Community of Caritas

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BELOW: Not all the land the community owns is connected. Occasionally, we have to move our cattle down the road. When we do this, Sheriff’s Deputies are called to stop traffic, and most of them fight over who gets the duty. Daily life in community is beautiful because every day is totally different. We could be moving cattle one day… and building a Cross the next!


Herding cattle



“Our Lady did more for the Kingdom of God by being a Mother than all the angels, prophets and mankind together…”- Friend of Medjugorje




Cooking meals, cleaning, washing clothes, doing dishes, tending the garden, and sewing. The Virgin Mary lived the simple, ordinary, daily life of Spouse and Mother in the home. And yet, She impacted the whole of history and eternity more than any other woman has or ever will. Through Her Medjugorje apparitions and messages, Our Lady has come to re-teach us about holiness and simplicity in our everyday lives.



 

The bell that hangs in the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages

The following is an excerpt from the short book, “As Go God’s People, So Goes the World,” by A Friend of Medjugorje. Written in 1999, it takes one through six days in the life of the Community of Caritas to give a glimpse of how Our Lady, in first remaking the daily life of a Friend of Medjugorje and his family, formed and shaped the daily life of the community.

 


“...The future of a happy life will rest in small villages and towns, close to the soil for their subsistence: where God is acknowledged, where the whole community’s first obligation, fulfilled with joy, is to gather daily in prayer, where hard work is carried out with peace and children all around, where love reigns and Mary of Nazareth is held as Queen. For those who choose to live this, they will be the witnesses and teachers of those who will seek this life in the future. The Community of Caritas lives this in their daily lives. The following will show, by opening up a window into their daily lives, the fruit and the joy that can be produced when one chooses to put God and prayer first.



These pages were written over a six day span here within the Community of Caritas. What happens in our normal routine of a life structured upon the messages? The following description that these six days cover is typical of our life here in community:



We began each of the six mornings just as we do every day of the year. Except for the youth and mothers with small children, we all go to 5:00 a.m. prayer in the Field where Our Lady appeared to Marija in 1988. Rising at 4:30 a.m. in the morning, it is a joy to see flashlights coming from different directions on trails to come together as one light of prayer in the darkness, to pray for an hour that then gives way to light by 6:00 a.m. In the country, it is good for one’s salvation, despite the sometimes harshness our friend “nature” tests us with. It indeed has a strange personality of both friend and foe, lightning flashing all around, beating us with storms, for atonement of our sins, turning its back on us when we turn ours on God, being cold to us when our sins have made us cold to God’s voice. Our morning prayer encourages us to frequent confession. Nature speaks and, in the silence of the darkness, we seek that light which the cross leads us, by way of the difficulty of going to 5:00 a.m. prayer everyday, year after year. The “freezing” temperatures make us thankful for fire. The coolness of the “springs” (water) around us is a heartening thought in the midst of the fire of the summer heat. The fall speaks of reflection of life, death, and resurrection, and ushers us to the joy of rebirth at Christmas. Five o’clock prayer in the morning, outside in nature has taught us wisdom, which had we laid in bed, we would never have received; from night to daylight;good versus evil; pleasantries of spring and fall versus the harshness of winter and summer, such a balance. So many lessons, so many joys, so many sorrows, so many sunrises. Every sunrise seen at our 5:00 prayer, through these past twelve years (now 30 years as of 2017), has been a lesson, a profound lesson of salvation.



September 25, 1998

“...Little children, you seek signs and messages and do not see that, with every morning sunrise, God calls you to convert and to return to the way of truth and salvation...”



The Community begins their day at 5:00 am. in the Field of Apparitions

 

The community begins their day with 5:00 am. prayer in the Field of Apparitions come rain or shine, mosquitoes or heat, even in the cold. Prayer is sweet. With prayer first the rest of the day is clearer and more filled with the presence of God. The horses joined the community for prayer on this morning. Nature always speaks as these horses teach us that the grass is always greener beside Our Lady.

 


From 6:00 to 7:00 a.m., we prepare to be in the “Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages” for our work of spreading Our Lady’s messages. The children begin school at 7:00 a.m. while the rest of the community, with the exception of the mothers with small children, works in our shipping area, filling requests from over 130 countries for material, spiritual direction, Our Lady’s messages, etc. At 8:00 a.m., the mothers come, and there are always several small children crawling and playing amongst the adults as we work and pray. Just as Marija sometimes sees the angels flutter around Our Lady’s head of twelve stars, our children remind us of these cherubs, always bringing a smile to us as they glide in and out, from one adult to the next. It is among our first joys of the day.




From there, we go to our duties concerning Our Lady’s mission, which keeps us very busy. They range from greeting visitors, taking phone calls for marriage or spiritual crisis, printing mailings, setting up pilgrimages to Medjugorje, researching and writing our publications, preparing materials for shipment overseas to our Mission House in Medjugorje, archiving our history, as well as the history of the apparitions, among a host of in-betweens. The community itself has to be sustained, and we try to do that on minimal funds. So that means, on top of a full-time mission, we have a full-time agrarian operation to support the community which ranges from milking, machinery shop work, welding, the care of our animals and the growing of crops and hay. Since most of the adults are busy with the mission, the youth perform a lot of the farming joys, although all of us, in various degrees, are a part of it.

 


The Community meets for prayer at which time is usually spent in filling orders with materials to be shipped out
the Community praying over every package before being picked up by the Postal worker

The community is literally a beehive of activity from the time we start in the morning until the close of each day. For the Community of Caritas, the mission of first living and then spreading Our Lady’s messages comes first in their lives. Each morning, the community meets for prayer at which time is usually spent in filling orders with materials to be shipped out. After the packages are posted, they sit in the shipping department until after Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 p.m., when the community prays over every package before being picked up by the Postal worker who many times stands by until the prayers are through.

 


At 10:00 a.m.2, the bells ring throughout the valley, calling us to Rosary. Whether community members are in the mountains working, the fields cutting hay, St. Joseph’s shop doing carpentry work, the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages doing work in the mission, or in our homes, everything comes to a grinding halt as trails leading to the central spot in the Field where Our Lady appeared begin to fill with community members and visitors resembling, from a distance, ants on various trails going back to their nest.



The sweetness of the daily sound of the bells throughout the valley is such a joy for the children to hear. Those who grew up here who are under the age of 28, as of 2017, have heard the bells their entire lives. However, it is not always “sweet” for a few who live near our site; they despise those sounds. When our two thousand pound bell was hung, it was foretold that in the future there would be those who would be driven to madness by this daily sound. In 1993, a permanent bell was lifted up into the bell tower of the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages. Before it was lifted up, the bell was inscribed with the following message:

 

“ The daily sound of this bell serves as a voice to the animals, trees, mountains, and most of all to man, that this valley is to serve the interests of God’s plan here, and for any man who resides or visits here to do otherwise will find no peace. For this valley was consecrated by Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus, Queen of Angels, by Her appearance here as Queen of Peace, affording great portions of peace for every man who is in harmony with the plan She delivered here.”

 

We could not imagine how prophetic, nor how much meanness and hatred would be leveled at us because of the daily sound of these bells.


 

The bell that hangs in the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages

 

This is the bell that now hangs in the bell tower of the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages. 



Since most of the adults are busy with the mission, the youth perform a lot of the farming operations, which is a joy to them.


Since most of the adults are busy with the mission, the youth perform a lot of the agrarian operations, which is a joy to them. Whether community members are in the mountains working, the fields cutting hay, St. Joseph shop, or the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages, everything comes to a halt as everyone joyfully makes their way to the Field of Apparitions for Rosary time.

 


But OH! For the kids, that first strike of the bell brings a smile, a joy in the heart. Whether the little ones are in their homes or outside or around the Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages, they scramble in the joy of knowing all the little kids are about to come together for the first time of the day. During the six-day span of this writing, a two-year-old was heard, upon hearing the bells, to yell the word, “Kids!” It signified to her the joy of kids joining together, surrounded by adults praying the Rosary. As other children outside of the community play with toys, our children play with each other. We do not give them a lot of toys. Their best toy is each other, and their view of “kid” is something you play with, and play they do, with nothing but each other, adding only occasionally stick, rock, pine straw, leaves, and such. We see a joy and happiness that visitors repeatedly tell us move them toward believing in the path Our Lady has shown us. We have seen that most toys lead to boredom, but a stick can be everything from a horse to ride to whatever is imagined. It is simple and avoids arguments, since there are always plenty of sticks to be found. More peace is the result.

 

James and Isabela know to run at the sound of the bells

 

Even the youngest know to run at the sound of the bells calling us to honor that moment of each day when Our Lady blesses the earth with Her presence. These little souls grow up with the knowledge of this blessing and the memories that are etched in their lives forever.

 


On the first day of this six day period, a twelve hour-old calf was laid at the spot of Our Lady’s apparitions to be consecrated. On the fourth day, two more baby calves lay before Our Lady at the Rosary, just four to eight hours old. The calves, of course, were smothered with love by all the children, and it is just one more day of being so close to nature that we were able to live intimately witih God and His creation. The three calves, within only a couple of days, brought the memory of four weeks earlier in the Field where we consecrated “fifteen” ten-hour-old piglets. Squealing, running in and out of as many children as they, was not only a joyful, but a funny scene, all under the watchful eyes of Our Lady as we prayed the Rosary in preparation for the moment of Her apparition time in Medjugorje. The Rosary, for the kids, is a positive experience in which they associate so many joys with prayer that, as they get older, they, on their own, begin to kneel and pray with us. Our witness of always being there, scheduling errands and doctor’s appointments around Rosary time so as not to miss it, teaches them to do the same.

 

Kids with pigs

Community children, as all children, make everything a toy. Life, formation, and memories are formed by simple events; a small herd of piglets meet a small herd of children, curious of each other. Both will be before Our Lady during Rosary when the piglets are consecrated.

 

jesse with three calves by statue

 

Three new calves were brought to the Field to be presented to Our Lady for a blessing. By this blessing the calves becomes an asset to the community in making its members stronger for spreading the messages. How? Cows grow up, eat grass and manufacture milk throughout the day. After a glass of milk in the morning, the community spends their time manufacturing the written words of Our Lady.

 


These six days contained two days of full-blown rain, non-stop, which for the kids, was another adventure; tramping happily through the puddles and streams that were formed, and mud! Most parents would never allow this freedom, mostly because it requires a lot of work for the parent to change shoes, clothes, etc. But we have learned, through prayer, to be patient and give them the joy that other kids can only dream of - that is - when you see a puddle that is only one foot wide in a twelve foot wide dirt road, you go through the puddle!




The bells ring again at 3:00 p.m., and we come together again to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy offered for all our Field Angels,3 for their requests, and their loved ones who may be ill or who have left the Church. Afterwards, we pray over the out-going mail, and everyone goes back to their work. In the evening, each family prays together while the consecrated singles join together for evening prayer in their homes as well.

 


Aside from the three to four hours of prayer a day, there are many other prayers and novenas prayed by the community as a whole or individually, along with daily spiritual readings, and often times work after evening prayers. The whole community, including the youth, often prays special fifty-four day Rosary novenas throughout the year. As Lent begins, we fast nine days on bread and water to purify our hearts. As our spiritual life has grown and our children with us, it evolved that our youth join us for the 9-day fast. Even some of our young children want to join the adults and go two, three, or four days on fasting. Others go the entire nine days! It’s nothing for a five-year-old to fast with us, eating plenty of bread, with joy. This is typical of our life.




It was Our Lady Herself who directly asked Marija in 1988 for a community to be established here, and we see She is forming a culture, a way to live, a witness to a way of life.”



 

A prayer of consecration which was a combination of small prayers prayed before Our Lady’s apparitions here, is prayed everyday. It was begun when there was nothing here, but through it, we have seen the manifestations of its request come to reality, through God granting His grace. In justice, there is only so much Our Lady could ask for, and this prayer asks for more, beyond what She would ask for with Her intentions because in justice God knows man does not deserve it. We pray for God to grant it because Mary deserves it. The prayer asks also to establish Our Lady’s Heavenly Queenship here in a unique and special way as no other place on earth − not above other places where Mary is honored, but rather as if She owns the land, for it to be exactly what She wishes, free to reign, unhindered by man (us) or man in his influence. It is our desire and prayer to Our Lady and our prayer of consecration daily that we recite the “Prayer for the Abode of God.”

 


Prayer For the Abode of God




Holy, Holy, Holy God, I present myself to you with all my good deeds, my charity, my accomplishments as nothing. I have done nothing, nor will I ever do anything for You. Even if I labored to eternity for You, I still could not stand before You and say I merit anything.


I, now before You in prayer, naked, weak, and wretched, am ashamed, for I ask of You a great intention and have nothing to give You in return. Yet boldly and strongly do I say, “Grant what I ask because I ask in the Passion of Your Son.” His suffering, I argue, merit me anything I ask of You. With His blood and Its merits, can You deny me anything? I ask You not only to grant the intentions of Our Lady, but to go beyond and grant one hundred fold Her intentions pertaining to the Valley. I ask You to establish Her Heavenly Queenship here as no other place on earth. I desire Her to be the Foundress of what is to be and I beg You to give Her untold powers to accomplish Her plans. I consecrate every living plant, animal, person, and the mountains themselves to You so that Our Lady, Jesus, and You might dwell here. AMEN.




Our life is difficult and contains often times the bitterness of internal purification of our heart, but it contains such sweetness that we are sure we are walking in God’s hand.




July 25, 1987



“...Dear children, pray and accept all that God is offering you on a way which is bitter. But at the same time, God will reveal every sweetness to whomever begins to go on that way...”




On day three, in the late afternoon, we received a phone call which was a cause for the whole community to gather together. The unexpected gathering caused suppers to be put on hold, the finding of the kids, etc.. Everyone was so scattered that even though we rushed to be joined together, it took several minutes for everyone to arrive and come together in our prayer chapel in the “Tabernacle of Our Lady’s Messages.” One by one we came in, knelt down and began praying the Rosary. After the first Rosary, it was announced that our petition in regard to a certain intention had been answered. We had prayed ten long years for this intention, made many sacrifices, and hoped, even when there was no reason to hope. Finally, it had been answered. Many wept as we prayed another Rosary and another, all three mysteries. We were so thankful that for the entire 90 minutes of prayer no one got off their knees. To have prayed so long for an intention and see it fulfilled, we were overwhelmed. We all gathered again at 9:00 p.m. that night to do a novena in thanksgiving, in the same way we had done it at night many, many times through the years when making this special request — that was to walk on our knees from the house Our Lady appeared in to Marija in 1988 to the spot in the Field of Our Lady’s apparition. Once there, we circled nine times around the tree and statue, praying the Rosary and singing to Our Lady in thanksgiving. Walking on our knees for an hour and a half made us reflect on how, through the years, we were even able to do this so many times because of its difficulty, but it always strengthened us, and the prayer, sacrifice, and mortification were always done with love for Our Lady. This answer to prayer we received strengthened mightily our faith in the actions of mortification that we practice so much in our community. Every action we do in the community is rooted to a message. It is how we have learned to do such things to start with, as Our Lady’s messages show.




May 25, 1990


“...I desire to help you to grow in renunciation and mortification that you may be able to understand the beauty of the life of people, who go on giving themselves to me in a special way...”




We have literally rooted our action, our way of thinking, to Our Lady’s messages, and our life has a certain fullness. A yoke is a burden. One saint said if your mission is not a holocaust for you, it is not a mission. In Scripture, Jesus said He would help us carry our yoke, which with Jesus makes our yoke light. To be yoked with the world is crushing. To be yoked with Jesus, for the spiritual life, is a much heavier yoke, but with Him much lighter than the world’s because He is stronger than we and perhaps partly because our sorrows are salved by the intense joys of life, living for Him.



Our schedule is difficult to keep up with. The mission is a full-time job. The duties connected to sustain the community are full-time. Our prayer is full-time. It is like working three shifts. But when there is conflict between the three, prayer time is never compromised. We know we only have to be successful at one thing, and that is prayer. We have never tried to be successful in our mission, our work, our goals, rather only in prayer. We know if we live God’s commandments, and we are successful and succeed in prayer, and go minimally, once a month, to Confession, God will work out the details. It never ever ceases to amaze us how well He does it. We know what Our Lady means when She says, “all I ask of you is prayer.” It doesn’t mean we are to do nothing but pray, but that we stay hard at work, pray and work, consecrating our work so that it becomes prayer. When it is prayer and work, they become one. Our Lady said in the very first message to Marija in this valley on November 20, 1988:




“May your life be prayer. May your work be offered as a prayer and may everything that you do bring you toward me. Let everything that you do and everybody that you meet be an encounter with God.”



Friend of Medjugorje




  1. Marija, one of the visionaries of Medjugorje, came to the United States and stayed with the Founder of Caritas of Birmingham and his family for 2½ months. Our Lady appeared to Marija every day and gave many beautiful messages. On November 24, 1988, Thanksgiving Day, Our Lady appeared to Marija out in a field. Our Lady gave the following message: “I invite you to live my messages. I am here to help you! I will intercede for you to God for all your intentions. 

  2. During Daylight Savings Time, Rosary begins at 11:00 a.m. instead of 10:00 a.m., Central Time.

  3. Field Angels are prayer and financial supporters of the mission of Caritas of Birmingham. Their monthly support is pooled together to produce material and spiritual projects to bring Our Lady's messages to many, resulting in thousands of conversions. Field Angels partner with Caritas in this effort, and they become part of Caritas' “missionaries of the messages” efforts, holding it in esteem as one of the greatest things they do for Our Lady. We pray for them and their loved ones daily, especially those family members or friends who have left the Church. We also pray for them on other special occasions as well when they call or write with special requests and intentions.



End of excerpt from As Go God’s People, So Goes the World.



Though a Friend of Medjugorje described six days of the life of the community, what goes unsaid is that on the 7th day “they rested.”


Faith, Victoia, and Angela pick up eggs in their 'old-fashioned' outfits

 

Caritas community children are given daily chores, as these three who have collected eggs to help sustain the whole community. They learn from a young age that they have to work for their food. It is love to give children responsibilities and it is these responsibilities that will help them to succeed in life by establishing discipline. For these children, their work becomes play as they dress up in their “pioneer” outfits and carry their eggs to the Field at Rosary time with the whole community where they are deposited in front of Our Lady’s statue as we pray daily in thanksgiving for God’s providence. Many children today have lost the carefree, pure spirit of playing outside where God can speak to these young hearts in their daily life.

 




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