Pat and I have recently returned from an incredible pilgrimage to Medjugorje and traveled by yacht along the Croatian coastline from Split to Dubrovnik. It was sponsored by the national office of Legatus.
We joined a total of 40 pilgrims who were from across America on this journey. Getting to share this adventure while getting to know each person by the time the trip was over added to the blessings we received.
The apparitions of Mary the Mother of Jesus to six Bosnian children started in 1981. Before getting there, we read a wonderful book by one of the visionaries titled My Heart Will Triumph by Mirjana Soldo. The book plus visiting with several persons, particularly with Father Mark Hamlet, who had been there before, helped prepare us. Even so, our experience was much more than we anticipated.
Finding the Religious Benefits of the Spiritual Visit
We want to share some very personal reflections with you. We went on this pilgrimage knowing that Mary, as the Mother of Jesus and Queen of Heaven, is the greatest intercessor to her Son Jesus. Also, Medjugorje is a place where if one opens his or her heart, that person can experience the “enlightenment of the eyes of one’s heart.”
We know Medjugorje is a place where many experience a conversion of faith, an attitude, or some other conversion of the heart. Medjugorje is a place of meditation and confession, all of which lead to finding peace, hope and joy.
What We Prayed For
We went in hopes of having some of those experiences, but also, we prayed for our family and friends’ health and their intentions, and for the future of the St. John Paul II Life Center and Vitae Clinic.
We prayed for answers.
We prayed that we could proceed with reduced worry and stress, for needed spiritual insight, for the best ways to serve others, and for God’s blessings on our endeavors.
Believing Our Prayers Were Answered
Some of the Bible verses from our daily devotionals that we read during the days of our pilgrimage, including from The Word For Today, and these readings directly addressed our questions and provided answers.
When it comes to God’s will for your life, He decides it and you discover it. It’s not something you change, a topic for debate, or a plan you get to have a say in. The truth is, you can miss God’s will and be miserable, or do things His way and experience ‘inexpressible, glorious joy.’ (1 Peter 1:8)
The various Bible readings assured us that the direction we are heading to help the St. John Paul II Life Center with its Capital Campaign is the correct path and that the acquisition of the Marathon Building as our new location to operate the Center and the Vitae Clinic is absolutely God’s plan and the right course to follow.
Please become part of this campaign by attending the Life Is Beautiful Gala on December 3, at the Renaissance Hotel (click here) in Austin, Texas —or feel free to participate with a campaign contribution here, for which we will personally be exceedingly grateful. This campaign is helping to fund the purchase of the Marathon Building as our Austin-based National Headquarters – Education and Care – For Life!
Finding Ethnic Groups in Sarajevo Living in Harmony
Before we arrived in Medjugorje, we first landed in Sarajevo. We could still see the heart-breaking devastation, bombed-out buildings and remnants of the recent war, 1992-1995.
But the fascinating thing was to see the various ethnic and religious groups openly carrying on their daily lives together in the business district, operating side-by-side—Muslim, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, with Churches and Mosques virtually next to one another!
We are not sure if the previous terrible situation of ethnic cleansing is gone once and for all, or whether it is only hidden below the surface.
We also learned of how Sarajevo was the location of the start of World War I.
Seeing the Remaining Impact of Communist Control
There was much talk among the locals, sharing what their lives were like under Communist control.
We visited the rural area outside of Medjugorje, in the small town of Milentina, to have Mass in the Chapel of the Franciscan Sisters. The Chapel was small but lovely and so beautifully kept, along with the outside grounds around the Chapel, giving clear evidence of the hard-working and devoted nature of the Sisters.
Also, the Sisters kept pictures openly displayed so that no one can forget the senseless cruelty of the Communists. Pictures showed how the Communists broke religious articles including crucifixes, how they killed many local Priests during WWII between 1942-1945, and included the brutal execution of one of these Sisters.
Some of the Many Things We Did In Medjugorje
In Medjugorje it was fascinating to meet local persons who splendidly live out their Catholic faith and minister to the thousands of pilgrims who come to seek conversion of their hearts. We met and got to know Patrick and Nancy Latta (you should google them to hear their individual testimonies).
We had breakfast with the Lattas at the Castle (their home) and saw their ministry in action as 600 Ukrainians came to hear their testimonies. This was an unforgettable encounter and a continuing blessing.
We also experienced the graces one receives by participating in the religious activities happening around St. James Church and seeing the number of Priests from all over the world hearing Confessions in many different languages.
So many things happened to us during the three days we were in Medjugorje; it would take many pages to share them all!
The Croatia Islands and Coastline
After leaving Medjugorje, we spent seven days on a yacht with our 38 new friends and went to numerous Croatian islands and towns, enjoying the stunningly beautiful blue, clear waters of the Adriatic Sea.
The water was cold but very wonderful once you got used to it. It was great not having to pack, move and transfer from hotel to hotel as we enjoyed the yacht, the MS New Star.
We visited more than a dozen of the islands’ towns, from Split to Dubrovnik; each with its own beauty and character. Be sure to put the Croatian Coast and Medjugorje on your wish list of beautiful and inspirational places to visit.
The Pilgrimage has touched our hearts to realize how blessed and thankful we are to have family and friends with which to share this story. And, to thank God for the country in which we live and the founding principles upon which America was founded. Let us pray every day for God to bless and protect our families and our country.
Wishing you a Happy and truly Blessed Thanksgiving! -Tim
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