Vassula in Taiwan - Nov. 21 - 24, 2002
Vassula finished her evangelising tour in the Philippines on Nov. 21st and left Manila with Cecilia in the morning. They arrived in Taipei at 1 p.m. The team of organizers for Vassula's Taiwan tour, Martha, Paul, Joanne, Agnes, Fr. Guy, alongside with Bro. Otfried from Switzerland, were waiting at the CKS Airport, happy to see Vassula.
Taiwan is one of the three countries of Vassula's Asian tour, to which the Lord sent Vassula for the first time. Vassula's first visit to Taiwan was really a great blessing from the Lord for the Taiwan people, but also for TLIG Taiwan as well. For we have been longing to welcome Vassula to Taiwan, but we did not expect that she would come shortly after the international TLIG pilgrimage in Egypt. Neither did we think that we could prepare for her a big, public prayer meeting, a radio interview, a press conference and an interreligious meeting within a very short time and with very limited means.
During Vassula's two-day public appearance in Taipei, wherever she spoke and whomsoever she addressed, her powerful and inspired speech was literally applauded with enthusiasm, admiration and responsiveness, both by Christian and non-Christian audiences. And for us, TLIG helpers in Taiwan, who could speak to Vassula personally, we were all impressed by her affability, her simplicity, but also by the concern she constantly shows for unity and peace.
Nov. 21, 2002
As soon as Vassula and Cecilia came out from the Immigration control of the airport, they were immediately brought to a hotel. Cheerful and spontaneous conversations naturally took place during the one-hour drive, as if our Taiwan friends and Vassula had known one another for a long time. After checking in at the reception, Vassula and the TLIG helpers had their first briefing, putting the finishing touches to her busy schedule for the next two days. In the evening, a private welcome dinner was arranged, so that all helpers of TLIG Taiwan could finally get to know each other and make the acquaintance of Vassula as well, as some of them live in the Eastern and the Southern part of Taiwan Island. They had to travel either by train or by plane to come to dinner! During the welcome dinner, everybody had the opportunity to share his personal experience with the messages, how they came to know the messages and what they had done for TLIG... Despite the linguistic barrier and the very different cultural backgrounds between Vassula and our Taiwan TLIG friends, the dinner simply looked much like a reunion of a family, everyone was interested in the stories of the others, bursting into laughter now and then.
Friday, 22nd November 2002
This was the busiest day for Vassula: radio interview at 9 a.m., followed by a meeting with the Taipei clergy at 11 a.m. at the Archbishop's Curia. Lunch with the clergy at noon. After lunch, a press conference from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. And from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. another meeting with nine religious leaders. Fortunately, all these meetings were held at the same place, with the kind permission of the Archbishop.
The radio interview was truly a gift from heaven. It came almost miraculously on the very day of Vassula's arrival. A friend of Martha knows a lady who works as a radio presenter in BCC (Broadcasting China Corporation), one of the biggest Radio Station in Taipei. Having heard that Vassula was in Taipei and knowing why, she decided at the last minute to invite Vassula to an interview for her daily early morning broadcast radio program, called 'Spring of the Soul'. However, before the interview, she stated very clearly to us all that Vassula should not expect her to ask questions specifically on the Christian faith, because her programme is not meant to be religious. However, as the interview went on, the presenter became more and more interested by Vassula's testimony, especially when she heard how Vassula's daily life changed radically after her conversion, from living without God to living only for God and with God. Very naturally, the presenter herself started to ask further questions on the messages, givng time and freedom to Vassula to talk freely. After the interview, the presenter told us that she is a Protestant and that she was deeply moved by Vassula's interview. And she was so happy when Vassula offered her the message books in Chinese.
Meeting with the local clergy
At 10:40 a.m. Vassula arrived at the Archbishop's Curia, where she was going to meet the Archbishop of the Taipei Archdiocese, Msgr. Joseph Ti-Kang, and his clergy, but also some priests and sisters from other parts of Taiwan as well. Vassula was warmly welcomed by the Archbishop, who had heard of her and the messages already. To her surprise, she saw a few European priests again, who had attended her earlier prayer meetings in Scotland and in France! Though Vassula had barely one hour time for her address to the clergy, - which actually means only half a hour because of the simultaneous translation into Chinese, - she marvelously managed to convey in very plain and clear terms what was essential and relevant for her audience. A young diocesan priest, Fr. Francis, opened the meeting by giving his personal testimony very succinctly. He was often asked by other priests of the diocese why he supported TLIG. Fr. Francis said only for one reason : through the messages, he became more conscious of his priestly vocation and found joy in being a priest. Then it was time for Vassula to talk.
First of all, Vassula briefly introduced herself: an Orthodox laywoman, called by God for his service, as the Scriptures says that God speaks "in many and various ways" (cf. Heb 1,1). Thereupon, she reminded her Catholic audience that in the Catholic Church, according to the teaching of Vatican II, the laity, too, have an important part to play with regard to ecumenism (cf. Lumen Gentium, §35). Then Vassula gradually drew her listener's attention to the following three main subjects which she developed in more detail subsequently, absolutely in accordance with the teaching of the Holy Father's writings on ecumenism and with the Scriptures.
1) The ecclesial aspect of repentance : not only every single Christian, but also the different Churches, each Church as a Christian community, is called to repent and to humble herself before the Lord (cf. Jm 4,10) For the fruit of repentance is " love. Without love, as long as she does not die to her own ego, the heart of a Church will turn cold, hard and irreconcilable. Upon saying this, Vassula mentioned the vision of the three iron bars, representing the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. The three iron bars will never touch each other unless they bend, through the fire of the Holy Spirit. And it is only through a collective repentance that each Church will obtain the fruit of love and humilty, which are absolutely vital for reconciliation and unity.
2) The sin of division : division does not come from God, but from the devil. It is an evil and it is also a scandal. The Catholic Church, the Protestant Church and the Orthodox Church are co-responsible for the division that separates them and keeps them weak and estranged to God's commandent of love (cf. Mt 12,25). In order to be consolidated, each one of them should put an end to the division, starting with the unification of the date of Easter between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches.
3) The role of the Holy Spirit in leading the Christians to unity : fruitful and genuine ecumenism, - which Our Lord wishes to see come true, - will not come from human laws and man-made regulations. For if one starts ecumenism with human laws and man-made regulations, one is almost bound to judge his neighbour for not belonging to the same Church. This it not the ecumenism wanted by the Lord. Therefore, the Church must be docile to the Holy Spirit and His manifestations. This does not mean one should give up all the theological principles and the teaching of the Church on ecumenism, but rather to allow the Holy Spirit to make the letters alive and to lead the ecumenical actions towards the unity, which will be in the heart and pleasing to God (cf. Jn 17,21).
Vassula's address on unity was so spiritually, theologically and biblically rich, and at the same time, it shed much light on the Holy Scriptures and on the present situation of the world, that even when it was already time for lunch, she was requested by the priests from various nationalities to answer a few more questions on the messages, particularly on how the Lord intends to accomplish unity.
After having lunch with the clergy, a press conference of about 30 minutes was arranged at the Archbishop's curia at 2:00 p.m. The press conference was another instructive and interactive part of that day's programme. For people could ask Vassula questions spontaneously. Although not many reporters came, - one reporter from "Radio Veritas", a local Catholic Radio, and one from the local Catholic newspaper, the "Christian Life Weekly", yet, a few general, but sensible questions were raised.
One of the reporters wished to know how Vassula herself could tell that the messages really come from God. Without hesitation, Vassula replied that she could hear God's voice very distinctly inside her. Sometimes, while taking messages, she happens to hear words from God which are new for her and, therefore, she has to look them up in a dictionary.
A well-known exorcist priest from Lyon, France, Fr. Christian Curty, had studied her case. Fr. Curty excluded the possibility that the messages could be due to Vassula's subconscious. He said that because Vassula had never had any religious education, not even the basic catechism, so she could not be the author of the messages of a dozen volumes, which, over the years, went into deep theology and splendid mystical spirituality. The second possibility is the devil. We all know that the devil wants to take souls away from God. And from the beginning till the present day, the messages have converted countless people all over the world and brought them back to the sacraments. Some of these were people who used to believe in New Age and practised esoteric cults. Therefore, the devil cannot be the author of the messages. So, the last and the only plausible explanation is that the author of the messages is God. We know that God is Joy, Love and Peace. And this is what the reader experiences in the messages.
Then, the second question was on the prophecy about Sept. 11. Vassula made use of this opportunity to remind us that God does not punish us, repeating substantially her comment on the prophecy available on the Internet. The message given on 11.09.1991 was a warning for the whole of mankind. The world is self-destroying because evil draws evil; and many people nowadays fall into the devil's temptation and believe that they can live without God, they can become gods by themselves... We should feel responsible for the victims of Sept. 11 and respond to God's call to repentance. It is through our prayer, repentance and sacrifice that the world can be saved from destruction through wars and catastrophes of all kinds.
An interreligious meeting was scheduled for 3:00 p.m. also at the Archbishops curia. That was another blessing from heaven, an important event for TLIG Taiwan. In Taiwan, interreligious talks are quite common. But, what is new about the interreligious meeting with Vassula, is her powerful message of peace, delivered to them for the first time by an Orthodox laywoman who happened to be in Taiwan.
More than 30 people attended the meeting, sitting around a long, oval-shaped table. Among them were representatives from the Association of Taoists, Buddhists, Muslims, the Baha'i Faith, The Lord of the Universe Church, as well as the Archbishop and the Auxiliary Bishop of Taipei, the Secretary of the Taiwan Bishop Conference, plus a few other priests who came to the meeting in the morning. As there is no Greek Orthodox community in Taipei, Vassula was considered to be the representative from the Greek Orthodox Church for that meeting.
As usual, Vassula started at the beginning of her discourse by telling the story of her purification and conversion by her guardian angel Daniel, and why she now travels a lot now and what she does during her evangelising tour, particulary in Taiwan. She then shared her experience with interreligious meetings during the past years. For example, she had been invited to speak to Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land, to Buddhists in Hiroshima, to Hindus in India, and recently to Muslims in Bangladesh, where she put a veil on her head during her speech, to show to her Bangladeshi friends that she sincerely respected their Muslim culture. But Vassula's respect for her Muslim guests in Bangladesh went even further than that: she quoted passages from the Coran before reading the Beatitudes to them. Seeing that a Muslim representative was among the audience, Vassula did the same thing this time and quoted several times from the Coran, giving the exact reference of her quotes.
Peace is the right word to summarize Vassula's interreligious speech, as Vassula put it very explicitly: she made an appeal to the representatives of non-Christian religions to work together for peace, to bring peace to the world aimdst all sorts of ethnic wars and religious conflicts. Vassula admitted that she was there to proselytise for peace-makers and to promote peace. Vassula personally sees four common elements in other non-Christian religions, which would allow both Christian believers and non-Christian believers to come to a constructive dialogue and to work together for the peace of the world. This is what she would like to invite her audience to reflect on, in connection with and in the light of the TLIG messages:
1) Prayer. Every religion knows prayer and has its own way to pray. Here, Vassula referred to the messages, to what God and Our Blessed Mother say: we can change the world by our prayer. So, prayer is a powerful instrument to obtain peace.
2) Fasting. Fasting is practised not only by Christians, but also by Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus. Therefore, if one fasts for the others, regardless of their religions, and without self-interest, one is actually offering his love to the others, sacrificing for the others, thus following the example of Jesus Christ, who shed his blood on the cross gratuitously for others.
3) Virtues. Virtues are taught and practised in every religion, because they are something desirable and indispensable for men. According to the TLIG messages, love is the biggest virtue of all, and in the day of judgment we all will be judged according to the measure of our love. Symbolically speaking, love is like a mother, who has many daughters that are other virtues. Among these virtues, there is one which the world today needs most of all in order to avoid religious and ethnic conflict : it is "tolerance". In other words, one has to be tolerant with other religions. This means that to accept and to respect other religions. So, tolerance should be the virtue which enables all different religions to exist peacefully together, in mutual respect.
4) Belonging to the one and same God. The belief that all men belong to the one and same God is either accepted or shared by different religions. And according to the TLIG messages, we are all from God and He is Our Father, and the Holy Scriptures tell us that God has no favorities (Rm 2,11). This is another reason why believers of different religions should love each other and live like brothers and sisters, because we all come from the same Creator, the same Father in Heaven.
At the end of her address, the audience was so touched that several participants could not help retain their emotion and wanted to communicate their positive feedback. For instance, the representative from the Chinese Muslim Association, Mr. Haji Ni, stood up and thanked Vassula again and again for defending Islam. He burst into tears saying that many people tend to associate terrorism with Islam. It was so touching for us TLIG helpers and for Vassula, too, to experience this, to hear a believer of another religion speak from his heart. Before saying goodbye to each other, Vassula invited the representative of each religion to pray for peace, everyone in his own way. Vassula started first and said the Lord's prayer in the way that God the Father had taught her to say. After the interreligious meeting, all representatives were eager to take a group picture with Vassula and were happy to receive a copy of the message book in Chinese, as a souvenir of that wonderful meeting.
Indeed, the Lord is accomplishing what He says in the messages : they are His Hymn of Love for all mankind. And the interreligious meetings held by Vassula in different countries witness and confirm that Our Lord is truly bringing His message of peace and love to our non-Christian brothers and sisters.
Saturday Nov. 23, 2002
A private interview
It was Vassula's last working day in Taiwan, which was going to end up with a big, public prayer meeting in the afternoon. But since Vassula was available in the morning, Martha had the last-minute idea to make a video film for TLIG Taiwan, a kind of document, hoping that someday it will be broadcast by some TV channel in Taiwan. She managed to find a professional cameraman, who was free that morning. He came to the hotel and shot the interview given to Martha by Bro. Otfried, Vassula and Cecilia separately. Although all four of them did not have any time to prepare what to ask and what to answer, the shootage went on astonishingly well, not only without a hitch, but also with a lot of humour and joy, especially when Cecila spoke about her impression when she first met Vassula. We hope that very soon this TLIG video film can also be viewed by Chinese people living outside Taiwan.
The prayer meeting, from 2 pm to 5 pm
Vassula's public meeting was scheduled for 2:00 p.m. at the Holy Trinity Church of the SVD Fathers, of which the capacity is 400 person. Nevertheless, some 150 additional chairs were added beforehand to accommodate the expected 600 - 700 audience from all over Taiwan, mostly from Northern Taiwan. As a matter of fact, the church was packed. People of all ages came, and among them, a good number of sisters, a few priests and a retired bishop. Meanwhile, many had expressed their regret for not being able to come to the meeting due to their preparation work for the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King at their parish church the next day. Bro. Otfried was already in the parish, leading the assembly singing a few songs to praise the Lord, to thank God for bringing His messanger to them, until Vassula arrived.
Vassula started the prayer meeting by saying the Lord's prayer in Aramaic. Then she greeted the audience and started by relating the story of her conversion and some interesting anecdotes with her guardian angel Daniel and with Jesus as well: how she was purified, how she was taught to pray before each meal, how to use "we, us"... The whole audience was literally captured by Vassula's freshness and the spiritual power of her testimony. Very soon after, Vassula went straight away into other important topics, so that her testimony covered the most fundamental subjects of TLIG spirituality like "The Great Apostasy", "intimacy with God", "repentance", "unceasing prayer", "reconciliation and unity", "the New Heaven, the New Earth and the New Jerusalem", "To love God is do His Will and to observe His Commandments", "The Second Pentecost".., which she explained by means of small anecdotes added in between. So, Vassula went from one topic to another. When it was time to finish, Vassula chose the following message, which she had quoted for the press conference and interreligious meeting, to offer to Taiwan:
Come and learn:
- in the morning sow your seed of love;
- at noon sow your seed of peace;
- in the evening sow your seed of reconciliation;
then go and collect your harvest and offer it to Me, your Father in Heaven, and I will tell you: "in your graciousness, My child, you have obtained your reward in heaven." (18.06.94)
After Vassula finished reading the message and saying a healing prayer on the participants, to Vassula's surprise, the choir immediately began to sing the TLIG title song, 'Doxa, doxa', in Chinese! While the choir was singing, very naturally, all the people in the assembly joined together by holding hands.
In the evening, a farewell dinner was arranged for Vassula and Cecilia with all TLIG friends, who had done a great job during and before Vassula's tour in Taipei. The Archbishop of Taipei and his auxiliary bishop honoured us by accepting our invitation. At the end of the dinner, Vassula personally thanked everybody and exhorted us to work in unity and said that we should consult each other before taking any important decisions.
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2002
Vassula's plane is going to take off at 10.20 am. Therefore, we brought her and Cecilia to the airport before 9 am. Before Vassula and Cecila boarded, we had our last coffee, sharing for the last time our intense experience of the last two days with each other: Martha, Paul, Joanne, Bro. Otfried, Cecilia and Vassula. We were all extremely grateful to the Lord for having poured His blessings so lavishly on TLIG Taiwan. We all firmly believe that the Lord will send His messenger back to us again. But from now on until that day, a lot of work still needs be done and more helpers are needed. We pray for that, and are confident, because Vassula's first visit to Taiwan is a proof that that it is God's work and He will never let us down.