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July 17, 2013 A.D.
The announcement we have been waiting to make that is known now to all the pilgrims who joined us here at Caritas for the Five Days of Prayer for the Reconciliation of Ourselves, Our Families and Our Nation Back to God, July 1-5, 2013, takes some explanation to understand what is behind it and how it came to be. On July 24, 1989, Our Lady said:
February 12, 1990
July 2, 2013
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem is where the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was first established. The year was 350. It was Constantine, whose mother St. Helena had discovered the true relics of the Cross, that established the feast. He was the first Christian Emperor after the Roman collapse. Each year, since the beginning, the relics of the true Cross are taken out for veneration on September 14th—the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. A reading is read on this feast that quotes John 12:32. “Once I am lifted up from earth, I will draw all men to myself.”
The “lifting” up of the Cross means
The “exalting” of the Cross
The “rising” of the Cross
In the early 1990’s a visiting priest to Medjugorje who had lived for many years in Jerusalem and helped to care for the sacred sites surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus, spoke from the pulpit of St. James Church. He said:
In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Holy Mass would be celebrated at 7:00 A.M. There would be a few little Arab women, seven or eight Franciscans, a couple of young altar boys present for the Mass. They would bring out the relic of the true Cross, and by 8:00 A.M., everything would be put away, and over. In Rome, it is the same. But here in Medjugorje, on the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, just recently, 100,000 people climbed Cross Mountain and celebrated Holy Mass. It took hours and hours of a steady stream of people coming down that mountain. And I thought, “Dear Jesus, this is the only place in the world where this feast is celebrated!” I’ve been in Jerusalem, it’s not celebrated there; liturgically, yes, but not with thousands of people fulfilling Jesus’ words: “I will draw all men to myself.” They’re coming like an ant stream from everywhere, from five continents of the world, going up to that mountain. They’re doing what Jesus said. He’s drawing them to Himself in a very literal meaning of His words. That doesn’t happen in Rome. It doesn’t happen in Jerusalem. This is the only place in the whole world where this Feast is being celebrated, where the Cross is being lifted up, raised up, exalted. Jesus is literally drawing people from five continents, to Himself, even going up that hill, drawing people to Himself, physically, geographically. When you see that in the pictures—Hallelujah, Lord, I want to be in that number. That means you are safe. You’re drawn away from the seducer. satan doesn’t “draw” men to him, he seduces men to him, in a sinful seduction. Adam and Eve were seduced. Jesus must remedy that. How? “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men to myself. I will smash his head.” (Gen. 3:15)
On September 12, 1985, Our Lady gave a message in Medjugorje in which She asked for the “cross” to be “central” these days:
This was, of course, just days before the celebration of the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, but in the village of Medjugorje the Cross is always central because of its visible presence on top a tall mountain that helps to form the valley in which Medjugorje is located. The Cross has always been central in Our Lady’s plans and messages over the years as well.
The Cross has also been central to the foundation of the Mission and Community of Caritas through events that took place with our founder and his family before Caritas came into being. In fact, his decision to found Caritas was a result of a cross being removed from a church. That incident sparked the fire in his heart to start Caritas. Later on, he experienced a profound conversion himself in Medjugorje, in 1986, and having the opportunity to return to the village multiple times witnessing the same impact on tens of thousands of people from around the world, our founder desired for the same conversion he saw happening in Medjugorje to take place in our own nation of the United States. He made this request directly to Our Lady through Medjugorje visionary Marija, and Our Lady gave him an affirmative answer that was conditioned upon his acceptance of becoming a witness of Her messages. He could not have imagined that the result of that request would bring Our Lady, in Her physical presence, to his home in Alabama.
Before that was revealed to him, the cross began to become “central”—both physically and spiritually in his life. While in Medjugorje in 1988, he was given the Crucifix that hung in the rectory, specifically in Fr. Slavko’s bedroom where the apparitions were taking place at the time. Having to move out of his bedroom, our founder was helping him. Fr. Slavko took the Crucifix off the wall and handed it to our founder as a gift. Hundreds of apparitions had taken place in the presence of this special Crucifix. Our founder was very moved by this gesture and felt very unworthy to receive such a holy relic. He brought it to Marija before leaving Medjugorje, and asked her to pray over it that it could be used as a great instrument of conversion for our country, the United States. Several months later, when events happened that opened the way for Marija to come to Alabama and to their home, a strong unquenchable inspiration that had to be acted upon, was given to the wife of our founder to hang the Crucifix over their bed.
It was thought by the founder and his wife that the apparitions would occur in a church, even perhaps outside. It was a shock and surprise to the couple when, through another series of unforeseen events, the apparitions of Our Lady began taking place in their bedroom over their bed. Yet, nothing Our Lady does is without reason. We have come to realize that this room, precisely the “Bed” is Our Lady’s altar for families of the world. No nation can be strong without strong families. No family can be strong without strong individuals. Before nations can be healed, the family must be healed. That healing cannot take place outside of the Cross of Jesus. It’s only through embracing the Cross that we can find healing from selfishness, egoism, betrayal, brokenness, painful memories and wrong mentalities. It is only through the Cross that forgiveness, trust, mercy and love can be reborn into the heart of the family. The Cross must be central for the family to be healed. Once the family begins to be healed, one family at a time, the nation will heal—also through the Cross.
What you are about to read is the fulfillment of something that has been in the plan of Our Lady from the beginning in leading this nation back to Her Son. It is the natural progression of what began in the Bedroom 25 years ago* when the Crucifix was placed over the Bed which led to Our Lady having Her apparitions in what is now known as the Bedroom of Apparitions. If you were here present for Our Lady’s apparitions, July 1-5, 2013, you would have immediately understood the secret that was promised to be revealed in these special days with Our Lady. Behind the Field of Apparitions stands a mountain named decades ago as Penitentiary Mountain. Today this mountain is crowned with a cross, a large cross that is a match of the Cross in Medjugorje on top of Cross Mountain. It is, in fact, an exact replica of that Cross and it was placed on Penitentiary Mountain to acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of Mankind. How did this Cross come to be? You will discover the answer to this question in what follows which is from the July 1-5, 2013 Program Booklet for the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady.
The Cross of Repentance for the Reconciling of Ourselves,
Our Families and Our Nation Back to God
And the Events of July 1-5, 2013
The Cross, as seen against the backdrop of one of many storms which rolled in often and stopped our work, though sometimes we had to work through them. We figured with the lightening striking all around the only thing to do was make an Act of Contrition and continue. If we were struck building the Cross, it would be a good way to go. Our Lady said:
July 25, 1987
Pilgrims began arriving for the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady on the day the above picture was taken, Friday, June 28. This was the day that the section of the Cross was actually poured. It was our hope that the Cross would be finished before the event began. Pilgrims who walked out to the Field of Apparitions could look up at the mountain behind the Field and see a cross on top, but it was still surrounded by scaffolding and forms.
Once the go ahead was given to proceed with the Cross (read preceding July 12, 1993 letter), a plan was put into action. After over 20 years of prayer and sacrifice, the first physical step was being able to get to the top of the mountain to excavate the foundation. This first meant a lot of boots on the ground manual labor from the whole community and then those members who could operate our heavy equipment sprung into action to build and construct three miles of service roads, working from before daybreak to well into the night. The second part of the equation was the behind-the-scenes planning of the building of the Cross itself. It took several months to the point of where the Cross would be raised.
The darkness in the world does not stop Our Lady coming to the Earth every day. It was the same for the Cross. Darkness cannot hinder a work of God. Slow it down, yes, but with a resolute decision to continue one can achieve what God puts before you.
With the road construction going on, the community would often climb the mountain, praying many rosaries asking Our Lady’s blessing, protection and especially safety over every aspect of the building of the Cross. This picture was taken on March 15, 2013, while our founder was still praying about the exact placement of the Cross. The community is kneeling on the crest of the mountain, facing the Field below.
When Marija came to Caritas in December 1999, someone had desecrated the statue of Our Lady in the Field. Marija asked for a new statue to be brought out to the Field, and then mentioned to A Friend of Medjugorje that it was their custom that whenever a desecration took place, they would offer a sacrifice of walking on their knees around the area as an act of reparation. A Friend of Medjugorje was accustomed to walking on his knees before he learned this from Marija, and he had already established this into the life of the community as a special sacrifice to offer Our Lady. So, Marija, A Friend of Medjugorje, the Community and the pilgrims that were present in December 1999 all walked on their knees seven times around the new statue that had been brought out. One evening in the construction of the Cross, A Friend of Medjugorje re-told this story, and said that no grace comes without sacrifice, and that we wanted God to have everything for the conversion of those who would come. So, while a Rosary was prayed, he along with the Commmunity present, offered this sacrifice of walking on their knees in consecration of the Cross, so that more grace would be attached to the thousands that would come.
One of the things that Our Lady showed to A Friend of Medjugorje for the Community was joy, joy amidst the Cross. He himself would suffer the cross over the years in establishing that which Our Lady wanted to birth here in a way of life. Here, a fruit of this way of life, little Rebekah is joining in the sacrifice of walking on her knees, with shorts on, all the while smiling with the joy that comes with offering something for God. The entire construction of the Cross was filled with these moments, too many to count the blessings of Our Lady upon this work, that was over 20 years in the making.
One of the community men had commented that he had never seen so much rebar in one location when he helped to form the foundation for the Cross. Soon to be embedded in the cement when it is poured is a rock rosary from Medjugorje, blessed by Our Lady in an apparition, as well as many other blessed religious articles. Throughout all the 35 cement truckloads that were poured, blessed religious articles including rosaries, medals, scapulars, statues, and religious pictures were added following the tradition that was started here at Caritas by our founder when the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages was built in the early 1990’s.
Rebar shoots straight out from the cement footer that will be the main support for the Cross. The long vertical lines pointing to Heaven will eventually be the main part of the Cross. Our night lights repeatedly saved the day, enabling us to be ready for the next day’s work which followed at dawn, only a few hours after worked stopped.
It was not just the Cross that needed to be built, but a pathway for the Way of the Cross going up the mountain. Our founder climbed the mountain many times to lay out the way, praying many rosaries. Through prayer the way was changed many times until he felt peace. The final day of choosing the path he prayed to the Holy Spirit to point out each step as he walked up and down the mountain of where and how Our Lady wanted the climb for the Way of the Cross. Our Lady said:
September 2, 2006
Our founder had a nylon string placed through the thick woods, guided by GPS, from the spot where the Cross would be constructed on top of the mountain to the pine tree in the Field. The straight line was to help him keep in range as he searched, through prayer, the necessary criss-cross to make it feasible to climb the Way of the Cross. A real surprise by the Holy Spirit was the straight line crossed directly to these two rock formations, both were obviously placed there by God's hand from ages ago, and were once connected, but now split. Its dramatic find was even more heightened by the fact that they were two stand-alone boulders without any others by them. When our founder saw this, he knew the first station was to begin here. The split rocks represented what Jesus came for. His birth split time. His birth began a new time of the final age. As the split in the rock spoke to our founder of time divided, Jesus’ life sets the calendar to zero, the dividing between the Old Testament and the New Testament, from one time to another. This rock represents a change in Salvation history—all things made new again through the death of the Son of God.
Pilgrims at the First Station of the Cross, “Jesus is Condemned to Death”, pass through this split, literally entering into the Way of the Cross. There was no doubt in the heart of our founder that the Heavenly Father had laid this one stone, split-in-two, to mark the place where countless souls would enter on the path of the Via Dolorosa.
July 2, 2007
Once the path had been planned out, it had to be cleared so that the 14 Stations of the Cross, constructed by members of the community, could be mounted along the way.
The crosses for the stations were carried up the mountain at 5:00 A.M. by community members just a few days before Marija and her family’s arrival.
For the Way of the Cross a bridge had to be constructed to cross over a large creek as well. Pouring and constructing our own concrete beams, using our own crane and many other pieces of heavy equipment literally saved several hundred thousand dollars. With miles of service road construction, clearing and hauling, Caritas could never have afforded a construction company to do this much work in such a short period of time, because it would have exceeded over a million dollars. Our founder has always guided the community to do everything in-house giving us, with God’s grace, the ability to do what cannot be done except by God’s grace. The sporadic rains also hampered progress on the bridge. These cement beams were placed on June 27, leaving still the whole deck to be built by the community while other community members were managing the construction of the cross and the clearing of the Way of the Cross up the mountain, and still others preparing for Marija’s coming. The night before the Five Days of Prayer started, community men with some of the girls were working on the bridge until the early hours of the morning. It wasn’t completed until July 3.
The morning after Medjugorje visionary Marija arrived, on June 29, our founder led her up the mountain with her husband and family to reveal the Cross to them for the first time. They did not know about it beforehand and it came as a big surprise. Marija told our founder that it is the Cross that is what unites the village of Medjugorje. It is the Cross that brings unity. Marija said, “This is beautiful, this is very good,” for our nation.
When Marija and her husband Paolo came to the top of the mountain, they were met by many members of the community who had been working at the site since daybreak gathering rocks for the stonemason who was laying stone around the foundation of the Cross as can be seen to the right of Marija kneeling on the wall surrounding the Cross.
View from the Cross scaffolding. Part of the community is reconstructing the mountain top. The service road the dump truck is on will be removed and the mountain top also restored to its original state. The community had piled up and removed large rocks to save them for after the Cross is finished to be re-placed as close to as God laid them out when He formed these mountains.
At the end of the day, after the evening apparition in the Bedroom on June 29, Marija described to the community what took place in the apparition: “Our Lady pray over us and She blessed us. And I recommend all us, all our intentions, all what we have in our hearts. And I ask Our Lady for tomorrow, and She said apparition is same time, but not same place.” Immediately, the founder of Caritas questioned, where? Marija said a little playfully because she knew the surprise would be great, “Cross Hill”. The reaction was just as she expected with the room filling with gasps and several more questions. She went on to explain, “Cross Hill. I ask because (founder) ask me for blessing (to ask Our Lady if She would bless the Cross). So tomorrow night we have this time (6:40 p.m.) on Cross Hill. I said Cross Hill. What is (name)? Cross Mountain or Cross Hill?” The mountain had received no name because the founder wanted to see what the Holy Spirit would guide people to say. The members of the community felt deep emotion, excitement, happiness and joy to learn of Our Lady’s decision to bless the Cross at the actual site of its construction. Marija was asked again, “So, you just asked for a blessing on the Cross, and Our Lady said She would appear there?” Marija said, “Yes.” Our Lady said, September 25, 1996:
The community would experience in a deeper way these words of Our Lady—the way of the Cross would become “the way of joy” knowing Our Lady would be together with us once we were gathered at the foot of the Cross after ascending Penitentiary Mountain.
The first time the Community of Caritas did the Stations of the Cross together up Penitentiary Mountain. Sunday evening, June 30, the Caritas Community with Marija’s family climbed the mountain leading to the Cross, praying for the first time the Stations of the Cross on this mountain. The stations were still incomplete, in that the plaques with the name of each station had not yet been attached to each cross. As the community climbed, praying the stations, two community members hammered the plaques into place. The community each carried roses up the mountain, to place at the foot of the Cross to represent our hearts. We also carried roses for each member of the community who had gone before us and were already living their eternal life in Heaven.
As the community nears the top of the mountain, the expanse of the whole valley can be seen below, while the Cross can be seen from above. Knowing Our Lady would be appearing by the Cross brought a deeper awareness of walking this path, the suffering path of Jesus. We were in awe as we climbed the mountain, knowing that Our Lady had said She would bless the Cross—in awe of this encounter with Heaven opening and Our Lady descending to be with us at the foot of the Cross.
Our young children climbed up to the altar at the base of the Cross to receive the roses from all the community members. A vase was waiting to receive the flowers, and while our founder’s daughter did the work to arrange them, Marija came up to help, as the Rosary began.
When it began to rain softly, Marija told the children to go underneath the altar to keep out of the rain. It made us wonder if she had experienced this herself when she was a little girl climbing Cross Mountain in Medjugorje with her family. When it rained, had Marija ducked under the altar to keep from getting wet?
A view of the Field of Apparitions from on top of the mountain of the Cross, June 30th. On Sunday afternoon, a few early arriving pilgrims gathered for the 6:40 apparition time in the Field. They thought the apparition was to be in the Bedroom of Apparitions. None of the pilgrims knew of this special apparition about to take place at the newly constructed cross with the exception of one married couple who kept it secret. A few minutes before apparition time, this couple was to announce to everyone in the Field that Our Lady’s apparition was about to happen at the Cross where the community was now gathered waiting to receive Her. They were invited, from the Field, to turn towards the Cross to be in union with the prayers of the community on the mountain. After coming down the mountain, we met many of these pilgrims who had stayed in the Field to hear of the apparition from the community. In the midst of greeting old friends, loyal supporters of the mission, family and new acquaintances, everyone learned about the apparition the previous day before when Our Lady said She would bless the Cross, and then the apparition that just happened. Many were moved to tears, others beamed with joy, while others retreated into silent prayer.
When it came to the time of the apparition, our founder and his family rose to join Marija at the foot of the Cross, while the rest of the community knelt around them, and around the Cross. Everyone placed their hands upon the Cross, entering into silent prayer awaiting Our Lady’s arrival. Our hearts and hands were united in desiring this Cross to be consecrated to Our Lady for Her plans and purposes.
Marija receives Our Lady, as Our Lady receives the Cross from the heart of the community and our founder. Our Lady crowns the Cross with Her blessing during this apparition.
During the apparition, with all of the community kneeling facing the Cross all along its sides, Our Lady appeared facing out towards the valley. It was approximately 6:40 p.m. when Our Lady appeared and the apparition lasted a little over five minutes—the length of which was a consolation for us as Our Lady, in Her tenderness, stayed so long in prayer at the Cross. There was such peace and silence on the mountain that evening and the prayer was deeply felt by all as was the presence of Our Lady.
The community gathered around Marija after the apparition to learn what Our Lady had done and said. Marija said, “During the moment of the apparition, I recommended to Our Lady all of us, all the people who are in the Field and I asked Our Lady to bless the Cross. Our Lady prayed over us a long time and She blessed us all.” The question was asked by our founder, when Our Lady was asked to bless the Cross what did She do? Marija said, “She made the Sign of the Cross,” and then Marija imitated Our Lady giving the blessing with her hand. We all felt during the apparition Our Lady’s blessing, anointing and acceptance of this Cross in a special way because we gave it to Her with our heart through trials, sacrifices and difficulties suffered for Her to heal us and heal “this”, our nation. We felt Our Lady’s acceptance during the apparition. Our Lady gave a special message to our community through Medjugorje visionary Vicka when we were working on another special project years earlier. Our Lady gave the private message to our founder and the community:
August 26, 1996
From our founder to the smallest little ones in community, our hearts are in this Cross.
After the apparition on June 30, the community, Paolo & Marija’s family, and our founder's family climbed the Cross for a picture before beginning the trek down the mountain. A happy moment. The blessing of the Cross through Our Lady was received by the community with great joy as they know with the blessing comes great graces flowing from Heaven.
Pressed for time to have the Cross ready to receive pilgrims from across the country and other nations, the community asked for 50 volunteers to help with cleaning up the debris left from the construction of the Cross. Having to first climb the mountain and then begin hauling boards and planks in the hot July afternoon didn’t take away their joy or smiles. Up close to the Cross, they were in awe, and were happy to have a little part in seeing to its completion.
“The most impacting event for me was climbing the mountain and to be before the Cross to pray and open my heart was so powerful. I felt I was able to present myself who is nothing, but I received the gift of pure love.”
All those who participated in the clean-up expressed that it was a privilege for them to help and they were grateful to be asked. But apparently Our Lady wanted to express Her own gratitude for the help. Several pilgrims, not related to each other, who had volunteered to help, found upon descending the mountain and returning to the Field, that the metal links between their rosary beads had turned to gold.
“A Friend of Medjugorje explained that this Cross had been over 20 years of desire and wanting…but so that it would be more than a monument, it came after it was prayed, suffered, fasted, novenas, sacrifices…so that it would bring forth miracles. My desire for the restoration and healing of our marriage and family needed the same thing. May our time be near as well. May much fruit and blessings come from our restoration. It was such a privilege to be part of the first public group to climb the mountain. I don’t know why but I am so thankful to have been called.”
This picture taken from the opposite mountain range was the day pilgrims were climbing to Grotto La Pluie where a statue of Our Lady is located above a waterfall in a naturally formed grotto. Upon reaching the grotto, they could see across the expanse of Our Lady’s valley in which the Field of Apparitions is located, to the Cross as the picture shows when volunteers were helping clean up.
“The Cross is incredible. I can’t stop looking at it in awe. I know and feel it is miraculous. It exudes power. I am so thankful for the Cross! When I look at that Cross, I see hope for our nation.”
Over the past three July 1-5 events at Caritas in 2008, 2009 and 2012, Our Lady had established a pattern in which during the evening July 2nd apparition in the Bedroom She said She would appear the next night in the Field at the time of the vigil for our nation’s birthday, which was either 10:00 or 10:30 p.m. This was always such a joy for everyone first, because Our Lady would be appearing in the Field where everyone could be near to Her for the apparition, and second because it was a recognition from Our Lady of the purpose of the gathering—which is to pray for the return of the United States back to God. Her actions also demonstrated that Our Lady was involved with these events, responding to them, rather than just following a visionary. Her actions of changing the places and times of the apparitions when She comes to Caritas gives us joy, showing that She has a plan in motion here and that She is working through a collaboration with “…a community of one single people where the Word of God is listened to and carried out...” as Our Lady said in Her June 2, 2013 message on the day for nonbelievers. Because this had been Our Lady’s action three times in a row, of appearing during the nighttime vigil, it was anticipated by many people that it would be the same for this July 3. It was then a big surprise when Our Lady told Marija that She would appear in the Bedroom the evening of July 3 at 6:40 p.m. Many were disappointed; others felt there was a mystery to Her choice. Despite rain throughout the day, and more rain predicted for the evening, preparations for the vigil continued throughout July 3 and pilgrims gathered in the Field for the 6:40 p.m. apparition, planning to return again later in the evening for the prayer vigil for our nation. But Our Lady had a big surprise waiting for everyone from this particular apparition in the Bedroom, revealed in the next picture and description.
Just before Our Lady's apparition this night, our founder felt prompted to ask Our Lady, through Marija, for a second apparition for the vigil of our nation's birth. Following is Marija’s description of the apparition in the Bedroom, 6:40 P.M., July 3, 2013:
“In the moment of the apparition when Our Lady came, I recommended all of us, all of our intentions, and Our Lady prayed over us and She blessed us all. I asked Our Lady for tonight, if it’s possible She would appear one more time, and She said, ‘Yes.’ She will appear in the Field at 10:30. We will have a special apparition tonight in the Field. We make prayer for our vigil for the founding of this country.”
Marija added, “Yesterday, I tried to ask Our Lady something and Our Lady did not give time. Tonight Our Lady gave us time.”
Our Lady was giving us two apparitions in one day! This was an incredible grace and the cause of great joy within the small group gathered in the Bedroom for the apparition. There were several priests present in the apparition and when all the pilgrims came out of the Bedroom, Marija asked them to pause in the living room so that the priests could give everyone the blessing of Christ. The pilgrims gathered in the Field waited to hear what took place in the apparition.
Caritas’ founder came out to the Field after the evening’s July 3, 6:40 P.M. apparition and though the prayers and singing had continued in the Field, silence spread throughout the grounds when he took the microphone. With a voice heavy with emotion, he told of the great grace Our Lady had just given them from the Bedroom. However, She also gave another gift. “Our Lady told us She would return that night at 10:30 p.m.” for the vigil of our nation for a second apparition. The crowd was surprised and elated, erupting into spontaneous applause and cheers. Others were so touched that they knelt in prayer and tears.
“I was blessed to be able to attend the retreat from Monday morning through the second Apparition on Wednesday night. What a grace-filled honor and delight to be there with Our Lady, the Caritas Community, and the thousands of pilgrims that came to be with Mary, attend morning Mass nearby, and pray, pray, pray. Also the Cross that the community built overlooking the field of Apparitions is breath-taking and I am sure will bring great blessings to the valley, the Diocese, our country, and most especially all who climb the mountain to visit it. What a grace Caritas has afforded all who climb up, praying the stations of the Cross, and then praying at the foot of the Cross—an exact replica of the Cross in Medjugorje on Mt. Krizevac. Thank you again to Caritas for arranging this week and for all of your prayerful and tireless diligence in honoring the Triune God through Our Lady of Medjugorje. God bless you all and our country. Much love and affection—TJTM
Most of the pilgrims did not leave the Field and stayed in prayer for the several hours leading to Our Lady’s 10:30 p.m. apparition. Thousands of red, white and blue candles encircled Our Lady representing prayer intentions of thousands of people not only in this nation but around the world. A special Rosary was prayed for the healing of our nation, leading up to the Solemn Act of Consecration of the United States of America to Our Lady’s heart that would then be followed by Marija’s apparition. Marija was present for the vigil, kneeling directly in front of Our Lady’s statute. The consecration prayer had been written by A Friend of Medjugorje for the July 2008 apparitions. This consecration was renewed in 2009, 2012 and also this year, 2013. A line, however, was added to the consecration this year: “We bind this nation to the Cross.”
After the Rosary and Consecration, Marija began the 7 Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s and Our Lady appeared just after 10:30 P.M. The apparition lasted about 4 minutes. Following is Marija’s words describing this second apparition of July 3, 2013 which took place in the Field of Apparitions:
“During the moment of the apparition when Our Lady came, She came and I began to recommend all of us, all our intentions. She watched us, and after She extended Her hands and began to pray over us. And She prayed a long time over us, and She blessed us. I asked Our Lady about tomorrow, and she said, ‘Here, at a quarter till seven.’ So we have an apparition here
near to Our Lady, in the Field, 6:45. God bless you.”
It was on July 4 that pilgrims were invited, for the first time, to climb Cross Mountain, doing the Stations of the Cross up the path leading to the Cross. The decision had not been made before the Five Days of Prayer began what day we would climb the mountain to the Cross. Rather, our founder wanted the days to unfold and see when the Holy Spirit would manifest the day. With the delay in completing the construction of the Cross and the bridge over the creek until the week of the event, July 4th became the first possible day the whole body of pilgrims could make the climb. Providence had directed the first climb to be on the birthday of our nation. Our Lady had said the evening before from the Bedroom that Her apparition on July 4th would be in the Field at 6:45 p.m., so in order to have everyone back in time for the evening apparition, everyone left for the mountain just after lunch. With several thousand climbing the mountain, pilgrims, without effort, fell into separate groups to pray “Mary’s Way of the Cross” going up the mountain.
“Thank you Caritas Community, for the blessing it was to be there for my fourth time!! The graces showered each time are profound and spiritually strengthening! I was even able to complete my one full year of St. Bridget prayers while there, up at Cross Mt. I began them last July 5th, 2012 on the way into the Bedroom of Apparitions! It was a most grace-filled, beautiful experience!!...I came back home feeling strengthed, encouraged, fearless, and deeply loved by God, Our Lord Jesus, Our Dear Blessed Mother, and all of Heaven. I say "yes" to the mission of extending this love to others God places along my path; with His peace and joy!! We march on...living Her messages, one day at a time, Sweet Jesus! God bless all!"
L. M., Michigan
The path of the Stations of the Cross, that winds its way up the mountain through woods filled with Alabama Pines breaks out onto rough and rocky terrain. In placing the Stations of the Cross we had to bust through 8 feet of solid rock to make a path in the side of the mountain that people could stand on and pass as this rock wall cliff to the left shows at the 11th station. Despite the number of people on the path, reverential silence covered the mountain. Grace was moving in hearts profoundly as many people could be seen visibly moved through this difficult journey to the Cross.
“On July 3rd…during the second apparition of that day, while praying the Rosary during the third mystery, I closed my eyes and saw the Cross at the foot of the hill illuminated with an indescribable glow. I opened my eyes thinking that it might be thoughts of my imagination. So, I closed my eyes again and behold I saw the Cross radiating a light indescribable to man and saw Our Lady in Her glorified state dressed in all white, a white that radiated Her purity. She looked happy, with the serenity that only comes from a pure and immaculate being who is in a perfect union with the Almighty God. I heard Her repeat the following three times: ‘I’m waiting, I’m waiting, I’m waiting.’ This gave me a clearer understanding of the love Our Lady has for the Cross where Our Lord laid His life down for all of us; that He will exalt us according to the love with which we carry our own crosses and offer them to Him.”
The Cross does not come into view until just before the 11th station, and cannot be fully seen until all the stations are completed. There is no other word to use to describe the experience people had when they reached the Cross but that they were in awe. The grace of God tangibly and literally descended upon the mountain with the encounter of Our Lady and the blessing She had placed on this Cross on June 30, marking it with Her hand so as to greet each pilgrim with the Heart of Her Son. Many people broke down weeping at the foot of the Cross and later testified that they felt being washing cleaned by the love of God and His mercy through the Cross.
“Being among the first to walk ‘the way of the cross’ to the Cross on Penitentiary Mountain was difficult, but I felt a movement within me kneeling in front of the Cross and by reading a message in the Words from Heaven, at the Cross. The message made me tremble and I want all the more to avoid sin and to live a holy life. Also, the simple act of receiving a yellow petal at the foot of the Cross made me cry like a baby because it was a simple gift! I felt pure love from God in all my sinfulness. I am humbled in God’s mercy because of His love for me and the love of Our Lady, the Mother of God.”
C. G., Tennessee
As in Medjugorje, the Cross on Penitentiary Mountain simply states on the front:
TO JESUS CHRIST
THE REDEEMER OF MANKIND
AS A SIGN
At the base in the front of the Cross:
FROM EVERY EVIL
On the back of the Cross, the year of the Crucifixion of Our Lord to this present year:
For many who have been to Medjugorje, seeing the Cross of Medjugorje solidly positioned on this mountain top right before their eyes was beyond what their hearts could hold. And for those who had never had the ability to go to Medjugorje it was the same when they knelt before this Cross seeing what they never expected to see, experiencing what they never expected to experience.
“Penitentiary Mountain brought me back to Medjugorje and how hard it was to climb up. In Medjugorje—very hard. Coming down you could hang onto the trees at the side and it helped you. I didn’t even notice these trees going up. Same here—hard going up—Jesus’ passion on the via Dolorosa was hard also. We think of our sins, what we have done and failed to do. Once up on Penitentiary Mountain, the wind would blow—Mary is in the gentle breezes. The strong gusts come from the Holy Spirit who is also in the wind. I felt very close to God and that He was listening to me. And I felt courage and hope.”
The View of the Valley from the Cross: Many commented that it was seeing the beauty of God’s creation that opened their heart—the beautiful, verdant valley below, hidden within it the Bedroom of Apparitions and to its right, the Field of Apparitions, the two places of Our Lady’s visitation from Heaven’s view point.
October 25, 1995
A grace humbled many a soul at the Cross on top of Penitentiary Mountain, July 4, 2013.
"The way of the Cross walk on the 4th of July was the most moving experience I have ever had. There are not words for my experience or my gratitude. As you know, when God wants something and the heart is open to His Will, he can move mountains. May God's graces continue to flow through all of your work and sacrifices."
K.D. North Carolina
It is easier for God to move a physical mountain than to move some men's hearts. Many experienced the mountains in their hearts come tumbling down before this Cross.
February 22, 1986
“…I came expecting to be part of five apparitions and got blessed to be part of seven apparitions, the first being when Our Lady appeared by the Cross on Sunday, June 30 and it was Her first apparition by the Cross that had just been newly erected by the Community. When we finally climbed the mountain to be by the Cross, words cannot express the beauty of the graces that flooded my soul as I sat at the foot of the Cross. I have been to Medjugorje three times in the past and owe my conversion to Our Lady of Medjugorje, yet as special as my first trip to Medjugorje was, this walk to the Cross was beyond words. I felt the love, the tenderness of God, His gentleness. It was the sweetest of caresses. I, the great sinner, was embraced by God. I know that my soul was forever transfigured in that moment that lasted about 1 ½ to 2 hours. God entered my heart, my soul, my mind. We were one….”
There was a deep joy that came with the experience of the Cross for everyone who attended the five days of prayer, even for those who did not make the climb that day. Our founder stated that he believed there would be miracles associated with this Cross, and indeed, we had already seen miracles surrounding the construction of it. But the intensity of emotion that was experienced by so many on this first public way of the cross up Penitentiary Mountain gave a glimpse as to the healing of the heart, the healing of the relationship between God and His children that we believe Our Lady desires to happen here through the Cross. She gave a sign of this in Her apparition in the Field as July 4, 2013 was drawing to a close. Thousands gathered for the Re-consecration of the United States into the hands of Our Lady. The Rosary was prayed leading to the Solemn Act of Consecration which included the consecration of the United States to the Cross of Jesus Christ, and then Marija began praying the 7 Our Fathers, 7 Hail Mary’s and 7 Glory Be’s before Our Lady’s arrival. Our Lady appeared around 6:48 P.M. and the apparition lasted about five minutes. Marija’s description of the apparition follows:
“In the moment of the apparition, I started to recommend all of us and all of our intentions. I started to recommend this nation and all the people here present tonight. I said to Our Lady, I wanted to put all the prayer intentions of the people here tonight under Her mantle. Our Lady started smiling, stretched Her hands, and started praying over us. And She prayed for a long time. Then She finished with the Sign of the Cross, giving Her blessing. I asked Our Lady to bless not only us, but also all the religious article and objects that you brought here tonight as a sign of our belonging to Her. And I asked Her to bring all our hearts to Her Immaculate Heart, and through this, to the Holy Heart of Jesus. Our Lady smiled again, gave Her blessing to the objects, and said, ‘Go in peace.’ She didn’t give us a message, but Her smile, and this is a joy for all of us. May God bless you all.”
Two smiles from Our Lady on this July 4, after several thousand people had climbed to the Cross and experienced healing, renewal, and the love of God fill their hearts. These were unprecedented events in this fourth year of Caritas’ hosting Our Lady’s apparitions during the July 1-5 days of prayer. They broke from the pattern She had followed the three previous July retreats. What made this event different from the rest was the Cross. First, giving Her blessing at the site of the Cross before the event began on June 30, in the presence of the Community; second, giving two apparitions on the same day—July 3—the second being unexpected and not announced until the 6:40 P.M. apparition in which Our Lady chose to attend, once again, the vigil of our nation’s birth; and third, two smiles from Our Lady, which is a special gift in Her apparitions, to share in the happiness of Her children who had just recently experienced the joy of the Cross.
Apparition of July 6, 2013 in the Bedroom of the Apparitions with the Caritas Community.
During the apparition of July 5, 2013 Our Lady told Marija that tomorrow, July 6, She would appear in the Bedroom whenever the Community gathered to pray. The Community began to gather at the home of our founder on July 6 around 7:30 A.M. Every Community member wrote out their petitions to Our Lady and placed them on the bed for the last apparition of the July 1-5 events. The Rosary began at 8:00 A.M. with only the Community of Caritas present. Others who heard of the apparition taking place, gathered in the Field. Marija began the 7, 7, 7, and Our Lady appeared just before 8:30 A.M. The apparition lasted 3 and a half minutes. Our founder asked Marija to ask Our Lady if She had any sweet words to leave us with. Following is Marija’s words from the July 6, 2013 apparition:
“During the moment of the apparition I presented to Our Lady all our intentions and letters that we wrote. I said to Our Lady, I give to you all sufferings, all joys of this Community and I ask you to give a message for us. And Our Lady began to smile and She said,
She blessed us, prayed over us, and She left.”
Marija was smiling when she relayed to the community Our Lady’s words and Our Lady’s smile. Our Lady, ending these days, leaving with words and a smile was a joy for the Community and for the home where She appeared, especially our founder.
“The second most precious moment was during the first apparition Our Lady had that week in the Field. I sat just a couple of rows behind Marija and I could see her face. When Our Lady appeared, Marija stopped praying out loud and talked to Our Lady. I remember thinking in my heart how awesome, how special it was that Our Lady would pierce time and stand here in our midst and I heard and felt in my heart these words: “My Son pierced time 2013 years ago by His Cross in Israel and I am here to remind you of this.” She took my heart back with Her to Heaven. My heart no longer belongs to me. Where my treasure is so is my heart. Christ is my treasure. Our Lady has given me the most marvelous graces. I pray that I will always make my Mother smile and know She is truly with me, loving me just the way I am. The only wish I have would be to have the Blessed Sacrament in this Holy Place. This is not another Medjugorje, it is Medjugorje. Thank you for responding to the call of Our Lady.”
As the testimony above says, “This is not another Medjugorje, this is Medjugorje.” This is what our founder, A Friend of Medjugorje requested of Our Lady from the very beginning in his question to Her on October 6, 1986 when in Medjugorje, in which he asked, through Medjugorje visionary Marija, if the same conversion taking place in Medjugorje be allowed to take place here, in Alabama, and spread throughout the region. Our Lady responded to his question by saying, “…through prayer will you attain what your desire is...” Our founder has always understood and advocated that Medjugorje is what the world is to become. It is the plan of Our Lady, containing many plans.
We will be printing a keepsake edition of this writing in color that you can pre-order by calling Caritas in the US at 205-672-2000.
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