Then we went to breakfast. I tried to adhere to Padre Jozo's request for silence, but found it to be a discipline that was difficult. I found we had to watch each others eyes, which was good. After breakfast he again reminded us of the silence so God could enter us more completely. We were told to bring pen and paper to the conference room for the next part.
In the conference room Padre Jozo spoke to us about faith and our belief in God. He told us that each of us was created by the hand of God. In His greatness, we were born. He had three small statues of a hand with a child inside the palm; this represented our creation by God. He passed them among us and instructed each of us to hold the image in our own hands and contemplate on the gift of life that has been given to us by the Father. This was an awesome moment that brought each of us closer to God. After this he told us to write a letter to our Father, beginning with the words, "Dear Father", and to pour out our thanks to God as His child, His creation. This was my letter:
I thank you for the gift of this precious life. For the gift of each breath. My heart bursts with the grace you have gifted to me. I thank you for the gift of your unfathomable mercy that flows freely to my soul. I give you all honor and praise, oh sweet, merciful Father. I thank you for the gift of conversion of heart and soul. Oh my Lord God and Savior of my soul, create in me a clean heart, full of your Holy Spirit. Grant me the gift of your divine grace to help my lowly soul. I thank you for every good thing which comes from You, and the strength to avoid the temptations which would draw me far from your loving heart. Thank you for the gift of this experience which I drink into my very being. Thank you for each tear that falls and for your great loving heart. Please draw me unto you, now and forever, strengthen me, guide me, hold me close in the palm of your hand that created me. Teach me the discipline necessary to obtain your graces and lead me to holiness in this life. For all this I give my deepest thanks, Dear Father. Your Servant and daughter,
After we wrote our letters, it was time to go to chapel for the recitation of the Sorrowful Mysteries. I knew where Padre Jozo was going to be - in the back of the chapel. I sat directly in front of him. It was wonderful to have him there. I prayed so hard directly from the heart and soul, sobbing tears and clutching my rosary tightly. I was sorry for all my sins against God. It was from the deepest part of me that I prayed for forgiveness. We said more litanies, and concluded our time in chapel.
It was on to lunch now. We sat six to a table and I enjoyed being alone so I could table hop at each meal and meet new people. This was an advantage to not being affiliated with a group.
Even though we were supposed to be silent, we did seem to speak during the meals. During this meal I became friends with two lovely Irish men. To listen to them speak with their brogue accents was a true delight for me. The three of us spoke of the bunker at Siroike Briege. Both of them had been to Medjugorje several times before, and had been to Siroike Briege, also.
We determined that the three of us would go there in our free time until 4:00 p.m. We hiked in to town and took a taxi ride to the monastery. We found the bunker where the Franciscans had been martyred in 1945. This was holy ground. All those men, six were only 20 years old, and the eldest was 80. They were killed because they refused to deny their faith in God.
There was a crude makeshift gate in the bunker, and I thought I did not come all this way to be locked out by this gate. I went past it and knelt in this holy place and prayed for the men killed there. It was a holy moment for me. As we emerged from the bunker and went into the chapel, Padre Jozo was there speaking to a group of pilgrims. We just caught him leaving. We went into the little gift shop and I bought two books that were written by him. One for the library at my children's Catholic school and one for me.
Then we began the hike back. The mountains in the distance are truly beautiful and some had snow. It was lovely to drink in the scenery. We were 5 minutes late for the 4:00 p.m. lecture. At this time all 50 of us had to stand, one at a time, and read aloud the letter to God we had composed.
This in itself really united our group. As I listened to the letters, I realized we were all broken, asking for God's grace to heal us. This is what brought us together. As we each listened, we became a family. As Our Lady came at 5:40 I cried again, just knowing I was so close to Medjugorje. It moved my heart and soul. She is here! Coming to each of us! What a gift!
The sharing of our letters amidst tears lasted again 2 hours. Then we went to chapel for rosary.
On the way to chapel there was a moment in the hallway with just Nancy, Padre and I. I seized the moment and went up to him, kissed both his cheeks and embraced him. It was wonderful! In his quiet way he just said, "Thank you".
In chapel we recited the Joyful Mysteries and celebrated the Mass.
(End of Part 8)