Behind the Scenes

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Released September 9, 2013 A.D.

As the Community of Caritas prepares for the pilgrims who will gather for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, Saturday, September 14, we offer a behind the scenes look at the work preparation. You are invited to join in prayer that day, September 14, 2013 at Caritas, climbing to the Cross on Penitentiary Mountain. Many who climbed this past July 1-5, were profoundly touched by grace and conversion:

“I was there! It was amazing, there are no words to describe what was experienced. I felt a range of emotions…exhilarated, joy, profound peace, tranquility, sorrow, repentance, fulfillment, sweetness, extreme feeling of being loved and embraced…too much to put into words. And right now, the Cross is like a magnet, drawing me closer to Our God. You want a mountian-top experience, then go to Caritas…”

S.H., Iowa

“The July 4th climb to the Cross and to be here for the Consecration was a grace. I cried all the way at every station and at the top. I felt hope for my family. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

M.M., Arizona

The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

This morning’s sunrise: Monday, September 9, 2013 A.D.

As this morning’s sunrise begins to light up the new day, the Cross that now stands as a sentry over Our Lady’s valley at Caritas, is still in shadows. We have been receiving calls and letters from people who attended the Five Days of Prayer with Our Lady this past July 1-5, saying that they can’t wait to return to climb to the Cross on the mountain—it’s a longing in the heart that they can’t resist.

The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

Looking out at the valley from the Cross this morning, September 9, 2013, while the morning fog is still settled in the pines. When the large crowds gathered for the day of prayer with Our Lady, July 1-5, 2013, the pouring of the Cross on the mountain above the Field was just being completed. The surrounding ground was still a construction zone as there were details and re-scaping that was left to restore the mountain which was still unfinished due to delays caused by an unusually rainy month of June.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain September 7, 2013  

Since July, the Caritas Community has continued to work to bring the top of the mountain to completion and restoration to its original natural state. This past Saturday, September 7, nearly every community member spent the day up on the mountain working together as Our Lady said, as

June 2, 2013

“…one single people…”

to finish the restoration around the Cross. Some of the members of the community knelt to offer their Morning Prayer at the foot of the Cross at 7:00 a.m., though many in the community were up at 5:00 a.m. gathering all the necessary tools for the work day. Through the months, every piece of equipment we have has been of use without which we could have never completed the construction and restoration. Our prayers were offered for those who will be gathering with us for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross this coming Saturday, September 14.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

One continuous job over the summer for community members was the gathering of rocks for the rock walls and restoration that was formed around the base of the Cross which was gathered from various areas around the mountain top as shown above. With the top of the mountain excavated for the Cross, we had to walk to other areas on the mountain to find the rocks and carry them to the Cross for the stone mason. As you can see, it was never a problem finding enough rocks.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

But not every rock stayed on top of the mountain, some got away from us which was very dangerous as the rock careened down the mountain, even passing the path of the Stations of the Cross, well below the top of the mountain and taking with it some trees in its path. It continued to be heard for some time after it entered into the woods.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

The Caritas kids are pretty agile being around heavy equipment and rocky terrain a good part of the time. Most people would be unsettled letting their children play in these areas, but there is always a watchful adult nearby. Here Lucy and Luke do their part in helping, after watching the youth and adults lifting, carrying and throwing rocks into a pile. Lucy throws her own over the cliff, while Luke reaches for it.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

These days, though filled with hard work, have also been joyful days for the community. Knowing that the work being accomplished with our hands is helping to lead souls and our nation back to God makes the work a privilege rather than a burden. And it is always a joy when we have a project of a spiritual matter bringing conversion that gathers us altogether, from the littlest to the senior members.


The Cross on Penitentiary Mountain  

Though difficult to capture the danger of the situation above, if the backhoe were to inch back any further it would careen down a sharp cliff. The skill of our community members on heavy equipment with the daily prayers of the community keep disasters from happening, thanks be to God, and it is done for situations like this: to save the small trees and brush around the Cross that are so similar to what is found on the top of Cross Mountain in Medjugorje, seen here behind the large tractor. A Friend of Medjugorje has always gone to such measures to preserve the natural terrain and landscape in all our building projects. Therefore, the grounds are filled with peace and prayer comes more easily. An encounter with God in nature is more possible in natural surroundings.

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