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Vassula in New York and Pittsburgh - USA
November 2 - 7, 1999
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour - Holy is his name, and his faithful love extends age after age to those who fear him. He has used the power of his arm, he has routed he arrogant of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and raised high the lowly. He has filled the starving with good things, sent the rich away empty. He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his faithful love - according to the promise he made to our ancestors - of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever." (Lk. 1, 46 ff).
Our Lady's praises that she sang to the faithfulness and power of God at the hour of the Annunciation of the Messiah and her own son ring in the ears of all those who are her children too and who follow her and do their best to imitate her "Yes" to the will and the love of God. And what else can I do than continue her praises to the love and might of God, having witnessed with my own eyes what He, the Lord, did on the latest trip of Vassula to the United States. Only praises and thanksgiving are the right answer to the mighty works that God is doing in our times through and around his Love-Hymn, True Life in God.
Vassula's visit in the US in 1999 was different to all her previous visits to the American Continent. It contained an excellent meeting in the Greek Orthodox Church of Brooklyn, NY, a meeting with a special new friendship. Also, it contained the 1999 Medjugorie Steel City Conference that was different than any of the previous years due to the presence of speakers that never visited the US before and who are witnesses of some little known but truly amazing works of the Spirit of God today.
Vassula in New York, November 2 - 4, 1999
Father Eugene knew about Vassula partly through New York TLIG volunteers, partly through the Greek-Catholic Mystic Myrna Nasour of Damascus, Syria, who visited his parish earlier in the year and who is a good friend of Vassula. As many will know, more than just being good friends, Myrna and Vassula carry the same message of Unity, a message in which Jesus asks for one particular operation of the Churches - the unification of the dates of Easter. When Myrna visited Father Eugene's parish, Father Eugene and all the faithful had a powerful experience of the grace, God has bestowed upon Myrna: during her witnessing, oil started pouring profusely from Myrna's hands. With the same oil, she blessed all the people present and this event just as the words of Myrna left an indelible mark on the entire parish. Knowing the friendship between Vassula and Myrna, Father Eugene was already very open to the mystical approach of Christ and His call for Church Unity. In fact, Father Eugene for several years has been preaching the Lord's desire for unity, even before he got to know Myrna or Vassula.
Before the meeting, Vassula, Teckie Johnides and myself had a meeting with Father Eugene. While we were talking, the issue of Church Unity came up, and Father Eugene started to express his convictions on how much Christ longed for the Unity of his Body, how he envisaged the future unity to be and which were the problems, the Church was facing before unification. Vassula, Teckie and myself looked at each other in amazement, and I exclaimed: "Are you sure, you have not read Vassula's messages prior to our meeting?!" Father Eugene expressed exactly the same desires and insights that Jesus is giving through True Life in God, to the point of quoting the words of Christ. He never read them prior to the meeting with Vassula!
Father Eugene Nicolau is active in the ecumenical and interfaith projects and was instrumental as the first Orthodox foreign missionary having served in the Phillipines, Corea, and Japan in the late sixties and early seventies and has been pastering the parish of the Three Hierarchs for the past 17 years. He studied under the Dominicans, has a degree in Ecumenical theology from the World Council of Churches in Geneva, and is presently the representative of the Greek-Orthodox Archbishop in New York to different ecumenical gatherings, such as the USA National Council of Churches. Thus, the dialogue between Father Eugene and Vassula prior to her talk was one of mutual understanding, sharing the same mission.
No one had announced the meeting in public. It was held at an hour at which most people are working - at one o'clock on a Wednesday afternoon. This was the only appointment that could be accommodated in Vassula's schedule. Even so, over five hundred people showed up. They were a wonderful mixture of Coptic, Greek, Russian and Rumanian Orthodox and mainly Italian and Polish Catholics. Most of the people had not heard about Vassula before.
After a short introduction by Father Eugene himself, I briefly introduced Vassula and her by now world-wide mission. Because of the many "new-comers" to True Life in God, Vassula gave an introduction to how the messages began, as well as a general view on the contents and meanings of the messages. People were very attentive and responsive. There was an amazing silence in the hall. Father Eugene himself followed every word of Vassula. At the end of Her talk, Vassula read a famous message of Jesus in which he talks about the "Administrators" in His house: You have industrialized My House, this House which should have been a House of prayer! (February 7 1991) At the passage where Jesus says: "You have industrialized my house", Father Eugene exclaimed "Yes! That's right!" And when Vassula finished her talk, Father Eugene without this being planned, seized the microphone and gave a very animated talk along the same lines of Jesus that the entire audience had just heard Vassula relate to them. The synergy between Vassula and Father Eugene's messages was amazing.
After the end of the talks, Vassula was asked to conduct a healing service. Most of the Orthodox believers present never heard about such a ceremony and certainly never had experienced the phenomenon of being slain in the Spirit. And yet many of the newcomers fell. You saw many who, after having fallen, got up again, crossing themselves in the Greek-Orthodox way repeatedly, exclaiming "thoxa sto theo" - Glory be to God!
Father Eugene is going to visit Myrna on 26 November 1999. Is it a coincidence, that this date is two days prior to the fourteenth anniversary of True Life in God?
The Seventh Steel City Medjugorie Conference.
This year held the presence of new speakers, speakers that never spoke at American Marian conferences before. One of them was Father Ignacius Prassad of India, one of the main witnesses of the apparitions and many miraculous events, including the exhumation of Little Moses, that have happened in Vadiakadu.
Vassula had a busy program in Pittsburgh with three talks and a healing service. On Friday 5 November, I spoke before Vassula. I recalled how I had come across the Messages of True Life in God, how God had touched me on Patmos, and which direction the meeting with Vassula had made me take as a theologian, doing research in the little known theological topic of Christian Prophecy. I also related how it is truly God who has blessed True Life in God from the very beginning. At a point in the first months of Vassula's call, Jesus told her that the message would spread all over the world, becoming "an ocean of Peace and Love." Vassula's answer was: "Well, what can I do? I can only make photo-copies of your messages and give them to my friends at the tennis club!" to which Jesus answered: "You will do much more than photo-copies!" In fact, today the message is in over 35 languages, Vassula has held well over 600 meetings in 54 countries. Jesus' prophecy has already been fulfilled, but only He knows how far he will realize the prophecy of His Love Hymn becoming an Ocean!
Vassula spoke at this first presentation on the importance of knowing God in an intimate way. She related many examples and little stories connected to Jesus desire that we should always use the "We, us" when speaking with Jesus - let us go shopping, let us work now, what shall we do with this problem - She made it clear that no one can truly know God without knowing Him in an intimate way. It the same time, we need to remember that He is holy. It is with a Father on earth. If the relationship is healthy, Vassula said, then the child will both feel immensely confident and secure with its father and at the same time have a tremendous respect for him. It is not that one excludes the other, on the contrary they support each other. Vassula also spoke about the mighty works God has been and is doing in the Greek Orthodox Church and that we would like to make these miracles known in the Catholic Church. This is a simple way of creating unity among all kinds of people. It is a way that does not necessitate long sessions of dialogue but that show how the same God, we know has worked miracles in the Catholic world, is alive and active, producing the same marvels in the Orthodox world. Thus we can recognize the same Lord and the same Holy Spirit in each other's traditions and praise him that he is One and the same. Vassula also talked about the importance of giving God free space in our hearts, so that the Lord can turn us into a heaven, where he can have his rest, into a paradise for himself.
On Saturday 6 November, Vassula spoke about how difficult it is sometimes to work for God. It is true, she said, it is a great joy sharing in the mission of Christ, but the mission holds it's Cross. To make people understand how tough it can be, Vassula recalled many very amusing details and stories from her trips. As an example Vassula recalled her last experience of obstruction going to Sweden in October. Her flight was at 15:00 hours so she had asked the taxi to come at 13.30. At 13.00 a heavy storm broke out, heavier than many of the tempests, she has experienced here in Rome. Trees fell over and blocked the roads and the highway to the airport was inundated by water, making it impossible for the taxi driver even to arrive at her house. She missed the plane and the meeting with the bishop. Another example was her trip last year to India that several times turned out to be something of a thriller. The gathering had many good laughs on the adventures, Vassula has experienced during her apostolate for True Life in God, and yet it was clear to everyone that these stories were not told just to amuse. It was Jesus telling each of us that we must expect opposition in the most surprising ways, even by nature herself, but that this should never put us down. We should rather thank Jesus for them, as we through our hardships can obtain graces of conversion and healing for souls, bringing them home to the Lord, who has created us all, even those who never think of Him.
Vassula's final talk was on Sunday just before leaving for the airport. At this third talk, Vassula plunged into the messages themselves, reading parts of them with the impressive and powerful intuition and "soul" that only Vassula, who has heard Jesus relate the messages to her, is able to transmit. In fact, a young priest, Fr. John Corbett from New York, came to Vassula after the meeting, thanking her for reading the messages as she did, as he felt it was like hearing how Jesus spoke them to her and to us all. Vassula's main focus was on the nature of God the Father, and she read several messages that truly reveal the face of Our Heavenly Father. She also spoke at length on the Holy Spirit. She made it clear that the Holy Spirit is not an "it." "Many people have come to me," Vassula said, "and asked me: Who is the Holy Spirit? Is it an 'it' or is it a 'he'? Of course it is a He," Vassula said. "The Holy Spirit is a divine being, just as the Father and the Son. He is a person who has feelings, and whom we should pray to much more than we do. We all have ideas of God the Father, of Jesus His Son, but how often do we think of the person of the Holy Spirit and invoke him? We should invoke Him often!"
Vassula's talks made a big impact of people and the response was tremendous. Many people noted that the authority and strength combined with the peace and simplicity of Our Lord comes across through Vassula's presentations more powerfully every year. One person wrote to me about the impact Vassula's talk had on her, highlighting the intimacy with Jesus and how important it is to share all, we do with Him, using the we-us at all times:
"I'm still on such a high from the weekend in Pittsburgh, walking around with a big smile on my face. I'm sure some people are wondering what drug I'm taking. God and I went on a bike ride yesterday together - a tandum and He drove - I've heard a lot of speakers, but few have ever moved me to tears. Vassula has truly been sent by God"
But the presence of God was not only obvious through the talks of Vassula, it pervaded the entire conference. Thus the healing services were special peaks of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. After a prayer by Vassula to the Holy Spirit many hundreds of people were blessed by God, and many fell in the embrace of God. The healing service held a new phenomenon that Vassula has not experienced before. While she was blessing people with the Crucifix containing the relic of the True Cross, it starting to exude oil, an oil with a wonderful smell, that reminded of the oil that priests use to anoint the sick. Before she noticed the oil, Vassula and some of the catchers noticed the beautiful scent. But after a few minutes Vassula noticed that oil had formed on the Crucifix and that this Holy Unction was transferred as a token of the Divine outpouring on the people that came to be blessed. After the healing service was over, the oil dried up as suddenly and unexpectedly as it had appeared, but many people that had been blessed by Vassula as well as the catchers noticed the perfume and saw the oil.
Skeptical to any supernatural phenomenon as Vassula is by nature, she went to her room after
the healing service and asked Jesus for a message. She opened one of the True Life in God
books and her finger fell on a passage that reads:
Niels Christian Hvidt