Testimony of Carmen from Mexico
Date: November 24, 2007 , Originally published November 1, 2001
Our dear friend Roberto, who has for many years been bringing pilgrims to Medjugorje from Mexico, shared this beautiful testimony with us recently. It is from Carmen, who lives near the city Valle Tamaulipas. She went with his group to Medjugorje for the Anniversary last summer. She shares:
"I was reluctant to go to Medjugorje, but my sister insisted. As you know, I was married for more than 20 years to a wonderful man. For me it was my first marriage, but the second for him (he was divorced from his first wife). From the moment we married, we suffered a great deal. We were outcast from the family. The local priest of our small town told us we were living in sin. I found it hard to believe that it was sinful, since my husband was a wonderful and faithful man in all aspects.
"Two years ago, my husband died. I have been very lonely. My sister urged me to approach the church, but each time I tried I felt something inside me that held me back. I was ashamed, and I felt hurt by those who had shunned me, though they professed they love God. I remained far away from the Church.
"When my sister invited me to accompany her to Medjugorje, I was not thrilled, though I welcomed a chance to do something outside of my normal routine. As you remember, I told you that the mere mention of prayer made me sick inside, and though I wanted to travel, I didn't want to go on a pilgrimage. But I found myself heading for Medjugorje for the 20th anniversary of apparitions that I didn't even believe in! I was always trying to escape the activities, especially prayer or Adoration or Mass, but you always invited me to join if I felt like it. Though I resented the invitation, I wanted to join you, because you seemed so sure of what you were saying about Our Lady. You were the first person not to emphasize the miracles of Medjugorje, but rather the messages of love that Our Lady has for all of us, and that made me feel at ease.
"Getting off the boat in Split, I was seasick and already hating myself and my sister for bringing me. But as we arrived in Medjugorje I felt a special stirring in my heart. After talking to you on the bus, something inside of me told me to give myself a chance. You had mentioned that Our Lady was coming to care for her sick children in a special way, and you shared your own conversion. You also said to not look for signs in the sky, or in nature, but to look within, to open my heart for the four days I was going to be Medjugorje. I wanted so badly to do it. When you pointed out the hill of apparitions, I felt something inside of me urging me to climb. Even though I hate climbing hills, I went up with our group, praying the rosary (which I was relearning!). At the top, I felt a desire to be alone, so I went to a wooden cross, apart from where the group was sitting, and I remained there.
"I was deep inside myself, wishing I knew if my husband had gone to heaven. He was a good man, and I prayed for him. When I was ready to leave, I turned to look for you and the group, but you were gone. So, in dismay, I began looking for someone to help me find my way down. I began walking, and then I saw this priest and asked him if he spoke Spanish. To my surprise, he said yes, and so I asked him which way led down the hill. He asked me why I was leaving, and I said I had already seen the place. He told me that I was not there to see, but to pray, since that is the only way I could really see with the eyes of my heart. I felt at ease with him and answered back that I had also prayed. But he told me that I needed to pray more. It was then that I realized that I was speaking to a priest in Spanish! I was happy that I could talk to a someone besides the priest that came with our group, since I was ashamed to express my thoughts to him. I also remembered that you had told me to pray to Our Lady to put a holy priest in my life, so that he could help me sort out my feelings and open my heart. So I thought to myself, "She is quick to respond to my call!"
"I asked this priest if I could talk to him about myself and thus I began to tell him about my doubts, my life, my husband, my children, and my trip to Medjugorje. I described my deep desire to approach the Eucharist, and shared my fear that it would be a sin, since I had been married to a divorced man. I explained to him that I loved my husband. It was curious, because I talked and talked and he listened with incredible attention, never interrupting. When I finished, he looked into my eyes with a look I will never forget, a deep look that was compassionate and full of love, the love of someone who is there only to help. He then spoke about the importance of Reconciliation, and the incredible gift it is for us, and of how Jesus extended his hands in order to embrace all our sins and heal our hearts. He reminded me of some gospel stories, such as the healing of the crippled man, and the forgiveness of Mary Magdeline. I asked him if he believed in the apparitions. He said that a mother would always look for her children, especially when they were sick. And humanity is sick now, having lost faith, but that if we pray and fast and live according to the Gospel, then we will enter a beautiful world. He told me that we need to have faith, and through prayer, faith will grow stronger.
"We began to go down the hill towards the street, and after a while I realized that I had told him my whole life story, and I needed to ask for his blessing and forgiveness of my sins. He looked at me, and put his hand on my head. He told me to go and seek confession with a priest, a sacramental confession. I asked him if he could give me confession, and he told me that we had talked but that I should go to confession before Mass, during the Rosary. He told me to look for a priest at the second door of the outside confessionals.
"That afternoon I took the Rosary you had given me and I went straight to the confessional that the priest had told me about, hoping to find him there. But to my surprise, I found a priest from Argentina (I think) and I received the sacrament of Reconciliation. It was like balsam to my heart! I could really feel the healing of all my wounds. I felt a sense of belonging to God and Jesus and began to cry and cry. It was already time for Communion when I stopped crying, and for the first time in more than 20 years I received the Eucharist, blessed food! I remember the story of the mana from heaven, and, yes, I had been walking in the desert without this wonderful food!
"That night as I walked with you, telling you about this wonderful event, I saw a picture on a little stamp of the priest I had spoken to that day on the hill. I pointed at it, and told you that it was the priest I had been telling you about. I remember that you had an odd expression on your face, but that without saying a word, you excused yourself under the pretense of looking at some medals in a store. I saw that your eyes were watery.
"I now understand that you didn't want to tell me who the priest was. But my sister told me that it was Fr. Slavko, a holy priest who had died in November. I thank you for not commenting about it at the time, for I would not have understood. Now I can go about the world sharing the incredible love I have received from my Lord Jesus and the incredible gift that my Lady gave me on her anniversary!
"I now pray and fast and attend daily Mass. There is no way that I can miss the Eucharist after all I have missed for so many years. I want to make up for those lost years. I pray that you can continue to bring Medjugorje and Our Lady to many people like me that are walking in the shades. I pray for my mother who passed away 10 years ago. She was a very pious lady, and when I asked her why she prayed so much she just said that one day I would understand. I do understand, her prayers brought light to me 10 years later. Now I can see the value of all my prayers. Every 2nd of the month, I rise at 4:00 AM in order to pray along with Mirjana and Our Lady for nonbelievers. I pray for all those who have unsettled hearts, and especially for those waging war right now. I am sure that if we fast and pray they will convert and, yes, Our Lady's Heart and the Sacred Heart of Jesus will triumph.
"Do share my experience if it would do any good. And thanks."