Joy of the Risen One

Featured article from April's Spirit of Medjugorje
Joy of the Risen One
By Cathy Nolan

    “Dear children! I am looking at you and in your hearts I do not see joy. Today I desire to give you the joy of the Risen One, that He may lead you and embrace you with His love and tenderness. I love you and I am praying for your conversion without ceasing before my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call” (October 25, 2011).

      Our Lady wants to give us the joy of the Risen One. She wants us to be filled with the new life that Jesus offers us through His death and resurrection, the new life of freedom from our sins. Jesus Himself waits in the confessional to embrace us with His love and tenderness. This is where we can meet Him and receive His joy! [My husband] Denis and I just watched a video on the Mary TV website that captures this process of Our Lady leading someone to Jesus for this tender embrace. It is the testimony of Fr. Rick Wendell, given at the Notre Dame Conference a few years ago. 
     Fr. Rick describes his encounter with joy during his talk. I will quote a bit now. But I highly recommend that you all go to our website and watch his testimony. It is found on the “Fruits of Medjugorje” archive, #42. Fr. Rick talks about his confession, penance and healing in Medjugorje: 
     “So I met this guy [a priest in Medjugorje] and I immediately knew that he would understand the gravity of the things that I had done. So I went to look for confession. And I went down [to the church], and it was kind of raining out, so there wasn’t anyone outside. And I thought ... ‘Lord, I really would like to go to confession with Fr. Mike,’ and he walked right into my peripheral vision, just right there, with an umbrella! He sat down and he heard many hours of my confession. And he had those gifts of the confessional for when we get to the really difficult things that we have said and done that are so humiliating that we don’t even want to go there in our mind. But Father Mike would say, ‘This is what you were doing, but this is what you were thinking.’ For hours [he heard my confession]...When he laid his hand on my head for absolution, heat came out of his hands. I didn’t know what it was; I just knew that it was. 
     “Then he gave me a non-standard penance. I had tried to go to confession before about the same stuff but the priest would say, ‘For your penance say 5 Hail Marys…’ Now, that’s not the priest’s problem, but it just didn’t seem enough...5 Hail Marys....maybe for the first bad thought I ever had, but not the rest...Then he said, ‘I want you to go to Krizevac and take your shoes off ...and that’s not penance, that’s just to equalize you to the people who come here who are older, infirm, incapable of doing it. You are young and strong. You take off your shoes and then you are to pray for every person you have hurt.’

Confessionals in Medjugorje
      “The next morning I got up and I walked across the fields. It was early dawn, because I didn’t want anybody to see what I was doing, right... did not want anybody to see what I was doing. I was looking to the stray dogs for company. I was dreading it. I got to Krizevac, took off my shoes and I left them at the bottom... the thing was, that when I went up and started praying, I could remember the names [of everyone I had hurt]. I could remember the lies, the seductions, the bad business deals, all the things I had done. I could remember the people’s names. So I sobbed all the way up. I knew the gravity of what I had done. All the way up and all the way down. There was a crucifix at the bottom, and I threw myself at the foot of the cross and I begged for my life, because I knew that I could live a perfect life from then on and never make up for it all [my sins]. There were people who died because of me. I could never make it up. But somehow I really felt forgiven. Really! 
     “I put my shoes on. And I walked down to the church. I got down there and ran into Fr. Mike Canary, and he said, ‘Come with me.’ He took me into one of the classrooms and there were 20 people there that I didn’t know. They were praying...the never ending ‘Amen’ song etc. He said it was a healing service and he put on a little mini stole, the traveling purple stole, and he prayed over people. Nothing happened to anyone. I walked up, I wasn’t thinking, and I get about three feet away from him and out of my mouth came, involuntarily, ‘I have many scars on my heart and what I want is the Holy Spirit.’ I thought to myself: ‘That’s pretty weird!!’ I wasn’t expecting to say anything, let alone that... 
     “He didn’t say anything. He took some blessed oil and made the Sign of the Cross on my forehead. He put one hand on my head and the other on my heart, and the Holy Spirit came down with power!!! It was so powerful that I got frightened, not in the scared sense, but in the awesome sense, like ‘OH MY!!’ For me it was like, for those who know Star Trek, if you ever stuck your head in the ‘anti-matter.’ It was a regular field of power. And it stopped above my heart. And then he spoke directly to it, and said, ‘Let there be no more doubt, let there be no more fear.’ And it was like the biggest breath of air I ever took, all of a sudden, right down to the bottoms of my feet, filled beyond my imagination, an ecstatic experience – more fun than any drug experience, by a long shot...It was better than Christmas magnified. It was like way out there...And the more I opened my heart, the more He filled me; the more I opened myself, the more He filled me; the more I opened myself, the more He filled me, until I really couldn’t even make a distinction between God and myself. It was just union...I didn’t know how long you could stay there. Again, a timeless experience. 
     “Then I kind of relaxed away from it, and as I did, I realized I was lying on the floor, my body was stiff. It was so stiff it was like you got plugged into a bazillion volts and my toes were straight out, and I was so stiff you could have put me on the back of two chairs like magicians use with their dummies...I was really that stiff. Fr. Mike was on one side with his hand on my chest, and Bill Curry (18 years old, six months before had been an absolute drunk and God had delivered him from being face down in the gutter) was praying on the other side, and into this relaxation came this warmth. I had known winning the big game, falling in love, all those kinds of things, but in my life, I had never known JOY! It was sappy. Father Mike said I nearly broke his back I hugged him so hard. I loved everybody! I ended up walking around in a tee shirt because I was emanating heat all the time.” (Fr. Rick Wendell - Notre Dame Conference. 2008. View it at http://www.marytv.tv/
     What a great description of the joy of union with God, through redemption! Fr. Rick Wendell was given a foretaste of heaven that day in Medjugorje. He was forgiven, did penance, and received the Holy Spirit in power! Union with God is JOY!! This is what Our Lady wants for all of us. Oh, come Holy Spirit, come!!

“Confession is the soul’s bath. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust. Return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!” ~St. Pio of Pietrelcina.

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