Athens Bookstore Presentation
Heaven is Real at the Ianos Bookshop in Athens
On March 7, 2018, Vassula presented her book Heaven is Real but so is Hell at the Ianos Bookshop in Athens. The book has been translated into Greek from the English original. Vassula was scheduled to arrive in Athens on March 6, but due to technical problems she arrived on the morning of March 7.
As soon as the book presentation was announced, a strong reaction began in the media. On the morning show hosted by Kampouris, Ola sti fora (All is out), Father Tsakalos, one of the guests, spoke-out against Vassula, leveling false accusations and calumnies at her, calling her a false prophet, accusing her of accepting bribes and charging for admission to her events. The ESPRESSO newspaper front page headline read: "The new ATHANASIA of Aigaleo." On Facebook, there was a page warning Orthodox Christians not to attend her meeting, calling her “deceived.”
For these reasons, in order to prevent any trouble-making, three security guards were employed for the event. The presentation encompassed four main speakers: Georgia Papadopoulou; Father Theodoros Kontidis, Catholic priest and editor of the OPEN HORIZONS magazine; Mount Athos monk Vassilios; and Vassula Rydén, the book’s author.
Georgia Papadopoulou began by stating that Vassula receives no financial gain from her book; all proceedings go to fund the Beth Myriams (charity houses of Our Lady supported and operated by True Life in God volunteers), and towards book reprints. She went on to provide a brief outline of Vassula’s story. She said that Vassula was born to Greek parents in Heliopolis, Egypt, and that she had received no catechesis. She then described how Vassula was approached, first by her guardian angel and then by Jesus.
Father Theodoros Kontidis then took the podium, giving his own personal testimony. When he came across the True Life in God book, the first thing that struck him was not only the spirituality of the Messages, but also the attitude and the sweetness of Jesus; how intimate He is and how much He cares about man and his problems. He was also very impressed by how willing God is to forgive us for our sins and to raise us to Him. What he most wished to investigate was how theologically sound these Messages were. After reading them, he found no theological error whatsoever; to the contrary, they were all in accordance with the teaching of the Church: Jesus as Savior, Our Lady, the Saints, and the Sacraments of the Church, spiritual life, temptations, and the spiritual struggle facing humanity. He concluded by saying that if he were to write a book of this kind, he could write 5-10 pages at most, and even then, there might be some mistakes. In this book of Messages, consisting of hundreds of pages, he did not find the slightest theological error. He said the book is theologically flawless--that this woman who did not even know how to cross herself suddenly began writing tons of theologically sound messages. This can only be accomplished through divine intervention. Father Kontidis also raised the issue of the Lord's wish for Church Unity, and he wondered if anyone could understand the importance of this issue better than himself, since he grew up with an Orthodox father and a Catholic mother.
Mount Athos monk Vassilios then stepped-up to the podium and referred to the book of the True Life in God Messages as a warm message aimed at the human heart, emanating from God’s Love. He thanked the Patmos Holy Monastery and the abbot he had had in previous years who supported him when he took the True Life in God book in his hands. He said that the abbot had given him permission to teach children at the local Sunday school. At that time, all of his speeches were inspired by the TLIG Messages. In this book, he went on to say, one can find the Holy Bible in condensed form, whereas exploring all these teachings on Mount Athos would take many years of research and daily study. He is deeply touched, as he said, by the way in which God approaches man. It may seem unorthodox to some, but God’s Spirit and love are one and the same for those who know Him and possess Him.
Finally, it was time for Vassula to speak. She said that her Greek is not good and that she had attended an English-speaking school, so Jesus speaks to her in the language she understands best. After she thanked the previous speakers, she said that the book she was presenting is her autobiography. She tells her story in it. The book of True Life in God Messages has been in the writing-process for the past 33 years. It is important, then, for one to know the person who wrote it while receiving these messages, and how God approached her. She discussed the way in which she can hear God’s Voice inwardly and clearly. Before this gift began, she lived a worldly life, never attending church, never seeking God. The only thing she could remember was the Our Father prayer, only because she had learnt it at school. Even that, she never recited.
Everything began in Bangladesh in 1985 she went on, where she lived with her husband who had to move from country to country because he was a member of the UN diplomatic corps. She led her life as a socialite, engaged in fashion shows and tennis tournaments; in fact, she was a tennis champion. The last thing on her mind was God. It was at that time that her angel approached her, asking her to find a Holy Bible. At first, she refused; he then told her that if she went to her son’s school she would find one, which she did. He told her to open it; and when she did so, she came across the Psalms. She read them, but could not comprehend them. God then enlightened her so as to understand that she had been blind and living in the dark. She then spoke about the purification she underwent, and the deep grief she experienced when her angel revealed her sins. She was weeping for three weeks because each sin that she saw through the eyes of God felt like a burning fire within. After that, she confessed that she was the most sinful person on earth. At the awakening of this realization, God approached her and said: “I am your Father.” It was as if her soul had awakened from a profound lethargy and recognized Him as her true Father. When He asked her to recite the Our Father prayer, she felt such joy (as it was the only prayer she knew) that she replied: “Yes, Dad.” At once, she felt ashamed of her spontaneity, but God the Father told her that He received this word like a jewel. He likes it when we call Him "Abba," that is, Dad.
She went on to say that Jesus asks us to replace her (Vassula’s) name with ours when reading the TLIG Messages. In this way, we all feel that He is addressing us personally. She urged people to talk to God from their hearts because God is love; He is our Father. Not even she herself, Vassula continued, had ever imagined that this work would travel to 85 countries. She works tirelessly and travels, giving her testimony. She has so far delivered more than 1000 presentations.
She then spoke about disasters, diseases, wars and the suffering throughout the world, saying that all of these things happen as a result of our sins. Many people wonder why, if God exists, He allows so much evil to permeate the world. When the tower of Siloam fell, as it is referenced in the New Testament, killing both evil and good people, God said that it occurred because of people’s lack of repentance. Moreover, Vassula discussed today’s apostasy, and the fact that some churches have closed-down as a result of this apostasy in our times.
Jesus has shown her prophetic visions without revealing when and where they will take place. While she had thought they were symbolic, they materialized literally. One such example is the tsunami in 2004, which caused immense devastation. Vassula saw it three times. He also told her that the earth would shake from its axis, which also happened. Alternately, God has also given her beautiful prophecies, like the prophecy about Russia; this Orthodox country will indeed glorify Him.
She said that when God reprimands us, He does so with love, in contrast to people who become mean when they are annoyed. No matter what God tells us, in the end He will always give us hope, whereas the devil does all he can to make us fall into despair. She continued by saying that Jesus showed her Hell and told her that people do not believe that Heaven and Hell exist. They believe that everything and all existence is only here on earth. In reality, both Heaven and Hell exist. She said that the devil’s biggest trick has been to convince people that he does not exist.
She then mentioned the healings that take place when people pray over patients, with medical tests bearing doctors’ signatures available to prove that the healing could have only been accomplished through a miracle. Furthermore, she said that Our Lady asked her to establish “The House of Our Lady” to feed the poor. A Beth Myriam been erected in Greece, as well as in many other countries. There are 32 houses worldwide.
Towards the end of her talk, she allowed ten minutes for questions, including the following one: “Does God really exist? I am embarrassed to ask.” Vassula smiled and replied that God exists and that our soul feels warmth when praying sincerely, whether it is to Jesus, Our Lady, or the saints. After all, Jesus never lies. He said so Himself in his Word: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” God exists, the Holy Trinity exists, and, let us not forget, He Himself left us His Church. He urges us to confess our sins and to receive the Blessed Sacrament as often as possible because His Body and His Blood are the antidote to Satan. Another question was: “Since we have the Bible, why do we need the TLIG Messages?” Vassula replied that the Messages are a reminder of His Word, and that they also include prophecies that apply to our era. However, what they say is not different from the Gospel. Jesus had once asked her: “Do you read the Gospel?”
Someone else asked why she has been faced with such opposition in Greece, while people abroad are more receptive to the Lord’s Message. Vassula replied that it is true; she receives the most attacks in Greece. In other countries people are more willing to listen to her testimony. Another person asked her how it was possible for her to see God, since it is mentioned in the Holy Bible that no one can see Him. She then replied that she can see Him in a vision just like others see Him in their sleep. The same man asked her whether she could see the Holy Spirit and whether she sees Him as a dove. Vassula replied that she does not see the Holy Spirit as a dove, but that the Holy Spirit talks to her; He is the third person of the Holy Trinity. When she sees the Holy Spirit, she sees His face full of Light. When asked whether she had seen saints, she replied that she has seen Saint George and a few more. The last man who rose to speak did not ask a question but mentioned that several years ago he had visited, along with others, Elder Paisios, and had told him that he had a message to deliver. The elder asked: “What message do you have to deliver, my child?” He then gave Vassula’s manuscripts to Elder Paisios, knowing the gift that he had. With great reverence, the Elder took them in his arms and went to his hut. When he returned, he embraced him and said: “My child, you know you are a brave man of Jesus and I thank you. What you have given me I will keep to the end of my life.” He concluded by saying that he believed the reason Vassula is not easily accepted in Greece and is attacked so much is that "no prophet is accepted in his hometown," just as Jesus was not accepted in His own land.
This was a nice conclusion to the presentation of Vassula’s book Heaven is Real, but so is Hell. After this, people bought the book and went down to the first floor to where Vassula was signing them. They were talking among themselves, trying to learn more about the TLIG Messages.
Even though there was much opposition, the event was a success. About 100 people were present. Amongst the crowd there were also a few deaf-mute people with their interpreter. Simultaneously, the event was also broadcast live, thus giving the opportunity to people who could not be present to watch it from their home.
On the following days, two television channels attacked Vassula with calumnies and insults. In one of them, Theresa Perri rebutted the accusations leveled against Vassula.
Testimony of Mrs. Ersi Pitta who saw Jesus on Vassula's face:
"I attended the presentation of Vassula Ryden's book, Heaven is Real but so is Hell, at the Ianos Bookshop, where I had an experience I would like to share with you. After Vassula had begun to speak, at some point I SAW her face change into another one, bearing the features of Jesus. As I was looking at her, I had the sense that the face of Jesus was projected and imprinted onto her face. I felt deeply moved and could hardly hold back my tears."