August 7, 2005, Sunday
When the community gathered in the Bedroom the evening of August 7th, we did not know if this would be the last apparition of Marija’s visit here because if the apparition was still in the evening the next day, we would all be on the chartered plane heading to Medjugorje. Perhaps it was Our Lady’s desire to appear on the plane with all the pilgrims present. Our founder did not ask Marija to ask Our Lady, prefering to have Our Lady tell us what She desired to do.
The community was called to come earlier than usual to the house to begin praying in preparation for the apparition. However, upon arriving we discovered we had been called together for a special surprise. When we entered the Bedroom, the Bed was all decorated with yellow roses, crosses and rosaries. The three oldest sons of our founder were kneeling on one side of the bed. Directly across from them were three young girls facing the three sons. All three couples were discerning a deeper relationship at the time. A song began to play with the title, “My Last Name.” Then beginning with the oldest son, a small ring box began to be passed from one brother to another, up and down the line, back and forth. It was immediately obvious that someone was about to become engaged—no one knew who, until finally, son number three, Tony, stood up and approached his bride to be, Erin. The two of them had been courting in the community for the past year. There were lots of tears, shocked gasps, laughing, talking, and hugging. After all the congratulations were said, everyone moved to the kitchen where a beautiful celebration had been prepared.
Later, everyone returned to the Bedroom for the Rosary leading to the apparition of Our Lady. The newly engaged couple knelt down at the foot of the Bed where Our Lady would be appearing. Marija’s description of the apparition follows:
Marija said, “I recommend all our intentions. Our Lady begin to pray over everyone. I make special recommendation of these two. Our Lady make Sign of Cross (over them). She was tranquil today. Apparition is tomorrow at 8:00 a.m.”
The two whom Marija recommended to Our Lady, were of course, the newly engaged couple of the community. Our Lady made the Sign of the Cross over them upon Marija’s request. This initiated a new step in the Caritas community as this was the first marriage inside the community, a new family, a new generation of living Our Lady’s messages was beginning.
Our Lady then stated that the apparition the next day would be in the Bedroom at 8:00 AM. This was beautiful because Our Lady was anticipating the time of the apparition for the early morning which helped to bring peace to the rest of the day with all the preparations in organizing the pilgrims, getting through the airport and the 200 pilgrims loaded in the plane and ready to go. We were able to focus on Our Lady, before the day became filled with details and busyness. Our Rosary was prayed with joy and thanksgiving for Our Lady’s visit and the many blessings She gave to all those gathered at Caritas for these past days. Of course, we were all excited that we would be going with Our Lady back to Medjugorje on this special occasion of the “Birth to Assumption” pilgrimage. But Our Lady’s birthday celebration of August 5, 2005, would remain in our hearts forever.
Sts. Joachim and Anne's home, parents of the Holy Virign Mary.
Our Lady’s little house had all the petitions, flowers and candles gathered before it from two nights ago, when the fierce storm had moved in during the time of Our Lady’s apparition. One never tired looking at the sweet picture of Our Lady as a baby surrounded by the angels at Her birth. With the experience of Heaven re-enacting Our Lady’s birth through the storm that had descended upon us, the picture became more mystical and the little house, a cherished relic of the beautiful apparition of Our Lady of August 5, 2005.
Marija’s youngest son, Giovanni, greets his friend, the deer, at Rosary time in the Field, on August 7, 2005. Our Lady had used the deer to bring many people to conversion during their days at Caritas. She was quite comfortable walking through the crowds of pilgrims as they prayed, especially if they shared their snacks and blankets with her. Most people never have the opportunity to be so close to an animal that is normally in the wild. The surprise of it opens the heart to joy, and when the heart is in joy it is easier for the angels to lead it to Our Lady. It was beautiful standing back and watching the deer do in an instant what may have taken years for a family member to do who had been praying and working on leading their loved one to conversion.
A beautifully arrayed Bed greeted all the community when they walked into the Bedroom the evening of August 7, 2005, for the apparitions. We did not know for what occasion the Bed was decorated, but everyone’s attention perked up knowing something out of the ordinary was taking place.
No one was more surprised than the Bride-to-be, as the ring was placed on her finger. What better place to become engaged, then here, in the Bedroom where Our Lady has appeared so many times, teaching about the sanctity of marriage and the holiness of family? In fact, all the following couples who have married in the community (four couples) began their engagements from the Bedroom. It has become a community tradition, one with deep meaning that is filled with the biblical imagery of the branches being formed off the vine. The couples want their marriages and future families graphed into the tree of the original family that Our Lady called to become witnesses to Her way. They know they are called to be an extension of that first witness and that everything roots back to where it all began, in the Bedroom, when Our Lady first appeared there in 1988.
Marija shares the joy of the moment, congratulating Erin and Tony, and as she had not been let in on the secret, she was just as surprised as everyone else. At the time of this engagement, Marija had known the founder’s family for nearly 20 years. During her first visit in their home in 1988, the founder’s wife, Annette, gave birth to their fourth son, Joseph, Tony being just four years old. Marija and this family had shared many family moments and beautiful history with Our Lady's apparitions and what Our Lady did over the years, so there was something very beautiful seeing these children grow up and then begin marrying and starting families themselves. To see young families being born that choose to continue to follow Our Lady’s messages, who offer themselves for this plan and mission—is something extraordinary, and certainly, brings joy to Marija’s heart, and Our Lady's as well. Our Lady said:
May 1, 1986
To grow up with Our Lady and see this message fruit out is indeed a history with Our Lady that future generations will be in wonder over the times we were blessed to live through.
The excitement of the past hour finally gives way to silence and reflection before the Rosary begins. Tony and Erin kneel down at the foot of the Bed knowing Our Lady will be before them in a short time. What a grace to become engaged and then to be in Our Lady’s presence to seek Her blessing and Her help as they begin their final preparation for marriage. It was an emotional Rosary, but one filled with joy and thanksgiving for all the community.