This picture was taken on Saturday, December 8, 2007. The pilgrims joined the community in praying litanies to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, St. Joseph and the saints of the church, asking for their blessing and their peace throughout every room and hallway in Our Lady’s Tabernacle. The Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages is the Motherhouse that contains the mission of Caritas of Birmingham that is operated by the Community of Caritas. Four months from finishing, as the Tabernacle was nearing completion, the construction crew gave a projected date of completion. We were awed when the date they came up with was December 8th. The construction crew did not have any idea that December 8th was an important feast day of Our Lady, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. However, the community knew that this was no coincidence and we were excited to see God’s hand in the choice of this date. This is what led to the inspiration of our founder to hold a dedication for the new building to consecrate it to Our Lady. The date of this first dedication was December 8, 1993. It is now 15 years later, and every year since 1993, we have gathered with pilgrims from all over the country on December 8th, to rededicate Our Lady’s Tabernacle to God and to our Holy Mother and to remember those who donated to help build it, that our work within this building will continue to be blessed and have influence in our world in bringing forth Our Lady’s messages into every aspect of our society.
Sunday, December 9, 2007 was Grotto Day. Pilgrims climb a nearby mountain to visit Grotto La Pluie—a natural niche in the mountainside where a statue of Our Lady resides. It was also in the year 1993 that this statue was brought to this site. In August of 1993 Alabama was suffering from a severe drought, worse then any drought in the states history. The community climbed to this spot in the mountains to consecrate the weather to God and Our Lady and ask for the drought to end. A friend of the community, from France, was visiting at the time and our founder asked her to tell us the name of “rain” in the French language. She told us it was “la pluie”. The founder responded, saying “Grotto La Pluie.” It was from that conversation that the grotto became known as the Grotto of the Rain, or Grotto La Pluie.
Within days of praying in the grotto, it began to rain. Rain continued to pour down for days. So much rain fell during those days that it broke all the records for rainfall in the month of August in the history of Alabama. This made a great impression on the community on the power of consecrations. We have continued to climb this mountain for all of our needs in the community and mission over the years. We asked the pilgrims this year to offer their sacrificial climb for special graces to be received for all pilgrims during the July 1-5 apparitions that will take place in 2008 when Marija, the visionary, will be here. Click Here for more details...
Being that it was Sunday, the Community hosted a delicious home-made pasta dinner for all the pilgrims after the climb up the mountain.
Monday, December 10, 2007, visiting the Bedroom of Apparitions. When Our Lady appears to Marija, She comes down on a cloud which rests right on top of the bed. She has appeared with baby angels on several occasions. The first apparitions took place November 1988 through January 1989. When it was time for Marija to return home, a grateful pilgrim gifted the host family with 12 dozen red roses, yellow roses, and other flowers as a thank you to Our Lady for coming in the apparitions. They arranged the flowers on the bed for Our Lady, making a carpet of flowers for Her to stand upon. When the Five Days of Prayer was initiated 15 years ago, the family opened up the Bedroom for pilgrims to visit in prayer and began the tradition of laying out the flowers in the exact same way as that final farewell in January 1989. Visiting the Bedroom of Apparitions is a deeply moving experience and is the highlight of the five days of prayer for many pilgrims. There have been many vocations to the priesthood and religious life that have been birthed through this room. And perhaps, more importantly, there have been a multitude of marriages and families that have found renewal within these four walls.
December 11, 2007, Christmas in the Field. Nestled underneath the branches of the great Pine Tree in the Field is a beautiful Nativity lit up by 500 candles. The pictures can’t portray the beauty of this scene. Christmas bells ring out Christmas hymns throughout the Valley, and pilgrims come carrying their flowers to present to Baby Jesus in answer to a request Our Lady made in a message to the villagers of Medjugorje long ago. It is a message we take delight in living every year.
December 20, 1984
Three bonfires are lit that encircle Our Lady’s statue and the Nativity, representing the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary are prayed, with special meditations and music played between each decade. For those who have experienced this special event, you know that Christmas is felt and lived in such a way that you feel you are right there in the stable in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago. There is no way to describe the beauty of this night. The weather this year was so mild that many of the pilgrims not only stayed gathered around the Nativity for quite some time, but came back to sleep in the Field underneath a sky filled with stars. We were graced with seeing many falling stars throughout the night.
A special addition to these Five Days of Prayer was the presentation that the community did for the pilgrims that was first presented on the opening day of our school year.
The school year theme that Our Lady chose for our school this year was the Medieval Times or the Middle Ages. The older youth of the Community, many who graduated themselves from Our Lady of Victory School, always like to create a special opening day play for the students returning in the Fall. It is always a surprise that leads to laughter, tears, and hearts that are moved to contemplate the mysteries of God in a bygone time as well as in our present time. The little princess is one of the community babies who perfectly fulfilled her role, to the delight of the pilgrims, by blessing the crowds with her little scepter.