He was approaching his forty-second birthday. Now a life-time later, forty-two years later, I experienced a tremendous grace through the communion of faith. I was invited to a Mass at the Vietnamese Dominican Sisters (see website here). My friend John Le sent me the following invitation:

“A vigil MASS will be offered in gratitude for the heroic sacrifices of all American Vietnam servicemen, for the repose of the souls of those who fell in Vietnam, most especially your father, Lieutenant Colonel Francis R. Hittinger, Jr., USMC, and for the consolation of their families, left behind, wounded by their absences.
I chose to have this mass celebrated specifically on 12 June 2010, the Saturday “Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” (after the Friday “Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus”) to highlight that :
1. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, torn asunder, loves to the extreme, unto His death.
2. The Immaculate Heart of Mary redemptively suffers with her son.
3. The Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced through, encompasses the grieving Immaculate Heart of Mary in which are buried the sacrificial hearts of fallen American Vietnam servicemen and of their sorrowful families. Three (3) concentric heart layers, united by suffering, in others’ behalf !
4. On 13 June 1917, Our Lady of Fatima prophesied that many countries would be annihilated by communism. The last country to fall turned out to be South Vietnam, on 30 April 1975 ! But she promised that “in the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
If possible, I intend to repeat this mass each year, on the Saturday “Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” to gratefully remember your father, all American Vietnam servicemen (and their families) who valiantly defended South Vietnam’s freedom, until the collapse of Saigon on 30 April 1975!”

We placed a picture of my father to the left of the altar. The Sisters prayed for him at the prayers of the faithful. And as I went up to communion, I walked between the rows of Sisters who sang a Eucharistic hymn with the sweetest sound of praise and thanksgiving. As I drank the sacred blood of Jesus I knew that I shared in the communion with the blood of sacrifice offered up by all who suffered and died in Christ. My father’s blood was poured out for faith and freedom. I received back one-hundred fold from the sacrifice of Christ. The body of Christ flourishes.

In Christ we transcend politics, culture, and time and suffering, as we are united in his one sacrifice for all time.

I owe a debt of gratitude to John Le, the Dominican Sisters and for the faith of our fathers..

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