I am Brother Hieu Pham in Vina, California. I was born and grew up in a large family in central Viet Nam, the fourth of seven children.
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Canonized October 11, 2009
(by Alberico Feliz)
Brother Rafael was not and could not be other than young. His life of only 27 years was framed between a Palm Sunday and an Easter Sunday. His life is condensed principally in his youth, because it is in youth that the most promising hopes are sown and germinated. What is seed and germ today will be flower and fruit tomorrow.
With a brilliant intelligence, distinguished manners, a jovial character, frank and happy, but still, with all this, extremely simple, Rafael, as he grew in age and in development of his personality grew also in spiritual experience and in the Christian life, toward which he felt drawn from his earliest childhood, giving clear signs of an attraction toward the things of God. The Lord roused within Rafael's well-disposed heart the invitation to give himself completely to God by means of a special consecration in the monastic life. It happened that one day Christ crossed his path, and Rafael, following Him very closely, tried to overtake Him, leaving behind his promising career as architect, with all its dreams and prospects, and entering not only once but twice, three, and four times the Cistercian Monastery of San Isidro de Duenas, first as a Novice, then as an Oblate, so that he might be, within the simplicity of the hidden life, a heroic witness of the Passion of Jesus Christ.
In his incurable illness of diabetes, he embraced the Cross with an almost savage love and came to desire the will of God with such a deep-seated determination that he made of it his only norm and rule: "I want nothing other than God, and His Will shall be my will . . ." "Happy the man who sees nothing more than the will of God...." "My only desire is to unity myself absolutely and entirely with the will of Jesus...." "I want to die loving the will of God."
The perfume of his life and his numerious writing continues to spread in all directions and to be well received for the good of all those who, through them, enter into contact with his spirituality. It is a spirituality rich in nuances, but it can be condensed within a phrase, which for him covered everything: "God alone!" Fascinated by God, he consumed his life in love. A very significant trait of his spirituality was his heart-felt love for Mary. She was his help and his light, and in her he took shelter with tenderness, confidence, and simplicity.