Our Crusade Prayer Group Pilgrimage: Reflections

26th July, 2015

It is over a week since I have returned from our trip, but I am still jet-lagged. The trip was fast-paced and exhausting. I think (spiritual) adrenalin kept us going during these 24 days., but we enjoyed every bit of it.The blessings we received were worth every bit of it. At our Prayer Meeting last Thursday, we handed out little gifts and reminders of where we had been and where all our petitions had been presented, and where we had had Masses offered for individual prayer group members as well as for our Prayer Group as a whole.

We prayed as a group whenever we were able, the Crusade prayers, attended Mass most days – the only exception being Salzburg, where this was not possible. However, we attended Mass  at the beautiful St Sebastien’s Church on the Sunday. It was quite a distance – 25min. walk from where we were staying. It was a traditional Latin (Tridentine) Mass.

Places where we prayed for our Prayer Group and  petitions:

Salzburg, Austria :P1010067

  • St Sebastien’s Church;
  • Capuchin Church;
  • St Michael’s Basilica at Mondsee.

Italy:

  • Assisi (2 churches)P1010221
  • Loreto;
  • San Giovanni Rotundo (new church, and 2 old churches) as well as at Padre Pio’s coffin;
  • Lanciano (Church of the Eucharistic Miracle) before the Miraculous Host and Precious blood;
  • Mont Sant AngeloP1010311
  • In Vatican – various side chapels including before exposed bl. Sacrament; and before grave of St. JPII
  • Lateran Basilica – and at apse which contained the heads of Sts. Peter and Paul;
  • St Mary Major– especially at the relic of the Nativity Crib;
  • St Paul outside the Walls
  • Sistine chapel
  • The Colosseum. where we prayed for and to the martyrs who died there
  • The Catacombs of San Sebastien and the Church there

Medjugorje:

  • 20150710_112936St James Church

    20150711_172240
    Statue of Our lady of Lourdes inside St James Church
  • Apparition Hill and at the Mysteries of the Rosary on the way up.
  • The Blue Cross
  • The Cross on the way up Apparition Hill
  • Cross Mountain at the Cross and the Stations of the Cross
  • Cenacolo
  • Chapel at the Mother’s village
  • Fr. Slavko’s grave
  • The miraculous statue of the Risen Christ
  • At Adoration of the Cross
  • At Adoration of the Eucharist

There was a lot to do and perhaps I have missed some places we visited, particularly as I usually wrote it all down at the end of the day, late at night after  very busy days. Every single day was 39 or 38 degrees Celsius, and we walked everywhere – seemingly mostly uphill, and carting our luggage around with us.

I have gone back and edited all my previous posts of our journey, and added pictures and a few things which I had forgotten to mention.

It was a pilgrimage, not a holiday. We are thankful for the opportunity, and to our friends and relatives who took up jobs that we had left behind ( childminding, doing the hymns at Mass, continuing the prayer group, etc.)

Medjugorje was definitely the highlight, followed by San Giovanni Rotundo. These places had a spiritual peace and quietness that we did not find elsewhere – a heavenly intervention.

Thank you God for the opportunity and the motivation,

Thank you Jesus for walking with us and keeping us safe,

Thank you dearest Mother for being our Mother and for all the graces you obtain for us!!!

Pilgrimage Part 8: Medjugorje – the last day.

We started the day by meeting in our hotel chapel for morning prayer (as we did each day while in Medjugorje), followed by the 20 minute walk to Mass and then back for breakfast. We weren’t being picked up till after 3pm for the airport, so we made a last  trip to St James church.

We found the place (in the Information Centre) where we could write down our petitions. These are then placed in a basket and then offered up to Our Lady at her next apparition by the visionary involved.

This was a lovely thought, so we spent a long time writing down all our petitions and those of our prayer group members back home.

It was also the 17th birthday of the youngest member of our group, so we went to lunch together with “Moses”. He had bought a beautiful bunch of yellow roses for her.

Later, we put the roses in a vase in the beautiful indoor garden around Our lady’s

Statues Reception Foyer incl St Anthony and Our Lady
Statues Reception Foyer incl St Anthony and Our Lady

statue in the foyer of our hotel.

At 3.30, 3 of us had to say goodbye for our long trip home. The 2 boys had left the day before to go to London to watch the cricket! (the Aussies Versus the Poms in the battle for “The Ashes”). That left 3 of our original 8. We said goodbye to “Moses” (our WYD friend), who had made a special trip to meet us at Medjugorje and stayed for the whole time to spend time with us.

At dinner time, the owner of the hotel had a big layered birthday cake for our 17year old. Sadly, the rest of us missed out. But apparently, they also had cake for breakfast the next day.

There was still much to see, but sadly this was the end of our pilgrimage!!!

Pilgrimage Part 8 cont. The Blue Cross

Prayer Group Pilgrimage-Medjugorie

The Blue CrossBlue Cross

We went back to the foot of Apparition Hill today specifically to visit the Blue Cross.

This is the place where Ivan once went with his prayer group. While they were here, Our Lady appeared with a Blue Cross behind her.

There is a story about a woman who went there to pray for her husband. While she was praying, her husband was at home watching TV. He saw the Blue Cross on his TV Screen.

We sat on a bench under a tree in the shade and we recited the Rosary, singing “Ave, Ave, ave Maria. Ave, ave, ave Maria.” after each decade and Our Lady

Our Lady's statue with Cross
Our Lady’s statue with Cross

Queen of Peace, pray for us. At the end we sang “Hail Queen of Heaven”. We offered up each decade for a different intention ( intentions of our prayer group, our own intention, for our priests, for people we had met on our journey and for our local church community.)

We noticed that another group of pilgrims had joined us at the end of the Rosary. We began to say the Chaplet of Mercy and they joined in and at the end we sang “God of Mercy and Compassion”.

We spoke afterwards. They were from Texas and Mexico and were a family group. They showed us a photo that one of them had taken while we were praying by just pointing the camera towards the sky. First, they gathered around the lady with the phone, then they came over to us to show us. (More later-after they email me the photo.)

(Editor’s note:  I did not receive the email with the photo. Perhaps they lost the bit of paper with my email address, or they misread the address. Perhaps the image was meant for them and not for us. What we all saw on the mobile phone was an image of the blue sky, but very faintly, there was an outline of our Blessed Mother. They did not say or suggest what was on the phone, they just showed us and we all saw  a faint – sort of vaporized-  image. Even though we did not receive the image, I think it was providential that they arrived just as we were praying. I think they were meant to show us the picture, so that we, too, knew that our dear Mother was there with us.

We touched our handkerchiefs to this sacred spot because Our Blessed Mother had stood there. Interestingly, they had been doing the same thing with their hankies.

Mother Elvira and Cenacolo.

Just 5 minutes down the road was this wonderful place founded by this nun who had a vocation to helping troubled youth and getting them off their addictions by hard work, prayer and adoration. We listened to their testimonies. They have houses all over the world. When they came to Medjugorje, Fr Slavko supported them in whatever way he could.

Cenacolo
Cenacolo

They rely completely on Providence. They can stay for 3 to 5 years until they are secure. They have an amazing success rate.

We were able here to write all our intentions down on a piece of paper and put it into a special sealed container made from one of the large rocks on Apparition Hill. Two Masses will be said for our intentions, after which they are burnt with the smoke going up (as incense) to God. This thought pleased us.

Pilgrimage Part 8 cont- Cross Mountain

Cross Mtn

Yesterday, 12th July, we set off for Cross Mountain. This hill is in the opposite direction to Apparition Hill but is much higher. The path up the hill is covered with the same rocky terrain as Apparition Hill. We caught a taxi there because we didn’t want to tire ourselves out before we even started. Five of us are between the ages of 65 and 75. Apparition Hill was difficult, but Cross Mountain was to prove much more difficult. Instead of 5 decades of the Rosary, there were 15 Stations of the Cross,but we made it.

This was a different story and a much bigger challenge. Other people joined our little group (including “Moses” ) and we ended up with 12!! To make it worse, 2 of us had badly swollen legs (probably a result of our hectic schedule over past few weeks) but they desperately wanted to try to do it for our dear Lord – to offer it all up Him and to pray for our Prayer Group intentions. So off we went in fear and trepidation.

We used the prayers and the readings from the little booklet written by Fr Slavko for the Stations of the Cross. The stations were distanced further apart than the Rosary Mysteries on Apparition Hill.

I thought we would never get there. The young just leaped over the rocks and stones while we hobbled and tried to keep our balance.

Between the 13th and 14th Stations, there was a rock memorial for Fr Slavko, marking the spot where he died. (See post on. 12 July).

At the top was a huge, white Cross erected in 1933. The inscription on it was:  33-1933. Back of cross with backgroundApparently it was a Jubilee year and it was erected to celebrate 1900 years since Jesus’ death on the Cross.

It is interesting that it is so big. Also the old church was rebuilt in the 1930’s – the present St James Church. It was a tiny village and the church seemed way too big for what was needed. Was it Providence that was preparing for the time when it would be needed?

While we were up there the bells of the church down below chimed for the evening Mass. It was so loud and clear and seemed to be magnified by the hills. Medjugorje seemed to be nestled in the hills, as at Garabandal; even the amphitheatre effect was there.

View from Cross Mountain
View from Cross Mountain

We stayed a while for photos, a rest and to pray for all our intentions.

We headed back. Some found going down more difficult than going up – especially on the knees. We finally made it down. It took much longer than we expected – nearly 4 hours. We were told 2.5 hours. Needless to say our youngsters were down a good half hour before us.

We thanked God for getting us down safe. We thought that it was quite miraculous that the person in our group with the swollen feet had made it! She could not walk the day before and was in a bad way, but she so wanted to try… She thought that if she got stuck she would just sit down and wait for us to come back.

Fr Slavko and Miracle Stories

Fr SlavkoOn 10th July, our first day in Medjugorje, we met up with our WYD friend (Moses) and we went for a walk to see the layout of the Church,  the Franciscan Piety Stall, the outdoor altar and the huge area of seating that is capable of holding thousands of people, ( see post on Adoration), Fr Slavko’s grave, the outdoor statue of Our Lady at the front of the Church, the shrines made with a tile mosaic of the  Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary and more.

Fr Slavko Barbaric

This priest is famous for his work here.
He died at the age of 53. He worked tirelessly for the Lord. He built an orphanage (called ‘The Mother’s village’) to accommodate the orphans after the Bosnian war.(below is one of the chapels at the orphanage.)

Chapel at orphanage
Chapel at orphanage

Fr Slavko would get only 3 hours sleep per night. He died after he climbed the hill with the Cross. The climb has the Stations of the Cross. It is stony and rocky just like the Apparition Hill, only longer. When he got to the top he sat down and said he didn’t feel well. This was between the 13th and 14th Station. Then he died.

A stone memorial marks this spot. (See picture below left. ) His grave (on the right) is found in the area behind St James Church.)

20150712_192102 20150710_115342

There is a case where an American pilgrim had climbed this hill who had been away from the church for a long, long time. She met a priest on the way and he explained to her about Confession and the commandments.

She was so enthused she went straight to the church for Confession. Later, she noticed a picture of this priest hanging on the wall of the piety shop and pointed him out and said that she had just been speaking to this priest out on the hill. The only thing was that he had already been dead and buried.

The Outdoor Crucifix.

This crucifix is rather modern in its form and not to everyone’s liking.  It is made of bronze (or brass). It shows the cloth wrapped around Jesus’ hips and which has one corner hanging down at the back and which is tied in a “b20150710_113937ow” at the side.  It all looks rather odd.

This sculpture has some cracks and seems to weep water, even if it is dry and hasn’t rained. People are seen mopping up the moisture with cloths.
It is asserted that a person who was blind received one of these cloths and put it on his eyes and was cured.

More on Apparition Hill

More on Apparition Hill: (See post dated 10th July)

This information has been contributed by a fellow JTM Crusader.

*About every 200 ft (65 m) there was a brass depiction of each of the Joyful mysteries of the Rosary.

*The whole walkable path on Apparition Hill is in the shape of a giant Rosary when viewed from above.

*The Cross between the 2nd and 3rd Mystery

:20150710_174435

This was the place of one of Our Lady’s apparitions. That cross is there because on the 3rd day of the apparitions, the following occurred:

The THIRD Day
On the 26th of June 1981,
On the same day, coming down Podbrdo,Our Lady appeared one more time,
this time however only to Maria saying,
“Peace, peace, peace and only peace.”
Behind her, Maria could see a cross.
After which Our Lady repeated, in tears, the following words,
“Peace must reign between man and God, and between all people!”

*The Permanent Sign on Apparition Hill: (same as Garabandal).

When the visible sign comes, for many it will already be too late:

Vicka, during an interview by Fr. Janko Bubalo:

Janko: “Tell me where the Virgin will give that sign.
Vicka: “On Podbrdo. At the sight of the first apparitions.

Janko: “Will the sign be in the Heavens or on earth?
Vicka: “On earth.

Janko: “Will it appear spontaneously, or will it gradually appear?
Vicka: “Spontaneously.

Janko: “Will everyone be able to see it?
Vicka: “Whoever comes here will.

Janko: “Will the sign be temporary, or will it be permanent?
Vicka: “Permanent.

Janko: “Will the sign be able to be destroyed by anyone?
Vicka: “By no one.

Janko: “You think that or…
Vicka: “The Virgin said so.

Janko: “Do you know exactly what the sign will be?
Vicka: “Exactly!

Janko: “Do you know when the Virgin will make it evident to the rest of us?
Vicka: “I know that also.

Janko: “And why is the Virgin leaving the sign here?
Vicka: “Why to show the people that She is here among us…I’ll just say this: whoever does not believe without a sign will not believe with a sign.

Question: “Do you know when the permanent sign is going to come?
Ivan: “Yes.

Question: “Is it going to be in your lifetime?
Ivan: “Yes.

Question: “When the permanent sign comes, will everybody in the whole world believe because of the sign?
Ivan: “I don’t know.

Question: “What happens to those people who don’t really believe enough right now to convert and want to wait until the permanent sign comes?
Ivan: “For those people, it will be too late. The Blessed Mother says that is why God is giving so much time for these apparitions, so that all may come to conversion.
She wants to make certain that all people have this opportunity.
She can’t help anybody who doesn’t want to change, who doesn’t come back to God, who doesn’t put God first.
If you don’t do this now, it will be too late.”

PADRE LIVIO – So, in essence, the discourse is this: the Madonna urges us to convert, she tells us not to wait for the sign on the mountain in order to convert, and in any event,  «…all the secrets that I have confided will be realized and also the visible sign will be made manifest. When the visible sign comes, for many it will already be too late», (December 23, 1982). What does that mean?
VICKA – The Madonna did not explain why it will be too late and I did not ask, she only said that we are now living in a time of grace.

Pilgrimage Part 8 cont.- Eucharistic Adoration and other activities

12th July

Eucharistic Adoration and other Activities

Yesterday, after Mass in the morning, we went back to hotel and ‘veged out’ because we were exhausted from the previous day.

We found out at short notice that Ivan would broadcast his recent message.
We had radios that translated it into various languages – we just had to tune in. What stands out from his message is “Before you can pray really well, you have to pray more often.” After his talk, the parish priest gave a sermon – also with translations. He is also a very humble and holy man. He enlarged on Ivan’s topic from Our Blessed Mother.

In the evening, we went down to the church and went to Confession to one of the many priests there. We went inside the church just as a wedding was ending so we said a Hail Mary for the new couple. We took a picture of the beautiful statue of Our Lady outside.

20150711_212932(0)We went outside because we heard beautiful singing. Around the statue of Our Lady was a crowd of people – maybe a few hundred – singing hymns. There was a man with a trumpet, and a man with a guitar and 2 nuns and 2 priests leading the singing.

We all swayed and waved our arms or held hands. We couldn’t understand the words but we could feel the meaning. Some were to Our Lady and some to Jesus. This was at 9 o’clock at night.

You could feel the love. When it finished, we went over to the large outside area as Adoration was to start shortly. It seemed like just a few hundred people Outside seating empty before Adorationinitially but, within 10 minutes, the place was packed with people. Every seat was full – 2 or 3 times as many as for the Adoration the night before.  There were maybe 4000 people or more.

As before, there was a respectful atmosphere.  Blessings from heaven just pour out onto this place. No-one spoke or moved.  Adoration was from 10pm to 11pm. The format was as the night before: short paragraphs of spoken text in 6 different languages; a short silence; then a chant – also in 6 different languages. This lasted for an hour.

This place is so holy and the people who come here so full of faith.

The monstrance was huge and the Host
as big as a bread and butter plate. A light behind the host illuminated it.

I would not have missed any of this for the world. What a blessing to be here! And to see so much Faith and love.