Vassula in Buffalo, New York
May 31, 2004
by David Cesar (Dad and Husband)
After viewing Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" for the second time, I felt compelled to invite Vassula Ryden to talk in Buffalo, NY. I had experienced a feeling of urgency to spread God’s messages, recorded by Vassula. I felt that the truth was being stifled and that I needed to do my part to let my corner of the world know what they were missing.
My first phone call before I formally invited Vassula, was to my friend and spiritual advisor, Father George (a Marronite priest). Only after his agreement to provide the hall did I go forward with my invitation. My subsequent phone calls to Sister Josephine and emails to Tom Austin provided the contact to reach Vassula on approximately March 25. It was shortly thereafter that I received the okay that Vassula was to come to Buffalo, her first trip to our humble city.
Fr. George , Vassula and David Cesar in Buffalo, New York
The preparation for Vassula’s visit was marked with moderate success. I was fortunate to gain the help of a new friend who was formerly connected with the Diocese of Buffalo for 17 years. This woman, Beverly, helped me to invite the Bishop, (although he did not come) and steered me toward numerous individuals that would later help bring a crowd of 350 to 400 people to hear Vassula speak at St. John Maron Marronite Parish Center on May 31, 2004.
After putting together the flyer for this event, I called the local Catholic radio station’s owner and operator to secure some advertising. My call initially fell on deaf ears, but soon after, again with the help of my friend Beverly, we were able to meet with the station’s owner. My appointment with the station operator lasted for over an hour and resulted in numerous free advertising spots on the Catholic radio station . I was thrilled.
My personal invitations were met with limited enthusiasm as most of my Catholic friends were not interested or did not wish to take the time to listen. They seemed to be either too busy or ambivalent. My first breakthrough came when I sought a Charismatic group of individuals that appeared to be open to Vassula and the messages. I met with a very enthusiastic group of people who belonged to St Luke’s Mission of Mercy. They proved to be very helpful in bringing people to the affair and also supplied the music for the event. It was a relief to have them on board.
I continued to phone several priests and faxed all parishes in the Western New York area hoping that some would recognize Vassula’s name and encourage attendance. I met with my own priest and the head of the Religious Education at SS. Peter & Paul of Williamsville, and they both agreed to advertise for four weeks prior to the event. I also found another priest in the suburb of Orchard Park that was familiar with Vassula who additionally agreed to advertise in his church’s bulletin prior to the event. Overall, I believe I had approximately 4 parishes advertising for Vassula’s talk.
In addition to radio advertising, I also appeared on local cable TV (Adelphia) network for 10 minutes to promote Vassula’s arrival. The talk went well but I was relieved when it was over. It wasn’t until the final week that I knowingly received any negative criticism regarding the event. My friend Louise was answering phone calls for the Buffalo event and discovered that her own parish priest was against any promotion of Vassula. This priest called Father George of St. John Maron to voice his displeasure and concerns. It was sometime soon thereafter that this same priest, after watching a film of Vassula on cable TV, changed his mind. How Vassula’s film got on the cable TV station, I do not know. I appeared on that channel at least 7 days later and, therfore, could not have had any effect on its transmission. Either way, he had a change of heart and we were very pleased with his support.
Prior to the May 31 date we had 150 registered guests for a hall that held 550. I knew that Memorial Day would be a tough time to draw people because it is a big American family picnic day. My last effort to secure media coverage was with the local Buffalo newspaper. My fax and phone calls to the Buffalo news and a writer named Jay were going nowhere until finally Jay decided that he would print an article prior to the event. On the day of Vassula’s speech he wrote an article entitled "Controversial Messenger to Speak" that would bring in a handful of people.
So far, it appears that I made all the arrangements, but, of course, I know that is a silly thought because the Lord was behind me and in front of me throughout this endeavor. Certainly, I prayed and hoped for the best and for a successful event, but I was not prepared for much of what was to come. I (We) got great help from Sister Josephine Boyles, OSF, and the TLIG group that came in for the meeting. They helped sell all the books and greeted the guests as they arrived. I know the event would not have been possible without their help. Much was done and much was given, all for the Lord and His mysterious ways. That is what continues to enamor me and excite me in how He works through us. He knows the details and the time for all of us to come to Him. I just wonder why it took so long for me to find Him.
My family met Vassula and Cecilia Lutz at the hotel. They were able to provide us with some personal time which was very much appreciated. When finally meeting Vassula, I noticed a certain weariness from her face and her eyes which did not surprise me considering we were the last stop in a very hectic schedule that she undertook during the month of May. She was well composed and at ease and it did not take us long to feel comfortable with her. We were very open in our conversation and I confided in her on an event that had transpired twelve years ago at the same place where she was to speak. The parish hall was the site of my conversion and the reason why we were going back. It was a time for me to say thank you to our Lord and to visit the hallowed ground that had transformed me. I was hoping that I (we) would be an instrument to convert other lives to the Lord and I believed goodness was going to come through to reach others. Of course I was bringing heavy ammunition with me in Vassula. I was just laying the ground work for the Lord’s ambassador to speak.
I had seen Vassula speak in Toronto on April 6, 2003, and was taken by her common and down to earth approach which was both effective and inspiring. She definitely did not disappoint any at St. John Maron. I thought she was excellent and I could not take my eyes off of her. She was animated, engaging, and riveting as she shared God’s message with the audience through her personal encounters. I did notice however, that she spoke continuously for 2 hours and 20 minutes without a sip of water. I later mentioned this at dinner when one of our guests gave her some ice cream and I said that her throat must be very sore from all the talking she had to do. She just looked at me and smiled, and I knew what she did not have to say - that she was being helped with the physical demands of her travel and speaking. I had heard that the singing Armenian ladies that had traveled with her lost their voices at times and could not continue with the demands of performing. Overall, Everyone was inspired by her testimony and many commented how she had reached them in a very personal manner. I was amazed at all that God was doing and how our participation is required, even at the smallest level.
After the event, I was relieved that all went well and thanked our Lord for answering my prayers. I believe that many prayers were answered that day. My wife and I had invited a neighbor whose children have endured many medical problems. She has a son who suffers from periodic but chronic seizures, and medication can not stop them. We invited her because I believed she had fallen away from the faith and needed some consolation. She came and witnessed Vassula’s testimony and was so touched that upon meeting my wife in the back of the parish center she wrapped her arms around her and began to sob with tears of joy. Her heart was touched. I know that there were others but their time to testify will come at a later date.
On the following morning of the event it turned out that Vassula had some free time before her afternoon flight and she had expressed an interest in seeing the Niagara Falls. This was a treat for her as she is rarely allowed to sightsee due to her tight time constraints. So my wife and two of my four daughters had the pleasure of taking Vassula and Cecilia to visit one the seven natural wonders of the world that happens to be in our backyard. We had great weather and the ride to the falls was a short 35 minutes. On the way, I brought many antique stereo-views (3-D pictures seen through a stereoscope) that I had collected over the years, and showed them to our guests to give them a historical perspective of what the falls looked like over time. The view has changed due to erosion and fallen rocks but the awesome power and thunderous noise generated from this waterfall continues to inspire people from all over the world. The American Indians once called it "Water-Thunderer", and it was the passageway between the rival Indian nations of the Algonquin and the Iroquois tribes.
Though it is now a big tourist destination, it is still a peaceful place to think, ponder and pray. St John Neumann, the founder of my church SS Peter & Paul of Williamsville, said that Niagara Falls was his baptismal font. As I was watching Vassula and Cecilia observe this masterpiece, the wind changed its course and the mist of the falls sprayed right on them giving them a Niagara baptism!
Vassula and Cecilia getting the "Niagara Baptism"
We walked further down the path to reach the American falls where a group of 30 to 40 young Jewish girls were praying. They found a spot where they could reach God and communicate while contemplating the majesty of his creation. I found myself thinking of God and feeling blessed with having had the opportunity to witness and meet this person who has been entrusted with His messages for all mankind.
In closing, Vassula’s visit has been a milestone in our lives and has inspired us to be more faithful followers of our Lord. We continue to pray for her, the burden of her mission.
Vassula by Meghan Cesar
Vassula Ryden is a "normal" woman who was converted to the true faith by receiving dictation from God himself. What could I possibly feel about having the chance to meet such a woman? Well...excitement, anticipation, nervousness, and awestruck. My expectations of her were very high since I had never believed of seeing, much less meeting someone who had actually talked to God. Then when the day arrived I was not disappointed.
Vassula almost seemed foreign to this world, as if she belonged somewhere else. This was because of her wisdom and knowledge of things unknown to most people on earth. What Vassula said confirmed some of the beliefs I had wondered about and made me realize more about life and God. It all also confirmed my belief that her claim on receiving dictations was true.
Some of her messages were simple and well known (yet still ignored by many), like that God loves us and has not abandoned us. Another was to love God more (which for many people is harder than it sounds). Other topics though, were much more complicated. One such talk was on purification which someone must go through to be closer to God. To go through this, one must give up all worldly desires and passions (which will not matter after we depart from this life). Then we must give up our will to God so that he may guide us to live a more fulfilling and worthy life.
After the speech that afternoon I had the good fortune of sitting right next to her during the dinner I had with my family and other believers of her. I was to have some interesting serious conversations on death (like on how you have nothing to fear when you die as long as you live a good life in God and how everyone is individually judged according to certain chances and mistakes they go through in life). I also heard about hell and how people suffer from internal fire there and are stripped of all that is good (people who do not accept God choose to go there). I heard of purgatory where every wrong or right that you didn’t do comes back to haunt you so that you can be purified of your sins (and that you are promised a place in heaven afterwards). Then of heaven where you feel an unimaginable happiness with God that is more fulfilling than anything on earth could be.
This all made me wonder on how people refuse to believe in God or believe in God, but won’t do anything about it (and by doing so they forsake their souls). As Vassula says, ‘They are asleep and are in need of being awakened to the truth’. A passage from My Angel Daniel by Vassula reminded me of this:
"I am Yahweh, your Creator and you are my children; where, where do you think you will go? Did you really believe you just came on your own? Had you believed that I had left you? Or that I never existed? My Word is alive and the Truth; it is to enlighten you and help you understand who I am, what you are; My Word is to help you find Me...I , God, am your Creator; I created everything; how else did you think all this was done?...let your academies...find the answer to the vital question: why do you exist?...some of you do not even bother to ask any questions, accepting life as it comes, not believing that your soul keeps on living once you die; blind! blind! and deaf! Refusing to see and hear; are you afraid of finding the truth? I am the Truth...are you searching? I am the Way...I am the Way and I love you; I am the Light that shines for everyone to see the Truth; beloved children, My heart pains to see you all sleeping; how could I not come to you and warn you? How could I leave you when evil is prowling among you like a wolf waiting to devour you? I want to wake you up so that you meet Me."
Vassula by Katie Cesar
Vassula’s visit was an awakening for me and hopefully was for many others as well. Her shared experience in combination with the messages given to her from God, come together to remind us that God is not sitting on a high tower looking down on us, but rather is all around us and even within us. His messages, recorded by Vassula, remind us that He is calling us to partake in a life centered around love and peace, around Him. He wants us to incorporate Him into our daily lives by inviting him into our thoughts, prayers, trials, and sorrows. He wants us to lean on Him and grow in Him. This idea seems so simple, but for me often seemed so distant and inaccessible. Vassula’s visit reminded and inspired me to answer God’s call by making Him a central part of my life, by including Him in my everyday struggles and triumphs, by beginning my day in an unceasing prayer. Her visit reminded me to open my heart to God, to focus on the good intentions of others, and to continue to work on the betterment of myself as a daughter, sister, friend, student, teacher, and above all believer and follower of Christ. I am very thankful and blessed to have had the opportunity to meet Vassula and witness her testimony. I pray that others will not fear the idea that God is speaking to us through a chosen human being, but will rather find the courage to open their hearts and souls to His message of love.
Vassula with Katie and Kerry Cesar at Niagara Falls
Vassula by Kerry Cesar
As my mother, sisters, an organizer of TLIG and I went to pick-up Vassula from the airport I felt nervousness swell inside my lungs as I walked through the spinning doors and into the crowded lobby. I searched the floor of arrivals shifting my eyes back and forth for a tall thin woman with long blond hair that I had seen on TV interviews and on the back cover of books. As my sisters immediately spotted her we rushed over to greet her. I suddenly found myself looking into the eyes of a person who has seen the fires of hell, heavens banquet table and the souls of purgatory to describe them as gray. What do you say to someone who speaks to God? Here was a person so intimately close to God that she has become a deliverer of God's messages in an extraordinary way. Although she proclaims that she is just like everyone else, there was a strong presence about her and her exceptional will that leaves one speechless and drifting into personal conversation with God.
Vassula’s presence was a testimony of how God has fashioned and refined her. Once a person closed to God’s will or as God himself puts it, "fast asleep," she has traveled to spread His messages and evangelize throughout the world. Many people came on Monday out of wonder and curiosity to hear Vassula’s testimony. Afterwards, Amy Betros, co-founder of St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy, agreed that Vassula was the real thing- it wasn’t just what she said, but how she said it that revealed to us her authenticity.
Where is God today? Through the pages of Vassula’s books titled, True Life in God, whose words are dictated by God himself, he tells us that He is ever present. During life’s obstacles and even during times that seem small and unimportant to us God is with us. In fact, it was while Vassula was writing down her grocery list that her guardian angel Daniel first revealed himself and the awesome will God had planned for her. Vassula explained to us how she became the bearer of God’s messages and, through direct communication with God, the messages of peace and love He is urgently calling us to respond to. However, these messages are for all to hear. Many of the messages are simple, such as, "Peace be with you; Glorify God" so that all of God’s children may understand them.
God has blessed mankind through the graces He has given Vassula. Vassula’s messages continue to affirm what God says to us in the Bible- that we are His, and that,like a father He calls each one of us to His side.
Vassula’s Visit by Roberta Cesar (Wife and Mom)
My impression of Vassula is a contradiction of sorts. She exudes an aura of peacefulness that is a result of her many years of interlocutions. One only has to look into her eyes to see a soul that has witnessed much joy but has also endured much suffering. There is a stoicism yet contentment about her that can be explained by her attachment to a life of prayer. She herself said that worldly matters are of little interest to her. On the other hand though, when Vassula spoke she came across as being quite ordinary. I do not mean this in a derogatory way but as a benefit. It is this humility of hers that is her true appeal. People who attended her talk mentioned over and over again her down to earth demeanor. Her very ordinariness or humility (no grandstanding, a "regular girl" as someone referred to her) is what people found so inspiring about Vassula because it allowed listeners to focus not on her but on the messages.
Her messages are simple yet profound at the same time. The concept of We/Us when we talk to Jesus and to invite Him into the everyday events of our lives seems on the surface so childlike. But to do so is to make Him our constant companion and have "unceasing prayer" which leads us closer to God. No degree in theology needed to do this! This is what makes Vassula’s messages so timely and important. Vassula brings her vast knowledge of theology and translates it into messages that everyone can understand and put into practice.
In some ways Vassula reminds me of St Therese of Liseux. The writings of this obscure nun superficially seem so simple and ordinary but when meditated on, her messages are very deep and challenging.
After Vassula spoke, listeners were visibly moved, some in fact were crying. I asked several people as they were leaving for their response to Vassula’s talk. Everyone, without exception, responded how inspiring and refreshing Vassula ‘s view of God was. God was not some distant being but was with us always and was interested in all of the tiny details of everyone’s life! Several people signed up for information on TLIG groups and many people purchased books.
As for myself, my spiritual outlook has changed as a result of Vassula’s visit. Worldly cares just don’t seem as important to me as they were before. Her insight has encouraged me to develop a more intimate relationship with Jesus by trying the We/Us. ( awkward at first but I am getting better!). I am sincerely blessed by Vassula’s visit.
Roberta and David Cesar with Vassula at Niagara Falls
Vassula by Brittany Cesar
Out of my own creativity and new learned knowledge, I am obligated to share my comments on Vassula Ryden. From pure chance, me and my sister had the privilege of sitting beside Vassula at dinner, guaranteeing our own private conversation on whichever topic we questioned. Vassula’s message wasn’t of God’s disappointment of the many sins committed by humanity. It was this.... God gave each beautiful creation on Earth the gift of life, and with that, the power to choose to accept Him, or not. Should we reject God, our soul will burn and bleed in incessant remorse. Should we accept God, out of our own graciousness and lovingness, knowing His own wish- to fill our hearts with devotion, will we walk the applauding stairs to Heaven. God’s wish is to fill our hearts with love, and become one, spiritually in everything we do. Converse, think, and pray to our Creator, for without His guidance, we are stranded without a calling.
Vassula commented on a rather unnecessary question she once asked her guardian angel, Daniel. "When I am walking down the stairs, where are you?" My inference was, God (in the joining of the Trinity in this case) is always with us, we just need to open our hearts.
The Cesar Family with Vassula
Meghan, Katie, Vassula, Roberta, Brittany, Kerry and David Cesar in the back behind his wife, Roberta