My story started with a picture:
On your left is the negative of a picture taken in 1968, at St. Mark's Coptic Church in Zeitoun, Egypt. It is the Virgin Mary, with a dove of white light above her. The Virgin appeared to hundreds of thousands of people in Egypt - if not millions - over the course of several years and the apparitions were approved by Pope Paul VI. Many Muslims and those of other faiths converted to Christianity as a result of the visions.
There are many pictures and films that were taken.
I viewed this picture, and many others of this apparition, during my time at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. I was interested mostly out of curiosity about the supernatural.
My curiosity about the supernatural led me to start watching a television show called Crossing Over with John Edward. For those unfamilar with John, he claims to be a psychic medium who can communicate with the deceased loved ones of those he meets. His show fascinated me not only because of the general accuracy with which he gave information, but also because his message was pure: Communicate with, appreciate, and validate your loved ones while they're here on Earth. There was something about John's work which gave a stark reality to the afterlife for me, and the messages of the deceased loved ones he passed along were always those of humility and understanding that nothing "of this world" is worth a care in the world. Our purpose on Earth is to love each other and strive for Heaven. It was a really hopeful message, and made me feel as though there was a "better way" for the world.
This is right about the time things started to get really interesting. As Emeril Legasse would say, we were about to "kick it up a notch."
I graduated from college and Kristen (my then-girlfriend and current-fiance) and I decided to get an apartment together in Amherst, Massachusetts for the summer. With about a week to go before we were scheduled to move in, we spoke with the person we were renting the apartment from and they told us they had rented to someone else! Needless to say, we were in quite a bind, especially in a town surrounded by many colleges. Finding an apartment at the last minute was not going to be easy! And we already had summer jobs lined up. Our alternative would be to move home, but to find jobs that late in the game would have been really tough. We were really desperate, and were pulling out all of the stops.
It was at that time that I got down on my knees and started praying the Rosary for the first time in my life. I remembered from all of my Zeitoun reading hearing about something called "Fatima" and how the Virgin Mary requested everyone pray the Rosary. I was going to do anything it took at this point. I didn't even have a Rosary or know how to pray the Rosary, so I just said "Hail Mary, Full of Grace" over and over and over again.
Through what would appear at the time as an amazing coincidence (but which time revealed as a major blessing), one of Kristen's former co-workers answered one of our calls to local realtors in our frantic search for a summer home. This person was now a real estate agent, and was going to show us a few places around town. She took us to a beautiful apartment that we soon put a deposit on. What a relief! I certainly felt like, at the time, it was a great blessing, but a few days after moving in the magnitude of what had just occurred really hit me:
In addition to our realtor being a former acquaintance (and someone who was able to pull some much-needed strings for us regarding certain things), I opened the window shades one day and suddenly realized our apartment was right across the street from this:
It's a church, obviously. That's pretty remarkable in itself, especially considering I had prayed my simple version of the Rosary in desperation while looking for an apartment. But it isn't just any church. It's Notre Dame Parish. For those of you who don't know French, Notre Dame means "Our Lady". This is "Our Lady's Parish". And, as if for emphasis, this church was founded by French Canadians over 100 years ago, and part of my family's heritage is French-Canadian.
Right about then I started to freak out. What had just happened in the course of the week was beginning to come into focus. This was not a coincidence. Something very profound had just happened.
I knew I had to keep on this path of learning more about the Blessed Virgin Mary. Why had she appeared in Egypt? What was she trying to tell us? What was this place called Fatima? And I had heard about something happening now, in a place called Medjugorje. What was that all about? I told myself I had to learn more about spiritual life. I began reading book after book about spirituality. I couldn't get enough.
One such book, recommened by John Edward, even gave step-by-step instructions on how to actually introduce yourself to your guardian angel, which he claims in the source of his incredible gift. I had to try.
One afternoon I decided I was going to follow the steps. I surrounded myself with perfect quiet and peace and began an hour-long session of deep meditation and breathing exercises. As recommended, I imagined myself in a serene place - a peaceful beach.
And nothing happened.
John said it would take several of these sessions to actually "meet" (feel the presence of) your spirit guide. So eager to experience something supernatural, I was a little frustrated, and put this aside for another day.
And then two days later it happened - the most powerful dream I have ever experienced in my life.
Before I relay the contents of the dream I need to emphasize there is a clear separation between this dream and any other I have ever had in my entire life, for two reasons:
1. It involved a physical feeling. I felt a feeling of what I can best describe as magnetism in the dream. I was being pulled in various parts of the dream. It's tough to describe, other than to say it has never been replicated in any dream before or since.
2. It is the only dream in my life in which I changed ages. I went from being a young adult to a child. Again, never happened before or since.
Here's what happened:
The dream starts and I am on a beach (see above for its relevance) at a lake. One of the many remarkable things about the dream is that I could feel the warmth of the beach. I could feel the warm sand and warm breeze through my hair, as if I was actually there. I see lots of other people at the beach, but feel as though I am there alone. I feel as though I was brought there to be shown something.
I hear someone cry out "Look!" as they point across the water. I look out and, coming across the water, very quickly, is a white statue. I immediately recognize this as a statue of the Virgin Mary. It's flying right toward me, about two feet above the water's surface. This is when I experience that feeling of magnetism I mentioned. I feel as though I am attracting the statue to myself, and that there is an invisible force that is causing that. Fearful of the statue crashing into me, I put out my hand and realize I can direct where the statue is going. Using that magnetic force I felt, I use my hand to steer the statue to my right.
Upon doing so, the statue slows down and comes to a rest about 100 feet to my right, in a picnic area at the park. The statue is immediately surrounded by a group of 10 to 15 children and the statue then comes to life! It is the Virgin Mary, and it's as if the children know who she is. They gather around her and are very joyful she is there. I immediately run over to the statue and, for some reason, my instinct is to give the Virgin Mary a hug, as if we were long, lost friends.
The dream suddenly cuts to black. I am now back at my childhood home, in Medway, Massachusetts. I am in the lower level of our split-level house, and I'm instantly conscious of the fact that I am no longer someone in their 20s (as of the start of the dream) but I am now a young child (maybe 7-10 years old). I am sitting at a school desk in a small, close circle, with two other children (whom I don't recognize), who are also sitting at desks, and the Virgin Mary (also at a desk). We are going around the circle, trying to recite prayers. It comes to my turn and I don't know the words. The children and I laugh and giggle about it and the Virgin, in a motherly kind of way, puts her head in her hands, shaking her head and smiling, as if to say "You need to learn these!" It feels as though the Virgin Mary was teaching us the prayers of the Rosary.
The dream suddenly cuts to black again, and now I am slowly walking up the stairs of our home. I realize I am back to my current age. As I approach the top of the stairs, I look over the bannister, into the living room to my left, and see members of my immediate and extended family. Everyone is seated, watching the television. They're watching a Catholic television show. My impression is they know the Virgin is in the house and feel as though they need to watch this show now. There is a sense of urgency is the way they are watching the television. The dream this time fades to black, and I am left with not audible words, but this inner feeling:
"Teach them to pray the Rosary every day."
Upon waking up from this dream, I immediately turned to Kristen and just said "Wow."
Since that dream, I have dedicated myself to learning as much as possible about the apparitions occurring in Medjugorje. I have read most of the most popular books about the apparitions, twice been present as one of the visionaries received an apparition and spoke afterward, and conversed with those who have visited Medjogorje (including, I now realize not coincidentally, Kristen's grandparents).
I don't know exactly what I'm supposed to do with the information I now have, other than to pray and listen for God's direction. I started this blog as a way of disseminating to friends, family, and all others who are interested the messages we're receiving from God through the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje, as well as all of the resources out there to help you learn more. I put it down for a while but now feel a very urgent calling to pick it up and tell you again.
Through the messages of the past 26 years, the Virgin Mary has repeatedly, emphatically stressed the importance of prayer, fasting, and penance. This is also what we know:
- Mary has stated the apparitions in Medjugorje will be her last on Earth because, as she said herself, after the events that will take place "it will no longer be necessary."
- We are currently in a time in which great graces are available from God to those who live the Virgin's messages.
- The Virgin is here to bring us back to God because the world, as a whole, is very far from living a life in honor of God and is "clouded in darkness".
- Mary is confiding 10 secrets to each of the six visionaries in Medjugorje. Some of the secrets will be warnings to the world for converstion of heart, others concern the visionaries privately, and the most grave concern chastisements for the world. The secrets will at least begin unfolding during the visionaries' lifetime.
I mention the secrets because, as in the tradition of Fatima, they are a serious part of what is happening here. The Virgin has relayed that the reason she has appeared for all of these years in Medjugorje is because this is the final harvest of souls before world-changing events take place. For those who do not take to heart what is being given to us, it will be too late.
But the Virgin has also told us through the visionaries that we should not focus on the secrets. We should focus on living a life in honor of God, of being peaceful and loving, of dropping anger, lust for money, and anxiety. Because if we do that, the unfolding of the secrets will have no bearing on us. This is a time of God's greatest graces. We've been told that while we cannot eliminate the chastisements to come (because not everyone will convert), we can alleviate them through prayer, fasting, and penance. This is a serious time, but also a time to come to an understanding of what life should be: pure peace through devotion to God.
In one of her early messages to the visionaries in Medjugorje, the Virgin summed up her appearances in this way:
"I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God"
This blog will serve as my way of sharing with you the messages as well as what I have learned. I have many weaknesses, as everyone does, and am also using this as my personal inspiration to work each day to live a more holy life, as well.
Through today's blog post I have given you something very personal and central to my life. It has become the core of who I am, and something I am using as a foundation to build my life upon from here on.
Please, when you feel a calling, share with me and others, through the "comments" feature on this blog, your own experiences of God and how these messages are impacting your life.
Let's use this as a place to inspire each other on how to live the messages.
- Erik -