Saturday, August 9, 2003
Marija’s family and the majority of the community left early this morning for Florida. Because of all the small children, the usual six hour drive turned into an all-day drive. The plan had been to arrive with plenty of time to get settled before apparition time. What happened instead was that we were just nearing the place where we would be staying on the ocean, but had not arrived yet at the time we should be starting the Rosary. Though we had officially started our family retreat vacation, our founder wanted to make sure Our Lady was given a special time each day when we all gathered together for the Rosary and Her apparition. This would be more challenging to work out since our normal routine at Caritas would not be kept. On the drive down to Florida, there was some question as to what time the apparition would be. We would be in a different time zone from Alabama which helped to cause some confusion. Would Our Lady appear at 6:40 PM Alabama time or Florida time, since most of their time would be spent in Alabama?
When it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to make it in time for the apparition to be in the home we would be staying in, our founder took a surprise course of action. When we were in sight of the water, he stopped the car, jumped out and began running towards a large rock sea wall. Directly behind it was the beach and the water of the Gulf. Everyone in the caravan of cars his followed his lead, parked their cars, and quickly scaled the rock wall to get to the water. They all arrived behind our founder, who had knelt in the sand, facing the sunset on the beach and began praying the Rosary. Rebel, our dog, was bounding towards the water, and gave everyone a show as he began jumping in and out of the waves. A great joy overtook us all as we took in our first view of the sea.
Because a we were rushed to meet the time Our Lady would be appearing, we barely finished the Rosary. Just before Marija went into ecstasy, our founder leaned over to her and asked her to ask Our Lady exactly what time She desired the apparition to be each day so there would be no confusion, rushing, etc., so we could plan better when to start the Rosary. We could have never guessed Our Lady’s response to such a question. Marija told us that when She asked Our Lady this question, Our Lady smiled and said the following message:
We were all stunned by this message. It was hard to believe Our Lady would actually do something like that for us. It brought great joy and awe to the community. Our founder said he could write a whole writing on this one message, this one action of Our Lady. And so, because we did not have any time constraint upon us, we could plan the apparition for what was the most opportune time to receive Our Lady in our days of vacation. Being given the ability to have the apparition at our own choosing made for a most unbelievable, beautiful, incredible week in which each apparition was prepared for in a special way so that our hearts were fully prepared to receive Our Lady each time. This undeserved gift Our Lady had given to us left us wanting to do more for Her.