Category: Testimonies

Medjugorje miracles: Man hears again! 532 documented healings, 643 vocations

An 87-year-old man from Italy, who had been using a hearing device since the 1970s, suddenly started to hear during a Mass at Medjugorje.

Domenico Mascheri says his wife still cannot understand that she does not have to shout anymore. It all happened at an outdoor service on September 27 of this year. During the Mass, he started to hear by himself after 40 years of being totally dependent on hearing devices. When he went to the Mass that evening, it was after two days of total silence, as the batteries in his hearing devices had run out, and he did not have spares. He had climbed Apparition Hill that day with the help of a wooden cane.

Domenico sat on the bench with a small group of pilgrims and about half-way through reciting the Ave Maria–he told reporters back at home–he started to hear the pastor’s voice, which slowly became stronger until he could hear everything. He began to cry, and did not even tell his companions.

Later that evening Domenico told everyone in the group what had happened. They spent the rest of the evening partying and praising God for the beauty of the miracle of Domenico. (Source: www.Medjugorjetoday.tv)

Medjugorje is a fountain of spiritual fruits for the world. As of October, 2011, Medjugorje parish archivist Marija Dugandzic has confirmed that 532 healings were medically documented; 520 men became priests, as a result of a visit; 123 women became nuns, as a result of a visit, and 540,000 visits were registred from Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and nuns. (Source: www. Medjugorjetoday.tv)

And it is likely that hundreds, if not thousands of  healings, vocations, and visits have gone unreported to the the Medjugorje parish. On this Thanksgiving Day, 2011, let us give praise and thanksgiving to God for Medjugorje.

 

A Muslim mystic foresaw Medjugorje!

Let us pray and fast, as never before, for the Medjugorje commission investigating the apparitions. A fascinating article posted on www.medugorjetoday.tv by Jakob Marschner, reveals how important your prayers and sacrifices may be.

Sufi mystic, Hasan Shushud, predicted Medjugorje in detail one year before the apparitions began.

“If Mary and her plans are accepted quickly, the suffering will be short-lived. If, however, Rome does not meet Mary with the needed firm, truthful acceptance when God grants to Rome the time and freedom to choose, then God once more will have offered peace, joy and love in vain, and mankind will feel the consequences of Satan’s plans,” said Hasan Shushud in 1980.

“We Sufis have realized that Mary gives messages solely when she appears within the frameworks of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, we Sufis have been praying for Rome for a long time. Because the answer that Rome gives to Mary will be a response which will be binding on behalf of all humanity.”

Read the complete story below, or click on www.medugorjetoday.tv.

Muslim foresaw Medjugorje one year ahead

by on Oct 12, 2011

“If Mary and her plans are accepted quickly, the suffering will be short-lived,” Hasan Shushud said in 1980, about the present time. The renowned Sufi mystic wrote several books and had The Masters of Wisdom in Central Asia, published in English.

“Soon a unique Marian apparition will begin. A place for this was chosen long ago, and we Sufis have been praying that all will go well. The place is being prepared, without anyone being aware of it, for an apparition which will be different from all previous apparitions. Mary will come closer to the earth than ever before. Many will see her, hear her, touch her.”

According to Inger Jensen, an experienced Danish pilgrims leader who has visited Medjugorje more than 100 times, these were some of the words she heard when she visited the Muslim Sufi mystic Hasan Shushud in the Summer of 1980, one year before the apparitions began in Medjugorje.

Shushud also hit home when Inger Jensen heard him estimate where the apparition would take place:

“This place is situated west of Istanbul at a shorter distance from Istanbul than that between Istanbul and the eastern-most border of Turkey. It is in a geographical area with a nature and climate much like what we have in Turkey. But it is not in Turkey,” Shushud told Inger Jensen and her group.

The distance between Istanbul and Dogubeyazit, the eastern-most point in Turkey, is 1289 kilometers (801 miles). There are 955 kilometers (593 miles) from Istanbul to Mostar, the major city closest to Medjugorje from which it is 25 kilometers (15 miles) apart.

A long and decisive apparition predicted

[As a Medjugorje pilgrimage leader since 1985, Inger Jensen from Denmark has more than 100 pilgrimages under her belt. In 1980 she became a first-hand witness of Hasan Shushud’s prediction of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Medjugorje.]

With Medjugorje celebrating the 30th anniversary of the apparitions this year, Hasan Shushud’s prediction of a long apparition has also come true. So has his prediction that peace would be a main topic of the apparition:

“You will see that Mary will suffer, wait, hope and continue to call for a long time, as she is inviting to the way of peace. During this period Satan will get the opportunity for his plans of godlessness, chaos, suffering, death,” Hasan Shushud told Inger Jensen.

In recent years, the Virgin Mary’s suffering and waiting have been particularly expressed in messages passed on by visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo.

“Mary needs a firm, truthful “yes!” to her plan, and this will not be given at the beginning. Therefore, Mary will be forced to take up a stand-by position. During the period when Mary suffers rejection, earthquakes the like of which have never been seen before will occur. Storms more violent than ever. Thunderstorms. Flooding. Fatal, contagious diseases. And egoism, materialism and violence will pervert societies”, Hasan Shushud continued.

“If Mary and her plans are accepted quickly, the suffering will be short-lived. If, however, Rome does not meet Mary with the needed firm, truthful acceptance when God grants to Rome the time and freedom to choose, then God once more will have offered peace, joy and love in vain, and mankind will feel the consequences of Satan’s plans,” Inger Jensen recounts Hasan Shushud’s words from 1980.

Great responsibility entrusted to Rome

[Istanbul (in the middle) is closer to Medjugorje (around the “V” in Sarajevo) than to Turkey’s eastern-most border, as predicted by Hasan Shushud in 1980.]

While it might sound surprising that Shushud, a Muslim, kept pointing to the position of The Catholic Church as decisive for the fate of the coming all-important apparition, to Shushud himself, it was not anything controversial:

“We Sufis have realized that Mary gives messages solely when she appears within the frameworks of the Roman Catholic Church. Therefore, we Sufis have been praying for Rome for a long time. Because the answer that Rome gives to Mary will be a response which will be binding on behalf of all humanity.”

[Blessed Pope John Paul II was a firm believer in the apparitions in Medjugorje, but deciding the case did not fall under his pontificate.]

“Thus, we realize that God has entrusted the Roman Catholic Church with the great responsibility to accept Mary. A God-given authority to this Church means that a “no” to Mary is a “no” on behalf of all of us. Thereby, a door is closed. It also means that, if this Church accepts Mary in truth, humanity also accepts her. A door is then opened for the help God wants to give through Mary.”

“For this reason, we Sufis have constantly prayed for Rome,” Hasan Shushud said according to the Danish pilgrims leader.

Since March 17th 2010 a Vatican Commission led by Cardinal Camillo Ruini has investigated the events of Medjugorje, with the purpose of enabling the Pope to say either “yes” or “no.”

Inger Jensen has personally handed over her three-page written testimony of her meeting with Hasan Shushud to a high-ranking Cardinal, she tells Medjugorje Today.

Shushud’s words are matching Mary’s messages

As to the reason for the Virgin Mary’s coming, the words of Hasan Shushud closely match the Virgin Mary’s messages as they have been presented by the Medjugorje visionaries. Like the Virgin did to visionary Mirjana Dragicevic in 1982, two years earlier Shushud had stated that Satan had extended power in the 20th century:

In 1887 Pope Leo XIII had his famous vision when he saw Satan being given extended power over the 20th century. In 1982 a message to Mirjana confirmed the vision of the Pope. Hasan Shushud told Inger Jensen the same in 1980.

“Satan stood in front of God’s throne and asked for permission to make use of all his power, in order to try to tear humanity away from God. (…) God granted Satan one hundred years for his new plan. Thus, the 20th century is under Satan’s power,” Hasan Shushud said in an echo of the message to Mirjana – and of a similar vision given to Pope Leo XIII in 1887.

“At the beginning of this century Satan, first of all, worked on “teaching” people through psychologists and psychiatrists that he, Satan, does not exist, and that all that men previously considered to be evil was not evil, but just the result of a lack of development. As man grows more clever, as his intellect becomes more mature, during the ongoing development, he will automatically choose that which is good.”

“After a period Satan could work on his plan in a more free way because he could hide himself behind the lie that he does not exist, as though he stood behind a shield. Then he began to destroy the family and all inherited moral codes,” Hasan Shushud added.

“Satan wants to destroy the family. The family is in crisis. “Pray!” the Virgin Mary told Medjugorje visionary Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez on June 25th 1995. In the early days of the apparitions the Virgin also entrusted Ivanka with the special call to pray for the world’s families. Also visionary Ivan Dragicevic has oftentimes lamented the present moral state of the world.

[Hasan Shushud (right) engaging in a conversation by the end of his life.]

In 1980 Hasan Shushud continued:

“Now Satan has already been working for a long time to have humanity believe that God does not exist. He has been highly succesful in this. Observe the Jews: for so many centuries they have kept together around their religious practice, but now even they have become secularized. All over the planet people are losing faith in God.”

“Soon Satan will be seen out in the open. Children and youngsters will begin to play his games. Pictures of him will be visible in the streets. Also, during the next two decades, egoism, materialism and violence will increase more rapidly than you will be able to imagine,” the Sufi mystic said in words later echoed by the Virgin Mary in her message of September 25th 1991:

“Dear children! Today in a special way I invite you all to prayer and renunciation. For now as never before Satan wants to show the world his shameful face by which he wants to seduce as many people as possible onto the way of death and sin. Therefore, dear children, help my Immaculate Heart to triumph in the sinful world. I beseech all of you to offer prayers and sacrifices for my intentions so I can present them to God for what is most necessary. Forget your desires, dear children, and pray for what God desires and not for what you desire. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Many individual calls and roles predicted

“Mary needs many soldiers for the battle. Each of them will be attracted to the place just in time. Each one is chosen for one little task. A detail which, when all the details are combined, will form a beautiful pattern,” Hasan Shushud said in 1980. A few years later the Virgin Mary mentioned the same theme in messages from Medjugorje where visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti has also elaborated upon it.

Hasan Shushud affirmed the Virgin Mary’s leading role in bringing mankind back to God. And in predicting the Virgin Mary’s great numbers of individual calls with the purpose of combining millions of people into a heavenly mosaic or pattern, more of Hasan Shushud’s words from 1980 went on to appear in the Virgin Mary’s messages from Medjugorje.

“Mary will lead the battle against Satan and, co-operating with Archangel Michael, will lead mankind back to God. Mary needs many soldiers for the battle. Each of them will be attracted to the place just in time. Each one is chosen for one little task. A detail which, when all the details are combined, will form a beautiful pattern. These soldiers, most of them women, will be drawn from all over the world. From their earliest childhood they will have been prepared for “their” special little task, without them having been aware of it,” Hasan Shushud said in 1980.

“Dear children, behold, also today I want to call you to start living a new life as of today. Dear children, I want you to comprehend that God has chosen each one of you, in order to use you in a great plan for the salvation of mankind. You are not able to comprehend how great your role is in God’s design. Therefore, dear children, pray so that in prayer you may be able to comprehend what God’s plan is in your regard. I am with you in order that you may be able to bring it about in all its fullness. Thank you for having responded to my call,” the Virgin Mary said on January 25th 1987, in a message recognized by experts as a cornerstone within the Medjugorje corpus.

[Medjugorje when the apparitions began in 1981, one year after Hasan Shushud had prophesied them to be very close. “The place is being prepared, without anyone being aware of it, for an apparition which will be different from all previous apparitions,” he told Inger Jensen.]

“Dear children, I have been inviting you for years by these messages which I am giving you. Little children, by means of the messages I wish to make a very beautiful mosaic in your heart so I may be able to present each one of you to God like the original image,” the Virgin Mary said on November 25th 1989.

How the Virgin Mary’s messages, to themselves, constitute a heavenly mosaic that can be more fully perceived and understood only through prayer has been a recurring theme in interviews given by visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti.

Seers echo call to fearlessness

In 1980 Hasan Shushud was as sure of God’s final victory through the Virgin Mary as the Medjugorje visionaries have been from the earliest days. And like the seers were later to do, Shushud also called to trust and fearlessness:

“Whatever happens, do not fear! In the end, God wins. The Bible says it, the Koran also. Those who keep close to God and to Mary will be given all the help they need. It does not matter which hardships they must go through: they have nothing to fear,” Hasan Shushud said according to Inger Jensen.

This closely mirrors visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo’s much repeated words that all people who live the Virgin Mary’s messages and see God as their Father and the Virgin Mary as their Mother have nothing to fear from the secrets that the Virgin Mary has entrusted to her.

http://is.gd/JrhAE4

Famous Medjugorje testimony of conversion: Patrick Latta

Scroll down to see Patrick’s testimony on video.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Retreat House in Medjugorje

I recently traveled to Medjugorje for just two days to be interviewed by ABC Nightline for their show on Mary. One of my fondest memories of that blink-of-an-eye pilgrimage entailed visiting Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Retreat House, an impressive castle-like structure that tickles the eye—the home and vision of Patrick and Nancy Latta, who built it, and are still building it, to support, refresh, and foster vocations to religious life.

On the “castle” grounds, I felt like I was walking into ancient history and a bit of Disneyland, all in one. As I walked onto the property, a friendly, vibrant man, with white hair and a white smile, welcomed me like a dear relative. I didn’t know I was shaking the hand of Patrick Latta—the reason I had come there.

Earlier that morning, a fellow pilgrim had told the pilgrims at our breakfast table that Patrick was going to share his testimony, and we weren’t to miss it. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Chapel in the Retreat Center

Later that day, I followed a handful of pilgrims into a petite, round, stone chapel, where Patrick mesmerized us with a lively telling of his story of conversion. With humor and humble self-effacement, mixed with shock and disappointment over his own past behavior, he shared a life of debauchery turned disciple. Just one sentence, from one Medjugorje message, saved him from a life of “doing it my way,” which included affairs, adultery, and alcohol. Once the owner of seven car dealerships, with twenty-eight salesmen working underneath him, he swam in what he worshipped: money. On weekends, he traveled from his home country of Canada all the way to Las Vegas, to “live it up.” And on week nights, he took his employees to a bar, announcing proudly, “Drinks are on me.”

“How much do you think that cost me?” He asked us, as were calculating numbers in our heads.

“Two divorces,” he said, and shared how he ruined his own family and never took any of his four kids to church, although he was supposedly Catholic.

When his son came home one day and asked, “Dad, what’s this God stuff?”

Patrick took out a few bills, gave them to his son, and said, “What is God stuff? Here, my son. Here’s God. Get a sack of these, and you’ve got all the God you want.”

To this day, that one encounter is all the son remembers of his father from his childhood. “Dad,” he said years later. “You handed me money and said it was God.”

“My kids had everything money could buy,” reflected Patrick. “And it corrupted them. I corrupted them.”

Patrick Latta sharing his Medjugorje testimony

Patrick didn’t change his ways, even after marrying his third wife, Nancy, a lapsed Catholic. Then one day, Nancy handed him a book, containing messages from Medjugorje. Patrick gave it back, telling her to throw it away, but his wife retorted, “You throw it away, my pagan husband. Let it be on your conscience.”

Patrick suddenly found himself wrestling with a conscience he didn’t know he had. To allay this strange new feeling of guilt, he decided to read nothing more than “a little two-liner,” before throwing the paperback away. So he opened to the back of the book and laid eyes on the shortest message he could find:

I call you to conversion for the last time.

“I don’t know what happened at that moment,” Patrick told us pilgrims. “I have no idea to this day what happened. All of a sudden, my heart was beating twenty miles per hour, and tears were running down my cheeks.

‘Nancy!” I yelled, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about these messages? Nancy, why didn’t you tell me that they were true? Nancy, that message was for me!’

It was the first time I saw myself. I had been living in mortal sin for thirty years. I had walked away from the Catholic Church when I was fourteen years old, saying, ‘I don’t need this.’ You can walk out of the Church and walk straight into hell quite easily—a lot easier than you can walk into heaven. You get into mortal sin, and then you convince yourself you’re right. ‘I can do what I want. I don’t need Church. I don’t need Confession.’

My Italian immigrant mother—five feet, two inches, both ways—prayed for me for forty-eight years. Forty-eight years of rosaries, and she saw nothing. Then one day, one message changed my life. I believe her prayers helped me believe that the Medjugorje messages were true.”

The Latta's embracing

Nancy complimenting her husband, Patrick

Today, Patrick, alongside his wife, Nancy, serves pilgrims from sun up to long past sun down, as people come and go from their home and retreat center, the “castle.” A friend of mine, who knows Patrick well, said that although he’s seventy-two and his back gives him constant, sometimes debilitating pain, he never complains and treats everyone he meets with a father’s love and acceptance.

Below are videos of Patrick Latta, on the grounds of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Retreat House, giving his testimony of conversion to a large group of pilgrims—an account similar to the one he shared with my little group that day in Medjugorje. His story concludes with him saying . . .

Castle structure on the grounds of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Retreat House

“Our Lady has appeared on this property twelve times, not because I’m holy or spiritual. It’s just that Marija, the visionary, lives next door, and she has four boys. So at about four o’clock in the afternoon, we get out the hot dogs and ice cream for the boys, and she comes over with her kids, and I say, “If you’re bringing us all an apparition, you might as well stay.” The car dealer in me never dies.

It’s been a great grace, and two years ago, Our Lady gave a message for this place. She said through Maria, “I am joyful that you consecrated this place to me and my Son, that He may reign here.” And then Our Lady added the big words, “Those who come here I will bless and protect.”

Imagine that. This is the guy who did everything wrong in his whole life. “Those who come here, I will bless and protect.” Marija was shocked. I was shocked. We were all in tears over this message, because this was a message for a private home. It was unbelievable. But it really did happen. This message is for you!”

By Christine Watkins

Read more stories, such as this, in Watkins’ book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

 



He became Jesus, right before her eyes

“What the hell are you doing?” I yelled out the back door.

“Go back to bed!” he shouted back. “I’m just protecting my house and my family.”

In the middle of the night, I woke up to see my husband outside, in nothing but his underwear, walking the property with guns. I had three children to protect and care for, a boy age seven, and two girls, eight and seventeen, and I got scared. “He’s gone nuts!” I thought to myself. This wasn’t the sweet, normal husband I once knew.

Rosemary and Mark Geiger

I was aware of Mark’s progressive drinking problem—up to ten or twelve beers a day, but I didn’t know that he had also started to take speed and marijuana. Crushed and pressured under the stress to get his tire product business off the ground, the speed kept him working late hours into the night, and the marijuana helped him to finally pass out. Then after just four hours of sleep, he would get up to start the work day again, and at 11 a.m., pour himself a beer.

Clues of his drug use popped up when I started helping him with work. I had never before gone downstairs into his office, and when I did, I found guns and pornographic magazines. When confronted, he told me the pornographic magazines had been brought into the office by the guys who drove delivery trucks for the company—this turned out to be true, and the guns were there because he needed them, since somebody was trying to kill him—not true. Then one day, in a hidden corner, I found the drugs.

“Yes, they’re mine,” he confessed, and after a couple more days of his paranoid prowling, I told him that he needed to go to a doctor or to rehab. He told me he didn’t need to, that he could quit all on his own. For a few weeks, he seemed to have stopped, and then the drinking and surveillance pacing in his underwear began all over again.

I told him I was leaving him, and I did. One day, I packed up myself and our three kids and left to go live at my brother’s house. During my stay there, Mark must have called me twenty-five times a day to ask me to come home. We fought terribly, and I told him, “No, not until you get help and go to rehab.”

Paranoid and ready to fight, Mark instigated a domestic violence brawl with my brother, over who should be taking care of our children, and my husband ended up in jail. Caught behind those bars, he made the decision to go to rehab.

I truly don’t understand how you can love somebody one day and gradually fall out of love with that person, but I lost all the love I’d had for my husband. I felt disgusted with him and really wanted a divorce. He called and begged me to come and see him in rehab and to bring the children, but I couldn’t stomach the thought of being near him.

During my husband’s thirty-one days in a recovery home, he received a lot of help, and so did I. I had always had a strong devotion to Our Lady, so I never stopped praying the rosary, and I was seeing a female Catholic therapist. When it was time for my husband to check out of rehab, he begged me to let him come home, rather than go to a half-way house. Still feeling no love in my heart for him, much less a desire to live with him, I let him back into our home on sheer faith. I saw that he was trying.

My husband came back a different person. He was calm and filled with peace. Three to four times a week, he attended AA meetings, received the help of a sponsor, and switched from drinking beer to Dr. Pepper. Mark had always been thoughtful and helpful to me around the house, and now these traits were magnified. He was still walking the property, but now he was out early in the morning; and instead of a gun in his hands, he carried a Bible.

A few months after my husband returned home, my love for him tricked back into my heart, slowly, almost imperceptibly. Once a week, we went together to see his male Catholic therapist, and I went regularly to see my therapist. It took a year, but eventually our lives returned to some semblance of normalcy.

The Geiger Family

With my home life under more control, I began to immerse myself in Catholic women’s ministries, attending meetings and prayer groups at night. During one of these prayer groups, a lady came in and shared how she and her family had won a trip to Europe and had ended up going to this little town called Medjugorje, where the Blessed Mother was appearing.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me!” I exclaimed. “You mean the Blessed Mother is appearing in this town?”

“Yes.”

I had only known of Mary’s apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, and Lourdes, France. As I listened to this lady’s story and of how her rosary turned gold, I just couldn’t believe it. So excited, I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my husband about how the Virgin Mary was actually visiting earth in Medjugorje. “I have to go there. I have to go there!” I exclaimed spontaneously.

I couldn’t understand why no one had told me about this. This was 1990, and she had allegedly been appearing there since 1981. I rushed home and shared the news with Mark, because I always told my husband everything. And he said, “Well, how much does a trip like that cost?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, honey, we don’t have the money.”

“I know. But I have to go.”

“Okay. Well, you’re the pray-er in the family. Just pray.”

So I took the rosary I’d had for many years, held it in my hand, and said, “Blessed Mother, if you want me to go there, please give me a sign. Help me.” I went to sleep with my rosary in my hand and Medjugorje on my mind, and when I woke up in the morning, my rosary had turned gold.

I went to morning Mass, after taking my kids to school, and approached one of the priests there, whom I liked a lot: “If I form a group to go to Medjugorje, would you come along and lead it?”

He said, “Yes.” He had never been there, but had heard about it and wanted to go. Organization comes naturally to me, so I got a flyer out to all the churches in my area, and through the mouths of my friends, little by little, calls of interest came in. In February of 1991, myself, the priest, and twenty others were flying off to Medjugorje. Tucked in my bag were hundreds of prayer petitions I’d gathered, plus my own. I wanted Mary of Medjugorje to help my husband, a “CEO” Catholic, “Church Easter Only,” to develop a strong devotion to her and become active in the Catholic Church. I prayed three to four rosaries a day, if I could, but my husband never joined me.

During a wonderful week in Medjugorje, I was present in the apparition room, when the visionary, Vicka, saw the Blessed Mother; I witnessed the miracle of the sun, spinning in the sky; and I prayed for my husband. Never did I let him know about my special petition.

I came back home, and it all started to happen. Bit by bit, Mark started to change. He joined a jail ministry, then started preaching in the jails. Already an executive chef, he agreed to cook at any and every function in the church, when prompted. Then he and I started to cook a special once-a-month meal for a retired priest, then for other priests, then we befriended them all. Our friendships began to change to primarily Catholic couples, and over time, completely on his own, my husband developed a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

When ten years had passed since my trip to Medjugorje, my petition to Mary of Medjugorje was close to being fully realized. My husband was well on his way to becoming a true man of God. Only one last mountain to climb remained.

One mysterious night, as I lay wide awake, unable to sleep, I curled up under my husband’s outstretched arm. Mark was lying on his back, sound asleep, with both of his arms extended out straight from his sides, and he was bare-chested, with a beard and dark hair. As I lay there, I glanced up at his face. Then a moment later, I looked up at him again. What I saw shocked me. My husband’s face had literally turned into the face of Jesus on the cross. I looked away and started blinking, then turned my eyes to stare at him again and saw only him. I thought I was seeing things, or perhaps dreaming, so I tested this several times. But I wasn’t dreaming or delusional. I was very alert and awake, and had never hallucinated in my life. Looking away, and then back again, I saw my husband on the cross. Then I saw Jesus Christ on the cross. My husband—then Christ—then my husband.

I started to cry and sat up overwhelmed with tears. Shaking my husband to wake him up, I said, “Mark, Mark! You’re not going to believe what I just saw.”

“What?”

I told him my vision of him, and he said, “Well, get me off that cross. I don’t want to be there!”

I said sadly, “I’m sorry. I can’t change that. I know what I saw.”

Soon after the vision, my husband gradually became weak. But we didn’t think anything of it for a couple of years. We just figured he was simply growing old. Little things were happening to him but nothing big enough to get him to the doctor. “I was out in the yard,” he’d say, “and you know I just was so clumsy. I fell.”

“C’mon, pick yourself up,” I’d joke.

In November of 2005, as I was making dinner, I called down to him in the family room, and when he answered me, his words were jumbled. I came downstairs and asked, “What did you say?”

”I don’t know. I was thinking of what I wanted to say, but this mumbo jumbo came out.”

“Are you feeling okay? Do you have a headache or anything?”

“I feel perfectly fine. I don’t know why that popped out.”

Once again, we let it go, because we didn’t have an answer for it. Then about a week later, the same thing happened again. He spoke in jumbled words. He wanted to say one thing, but out came gibberish.

I asked, “Are you sure you’re feeling okay?”

“Yeah, I feel fine.”

“Are you on drugs?”

”No. I haven’t had any drugs in years.”

“Are you drinking again?”

“No, I haven’t had any drinks. No nothing.”

I didn’t believe him. The next day when he was at work, I went through the whole house, everywhere—the garage, the upstairs, the downstairs, looking for drug paraphernalia. I even checked his wallet to see if there were any unusual telephone numbers, perhaps drug dealers in there, but I couldn’t find anything.

Then it happened again. He opened his mouth, and out came gibberish.

This time I called the cardiologist. “Something is wrong with Mark. I think he’s had a stroke. His words are jumbled.”

“Bring him to me right now,” he said. The cardiologist found nothing wrong, so from him, we were referred to a neurologist. Meanwhile, Mark’s speech worsened. At different times, I could hardly understand what he was saying, and his body was growing rigid at a rapid rate. “I’m so stiff,” he’d say. “My legs are killing me.”

The neurologist did a bunch of tests and had Mark stand up and walk for him. Then in an icy, impersonal manner, the doctor said, “There’s a strong possibility this is Lou Gerrig’s disease. I’m really thinking that this is probably what it is.” His words were flippant, as if he were diagnosing a cold. There is no cure for Lou Gerrig’s disease.

My husband put his head down on a table in examining room, and I tried to console him, like a mother would console her child. “That’s probably not it. They’ll get something for it.”

Then the doctor said pointedly, “I’m going to have to report this to the DMV, and you’re not going to be able to drive.” My husband’s body stiffened. Bristling over the doctor’s words, bedside manner, and casual life-threatening diagnosis, he blew up in anger, “Well, what do you mean DMV?”

“You’re not going to be able to drive because of the condition of your body.”

“You’re not taking away my driving privileges. This is bullshit.”

Afraid that my husband would knock the doctor out, I told him, “Mark, you have to leave.” So he went outside.

Turning to the neurologist, I said, “I’m so sorry for my husband’s anger. I’m going to get a second opinion. I’ll be calling you to have the tests you ran sent over there.”

We went home, and my husband collapsed from sadness. But we still didn’t know for sure. Lou Gerrig’s disease, also called ALS, was just a strong possibility. My son and youngest daughter, now in their 20’s, and my eldest daughter, who now lived forty-five minutes away, got on the internet; and my son, who was in paramedic school at the time, started to pore over his medical books. The children and I were looking up everything that we could about the disease, without telling or showing Mark anything. As more was learned, my kids grew very, very upset, for when they read about the symptoms of ALS, they began to recall different things their father had experienced. “Oh mom, it can’t be,” they said, “But this is dad. This is dad.”

I didn’t want to believe what was happening, but always practical, I sprang into action. I got in touch with the Association for Lou Gerrig’s Disease, and they said the best place to go for a diagnosis was the Mayo clinic in Arizona. We went, and in three days, Mark must have seen ten different doctors and undergone every test possible. When all was done, and they called us in for the final analysis of it all, they said with compassion, “We’re very, very sorry, but you do have ALS, and it looks like you have a very fast progression of ALS.”

For years, every evening after dinner, around 7 p.m., I would say to my family, “I’m going to say a rosary. Is there anybody who wants to join me?” And my children and husband would say, “No.” After we received Mark’s confirmed diagnosis, my kids still said, “No,” but my husband looked up at me and said, “Yes.”

I felt scared, but never angry with God. I never lamented, “Why me? Poor me! Poor Mark! Poor family!” Never. When something difficult happens, I can be strong. I’m the first on who picks up the reins and looks for a solution. I turned our entire downstairs into a medical facility, with an adjustable bed, which I shared with him, for as long as I could. And when I couldn’t sleep with him any more, I bought a twin. If he got up or needed anything, I needed to be right there. He never slept through the night—ever. After tucking him in at night, I would go outside, have a glass of wine and cry, asking God help us get through this.

By this time in life, I had traveled to Medjugorje, Fatima, and Lourdes, as well as to a couple different Marian apparition sites in the United States, but I had never been to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, even though I’m Hispanic—three-fourths Mexican, to be exact, with my mother being pure Mexican and my father part German and Spanish. Aware of my husband’s devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, I said, “Let’s go to visit her shrine in Mexico and ask for a miracle.”

“Yes, let’s do that,” he responded.

In May of 2006, just a month after visiting the Mayo clinic, we traveled to Mexico with twelve people from our church, including two deacons and their wives, and my brother and his wife, in order to pray for Mark’s physical healing. Not only did our tour bus take us to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but to other churches in Mexico, old and beautiful. At some of the churches, the deacons would take Mark, saying, “You go on ahead with the girls,” and relieve me of my caretaking responsibility. I appreciated that because all I did was live and do for Mark’s disease. My husband was going to die, so my whole focus was trying not to cry in front of him, being strong for him.

On that trip, my husband walked into one of the churches ahead of me, and when I followed, I gasped to see a beautifully sacred and ornate atmosphere of murals and gold and statues of saints everywhere. When I walked over to the left side of the church, I looked down to see my husband lying prostrate on the floor, face down, sobbing like a baby.

Seeing my husband weeping caused me to cry, because I loved him. “Oh Mark!” I cried out, as the two deacons walked towards him and lifted him up.

Then Marked looked at me and said, “I’ve had a healing. I’m okay.”

“What do you mean?” I asked him. “A physical healing?”

“I’ve had a spiritual healing,” he said. “It’s going to be okay.” Then he began repeating, “Thy will be done. . . Thy will be done. . .”

In the days to follow, he said those words over and over again: “Thy will be done.” Mark said it so much, that my youngest daughter had a hidden tattoo put on her ribs, which said, “Thy will be done.” My son also had a tattoo painted on him six months later. It was “November 21, 2006,” the date that his dad died.

During his last six months on earth, Mark became childlike. He sometimes giggled like a little kid and had an innocent playfulness about him, despite his debilitating disease. My husband had always been silly, friendly, generous and giving, and these traits, though restrained, were also now magnified in the twinkle of his eyes. Toward the end, my husband’s spirit remained strong, even as all his strength left him. During his last four months, he no longer had the ability to inhale the medical marijuana, which had temporarily relieved his intense pain, nor could he swallow, since ALS attacks the muscles. He lay in bed, stiff as wood, and I couldn’t move him. Hospice came into our home and started bathing him, because I couldn’t do it any more. By then, my work at a school district allowed me to work from home, and my wonderful church and school communities were getting together to feed us every single night for those four months.

People also came by to hold my husband’s hand and cry, as he cried silently with them—people who thanked him for helping them get off of drugs, save their marriage, teach them to cook, lead them to God.

Mark wrote a letter to me, which he put it on the computer, and I did not find it until two months after he died. It was a love letter that he wanted me to read on Valentines Day, but I found it sooner. In it he told me all the things that a wife wants to hear—how important I was in his life, how beautiful I was, and how thankful he was to God for me. As tears welled in my eyes, I felt like the thankful one, thankful to have lived with and loved a true man of God.

By Christine Watkins, for Rosemary Geiger

Read more stories, such as this, in Watkins’ book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

Rosemary Geiger is the founder of the Mystical Rose House of Prayer and Retreat in San Diego, California–truly one of the most beautiful and peaceful retreat houses in California. Each bedroom is graced with a mural of Mary–Our Lady of Medjugorje, Fatima, Lourdes, and Mystical Rose.

Medjugorje pilgrim heard bombs and machine gun fire explode, as she ascended Cross Mountain

Medjugorje pilgrim, Flaget Nally

Flaget Nally and her friend, Carrie, traveled as pilgrims to Medjugorje in 1992, at the height of the Serbian Croatian war in Yugoslavia. Clinging to each other on Cross Mountain, they listened to bombs and machine gun fire explode over the nearby city of Mostar, which sounded as close as a few blocks away. Soon streams of refugees were literally running into Medjugorje.

To hear Flaget tell her remarkable story of what happened next,  click here .

Read more stories, such as this, in Christine Watkins’ book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

The Medjugorje “Miracle Mysteries” that the ABC Nightline special didn’t tell you about

Christine Watkins with Flerida and Max Gutierrez atop Apparition Hill in Medjugorje. Mrs. Watkins, the author of Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary's Intercession, and Flerida Gutierrez, Catholic evangelist, were featured on the ABC Nightline special, "The Miracle Mysteries."

Click here to see a clip of Nightline co-anchor,Bill Wier, interviewing Christine Watkins, author of Full of Grace, and asking pilgrims, “What does the Virgin Mary look like?”

To see the entire ABC show on Mary, click here.

Flerida Gutierrez had little idea that her pilgrimage to Medjugorje in June, with Trinity Pilgrimages and Michael Brown of Spirit Daily, would mean revealing to approximately eight million viewers across the nation that she was a woman of faith, and that she was a woman with stage four cancer.

On this pilgrimage, ABC News producer, Jenna Millman, and Nightline co-anchor, Bill Weir, along with a camera man, accompanied the pilgrimage to film the Medjugorje portion of their special on the Virgin Mary, which aired Wednesday, July 13th. The diminutive, humble, yet vocal Philippina woman, affectionately known as Flerida, was filmed being prayed over by the Medjugorje visionary, Vicka, who placed her loving hand on Flerida’s bowed head. Flerida was “slain in the Spirit” and rested peacefully on her side for a full half hour. So what happened to her during that time?

Here is Flerida’s full story, in her own words . . .

In November of 2010, I received test results showing that I had three cancerous nodules in my liver. I traveled to Medjugorje, to ask the Blessed Mother to pray for my healing, but I also completely surrendered to the idea of death. None of us are going to stay here on earth forever. We’re going to go back home.

On the day of the pilgrimage, when we went to see Vicka give her talk, on the steps of her parents’ small Medjugorje home, I was hoping to be one of the three hundred pilgrims in the crowd to receive prayer from Vicka, who individually laid her hands on every pilgrim present. I felt like I needed her prayers, but since our group arrived later than other pilgrims, some of whom had been waiting now for an hour or two to hear Vicka speak, I assumed I wouldn’t be able to get close to her. “But even if she doesn’t pray over me,” I said in my heart, “I know, Mother Mary, that you will pray to Jesus for me.”

Then our pilgrimage guide, Miki Musa, suddenly whisked me away from where I was standing. My husband, Max, standing next to me, turned around, and I was gone. Miki didn’t tell me where we were going, and I assumed he was bringing me closer to Vicka. “How can we get through these crowds?” I asked.

“Just trust me,” he said, and proceeded to press forward, holding my hand, parting waves in the crowd, saying, “Excuse me, excuse me.”

Before long, I was standing at the front of the crowd, just at the base of the stairs, where Vicka speaks. I knew then that I was going to be prayed over by Vicka, since I was now so close to where she would speak. Out of gratitude and joy, I became hysterical, and started crying.

At the same time, I felt so badly, cutting in front of these people who had been waiting a long time. I was wearing my favorite pair of large sunglasses, which look like something Jackie Onassis wore, and someone asked me, “Are you blind?”

“Good!” I thought to myself. Let them think I’m blind, so no one feels any resentment. There should only be stillness, peace, hope, and joy in people’s hearts at this moment, not because their lives are perfect, but because the Blessed Mother is with all of them.

Then a Croatian woman said to me, “Would you mind going up the steps?”

“Me?” I asked

“Yes,” she said.

Before I could blink twice, I was standing on the balcony of Vicka’s parents’ home. My husband said he spotted me there, wondering how this had happened.

Then Vicka walked past me, and Miki whispered something into her ear. She looked at me with kindness and told me to go inside the house.

I started crying again hysterically. She looked at me and said, “Shh . . .” as if to say, “Don’t worry, there should only be joy.” Then she hugged me tightly for a long time. With that embrace, I felt like I was being held, not by Vicka, but by arms of the Blessed Mother herself.

“Please pray over me,” I said to her.”

“I know, I know,” she said. She knew what I had come for.

Vicka motioned for me to sit on a couch. She put her strong right hand on my head and started praying over me in Croatian, while I continued to cry. Then I rested peacefully in the Spirit. When I came to, the ABC crew told me I had been lying down on my right side for a half hour, but I was not aware of my body, or how long I was in an altered state.

To explain what happened next, I should mention that I speak four languages, with English being my second language. I came to the United States forty-two years ago, at age twenty-two. When I was a little girl growing up in the Philippines, my parents spoke to me in a dialect called Pampango. For years, I hadn’t used or heard this language, especially since my parents are deceased and my husband speaks only English and Tagalog, the National language of the Philippines.

As I lay down, resting in the Spirit, I was thinking of the Blessed Mother, and my soul felt completely still, immersed a beautiful, heavenly peace. I sensed Mary’s presence with me. I could not make out her face, but I knew she was there. Then she spoke to me in a voice that was as clear as any woman’s voice spoken near me in my waking hours. In the Pampango dialect, in the language of my childhood, I heard her say, “My child, you came.” Those four short words contained so much love and meaning! I sensed that she was smiling at me and expressing her joy over my coming in Medjugorje. I woke up crying and smiling at the same time and feeling weightless.

The medical tests I took in November were repeated after I came back from Medjugorje; and where there used to be three cancerous nodules in my liver, now there is only one. Either they consolidated, or two of them disappeared. I feel good, I don’t have any symptoms whatsoever. I eat well. I sleep eight hours a day. I am so strong. Just the other day, I saw an oncologist from Germany, and she told me that, in her entire career, she hasn’t seen anyone with stage four cancer who looks as healthy as I do.

I truly believe I will be healed. I will know more in four months, when I take another CAT scan. I am looking forward to going back to Medjugorje, to thank the Lord for a complete healing. At this time, I believe I am helping along my healing and keeping my immune system strong, because I have such a positive attitude. I have surrendered myself completely to the Lord. I am not afraid to die. What is there to fear? I believe that we are just on a journey. Before we leave this life, we pass through so many hills and valleys, and then our passports will expire. At the end of life, God will take care of our loved ones, and God will take care of us. We have to go home. And if it’s not my time yet, I’ve told God, “If you will extend my visa here on hearth, I will speak for You. I will speak of Your power, Your mercy, Your glory, and Your unconditional love.”

Shortly after I returned home to Las Vegas, from Medjugorje, a fellow pilgrim, Julie Quintana from Los Angeles, said she would be coming my way to visit relatives. I invited her to my prayer group the evening she was in town, and there to my great joy and delight, she shared her own testimony of healing in Medjugorje. Here’s what she said:

The Wednesday before I left on my trip to Medjugorje, I had to have a biopsy done on my breast. I also received test results from a papsmear, which revealed I had a polyp in my cervix and pre-cancerous cells. I couldn’t see a specialist for this in such short notice, and would have to wait until I returned from my pilgrimage. So off I went to Medjugorje in a daze, wondering why on earth I was going to travel across the world at such a time.

One of the many beautiful gifts of Medjugorje, standing a few yards behind St. James Church, is a statue of the crucified Christ, which has been exuding a special oil from its right knee, continuously for many years now. Healings have been attributed to this oil, so my roommate Sue Larson stood in a line of pilgrims to collect some of this liquid. She decided to bless her eyes with drops of the liquid, since she’d had eye surgery in the past, and preferred not to go through it again. I touched the oil with my fingers, made the sign of the cross, and put the special oil on several handkerchiefs I’d brought as gifts; and then I placed a drop of the oil on the center of my right breast, on top of my clothing, just over where there was a cluster of calcifications in the ducts, where the biopsy was done.

As we were walking away from the crucifix, Sue stopped and exclaimed, “My eyes are burning with heat!” She was feeling an intense sensation of heat in the tissue of her eyes, from the top of her eyelids down to the top of her cheekbones. After she said this, I stopped in my tracks. I, too, was feeling a strong heat where the oil had touched my body, both on my fingertips and on the exact spot on my right breast. Finding this hard to believe, three times I tested how that area on my right breast felt, compared with my left. Each time the left one was cold, while the right one was very warm, not only externally, but internally as well.

We arrived home on Wednesday the 15th of June, and a week later, I received a report that my breast biopsy was benign. Then I saw the specialist, who put a big scope inside of me, which magnifies my insides with bright lights. “There is nothing there,” he said, “absolutely nothing. There’s no polyp, and the precancerous cells are completely gone.”

I wanted to know how he was responding to this news, so I asked him to explain this, and he said, “Well sometimes the body heals itself.”

“Well I just went on a religious pilgrimage, I told him.”

And he responded with a smile, “It could be that.”

Later, Sue and I were talking, and I said, “Sue, I have absolutely nothing wrong with me. And you know what? This was a plan in God’s heart, because He knew I was going to receive these difficult test results, and He whisked me off to Medjugorje to help me. On that trip I felt very positive that I would be fine. By the end of the tip, I somehow knew that I didn’t have cancer. I just knew I’d been healed.”

By Christine Watkins

Read more stories, such as this, in Watkins’ book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

Medjugorje to be featured on an ABC News “Nightline Prime” show about the Virgin Mary, called “The Miracle Mysteries”

I recently returned from a whirlwind two-day trip to Medjugorje with Trinity Pilgrimages, where the ABC News “Nightline” co-anchor, Bill Weir, interviewed me at the base of Cross Mountain, for a show called “The Miracle Mysteries,” to air Wednesday, July 13th, (NEW DATE AGAIN! The show has been postponed twice, due to the Casey Anthony trial), at 9pm in central and mountain time zones, and at 10pm in eastern and Pacific time zones. The hour-long program will explore the history, theology, and importance of the Blessed Virgin to Christians and even non-Christians throughout history.

ABC anchor Bill Weir and Christine Watkins in Medjugorje

At twilight, on June 9th, while sitting amidst the jagged red rocks, which cover the mountainside, I shared my story of miraculous healing and conversion to Catholicism and my husband’s witness of a miracle at the top of Cross Mountain—all of which are covered at length in my book, Full of Grace. I then answered Bill Weir’s questions, such as, Why do we need Mary? Why did she come to Medjugorje? What do you think she looks like?

Once my interview was over, I happily entered into the grateful state of a pilgrim. That night, I chatted far too long about God with a delightful new friend and roommate, and early the next morning, climbed Apparition Hill with my large flock of pilgrims, including the show’s producer, Jenna Millman, cameraman, Rupert, and Nightline co-anchor, Bill Weir, who kindly assisted pilgrims up the jagged terrain.

At the site where Mary first appeared to the children, and where a beautiful white statue of her now stands, I prayed that Mary would intercede on behalf of all those who were praying for me and for the Nightline program about her. Mother Mary, please tend to their every need and deepest desires.

The next day, I visited a seminarian friend, who happened to be spending his summer, working at the “castle” in Medjugorje, a beautiful fantasy-like structure, built by the converts Patrick and Nancy Latta, who wanted to offer a refuge, a home away from home, for vowed religious and those seeking religious life in the Church. Resting my back against the cool stone walls of their chapel, I gratefully escaped the noon summer heat to listen to Patrick tell his dramatic story. His was a life shattered by the pursuit and acquisition of money, transformed into a life of joyful service to Mary of Medjugorje, as a result of reading just one sentence of one of Mary’s Medjugorje messages: “I am calling you to conversion for the last time.”

At the end of Patrick’s sharing, a fellow pilgrim sitting next to me announced to me and Patrick, with emboldened joy, that I should write another book with his story in it, and then it should be turned into a movie with Robin Williams as the star. Anyone have his number? This should be no problem.

Patrick Latta shares his testimony with pilgrims

Moments later, back at the visionary Mirjana’s pension where we were staying, I listened to author Michael Brown, a major attraction of this pilgrimage, give a compelling talk to our group regarding Medjugorje, which referred to what we do and don’t know about the secrets, and what we are called to do to prepare ourselves spiritually for what lies ahead. We will revisit our own lives one day, he reminded us, and we will see through God’s eyes how our actions, even our thoughts, affected the world around us. Wouldn’t it be a joy to review a life well-spent and full of love? It is best to convert our hearts now, for we can always begin to live a new life today, a life we’d be proud to rewind and replay.

I recently learned that a couple days after I had to leave (due to my two small children awaiting me at home), almost the entire pilgrimage group saw the miracle of the sun, while atop Cross Mountain. Miracles abound in this special pilgrimage site on earth, but not one rosary turned gold, or one sun caught spinning in the sky, compares in value to the invisible miracles of healing rushing through human hearts.

What a gift is was for me to be back in Mary’s lap. I’d forgotten how incredible the peace can be in Medjugorje. But I was reminded, as my last day as a pilgrim came to a close. When I was at adoration, amidst a sea of people, outside on a warm summer night, behind St. James Church, with silent lightning flashing in the sky, what I felt inside was a mixture of peace with a quiet ecstasy and joy—it had a heavenly sweetness to it, which I’ve never felt anywhere else. It was hard to come home.

By Christine Watkins, author of Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession

The joy of friendship with Medjugorje visionary Marija Pavlovic

On my first trip to Medjugorje, in 1987, I was instantly drawn to the Medjugorje visionary, Marija, in a spiritual way. I prayed to Our Lady to allow me to know Marija better as a friend, in order to learn from her how to love God more by living Our Lady’s messages. Through God’s providence, little steps led me closer to her, and on my third trip to Medjugorje, in 1990, I was able to spend as many as twelve hours a day with her for three months. We became close friends.

My twin brother befriended her, as well, and that year we helped her in many ways: planting flowers, feeding the chickens, taking out the garbage, cementing the driveway, rearranging her furniture. We had the honor of escorting her to and from the apparitions at St. James Church. Each day pilgrims would gather in her courtyard, and she asked me to lead them in the rosary. When she spoke in Italian or Croatian, I would verbalize her presentations on Our Lady’s messages in English.

This was more than a dream come true, because I felt so unworthy. Three years later, I would have similar feelings when I attended, through personal invitation, her small family wedding in Milan, Italy.

Marija has received daily apparitions, since 1981, when the Virgin Mary first appeared in Medjugorje. At the nuptial Mass, Our Lady appeared to Marija after Holy Communion, when all was quiet in the church. She gave her blessing and prayed for several moments over those gathered. Marija told me that Our Lady appeared happy. No public message was given.

As I stood in line after the wedding to greet the bride and groom, I was a little nervous. But Marija was as happy and natural as usual. After a hug and kiss, she said, “I am so happy to see you. This is one great grace for me . . . I think I have to get married, in order for me to see you!” Marija has a great sense of humor. Then she jokingly berated me for not coming to Medjugorje last spring, when she knew I was in Rome. I stood there speechless.

The hardest part of my trip was saying goodbye to my friend. I told Marija I hoped it wouldn’t be so longbefore we met again. I told her I loved her. Her parting remark to me meant so much. “I love you, too,” she said.

Though we exchanged several letters over the next eight years, I didn’t know if I’d get to see her again in person, until I caught wind that Marija would be speaking at a Medjugorje conference, On March 26, 2011, in Sacramento, California–only an hour’s drive from Napa, where I presently live with my wife and three young children. March 26th was also my daughters eighth birthday.  At that conference, I was able to reconnect with Marija and introduce her to my wife and kids. I was so happy to see her again. That evening, Marija was to have her apparition in the main conference hall, packed with people. My family and I visited with her privately outside during the day, and then, like the good old days, I escorted her into the hall where she was to give a talk. As we walked in, I told Marija I still prayed the rosary in Croatian, like she had taught me to do in 1990. After Marija gave her talk, all of us—about one thousand people—began praying the rosary, in preparation for her apparition at 5:40 pm. Marija knelt on the conference stage, before a statue of Our Lady, and I knelt just behind her on the floor. I had been begging Our Lady for the opportunity to reconnect and renew my friendship with Marija, and now I was praying to have my kids kneel next to Marija for her apparition, since it was my daughter’s birthday. I didn’t dare ask Marija myself.

While a translator was leading the first part of the “Hail Mary” from the microphone, everyone was responding in English, except for Marija and me. Since I was kneeling so close to her, she heard me praying in Croatian in unison with her, and about two minutes before her apparition, she turned around to me and pointed to my daughter who was kneeling beside me. I understood she wanted me to pick her up and set her on the stage next to her.  After that, she point to my five year old son, John-Paul, and I did the same with him. She then pointed to my oldest son, Anthony, who is ten, to see if he wanted to kneel on the stage too, but he was content kneeling next to me, since there was not much room left up there anyway. Our Lady then appeared and looked lovingly at all the people gathered and prayed over us with her arms extended.

Needless to say, it was a huge blessing for me and my family to experience exactly what my heart had begged for. On top of that, the next day at the conference, Marija gave me the rosary she prayed with and held during the apparition and said it was for my daughter Melanie. I then gave her a copy of the picture we took together with my family the previous day, just before her talk, and she smiled and said she would keep it in her prayer book! Our Lady knows our desires, and I truly believe those events with Marija were her way of expressing her love for me.

By Christopher Berghout

Edited by Christine Watkins, with excerpts adapted from Medjugorje Magazine, Winter ’92-’93 issue.

A deacon is embraced by an unusual apparition of the Blessed Mother

The family of Finns on Easter Sunday, 2011, with Deacon Ken and his wife, Marie, in the center

The following is Deacon Ken Finn’s account of his remarkable interactions with Mary, the Mother of God.

My first encounter with the Blessed Mother happened when I was travelling in an RV with my wife, Marie. We co-authored a Catholic Bible-study, called The Bread of Life, and we were making a grand circle, clock-wise through the outer states of the country, introducing our study to parishes. One night, at the beginning of our trip, we parked our RV in the parking lot of the mission in Santa Barbara, and as we lay down to go to bed, our conversation turned to the sadness of people who are unable to bond with their mothers from birth. My wife and I had adopted three children, who were about eight weeks when we got them, and we wondered if they might have been deprived of the precious gift of early bonding.

The next morning, as my wife lay asleep next to me, I felt very much alone, as my mind wandered through thoughts about how I didn’t get much bonding from my own mother. My mom had lived in a tenement house in Boston, and one icy cold early morning, when she was seven months pregnant with me, she stepped outside, slipped on the ice, and fell down a flight of stairs.

She began to hemorrhage severely and was rushed to the hospital. In the emergency room, I was immediately delivered. When the doctors caught sight of all of two pounds of me, lifeless and quiet, they placed me on a table, and left me for dead. Turning all their attention on my mother, they did their best to try to stop her bleeding and keep her alive. After a few minutes passed, they heard a small squeak coming from my direction. “He’s alive!” they realized, as they refocused their attention on me.

Seventy-five years ago, when I was born, there were no antibiotics. There were no incubators. I went through a lot of trauma as a newborn, and I was separated from my mother for the first several months of my life. My mother recovered from her fall, and not having a car, she travelled every day on foot, in ice-cold weather, through the snow, to the hospital, so that she could bring me her breast milk. On her way there and back, she’d talk to Jesus and the Blessed Mother, praying with great faith that they would love me and take care of me.

As I lay in the RV that night, feeling lonely and sad, thinking about the first few months of my life away from my mother, I suddenly saw a vision standing at the end of my bed. It looked like the figure of the Blessed Mother. I could not see her clearly, but could make out her body, which appeared as if in a mist. Lovingly and compassionately, she spoke to me in a clear voice, saying, “You never were away from my presence while you were in the hospital, as well as when your mother fell down the stairs in the cold, snowy, bitter, morning. I was there with you when you coughed, when you were bleeding, when you cried out in fear. I bonded you with me and your mother with me. She got her strength and hope to know that you would survive because you had so much love at your birth.”

I woke up Marie and told her about this immediately after it happened, and she said simply, “Well, you really bonded with the Blessed Mother. That’s why you have such a compassionate heart for the poor and for those who are sick and hurting. You know what they’re going through, and you know the love they need.”

This picture was taken at dusk. Unusual light rays, which weren't present when the picture was taken, showed up in the photograph, landing on both Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Deacon Ken Finn.

It was true. My fifty years of marriage and ministry with my wife had always involved helping the helpless, the lonely, the imprisoned. We  personally befriended Mother Teresa and served alongside her with her Missionaries of Charity sisters in Tijuana, Mexico. We formed a non-profit to give away free Bible studies and pamphlets to prisoners. We led a prayer group, which prays the rosary outside of an abortion center. As a deacon, I loved to preach the Good News and share the love of God with everyone around me.

And ever since birth, I’ve lived with ill health, due to being premature. When I got older, my mother took me every Wednesday to the local cathedral to say a novena, hoping I’d be cured. I never did heal, but I never stopped living either. With half of both my lungs surgically removed and what’s left being diseased tissue, with ongoing lung infections doctors say will kill me, with bronchiectasis and COPD and oxygen strapped to me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, since 1993, I now go from one health problem to another; but I keep going. I feel I should work as much as I can now, because God has a reason for me being here. A friend of mine once said, “You’re a really nice guy. You’re not a man of your word, though. You’ve been dying for twenty-five years, but you keep on backing out.”

Deacon Ken and Marie Finn on their 50th wedding anniversary

The impetus for the ministry work my wife and I share, and what we had in common when I proposed to her (on our first date!), is our deep affinity for Jesus. I grew up very aware of my love relationship with Jesus, but less aware of my personal relationship with Mary. After the remarkable moment in the RV, when the Blessed Mother reassured me that she had bonded with me as an infant, I felt a deeper respect and appreciation for her, yet I wouldn’t say our relationship suddenly became intimately warm and personal. It wasn’t until something happened at of the annual Medjugorje Peace Conferences in Irvine, California that the Blessed Mother truly entered my heart.

I participated in the conference because, while Jesus remained the focal point of our intimate relationship with God, the appearances of Mother Mary in Medjugorje had greatly affected me and my wife’s spirituality for the better. I had no doubt that the Blessed Mother was alive and present and doing the work of her Son in Medjugorje, and knowing that she was active today, made God’s care for us and the Blessed Mother’s participation in our lives so much more real. Someone can say that so-and-so is alive on earth, or alive in heaven, but what does that mean without that person actively sharing in one’s day-to-day life? With Mother Mary actively participating in the world, now, her aliveness had so much more credibility.

At the Medjugorje Peace Conference, I was one of the deacons assisting in the Mass. I dressed in an alb and stole, along with the other clerics present, and when it was time for us to sit down, because there were so many of us, we sat in the bleachers at the side of the stage, which supported the altar. At the final part of the Mass, as I stood up amongst the priests and deacons, I was approached by a tiny, elderly woman, dressed in an old style Mexican dress, with a bandana tied around her head. She carried a little basket of spiritual trinkets, crucifixes and little medals and the like, and asked if I would bless them. This seemed so unusual to me because the conference costs money to get into, and one never sees a very poor person there. I took her little basket and blessed it, and then handed it back to her. The woman had tears in her eyes and was literally begging for support. In thanksgiving for her courage, and moved by compassion and a sudden burst in my heart of love for her, I then I kissed her on the forehead and said a little quiet blessing for her. She smiled at me, revealing a set of ugly cracked, black teeth, with even blacker spaces in between them. Then she spontaneously put her head on my chest, wrapped her arms around me, and started to sob softly. I looked down at her and hugged her. She then kissed me on the cheek and walked away from me, disappearing behind a large television camera. A priest standing next to me said, “What was that all about?” I wondered myself. We both waited for the woman to come out from behind the T.V. camera, but she never did, and there was no other way by which she could have left. She just disappeared.

At the conference, a select few people were invited to go into a room upstairs, where the Medjugorje visionary Ivan would have his apparition of the Blessed Mother that evening. I was fortunate to be one of them, so I climbed the stairs and entered the room, where several people knelt and began praying the rosary. I joined them, waiting and watching to experience some personal sign of the Blessed Mother’s presence, but I didn’t see anything happening. I felt tired, sick, and out of breath. I asked Mary to intercede and heal my lungs. But I didn’t feel anything. I asked her for a healing from a hernia. No response. And then I asked her to heal my arthritis. Nothing! I was hurting so badly. The apparition ended, and just before the people in the room left, a woman leaned over to me and said, “Wasn’t that wonderful!”

“No it wasn’t,” I thought, sitting there feeling alone, discouraged, and disappointed, thinking of all my unanswered prayer requests.

Then as soon as I was alone, I heard the strong voice of a young woman talking to me. The hairs on my arms stood straight up. “Why are you so disappointed with me?” said the crystal clear female voice. I was startled and a little afraid. “Did you not recognize me when I put my head on your chest and sobbed softly, because so many people are still rejecting my Son and trying to hurt Him?” When you kissed me on the forehead in your compassion, I then kissed you on the cheek to tell you that my Son loves you very much and is very pleased with you.”

My fear left and turned into excitement and confusion. “Wow! What just happened?” I wondered. I left the room in a daze and shared with a priest, Fr. Steve Barham, what had transpired. He confirmed the reality of what I’d heard, and who it came from. For days, I couldn’t stop thinking and talking about it. The Blessed Mother hadn’t just spoken to me, she had hugged me, in the distressing disguise of a poor, elderly, Mexican woman.

About two weeks later, my wife and I traveled to Tijuana with Serving Hands International to go to the Missionary of Charity houses. There, Marie helped pass out food, blankets, and clothes, while I passed out free Bibles, Bible studies, and rosaries, and blessed each person as they passed through the line. I started telling my friend Brian about the lady I saw at the Medjugorje Peace Conference Mass, as the many people were filing by, taking what they needed. Then I looked over at the line, and at that very moment, I saw the same elderly lady with the same clothes she was wearing at the conference. Our eyes met, but she didn’t say anything to me. She just looked at me and smiled. Excitedly, I told Brian, “That’s her! She’s the one!” She continued to walk through the line, but didn’t take anything that was offered, and then stepped out the side door. Brian and I both ran to the door, which led to an outdoor courtyard, but she wasn’t there. She had disappeared again.

I feel special in the presence of the Blessed Mother now. Ever since she came to me, I have had a much stronger connection to her. If I met her today, I’d say with great hope and excitement, “It’s good to see you again!” Someone I respected very much has become my dear mother.

By Christine Watkins

Read more stories, such as this, in Watkins’ book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

For more information about the ministries of Deacon Ken and Marie Finn, see stdismas.org.

Priest showered with the mystical smell of roses, while in Medjugorje

Fr. Neil Buchlein standing to the right of Fr. Jozo Zovko

I traveled to Medjugorje, when I was invited by a tour operator to serve as the spiritual director and priest for a pilgrimage group. I felt truly excited to be there, in a place where one could easily feel the Blessed Mother’s presence. I had read about miraculous things pilgrims had experienced in Medjugorje, such as rosaries turning to gold, the sun spinning, the smell of roses, etc., but I also knew that if I focused on looking for these “signs,” then I would miss out on why I was really there.

Our group’s first full day was a busy one, as we ran between the rain drops, getting acclimated to the village. We ended up at the Risen Christ statue, located a short distance behind St. James Church, and there the guide asked if I would lead the Stations of the Cross. I agreed, hesitantly, since I didn’t have a meditation booklet with me, and asked the Lord to open my heart and give me thoughts to verbalize. As I began, I could no longer feel my body and the words simply flowed from my mouth, as the rain became steadier. When I had finished, people approached me, asking for the name of the booklet I had used, since they found the reflections very meaningful.

The Medjugorje visionary, Vicka, praying over Fr. Neil

On the day we were to climb Cross Mountain, one of the pilgrims came over to me and said that I would smell roses. I chuckled because it was the end of October, and there were no flowers growing. Besides, my sinuses were pretty clogged. I laughed and said, “I hope our Blessed Mother is a good ENT (ear, nose, and throat doctor), since I really can’t smell anything right now.”

We began to climb slowly, since there were about forty of us. Every so often the woman would look over at me to see if I had smelled anything, and I would shake my head, “No.” Then the whiff of a sweet fragrance came disappeared, as quickly as it had arrived, as if someone had whisked by me. I nodded, “Yes,” to her and she gave me a “thumbs up.” This happened two other times, as we continued the climb.

Finally we arrived at the top, and I found myself pausing a little past the mark of the fifteenth station of the cross, in order to take in the sacred atmosphere. The group had begun their final ascent up the roughly hewn stairway to the white cross, erected at the peak of the mountain, while I looked and laughed at a beautiful piece of grass, which covered earth, about thirty yards in front of me. Nowhere else on the mountain was there any grass to be found. I thought, “This is a golfer’s dream to hit balls off this mountain,” (although I have never played golf nor ever held a golf club). At that moment, I heard a distinct woman’s voice say, “Neil, come over here.” But none of the women from the group had spoken to me. I walked over and stood in the middle of this plot of green grass and looked up at the cross and then the sun, to see if I would see anything unusual or miraculous. The cross didn’t spin, nor did I see Jesus hanging on it, and the sun didn’t spin, nor did the face of Jesus or Mary appear on it. I threw up my arms and said, “What do you want? Did you call me?” All of a sudden, I was standing in a vacuum of roses. The sweet fragrance was overpowering. I didn’t know if I should be jumping up and down praising God or lying face down in the grass. I called out excitedly to the woman who told me I would experience the smell. She was twelve feet away from me and began to smile and laugh and say, “Do you smell the roses? The Blessed Mother is here.”

I felt extremely sad when the morning came for our departure. Even though I knew that I would somehow be back at least once every year, I still did not want to go home, for this was now “Home.” That trip was in October of 2002, and I have been to Medjugorje nineteen times since, and still look forward to going back.

Fr. Neil Buchlein, Pastor of Ascension Catholic Church in Hurricane, West Virginia (http://www.blessedmotherschildren.com)