Vassula's visit to Athens, Greece
January 4 -7, 2001
Quite unexpectedly, Vassula received a phone-call at the end of November 2000 in which she was invited to go to Greece to witness to two separate groups of people who had shown immense interest in the messages since learning about them. Some of these people, and invariably all Greek Orthodox, were alerted to the messages through means of a video shown on Greek television which is organised by one man and his own small media outfit who is able to secure a certain amount (not much) screening time on local Greek television. The others came through invitation by word of mouth.
On the 3 January accompanied with her husband, Per, Vassula set off from Rome’s cold and rainy airport for the beginning of one of her many travels for the year 2001. Entering the aircraft and finding that there was a vacant seat next to Vassula, she commented with a smile on her face that this was Jesus’ seat. We laughed at this, as the song, "O come let us adore Him" was being played over the music system prior to take off…. all very fitting.
The reception of Vassula at the airport in Athens was a grand affair, as one would imagine from the vivacious nature of the Greek people. Several members of the Athens True Life in God Prayer group had proudly turned up to give a most warm and cheerful welcome to Vassula, handing over beautiful bouquets of flowers to her whilst being able to chatter excitedly to her in Greek. It provided a truly electric welcome preparing the short journey to her hotel where she met with everyone to discuss and finalise arrangements for the days to follow. That same evening, Vassula met with the Archbishop, from the Greek Catholic church in Athens along with a fellow priest who was familiar with Vassula and had been to several places where Vassula had spoken before. There they discussed the messages, and the work of Beth Myriams throughout the world and Vassula showed them some of the many photographs of the clergy representing 12 churches who had gathered in the Holy land in March 2000. The discussion centred on the ecumenical nature of the messages and other places throughout the world where similar messages from God are manifest or have been manifested such as Soufanieh, Medjugorje and Garabandal.
The first public meeting arranged was in Candice Ghiannoutsikous’s house in Athens on 4 January. Around sixty people were expected to come and listen to Vassula talking about the messages and seats had been prepared for this amount of people. No one could have imagined that there would have been double that amount. For the duration of the hour-long talk, Candice’s house was transformed into a small symposium hall with a bookstall displaying Greek and English volumes of the messages and videos. Many books were sold which is always a good indication as to how receptive people are to the messages and many people remained behind to try and have a few words with Vassula. One in particular was a Greek Catholic (Uniate) priest from Romania who was so taken with the love shown in the messages.
The following morning Vassula met with a local Archimandrite who was very open to the messages. This is very encouraging and Jesus was showing that He is opening doors in Greece, as all the clergy with whom Vassula met, were positive and inspired to want to know more. He read every book and said to Vassula that there are many passages that remind him of the Fathers of the Church. He then shared a dream that he had had. He saw Jesus appear to him and he asked him not to just read the messages but to underline certain passages as well. After this dream, he printed a book called, "Messages of Love", having included extracts from True Life in God in it.
Whilst this meeting was going on, many people from the Athens prayer groups were busy preparing for the next talk that took place on Saturday 7 January, handing out flyers in the streets of down town Athens. It was so encouraging to see a group of young trendy Greeks in jeans, leather jackets and sun-glasses giving up their free time to hand out invitations to the talk and all with such a spirit of joy. Initially the Polish community in Athens had been the intentional target community, with local people from the Athens groups attempting to secure a hall within the Polish Catholic church in the centre of Athens. Jesus perhaps had other plans, as there was opposition from the local parish priest who advised his congregation not to go the scheduled meeting at all, implying as so many times in other countries and places that the faithful are being disobedient by attending. By having to identify an alternative venue, the invitation seemed to be "opened up" to invite people other than from the Polish community. Was this Our Lord showing to us that in our attempt to diffuse the messages that we are to be much less exclusive and not to be selective in where or to whom we witness? Certainly at the actual meeting that took place on the Saturday of 6 January, on the feast of Epiphany, over 125 people responded to the invitation to listen to Vassula. There were Polish speaking people English speaking people, Greek speaking people, Catholic, Orthodox and even Buddhists who had come, all for whom Vassula had to speak in both Greek and English whilst someone translated into Polish.
Vassula began by explaining that she was a normal housewife when she first heard God speaking to her. She heard a voice so tender that she felt as if she had heard Him and knew Him before. She felt Him as "my Father", before her father here on earth. When asked to pray the Our Father, she explained how the answer, "Yes, Dad", just slipped out of her mouth and she was afraid at having caused offence at first but was reassured by God that he had taken this answer like a jewel in His Hand. This was God showing her and all of us that He desires intimacy from us. To preach teach and pray is one thing but to know and understand God is another. To be intimate with Him and to have fear of the Lord are like two feet walking towards Him so that it is possible to penetrate to the depths of God.
Through these messages Vassula explained that God, our Father is teaching us the image we have lost. The message is a call to conversion, a change of heart, of reconciliation and of unity, especially that of Christ’s Mystical Body here on earth, His church.
She continued to share that, once He approached her, the Lord had asked her to pray without ceasing and that she, Vassula, had protested saying how could she do this as she was a housewife and had many other duties to do. Jesus gently said to her that she had not understood and that He did not want her on her knees 24 hours a day, but that to pray without ceasing is when your heart desires Your God all day long, and that this is the greatest commandment of all. She explained that to make this prayer is to know Him. She continued by saying, that Jesus says, "Die to yourselves, die to your will so that My Holy Spirit can move in you. Lower your voice so that you can hear my voice and lower yourself entirely so that I can lift you. If you allow me, my Holy Spirit can transfigure your soul from a desert into a garden and from a garden into a palace, where I can be King and reign over you and from there into a paradise where you will be able to glorify Me."
Vassula continued to say that if you want to progress spiritually, Jesus requests that we die to our passions. For if we do not, this can block the Holy Spirit working in us. The Holy Spirit will fill us but not sufficiently as there is more space needed. When we die to ourselves we give ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit and He pours Himself into that space that we give Him, like a light, which then allows us to think like God and our acts will be as God. This depends on our openness to His Holy Spirit and dying to all our passions.
Vassula continued that Our Lady has taught us through the messages that if we hurt our neighbour, we hurt Christ Himself. In a vision, Vassula shared how she had seen Jesus leaning against a wall as if just after the scourging where he was breathing with a lot of suffering and Jesus said to her that, "souls render Me in that state". Christ is offended when we are not good with one another. From the messages she quoted, "Make peace with me. I have loved you from all eternity. Return to me and I will return to you. Sow a harvest of love to obtain love, sow a harvest of peace and you will inherit peace, sow, blessed ones of My Soul, a harvest of reconciliation and you will obtain My Glory. Do not weep over material things; lift your heart and let it seek My celestial laws so that through this My Kingdom will be in your heart. She concluded this theme by reminding all present that the measure of love we have shown whilst here on earth is what we will be judged by.
Prior to and following the meeting, there were books available in all three languages which some people bought and many enquiries made as to obtaining more information about the messages. Vassula met personally with some of the people who had attended, one of those who was an Orthodox priest and overjoyed with what he heard. He spent some time sharing with Vassula and has invited her to Cyprus where he would like some more clergy to be introduced to the messages. There has also been interest shown in Crete with some of the Athens prayer group having visited to evangelise the messages.
On the Sunday and last day of the visit to Athens, Vassula spoke in Sounio about 65 kms east of Athens. Again it was a mixed group of people who came both Orthodox and Catholics who listened to how Vassula explained that God prepared her for a period of three years before she went out to evangelise. This was particularly enriching for every one there, as we are all called to witness and it allows us to understand our own personal preparation to evangelise the messages to the world. She explained that the language used in the messages has a lot of symbolism and gave a brief example of this.
The day was completed in true Greek style with hospitality almost second to none. The Greek people had provided the banquet of food whilst Jesus had provided the banquet of His love through His Love Hymn shared that day. On the day of departure, Vassula was visited by yet another Greek Orthodox Archimandrite who described the latest book that he read as "awesome". It was truly inspiring to complete the visit to Athens with these words of truth.