Lucille's post on Medjugorje brought back some memories of my experiences while there with her two years ago now.
It was Lucille's second trip and my first. We were taking the opportunity to take a trip before "Little Pea" was born. We were about five months into our first pregnancy at that point.
Lucille had spoken to me on many occasions about her experiences during her first trip to Medjugorje. I listened to them with essentially a grain of salt. In fact, it was with great difficulty that Lucille convinced me to go in the first place! My decision was based on her desire to go and not mine. I essentially went because she wanted to.
Near the beginning of my Journey with the Lord, I had some bad experiences with some individuals who had been there and to other shrines around the world. When I had sat down with them to listen to their stories and experiences I found them pretty neat. But what happened though, was that I got a sense that some of these people's faith was reliant on going to these Holy Shrines, and in speaking about "miraculous and prophetic" things.
I struggled with that because in my perspective one needed only to have a deep and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. My relationship with Him, in my experience, was built on spending time with Him in prayer, meditation, contemplation, and before the Most Blessed Sacrament.
So, there I was, on a plane flying across the ocean for the first time. I was cranky and frustrated. It wasn't until we were done with the plane rides and sitting on a bus heading for Medjugorje that I began to relax a little. It was beautiful in that part of the world.
With the encouragement of Lucille I began to enjoy the ride, listening to her stories about her previous trip. When we arrived in Medjugorje it was getting dark. We were pointed to our hotel and eventually our room. The room was fresh, yet sparse and simple. I liked it.
And then Our Lord and Our Lady started to break the hardness of my heart. This trip was for Lucille, and I offered up as such. I did not expect anything in return. However, they had other plans. ;)
Please note that the Church has not ruled on the validity or legitimacy of the Apparitions in Medjugorje, so what I am sharing is strictly from my perspective, that is Personal Revelation.
One little miracle was on our first visit to the church. It was close to the regular time that Our Lady appears to the visionaries. The rosary is paused at sometime just after 6 PM while the apparitions happen. It was during that time that Little Pea made a big jump in Lucille's womb. We were both very much surprised by that experience, and it influenced our choice of the name, Anne-Marie for Little Pea when she was born. Anne-Marie has indeed been our little miracle baby. She demonstrates an amazing faith and relationship with our Lord.
Another little miracle happened later on during our stay, we were there about a week or so, when Lucille and I were with the group listening to Sister Clare Marie of the Oasis of Peace Community share with us about her faith and what brought her to Medjugorje in the first place. During her sharing my heart caught fire. A number of key things were said by Sister Clare Marie that helped me to let go of all of my anger and frustration and for the first time in a long time my heart was completely open and on fire. After the talk, while walking back to get our ride back to our hotel I shared with Lucille about what was happening. I wanted my heart to stay open, especially with Lucille.
There were a number of other little miracles through our stay there. However, they were not necessarily the focus nor the reason for our visit there. They were only the triggers. What they triggered was a renewed hunger to spend time with the Lord. Everyday we were there we were in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, celebrating Mass and receiving Communion, praying the rosary, and building our marriage relationship in the Lord. We were immersed in an ongoing spirit of prayer and conversion. The Confessional lines were huge, people raced into the church for Mass so they could get the front seats, the spirit of reverence for the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament was amazing, and so much more.
As I look back today at how that trip had an effect on each of us, our marriage, and most especially our relationship with our Lord, I can see some fruits. We began visiting our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament in a local parish that had Perpetual Adoration. Sometimes together, sometimes on our own we made a point to visit. We started to pray the rosary as a family. We aimed to pray everyday, but we were not always successful. We tried to get to daily Mass when schedules permitted. These things are still going on today. I have since forgiven those who were originally involved in turning me off from places like Medjugorje, and my heart has healed.
While places like Medjugorje are great to visit, and can succeed in drawing us closer to our Lord Jesus, Our Lady, and the Saints, I still see the greatest miracle that exists anywhere in the world is the Mass. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who comes to us in His Body and Blood to feed us and strengthen us for this Journey of life. It is also the Lord Jesus Christ who remains completely vulnerable while exposed in the monstrance on the altars of the world. What a truly amazing gift it is that I can go and pay a visit to Jesus personally in our Perpetual Adoration chapel here in the diocese anytime.
Our Lady is a good Mother. She knows very well what is best for her children. And thus, I try and listen to her, "do whatever he tells you." John 2:5