Featured article from August's Spirit of Medjugorje

On the Way to Medjugorje
By Dawn Curazzato
     In the Jubilee year, 2000, I went to Medjugorje for the first time. That same year, Pope John Paul II made St. Faustina the first saint of the Third Millennium and dedicated Divine Mercy to be celebrated the first Sunday after Easter, making it a splendor for the Church. On that day, he said, "THIS is the happiest day of my life!" Not becoming a priest, not becoming pope, but this day was his happiest. Why? Because he had made Divine Mercy the image of his pontificate, knowing what a great gift it was to humanity, and he fulfilled God's Will. He was very devoted to the Blessed Mother, and many say he was a mystic. 
     In 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot on May 13 at 5:00 PM - the exact date and time Blessed Mother appeared to the Fatima children in 1917. Pope John Paul II did not take this to be "coincidence." He recognized himself as the "Bishop in White" who was shot and killed in the vision the Fatima children were shown. He would later say, "One hand fired; another guided." He understood Our Lady guided the bullet through his body, and it was through Her intercession that he lived! When he recovered, after visiting his would-be assassin and forgiving him, he made a trip to Fatima and had the bullet from his body placed in 
     Our Lady's crown in the Fatima statue, to thank and honor Her for Her intercession. He was a great Pope, and I loved him, as did millions of others. Whether he was a mystic or not, I do not know, but he made a very important statement about Medjugorje. He said, "Medjugorje is the continuation and fulfillment of Fatima!" On this, the 100 year celebration of Fatima, I hold that close to my heart and ponder it as I remember my first trip there. 
     I had heard a great deal about Medjugorje and there was a trip in October of 2000, but I couldn't afford to go. In June of 2000, my husband and daughter gave a "surprise" 50th birthday party for me and, lo and behold, after opening all my cards, I got the exact amount to go. I was very excited. My friend, Kathy, who had been there several times said, "You won't want to come home!" 
     Just before it was time to leave, my mom found out she had cancer and needed surgery. I couldn't leave her. I went to the hospital three days before we were supposed to leave, and I told her I wasn't going to go. She told me to go - that I could do more for her there, and my sisters would take care of her while I prayed for her in Medjugorje. I told her OK, but as I got on the bus to leave for the airport, I began to cry. As I turned my head and looked out the window, the woman sitting behind me saw my reflection in the window and asked what was wrong, so I told her about my mother. She said, "I have something for you," and she placed a first class relic of Blessed Margaret in my hand and my first "spiritual kiss" and call of Our Lady of Medjugorje began. You see, the lady introduced herself and told me she was a technician at Roswell, the cancer hospital where my mother was having her surgery as we spoke, and she told me not to worry, that my mother would be fine. And she was! What she could not possibly know is that before I left, I went to visit the Dominican nuns on Doat street in Buffalo, NY, to tell them five of my friends and I had just officially begun a prayer group called "Ladies of the Lord" with the blessings of Msgr. Nugent of St. Bernadette's Parish. The nun I was speaking with asked if we had a "Patroness." We didn't, and she asked if we would consider
Steeples of St. James
Steeples of St. James
      Blessed Margaret, who has a plaque in the monastery, and is patroness of the handicapped, blind and unloved. Perfect! Of all the relics in the world, a woman I had never met, who is a technician at the hospital where my mother is being operated on, hands me THAT particular relic of the Patroness, which the Dominican nuns had just given us, while on the way to Medjugorje. Oh this WAS going to be a special trip! 
     The trip to Medjugorje is long and grueling, and when we arrived it was near dusk. Everyone went into our host home and unpacked...not me, though. I had to see St. James Church before I unpacked. I could see the two steeples of the church, so I ran down the street. I didn't want to have to find the house we were staying at in the dark. When I got to the church, there were hundreds of birds chirping loudly in three small trees near the church. All of a sudden they stopped - in unison - not another peep! I looked at my watch and it was 6:40, the time Our Lady appears! Does nature also pay Her homage?! It seems so! 
     The next morning, we went to Apparition Hill, where Our Lady first appeared. I was deeply affected by the peace and beauty of the spot where Our Lady has promised to leave a permanent sign that the world will have no doubt that She was appearing there. It is holy ground. I took a few pebbles from that spot. They are among my prized possessions. 
     We met several of the visionaries and were especially taken with the story Vicka and Jakov told us about Our Lady showing them Heaven, Hell and Purgatory. All the visionaries have a holy joy about them, especially Vicka, who was my favorite. Though she has many sufferings, she exudes joy. I had brought a manuscript of a book I had just written and Vicka prayed over it, for which I was very grateful. 
     On the third day, my roommate, Mary, and I looked out our window at night, and we saw the cross on Mt. Krizevac all aglow in a red hue, as if on fire. The next morning on our way up the mountain, we asked our guide about what we saw. We asked her who was up there. She said no one. She said, "You will see when you get to the top that there are no lights. There are no people up there late at night, as it is a treacherous climb in the dark. What you saw, many people report seeing. Some people see it lifted up and spinning with bright lights around it. It is a 'gift' to see that." I said, "Yes, but what does it mean?" She just smiled. Mary and I looked out every night thereafter, but never saw it again. However, we'll never forget it! Our trip to the top, praying the Rosary at each of the Stations along the way was very special, too.
Prayer...Not Despair
      We went to Mass every day where many priests concelebrated and it was like a taste of Heaven - so very special. There were also long lines for Confession - something you don't see in the West. One day we were coming out of Mass, and saw some pilgrims pointing up. When I looked up, my two friends and I witnessed the Miracle of the Sun! I thought I would faint!! When I was 10 years old, my dad told me the story of Fatima and I said to him, "Dad, I wish I was alive then! I could have gone to Fatima to be with Blessed Mother and see the sun spin!" My father smiled. Well, I think my Father in Heaven smiled, too, because here it was some 40 years later, and I am "seeing" through the eyes of the 10 yr. old child who lives within! Praise God! My dad passed away this past February and I will always be grateful to him for teaching me about my Faith. 
     It was time to leave, and I found myself crying again! My friend, Kathy, was right - I didn't want to go home. I wanted to stay in this place that seems to be so close to Heaven. As we were all getting back on the bus, I had one more experience that I did not talk about for a long time until I discussed it with my spiritual director. I heard a voice - a loud voice - so I thought everyone heard what I heard. The voice said only three words: "Work for Me!" I said "Yes!" But when I looked around, I saw everyone talking and going about their business, and I realized no one else heard it. I had read the voice of God is soft and sweet. This voice was strong and distinct, so I questioned it until my priest put me at ease about it. I DO work for God. ALL of us should! God speaks to us in many ways, through Scripture, through other people, through the lives of the saints, through nature and dates, and natural means. Occasionally we may "hear" a voice or inner stirring, but we have to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and we have to maintain a child-like Faith which will confound the learned and proud. Many amazing things have happened to me since that trip - too many to mention here. But this I must share because we are all called to witness and to take God's Love and Mercy to those He puts on our path. We are to be His Light in this dark world. 
     I met so many wonderful people on the two trips I was able to make to Medjugorje, including the editor of this paper, June Klins, who touches many hearts by spreading Our Lady's messages. We were told that we don't choose to go to Medjugorje - that Our Lady calls us there. There is a "purpose" for each of us, which gave me pause to think...what is my "purpose?" What can I do for Our Lady, for Jesus, for my Church? I thought about it quite a lot while there. I remembered a quote President Kennedy made many years ago, but I substituted one word - "Church" - in place of "country": Ask not what your Church can do for you; ask what you can do for your Church. We should! 
     Our prayer group, "Ladies of the Lord/ Disciples of Divine Mercy," grew from six housewives to over 200 women after coming home from that first trip to Medjugorje. We get 60-90 women at EVERY meeting the second Thursday of each month in the Gathering Room at St. Gregory the Great Church in Amherst, NY. We pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then we do readings from the Catechism, Bible and St. Faustina's Diary. After discussion/speaker we have fellowship. When we leave that room, we leave invigorated with the Holy Spirit and ready to face our days, not alone but as sisters in Christ. We go out as Apostles, part of Our Lady's Army! My Pastor once asked me, "How do you get all these women to come?" "I tell them they don't have to come!!" So I know those who come, come because they WANT to, and they understand the power of prayer! Our main requirement is to include ALL those on our petition list in our daily prayers and offerings and do acts of Mercy and Love when and where we can. 
     I have been doing presentations on "The Real Presence in the Eucharist" and the healing of my granddaughter ("The Power of Prayer") for 20 years. We give out free rosaries, scapulars, blessed medals and Catholic hand outs and pamphlets as well as bumper stickers with our emblem (the face of Jesus and a rosary) and motto "Prayer Not Despair" on them. They are all good ways to share the faith. Recently one of my Ladies of the Lord came out of Adoration and found this note on her car: (the card says "Thanking you for your kindness....and thanking GOD for you.") 
     "Dear Bumper sticker owner: I wanted to Thank You for your Prayer Not Despair bumper sticker! I never was someone who thought much of bumper stickers, but now I realize that sometimes they can really have a positive effect. Probably about three times I have seen this sticker on a car just at a time I was feeling close to despair. I believe God drew my attention to it. Well, each of those times I saw the sticker, my whole attitude changed. I felt God was telling me there was hope and just to keep praying. So I thought you should know about this. I thank you greatly for this bumper sticker because it has revived me and cheered me up, and has given me hope when I was losing hope. Thanks again! A Friend" 
     You see, we never know how what we do or say affects another. A kind word, a card, a visit, an act of mercy or a bumper sticker all done with love can have a very positive effect. A small ripple can turn into a huge "tsunami of faith" that WILL change the world. Is God calling YOU to work for Him? Let us Pray....... 
      Editor's note: If you are interested in obtaining a "Prayer Not Despair" magnetic bumper sticker, or Dawn's book, Memoirs of a Miracle, you can contact her at samcurazzato12@gmail.com. If you do not have email, you can call June at 814-898-2143 for Dawn's contact information.

1 comment:

Ed Sousa, Sr. said...

"Medjugorje is the spiritual center of the world."
Saint John Paul II