Nordamerika Reise, 23. Oktober - 1. November 1998
Ein Bericht von Bob Carroll, Trinitas
Vereinte Nationen, New York
Vassulas Vortragsreise, auf der sie in 12-Städten sprechen würde, begann in einem Konferenzraum des UN-Hauptquartiers in New York am 23. Oktober 1998, dem Tag, an dem die Vereinten Nationen den Jahrestag der ersten Generalversammlung feierten und endete im „Herbst Theatre“ in San Francisco, in dem 1946 die erste UN-Charta unterzeichnet wurde.
Francisco at the Herbst Theater where the first UN Charter was signed in 1946. The Lord will no doubt reveal the significance of this "coincidence" in due time but the response to His messages in these two cities and all those in between underlined the fact that there is everywhere a craving for that "peace which the world cannot give." Thanks to God's marvelous ways, in which St. Paul tells us the angels in heaven stand in awe, the True Life In God messages have penetrated the UN Headquarters.
On the day Vassula spoke to UN officials America's attention was drawn to New York City as a momentous event unfolded: the New York Yankees had just won the world series and the home-town team was being honored with a "ticker-tape parade" through lower Manhattan, past the New York Stock Exchange, on up Wall Street and Broadway through the "Canyon of Heroes." While the Redeemer of Mankind quietly addressed a small gathering of His creation through His chosen messenger, Vassula, New Yorkers went into ecstasy as their heroes acknowledged the adulation of millions by smiling and waving through a blizzard of confetti. Our God is truly meek and humble of heart. Almost unnoticed, He planted His seeds and gave bread that will last.
Later I remembered that exactly 20 years ago I had entered UN Headquarters then as a member of the US mission to the General Assembly's autumn session. In those days when I was so far from God - and very close to the Yankees myself - I could never have imagined returning to this symbolic building under these circumstances.
Die Einladung im Oktober in New York erfolgte durch eine Gruppe von UN-Mitarbeitern, die der Arbeit der Weltorganisation eine spirituelle Tiefe geben wollen. Vassula legte ein persönliches Zeugnis ab trug Passagen aus den Botschaften vor, die sich mit der Suche der UN nach Frieden für diese Welt verknüpften.
She began by saying that when her experience of this revelation began she was totally preoccupied with worldly things, caught up in the social life of diplomats, UN officials, and international development experts like her husband. She never sought mystical experiences or knew they occurred. Now her whole life, she said, is lived for God.
Vassula explained that in times like today when apostasy is so pervasive God intervenes to bring people back to their senses, back to an awareness of Him, back to prayer. God's heart can be touched so "your prayers can change the evil forces and restore peace in the World." She described how the Holy Trinity taught her to approach God, to get to know Him, to be intimate with Him, and to grow in all virtues, the chief of which is love. We must grow to love our neighbor for the love of God. Then you plunge yourself into God and your first concern in all things is "What does God want?" God will then lead you, if you are sincere. He leads you into unity, into reconciliation-first in the family, then with neighbors, in church and then in and among nations. But the key always is love and humility. "When love will grow within us then there will be peace."
Vassula seemed obviously led by the Holy Spirit to convey especially pertinent insights to these UN officials whose hearts were open. Vassula, quoted from one of Our Blessed Mother's messages: "Your prayers can change the world. Your prayers can obtain God's graces for the conversion of sinners. The more conversions, the more prayers will be made, and heard, for more conversions. The faithful are needed more than ever. God will remember all your sacrifices, my dear children. Your prayers can destroy every evil empire in this world. Your prayer can be like incense and purify the world."
God is determined to save us, Vassula said. Our Blessed Mother is appearing everywhere to prepare us to meet Jesus. Mary says "I have been sent by the most High to gather you in large crowds."
Then Vassula introduced some messages from the Holy Spirit: "Liberty and love is to be found in Me, yet I am rejected by your generation...I am like a rich soil; come and sow your seeds in me and your harvest will be eternal life. I will make you rich through your poverty, strong through your weakness, zealous and faithful through you wretchedness...
Where you lack, I fill... come and possess Me."
Vassula described how God brought her through the process of daily abandonment to His divine will. The Lord wants our whole heart to be able to transfigure us and use all we do for His glory and the world's salvation. "Work for unity; work for My interests. Prove yourselves to Me by breaking My bread together. Unify the dates of Easter...Return to Me and you will live forever."
An official from one of the permanent UN observer missions thanked Vassula saying, "This was a beautiful contribution to the birthday of the UN which we celebrate today. I have felt for a long time that we in this building must address more the question of evil and sin. I think that over the past couple of years we can see that the Holy Spirit is working. We see in official deliberation talk about values, ethics. We have neglected this for so long." Now, more than ever, he said, the Holy Spirit is calling our attention to the struggle between good and evil. Vassula said "The Holy Spirit is Hope" and the official responded, "I hope that this organization can become one of the instruments of the Holy Spirit."
The official who made Vassula's visit possible said in conclusion: "We have received a gift today through Vassula and it will please her to know we will be passing it on." Earlier, this person had shown us a poster on her office wall. It depicts a gigantic Jesus facing the famous rectangular facade of the UN Secretariat Building on the East River. He is knocking at a window seeking humbly to be let in. After Vassula's visit had been arranged, this official was stunned to realize, as she counted the rows of windows, that her office window was the precise place where the knuckle of Jesus' forefinger was tapping.
Am folgenden Tag, dem 24. Oktober, sprach Vassula in New York vor einem Publikum von 1200 Menschen, die sich auch durch ausgestreute falsche Gerüchte nicht von der Teilnahme abhalten ließen.
The program opened with beautiful music led by Al Barbarino. Fr. Brian Barr of our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church followed. Vassula was then introduced by Niels Christian Hvidt, a young Danish theologian who accompanied her from Rome where he is working on his doctorate at the Gregorian University. [It was Niels Christian, or "Nicky" who was shown on the cover of Trinitas newsletter #15 presenting the Holy Father with the latest True Life in God volume.]
Niels spoke of the impact that True Life in God has had on his spiritual life, leading him to an intimacy with God for which he had always longed. The messages led to his eventual conversion to Catholicism in 1990. The messages have also given strong direction to his theological studies and have enabled him to write a master's thesis on mystical theology. This thesis earned him a prestigious royal gold medal, personally awarded to him by the Queen of Denmark. Most importantly, he said, these powerful messages gave him all the strength and all the nourishment he needed to persevere in his lonely faith journey in Denmark where Danish Catholics are a rare minority.
Vassula was greeted with a standing ovation even before she spoke. The audience listened intently. A young girl, who said she was at the beginning of a spiritual awakening, was fascinated by the rapt attentiveness of the audience. She ordered the videotape since she missed some of the talk because she was so captivated by people's faces. Many of them wept with joy.
The evening was an especially long one. Holy Mass, concelebrated by half a dozen priests, began just before midnight. Vassula and priests then prayed over each individual person. Those of us who stayed to pack things up and get something to eat did not get back to the retreat house until about 3:00 A.M. Since the curfew had been 10 P.M. we made arrangements for Bernard Tansey of Ireland to leave a window open for us to climb in. Since Bernard had an early flight back to London, he left right after Mass. We were grateful that Daylight Savings Time, seemingly a diabolic innovation whose real purpose might have been to suggest that man, not God, controls time, ended that night so we had an extra hour to sleep. Unfortunately, no one remembered to point this out to Bernard who arrived groggily at JFK International three hours before his 9:00 A.M. flight. Fortunately, the airport was too far away for Bernard to return to dump cold water on those of us who slept a few more hours. No doubt the thought crossed his mind.
After leaving New York, we heard of special experiences and reported healings that had occurred. One woman wrote that she had seen blood trickling from Vassula's eyes and her face transformed into the image of Jesus in His Passion. Another person recounted the same experience. Jesus refers to this phenomenon in NB 86:5, 6 where He says: "You are well aware of the depths of My wounds and I have let you know how much I suffer by trickling from your eyes tears of blood." (On October 19, 1996 this had been witnessed by some while Vassula was speaking in Dublin, Ireland.)
One woman traveled several hundred miles to hear about the messages. She wanted to introduce her parents to True Life in God and was disappointed that only her mother would accompany her (very reluctantly at that), particularly since her mother suffered chronic pain in her knee joints and was scheduled for surgical replacement of them. The daughter felt her mother had no idea what the evening was about and so she was surprised when her mother came forward with her to be prayed over in the healing service. Vassula did pray over her crippled mother who, the next day was able to walk without pain for the first time in some years. Her recovery has persisted these past two months. A medical inquiry is being made to confirm whether the Lord has granted a miraculous healing.
Another report came from a man who fell two years ago and severed muscles in his leg. The injury had left a large lump on his left thigh. He had been walking with a pronounced limp since then. He was prayed over and later that night, "I awoke at 3:00 A.M. While I was praying the rosary to get back to sleep, a severe pain gripped my left thigh. When the pain subsided I discovered that the large lump had disappeared. The swelling and stiffness also disappeared. My walking is restored to normal." He believes he received a healing from God as a result of attending the 'Evening with Vassula Ryden'.
Vassula had stayed in the home of Thecla Johnides, a Greek Orthodox, who had arranged this and several previous conferences for Vassula. When she returned from taking Vassula to LaGuardia Airport she saw a rainbow over her house and the houses of several True Life in God volunteers who live in the same neighborhood.
Chicago, Sonntag, 25. Oktober:
Fr. "X" Holup opened the presentation by leading us in heartfelt prayer to the three Divine Persons of the Holy Trinity. Father Holup is the pastor of the specially blessed Assumption Church in Ashkum, Illinois where he hosted Vassula in August, 1997. Father Edward O'connor, C.S.C. of Notre Dame University then spoke briefly.
His study of the Vatican's position on Vassula's messages (Vassula and the CDF, Trinitas, 1998) has been enthusiastically received by readers. He came to Chicago a day or so after returning from Naju, Korea. Suffering excruciating back spasms, he thought he would have to speak sitting down. Just before the presentation, however, Vassula prayed over him and the pain subsided enough for him to be able to stand to give his talk.
Die nächste Station war Chicago. Als Vorredner stellte Father Edward O´Connor heraus, daß Vassulas prophetische Aussagen in keiner Weise mit den kirchlichen Lehren in Gegensatz stehen. Er machte deutlich, daß fromme Katholiken Vassulas Schriften lesen dürfen, ihre Veranstaltungen besuchen und dafür werben dürfen.
Father O'Connor spoke about New Testament prophecy, relating it to comments made about Vassula's writings, which he said do not conflict in any way with church teaching. He reiterated his support of the messages and assured listeners that Vassula may freely present the messages. He assured his audience that faithful Catholics are allowed to read her writings, attend her lectures and even to promote them.
After Vassula's talk, little Maria Petropoulis, a Greek orthodox "living saint" from Milwaukee who had seen Jesus appear above Vassula during her November 1996 talk in Minneapolis [see Newsletter #12 of February 1997], told us that this time she saw the Blessed Mother in place of Vassula's face. Maria has learned some English since we last spoke: "I love you, Vassula," she said and made the orthodox sign of the cross several times. This time she and the family members who came with her saw a bright light surrounding the Holy shroud picture of Jesus in front of the podium.
Before leaving for Minneapolis the next morning, Fr. Victor of the Eastern Catholic Rite Church of Our Lady of Lebanon concelebrated Mass with Father O'Connor.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, 26, Oktober 1998
Das Treffen in Minneapolis fand in der Hill-Murray High school statt, die unter benediktinischer Leitung steht. Vassula verglich „WAHRES LEBEN IN GOTT“ mit einer Schule, in der GOTT uns unterweist, erzieht und zurechtweist. Er handelt mit Sanftmut und führt uns zum Gebet und dann zu höheren Stufen des geistigen Lebens. Der Vorredner verwies auf die heutige theologische Tendenz, Prophetie als abgeschlossenes Kapitel der Kirchengeschichte zu betrachten. Aber, so sagte er, zu glauben, daß uns GOTT heute nichts mehr zu sagen habe, ist lästerlich.
There was another small but grateful and attentive gathering at the HillÂMurray High school in St. Paul operated by the Benedictine monastery. John Campbell cohosted Vassula with Cecile Muehlbaur who previously hosted Vassula two years ago. John is a Third order Benedictine who is very effective in raising the awareness of the special significance these messages have for the Benedictine Order. In True Life in God Jesus alludes to St. Gertrude the Great, Benedictine nun and doctor of the Church, who experienced the same spirituality of intimacy with Jesus as Vassula experiences.
In the messages Jesus explains how St. Gertrude was invited to revere His Sacred Heart and that when St. John the Evangelist appeared to her and showed her "the value of the Treasures hidden in My Heart, her eyes rained tears of Joy when she saw those divine Treasures." (NB 87:16Â17; see also Newsletter #13 of May 1997). John introduced several Benedictine monks and sisters to the True Life in God messages and they experienced thereby a measure of the joy their sister Heaven, St. Gertrude experienced. John Campbell's evangelization of the messages in this way had led to our being lodged at the Benedictine Monastery and to Vassula's talk taking place in their school.
John's experience of so many Benedictines being open to the messages has parallels in other parts of the U.S. and in Europe. In France, for example, last year a group of Benedictine nuns appealed for Vassula to speak to them when they heard she would be speaking elsewhere in France last year.
In introducing Vassula this evening, Nicky mentioned that his current thesis deals with three important prophetic voices St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Margaret Mary Alocoque of France, and Vassula. He noted several parallels among them, one being the fact that St. Bridget moved to Rome and lived out her life there, trying to accomplish the mission the Lord had given her to found a new religious order. Vassula moved to Rome in September when her husband took up new responsibilities there.
This brings to mind another connection: the first time Vassula spoke in Stockholm, Sweden it was in the Catholic Cathedral. As she spoke, I noted that behind her left shoulder was a stained glass window depicting St. Bridget with pen in hand, ready to take dictation. During her life Bridget also received visions and messages from Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. St. Bridget also had an impact on the Pope through things that were divinely revealed to her concerning the Holy Father which the Holy Father knew only Heaven could know. In notebook 89 (p.29Â34), Vassula is given an interior vision of the Holy Father at prayer before dawn and she takes down as in dictation the words she hears him utter, praying for his persecutors and for the Mother of God to continue to intercede for him and all God's children as She interceded to save his life from the assassination attempt on the Feast Of Our Lady of Fatima.
Vassula does not know if the words she received in that message were the Pope's actual words Â nor would any other human being Â but the Holy Father, who has a copy of that message, would know.
One of Nicky's major themes in his thesis is the tendency of theologians and clergy to discount the importance of prophecy today. "To suggest that God has no more to say is disrespectful, perhaps even blasphemous," he believes. The tradition of Christian prophecy has always been vital and it remains so in our times. In the Old Testament almost all the prophets were men. Since the New Testament they have been mostly women. One thing that has not changed: prophets have never been very popular. Today more than ever they seem to be persecuted by theologians "who disparage prophecy as though it represented competition with their authority."
Nicky also points out that the Protestant "Reformation" exacerbated suspicion about prophecy as Church authorities became wary of anything outside the Bible or Tradition. There was the prevalent rationale that prophetic revelation ended with the passing of the Apostolic Age, at the death of St. John the Evangelist. Nicky points out that this view was fostered by a mistranslation of the Latin term "completare," which indicated not that prophecy was finished or ended but that Jesus was the fulfillment, the completeness of revealed truth.
After Nicky's introduction, Vassula began with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to help us grow in love, to love God and obtain His kingdom; "to revive us into Your purity, to pass on to us the piety of Your Saints so that nothing impure will be able to find its way in us."
Vassula Said True Life in God is like a school. "I have been brought up and educated in that school. All that I know and all you will hear tonight comes from the direct dictation by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I have had no catechism and no time since this mission began even to open a book of theology."
God, she pointed out, leads us to pray, then He draws us to higher levels of prayer and to the contemplative life. "And the contemplative life is open to all who are willing and have decided wholeheartedly for God, no matter what their station in life might be. He lifts us up to Him to live a True Life in Him."
"In the messages He shares with us His pain over the apostasy of today which is generalized as never before. This age has rejected Divine Truth. In our peril, God intervenes by giving such charisms as He has to Vassula, "through no merits of my own since I had none, but for the good of the Church. Although it has benefited me, it is not just for me."
God teaches, trains, and corrects "but always with tenderness, because He is the source of love. I feel the love of Jesus so great," Vassula says, "that I do not even consider that I am being reprimanded" or that He was being severe with her as some have thought when they read the messages but don't hear His gentle voice as Vassula does.
The signs of the End of Times are with us: the Apostasy and the Spirit of Rebellion. "God is intervening to warn and take care of His children. God always lifts the soul, never crushes it; so the message of True life in God is hope because His promise for these times is the tremendous outpouring of His Holy Spirit. "He never violates our liberty and He says: "Nor do I come to condemn you, I come to you out of My Mercy; to give you freely the fullest knowledge of My Will ...I come not to add new things into that which has been given you already (Scripture and Tradition) but I come to place My Kingdom in the middle of your hearts." Vassula added that even if a heart is stone cold, God will ignite it and bring it back to spiritual life again. To do this He wants us to remain small.
When Vassula objected that she was a "nothing" so how could she "revive" His Church? He told her He wanted a nothing "so that I can show ... My authority". When He told Vassula to remain a "nothing" she felt like He was saying "Don't you dare become 'something." "Die to yourself so that My Holy Spirit can breathe in you". Trust Him, she said, that He knows what is best for you. Jesus complains now and then, Vassula said, that "some of them do not trust Me enough". "He will only give what your soul can take, no more; He will never crush you with a mission, but always gives the graces you need in the right proportion."
From all the treasures of His Sacred Heart which He is offering us throughout the messages, "the greatest and most elevated divine wealth is the possession of God Himself. This comes through giving ourselves as slaves to His love. Then He can 'sell' us to the whole world as slaves, as He was sold. When the soul will be overflowing with love, it will become as thirsty as God for Souls. "When I draw you into the nuptial chamber of My Heart, your soul will voluntarily thrust herself into the world to draw all sinners to conversion and to Love God."
"In order to love, one must serve with love. In serving with love, one arrives at the perfection of love." God did not ask Vassula to go out and serve Him until after three years of purification and formation taught her to serve Him with love. When He did send her out, she said, "He never failed me. I was never afraid; He never leaves us alone."
To conclude, Vassula prayed to the Holy Trinity to spiritually heal those present. Three priests from the audience came up; each offered beautiful spontaneous prayers for healing and together they gave the group their blessing, which was the perfect end to a very blessed evening.
The next morning was free so there was time for sharing among those who stayed overnight at the convent. Sister Lucy Astuto, who sang beautifully for the presentation the night before and would do so again in St. Louis in the next phase, told the story of Jesus' gift to her in Omaha when she organized the 1993 Marian conference there. She had invited Vassula and was hit with a flurry of protests. All the criticism and cajoling her to cancel Vassula's talk had been wearisome and Sr. Lucy had a heavy heart as she escorted Vassula to her hotel room, helping her with her luggage. As she put down the suitcase and started to leave, she saw Jesus standing in Vassular's place. His arms were open and His head tilted. She knew He was inviting her to fall in His arms for comfort. She went to Him and experienced "the most perfect, gentle embrace" she had ever felt. It was as though He would not hold her one moment longer than she would have wanted but let her know that He was grateful for receiving Him, for going through all the suffering for His sake and for the sake of His message.
Vassula had not known of Sr. Lucy's experience before but said: "He is so sensitive, He gets so touched. He wanted to show His gratitude by appearing to her in my place. Then she added with a chuckle, "I wonder where I was then. Where did He put me? In the corner some place?"
Vassula also shared with us some of the scientific tests that have been performed on her during dictation, such as the time the French neurologist, Dr. Philippe Loron of Paris was allowed to be present and ended up almost arm wrestling with the Lord. Vassula said that as Dr. Loron tried to stop her arm while Jesus was guiding it in dictation she felt such power in it that she was sure she could have bent a steel bar with ease. Dr. Loron meanwhile felt such heat in his arm, forehead and chest that he thought he must be bright red and sweating profusely, but he was not. Some time later at a Mass, he was serving as a eucharistic minister giving out Communion, he began to feel the same kind of warmth in his arm, forehead and chest as if Jesus were allowing Himself to be recognized once more "in the breaking of the Bread."
Lakeland, Florida, October 28
As in 1996, Vassula's host was Fran Vander Poel, assisted by her husband, mother and sisters. After songs by a beautiful chorus that included Fran, her sister Maureen gave a testimony of how the messages had brought her to a deep spiritual conversion. Just before introducing Nicky, I talked about the book by a scholar of prophecy, Dr. Helen Tzima Otto. Dr. Otto's latest book, when Heaven Broke the Seals and Opened the Scrolls, is a brilliant study of Christian prophecy that underlines the consistency of Vassula's and Father Stefano Gobbi's messages not only with Biblical prophecy but with all that the Lord's prophets and saints have been telling us for more than three thousand years.*
After Nicky's introduction, Vassula began by calling attention to some new materials that were available, such as the small, blue book of guidelines for True Life In God prayer groups. This contains guidance written by Vassula and prayers she selected from the messages, including meditations given by Jesus on each Mystery of the Rosary and each Station of the Cross. The guidelines, she said, are being used by prayer groups on every inhabited continent. The prayer groups are little "vineyards" that Jesus has been planting everywhere in the "desert" throughout the world, she told us.
Jesus tells her that this time "No one will stop Me. I am known to overthrow empires so that My word gets through". Vassula noted that as He told her early on when things were starting slowly, His message would grow from a small rivulet into a gushing, wide river and eventually into an ocean.
Vassula recounted with her natural sense of humor her first experience, at her angel's prompting, of trying to bring the messages to the attention of the clergy. In Dacca, Bangladesh, she lived across the street from a Catholic seminary, where she eventually met her first spiritual advisor, Fr. "X". She went there one evening at six o'clock and wandered around into a courtyard where she met a priest about to hang out some laundry. She told him: "I've been sent by my angel; here is the message." I just said it out plain as if I would be believed." He looked at her for a moment, knowing that anyone coming in on Saturday evening was going to be trouble. Then he asked, "Poor woman. Where is your husband?" When she told the priest he was out of the country, the priest thought he understood; this was one of those expatriates Europeans whose husbands leave them alone too much and they "just go crackers." He asked her, "Have you heard of the disease called schizophrenia?"
"With patience," Vassula told us, "which I was learning from Jesus, I was able to show him that I was not crazy and after three months he started to believe that this might really be something from God."
Vassula next talked about how The Lord wants us to abandon ourselves to Him and offer Him our will every day. If we do, His Holy Spirit can transform us into "copies of Himself." This is a message of hope, not of "gloom and doom," she said. "Messages that tell you to store up great quantities of food and supplies are not from God. He wants us to change our hearts, not our fridge nor our storerooms."
After Vassula's talk she prayed over people in invidually. Many expressed deep gratitude for the evening as they left. It was especially well organized and one felt the Spirit powerfully present. One woman asked if she could please have Vassula sign her book. This is normally not possible after presentations and I told her that besides Vassula had left some time ago and had probably already gone to bed. But I took her and her friend's book and went to where Vassula's room was. When the elevator door opened, there was Vassula standing as if waiting to sign the books. When I returned the books the woman, Maria, told me that she bad thrown away all her True Life in God books because someone told her they were no good, condemned. "Now I have to buy them all again," she said. When I told this to Vassula the next day she said, "Good for her; it takes guts to admit you made a mistake."
At breakfast the next day Vassula was talking about her sister's prayer group in Rhodes, Greece and how many graces the Lord has given them. "It's incredible how much ... incredible. I don't know why; maybe because they were persecuted and had no priest who would give them the spiritual direction they were looking for. So the Holy Spirit was their Director."
I thought about the many people and groups touched by the messages who have persevered like the Greek prayer group for years despite difficulties and "dry" times. Now their prayer groups or apostolates are specially blessed these days. The Lord seems especially touched by those who continue striving to please Him even in tough times and with no sign that their efforts are bearing fruit. Many who had been filled with zeal and energy seemed to lose heart when the messages came under attack and looked instead for other messages, other vineyards. But in Greece and in so many places they never wavered. Those who hosted Vassula and arranged for her presentations on this North American tour in the face of all the hardship and sacrifice these entails are examples.
Vassula also told us about the early days when small groups would gather to pray in her home. Jesus often would make His presence known in special ways to individuals in the group. One time, He had short messages for each and He asked Vassula's son Fabian, who was a little boy then, "Do you love Me?" Fabian, kneeling at the time, was filled with such joy that that he couldn't contain it, His face became bright red and he jumped to his feet, saying with a loud voice: "Yes!" Jesus responded: "Always love Me because that is the way to Heaven". Vassula said that is how Jesus speaks to children, with simplicity but great truth.
Pittsburgh, October 29-31
Inviting Vassula to speak at the Steel City Medjugorje Conference involved special challenges and required a whole new level of perseverance. The evil one must have been furious because the frenzy of certain individuals to prevent Vassula from speaking was intense. Several speakers withdrew from the program, heeding false rumors Â claimed by some to originate from the office of the Vatican ProÂNuncio in Washington, D.C. - that Catholics were not allowed to gather where Vassula was speaking. But the organizer of the ann
ual event, Dr. Sam Wuslich, has a great devotion to and trusts in Our Blessed Mother. He had prayed and done his homework in researching what the Vatican's position really was. He believed Our Lady wanted him to host Vassula, and so the more strenuous the efforts to block her, the more he dug in his heels. His team of volunteers also had much to offer up and must have been a great comfort to the Lord in their faithfulness to His will as they perceived it. Each speaker who cancelled was replaced by someone who gave an inspiring presentation and who happened to be supportive of Vassula and the True Life in God messages. In the end, the attendance was larger than last year and the conference had many new speakers who were enthusiastically received.
One of them was Rev. Sverker Tronet, a Swedish Lutheran Minister who is pastor of a church outside of Stockholm. Father described the consequences of the separation from Rome by the church of Sweden in the 16th century. The audience interrupted his talk several times by energetic applause as he made the case that the only hope for the survival of the Church of Sweden today as it is being undermined by liberal theology and modernism is to return to the "fold of Peter." In order to preserve true faith the Swedish Church must renew its allegiance to the Holy Father and recognize the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of God and acknowledge her place as Mother of the Church.
This year Father Tronet prayed the rosary in his church with some of his parishioners every day in the month of August. They prayed before a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Sweden that has visited scores of churches throughout Sweden during the past year.
Rev. Tronet also described how Pope John Paul II recently acted decisively in his capacity as shepherd of the Universal Church. The Swedish laity have been powerless to have an unspeakably blasphemous art exhibit removed from the main cathedral. The archbishop of the Church of Sweden who allowed the exhibit was scheduled to have an audience with the Pope. A week before the appointment, the Pope informed the archbishop that he was not welcome at the Vatican. In Father's words, "Swedish people who never thanked God for Pope John Paul II, did so that day,"
Father concluded his presentation by reading messages from True Life in God concerning unity. He told how he had been powerfully influenced by the messages Vassula receives. He affirmed that he has never found in them anything but complete consistency with Scripture and the Church's teaching. In light of his faith in the messages, he is organizing retreats in Sweden to promote awareness of the True Life in God messages.
When he finished, Rev. Tronet received a standing ovation. One of the Catholic priests came up on stage to ask the audience to join him in praying over "this courageous priest" that he would be protected and strengthened to withstand whatever persecution he faces for speaking the truth so forcefully.
Vassula was scheduled to speak only once but she gave up her rest day to speak a second time and delve deeper into some of the themes of the messages. On Friday she began by discussing how Jesus has been continuing to reveal more about the Holy Spirit because we know so little about Him. The second Pentecost, she said, is a drawnÂout one that has already started.
In talking about the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, The Blessed Virgin Mary, Vassula said "I wish we could all share my charism of hearing Jesus' voice when He speaks about Our Blessed Mother. It is an exultation impossible to describe."
"You come to hear me speak about the messages because the Holy Spirit puts that impulse there to go and listen. The Holy Spirit of grace will grasp your heart and draw you into the current. Do not resist the Holy Spirit but allow yourself to he carried away. Do not judge the Holy Spirit. Your thought will be transformed to be as of the mind of God. We will grow spiritually, learning intimacy with God, learning to understand Scripture and to love it. God is teaching us how to love, how to enter into the life of unceasing prayer in which we are desiring God, longing for God all day long."
"This is the prayer without words, contemplative, the highest prayer. We learn to live the greatest commandment of all: to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, our whole mind and our whole soul. We are carried by the Holy Spirit to the heights of joy through knowing God, loving Him, and having Him dwell within."
Vassula said that all she has learned is not from books but she was taught by God's voice which she hears interiorly. She has no time to read with her constant travel and a household to tend. Her husband also must travel a lot and often when she comes back "the fridge is so empty there is an echo." (This would be another example of being "the echo of the echo," I was thinking.) Vassula has been living this life of prayer, taking dictation, and traveling to diffuse the message for ten years. In fact, at the end of November, 1998 her Angel Daniel came to her. She saw him interiorly as he drew with her hand a picture of himself bowing to her and offering her a big red flower in honor of the tenth anniversary of the first time she went out publicly to speak about the messages.
In her second talk at the Pittsburgh Conference on Saturday morning she explained what the Holy Spirit means when He promises to make each of us "the hymn to the Hymn; the amen to the Amen." When He speaks, His voice and His words are so beautiful they are like music, like a hymn. Our prayer and praise then will be a hymn to the Hymn, as David's response to hearing God speak became the Song of Songs. 'Amen', besides being the ending to our prayer meaning 'it is so' also means 'The One Faithful and True', so the Holy Spirit will lead us into ending our prayer with an 'amen to the Amen'.
This promise is particularly significant for our times when, Vassula said, we have grown cold and have forgotten the sweetness, the tenderness of God's love. "Whoever does experience it, their hearts are reÂkindled and they will thirst always for more".
Hearing this put into perspective for me what I am not always able to express about the uniqueness of the True Life in God messages. At Trinitas we often have the joy of hearing from people who have just discovered the messages. They are touched in a way they had never quite experienced before. This can he true for someone who attends Mass daily or one who has been very far from God. In either case they thirst for more and, as Vassula reminded us, that is why Jesus says "My Holy Spirit is the inner power of My Church...without My Holy Spirit even My disciples did not fully understand My teachings."
"By the Holy Spirit," said Vassula, "We are made kin with the Lord and this brings peace the world cannot give. The renewal of the Holy Spirit will come by fire. When the elements begin to melt, we will know the fulfillment of the Holy Spirit's renewal is coming: the New Heavens and the New Earth."
The Lord tells Vassula: "This is why you must rely on Me and resource your spirit from My Spirit so that: you can go on singing and chanting My Love Hymn to the nations; this is why I invited you to have your pilgrimage and your retreat in my Body..." [NB 92:13]
We received many testimonials and thanks from people who attended the Pittsburgh Conference and heard Vassula's powerful presentations. One of them said that it was an extraordinarily SpiritÂfilled gathering and that it seemed to be a great breakthrough for the Lord's Love Hymn from Heaven, True Life in God.
The next day, November 1, Vassula and Niels Christian concluded the first phase of the tour with a presentation in London, Ontario. The Lord tells Vassula that His Holy Spirit is persecuted like never before, even to the point of frenzy. The challenging circumstances preparing for the presentation in Ontario confirmed it, as they did in New York and Pittsburgh. The host in London, Bill Onstein, had gone on blind faith and trust that he was following the Holy Spirit's leading in inviting Vassula to an area that seemed especially cold to prophetic revelations in general and to Vassula's messages in particular. Humanly speaking, it didn't make sense to him, but he followed a strong impulse to plan for a large gathering anyway.
Feeling a need to guide the faithful in their discernment regarding the True Life in God messages, an announcement was made on the morning of the presentation at every Mass in every church of the area, advising Catholics not to attend. Vassula went to Sunday Mass at the Cathedral and was treated to hearing the message against her. After Mass she introduced herself to the celebrant priest who apologized for having to read such a thing in her presence. In fact, it was an extraordinary action to be taken in Canada against a Greek Orthodox from Rome invited by a lay person to speak in a public place.
Prospects for a large turnout appeared slim but as we know, with the Lord all things are possible. Buses came from near and far and the convention center was filled with nearly a thousand souls, thirsty for the sweetness and tenderness of God's love.
Among them were several Greek Orthodox. This may have been largely due to the efforts of Jim Peters, a Greek Orthodox who hosted a presentation by Vassula in Greenville, North Carolina in August, 1997. Jim drove from Atlanta to New York to support Vassula's presentation there. Then he drove to Canada to support her diffusion of the Messages there.
Similarly in FrenchÂspeaking Canada where Vassula began the second phase of this North American tour less than three weeks later, the turnout was surprising. The French Canadians had been practically the first nationality to fervently embrace the messages in the early 1990's but recently had seemed relatively closed to the messages after the various attacks against them. In both Ottawa and Shawinigan, Quebec, however, there were well over a thousand people who gathered at short notice to be filled with the "bread that lasts" and the "peace the world cannot give." "I have truly poured out on you divine graces so that people can benefit from them too. All My Works are good, and They are warmly welcomed by the pure in heart... I have, as I said, given you all enough proof by this Divine Treasure coming from My Sacred Heart's treasury so that you do not doubt. Apart, Vassula , from having given you exterior signs of My Love, I have given you Knowledge and Instruction, constantly enriching you and others through these writings." [NB 92:9Â10]
At the bed and breakfast where we stayed for Vassula's presentation in St. Louis on November 19, I was discussing with the innkeepers how the Word of God may have an impact far beyond what may be immediately apparent. The wife said that her husband was a botanist and he noted that seed once planted remains in the soil indefinitely. He noticed that when longÂfallow gardens are tilled and watered again, plantings from years past will sprout upÂflowers, herbs, vegetables, even long forgotten marijuana plants will unexpectedly appear. She observed that it is like that with the Holy Spirit; once His seeds were sown in the remotest corners of the earth they have lasted for ages and only need to be cultivated with love to bear fruit. This is what Our Lord has asked Vassula and all of us laborers throughout the world to do,
* (1998, The Verenikia Press, Rock Hill, S.C, USA 29732Â6589; tel. 803327 9637; fax. 803 3270467)
This report will be continued with an account of the remainder of Vassula's US tour which took place in November, 1998 with visits to St. Louis, Houston, Denver and San Francisco.