For my entire life I had been brought up in the Catholic Church, and have had a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother. My own mother would talk to my five younger siblings and I about the importance and power of bringing our petitions to Mary so that she may present them to her son on our behalf. Through my own life experiences I have found this to be true.
On June 24, 1981, six young children in the small country of Bosnia-Herzegovina reported being visited by the Blessed Mother. She told the visionaries that God had sent her to the world to help us convert our hearts and lives back to Him. They claimed that she appears to them every day. At first, local church and government authorities did not believe them, but over time they came to believe. Nowadays, Mary still appears daily to three of the children at 5:40 pm. Every week she tells them a message to spread to the world which can be read on the internet at Medjugorje.org. It is consistently a message of reconciliation and reunification with God. She keeps appearing 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.”
During the summer of 2006, I was presented with the opportunity to travel to the small country of 600,000 people called Montenegro. It is located across the Adriatic Sea from Italy. When I arrived, I soon came to believe that Mary had a hand in getting me there. Within the first three days, I learned that there was a bus that traveled daily to Medjugorje, the town where Mary first appeared to the children. I could not let this extraordinary opportunity pass me by. I made a three day trip there and by the time I left, I was changed forever. Just being in the town made me experienced a sense of peace and fulfillment I had never known before. The townspeople, the countryside, and the other pilgrims filled me with a sense of humility and grace. On the second day I was there, over 1000 people including myself gathered outside the basilica at 5pm to begin praying the rosary. At 5:40, a bell rang and everyone dropped to their knees. Mary was appearing to the visionaries. Though I could not see her, I could feel her presence by the sense of peace and fulfillment in my heart. This moment changed my life.
Right now, we are in a time when the Church is criticized for not being open enough for people, and for being too strict. Catholics fall away almost weekly, and buffet-style Catholicism is on the rise. I believe that if people knew about the miracle that is Medjugorje this would not be the case. It gives me a great sense of peace to know that Mary our Mother comes to visit us daily and with her she brings forgiveness and grace.
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