True Life in God Evangelization Retreat in Rome
I had the extreme pleasure of participating in a retreat lead by Fr. Otfried in Rome recently. The purpose was to revitalize and inspire the TLIG evangelization efforts in Europe. However, since the world is without borders these days, I hope that other readers that are trying to spread the Messages in their own countries may find some encouragement and a spark of renewal from the highlights summarized here.
Before the retreat started I knew that it was an important one. Like nearly all True Life in God gatherings, God grants us the opportunity to recognize how the Devil cannot stand when we gather. Whether a gathering for the purpose of spreading the Messages or for Christian Unity, Satan will always try to stop them. This was no different.
To my surprise I was the first to arrive in Rome. When I asked Francis, one of the principal organizers of the retreat, where everyone was, he informed me that there was a strike at the airport today and that many flights had been canceled or postponed. I knew instantly whose hand was trying to stop us. Thankfully, by the Hand of God, all 60 or so people from 17 countries eventually arrived safely.
I can’t think of a better way word than "renewal" for the true theme of the retreat. Fr. Otfried started the retreat by saying, "Spreading the Messages has never become so difficult like now." And, how true.
For those of us who have been reading the Messages for any length of time, one of the biggest challenges and frustrations is letting others know about what is happening here. That God Almighty is speaking to us in a clear and simple way and showing us His Heart and Desires ... now! today, in this era where ... let’s face it ... Godlessness is much more prevalent than Love. So, here is this incredible treasure (The Messages of True Life in God), free for the world to read and experience, and it seems like no one cares to listen!
Fr. Otfried offered a lot of words of encouragement to help revitalize us and open to the Grace of renewal. It was funny. He said, and I am paraphrasing here, spreading the messages in the beginning was much easier. When we needed anything, God provided, almost instantaneously. It was like God had given us all a credit card with no limit. But, Fr. Otfried said, with every credit card, sooner or later the bill comes! We all laughed.
So, although we must pay the bill now in these times of trials we should all take confidence that another credit card is coming from God. He is a provider and has promised, on many occasions, that He will fill where we have lacked.
"I am not only the Author of this great work but today I am leading you to embellish My Church. I want during these days to fill your mind, your heart and your entire being with all that I Am so that you progress in My Divine Love. As for all the afflictions you suffered under My Name and all that you are undergoing for My Sake, My Father will put aside all of your negligence and I will fill where you lacked. May you be blessed for your noble act of love, remain united and become the perfect icon of unity. And... as you know, My power is at its best in weakness. Rejoice and be glad and add a smiling face to all that I have given you! Shine in this darkness and keep drawing the Fire from My Sacred Heart. Be enamoured of My Cross so that your flame does not die out. Be the perfect image of My Father. My Mercy is great and upon you all. Be one under My Name." (27.08.2009)
Be a Visible Witness of God’s Love
Fr. Otfried throughout the weekend emphasized how we must be the visible witness to the Messages. Not just knowing or reading the Messages, but to let the product of the Messages (our converted selves) do the talking for us. To grow in love as the Lord said in the Message above "I want during these days to fill your mind, your heart and your entire being with all that I Am so that you progress in My Divine Love."
Fr. Otfried went on to say, "God calls us to win souls for Him. But how can we win souls, souls that are far from God, if they find us unloving, selfish, ruthless and not united among ourselves?" And went on to encourage us to live the Messages deeper and be that visible witness to everything that the Messages have done for our lives.
He also stressed to us throughout the weekend the importance of being loving, simple, humble and joyful when we give testimony. It doesn’t matter if we know the Messages inside and out and can quote them verse by verse. People will not care about that if they see a sad face telling them about it. The Grace we have received from the Messages needs to shine out from us before we even say a word. It should be written on our faces. This really struck a cord with me because I believe it to be of particular importance. People are naturally drawn to other people who have a positive, cheerful disposition. And why shouldn’t we, who have been given so much by the Messages, have this same cheerful disposition! It reminded me of what Our Lady said in a Message from May 12, 1995
My Son is with you; I am also with you; I have come to reassure you of My assistance; .... add a smiling face to all your gifts* .... continue to please God by prophesying and showing to every nation what He has truly revealed to you so that all those who listen to you may acknowledge Him as Saviour and as Love ....
* Vassula’s comment: Our Lady in saying these words to me was smiling and had a slight tone of teasing because of my so downcast face. - Immediately while saying this to me, not only did my face brighten up, but I found myself laughing with delight.
He ended by talking about the need for repentance and how this is the start of our renewal.
Evangelization is not a human work. It can only be done by the help of the Holy Spirit. We need to repent, yes, individually and collectively as well, in our prayer groups we need to repent for having backslid, but we also need to pray to the Holy Spirit after our personal and communal repentance.You can read here online the details of Fr. Otfried's inspiring talks.
Later that afternoon on Saturday, March 12th, Albert Muller, Secretary of the Foundation for True Life in God in Geneva, Switzerland presented what the Foundation is, how it was formed and it’s purpose. All found it very informative and helpful.
What’s Happening in Europe
Afterwards, many of us had a chance to share some of what’s happening in True Life in God in Europe. There were people from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Romania, Croatia, Dalmatia, Sweden and Denmark. People sharing their actitvities and ideas was another source of encouragement for new ideas for each of us to bring home.
Healing, Praise, Worship
I cannot speak for everyone, but I know I and many others really appreciated the singing and praising and the healing service in the evening. It was a wave of the Spirit washing over all of us. We could feel the energy, liveliness and joy in the room. It was completely uplifting to be together in this atmosphere again. ... a sign that the Spirit was with us and upon us.
In Fr. Otfried’s second talk, he took some time speaking about how sacrifice is an integral part of working in the Vineyard of True Life in God. He said, "God has great plans for us that will transform people, change their lives and renew their hearts. By transforming us, God intends to renew His Church and save the world from destruction caused by its apostasy. Great plans are never easy. They need a lot of time, hard trainings, good preparations and sacrifices from us in order to be carried out."
He drew on the story of Abraham for some insightful thoughts on sacrifice, but one point that really stuck out for me was the reminder that, yes, God asks for generous sacrifices, but He also provides in return.
God is not a taker or a grabber who takes and grabs, and takes and grabs. No, God is a Giver, a Provider. God is teaching us how to sacrifice so He can provide us more and more for our revival and take us higher and higher make us holier and holier for His Glory.
The Power of the TLIG Prayer Meetings
Many were also very moved when Fr. Otfried mentioned the importance of preparing our TLIG Prayer Meetings to the best of our abilities. Every prayer group meeting is an intimate encounter with God and His Messages. So, we should do our best to organize and set the tone of the meetings well. Integrate music and singing where appropriate. Even the arrangement of the room to set the proper tone. For instance, placing an Image of Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. Light candles. It was a vivid reminder of how truly powerful our prayer meetings can be. That our prayers are heard and answered, that healing takes place, people's problems are resolved and that we come into God's Presence in a special way.
Many of us were reminded of the treasure we have with our TLIG Prayer Groups. That joyful, loving & uplifting spirit of TLIG which constantly renews and revives us, and keeps us 'on fire' ... motivating and inspiring us to move out of our comfort zones to 'get out there' & evangelize and let EVERYONE know that God is here ... alive ... and speaking to us in our days in the messages of TLIG.
Look What God Had Done For Me
We ended the day with people giving their testimony of some of the incredible Graces we've received from the Messages and God. Some told their conversion stories. It was great to hear some "fresh" testimonies. One man from England named Robin told his story of how in 2008 he while he was listening to Vassula speak at a meeting (a meeting he agreed to go to but admittedly was not very excited to at) when suddenly he saw a man’s face instead of Vassula’s. He shook his head and looked back. Still a man’s face! Again, he looked away and rubbed his eyes. And, still, a man’s face. It then disappeared. When he left the meeting, he didn’t really know what he had experienced but that he wanted to pick up those books (The Messages) and start to read. It was a few weeks later that he read that Jesus manifests Himself in this way ... superimposing His Face over Vassula’s in order to give a sign that what Vassula is saying is really from Him. Robin said when he realized at that moment that it was Jesus who showed himself that day at the meeting his life "changed forever from that point onward." Watching Robin tell his story with so much emotion was very touching. He even had to stop a few times to compose himself. It brought me back ... back to the beginning when my own conversion started through the Messages in 1999. It reminded me, in a close and personal way, what the Messages do for people. This Message saves!
On Sunday we participated in a powerful Mass. Afterwards, we had one more organized meeting where Fr. Otfried talked about some very concrete ideas on how to revitalize our mission of evangelizing and spreading the Messages. Of course, witness meetings were a big part of the discussion. But he also, again, was encouraging us not to procrastinate. He quoted from March 2, 1993 where the Lord says, "live as though it is your last day on earth" and went onto to say, "we must act now while we are gifted with good health. Don’t wait until you are in the ICU to start your evangelization!" We all burst into laughter. But by the end, we left on fire!
The Eternal City
After many had departed back to their countries, there were a number of us leaving the next morning so we went to visit the Basilica of St. Peter’s. Now that we finished our retreat and were all on fire to spread the Messages again, we asked for the intercession from St Peter, St Paul, John Paul II and others ... to appeal the Lord on our behalf.
The Last Supper
A small group left at the retreat house shared our last meal together before leaving the next morning as resurrected selves with renewed fervour to evangelize with love for Love.