Testimony of Colette
Date: September 17, 2006 , Originally published September 1, 2003
Colette is French, her husband, British and they have two girls born in America:
"We currently live in Pennsylvania. Our family is, or should I say, was not the religious type. Both my husband and I had had disgruntling experiences with the Catholic Church and we were happy to stay as far from it as we possibly could. And yet, in March 2003, something really weird happened.
"On March 17th, as the war with Iraq was about to start, I woke up absolutely convinced the world was going to pieces, and I needed to do two things; 1) Create a prayer group in my neighborhood, to pray for Peace. (I had never done such a thing in the past and I couldn’t even remember any prayers, and it was a new neighborhood, people were surely going to think I was totally nuts. But the feeling was so strong and so persistent; I had to give it a try). 2) GO TO MEDJUGORJE. (I had heard about the place through a friend a few years back. I knew what was happening there). The message was so strong I finally told my husband I had to go there straight away.
"I was baffled by what was happening to me, but for some strange reason, I didn’t question it. In May 2003, I signed up for a week-long pilgrimage. The moment I boarded the bus, I realized I had a permanent grin pinned on my face, a joy I could not explain. I didn’t know why I was going to Medjugorje. In the bus, I was surrounded by very devout Catholics, many of them long term returnees to the place. But instead of feeling alienated, I felt accepted. Nobody rejected me because of my questions, my doubts or my obvious lack of faith. Everybody I met on the trip seemed to have been put there to help me in my quest.
"In Medjugorje, I took in the atmosphere, the people, the events. I was amazed by the grace that seemed to permeate everything and everybody. It felt natural, albeit painful, to go to confession, even though I hadn’t done it for 30 years. It felt natural to sit in church many hours a day, some days up to 9 hours. My childhood prayers slowly came back to me, and I surprised myself saying them fervently. All of a sudden, those words took a meaning.
"I was overwhelmed with emotions. I could not be there without crying. I cried a lot about the past spiritual emptiness of my life, on the mediocrity of it all compared to what it could have been. I cried for forgiveness, I cried because I realized I had been very alone for so long.
"In Medjugorje, I met people with Faith. I met priests with Faith. I know, because I saw priests at the altar, crying during Mass. I did not see Mary, I did not see an apparition, but I felt something very strong, something very encompassing. I felt Love, Unconditional Love, All Forgiving Love.
"By the end of the week, I was praying the Rosary with my fellow pilgrims, with my new found Faith growing inside me. Mary had taken me by the hand, and I was clutching it, worried that she might let go of me. The return trip in the bus was full of mixed emotions for me. As we had been told by our pilgrimage leader, the real pilgrimage was about to start upon our return.
"I was worried that I would lose that feeling of being connected to something so big, so powerful. I feared I would be swallowed up by the world and its unrelenting selfishness. But I needed not to worry. As our group leader had said: “Give all your worries to Mary, and she will take care of them”. Since my return, my life has been an endless succession of small but significant events that keep me on my path. Here is the latest one:
"I had been estranged from my older brother for more than 30 years. He suffered from schizophrenia and was living alone in Paris, incapable of working or having any kind of social life. The whole family had finally shied from him after many years of suffering under his uncontrollable violence and terrorizing madness.
"Upon my return from Medjugorje, I found that all my deep-seated feelings of hatred and resentment toward him had suddenly evaporated . It was clear to me I wanted to renew contact with him, make amends and ask him for forgiveness. We started exchanging emails, tentatively sharing details of our present day lives. This was in July. And then on August 12th, I got a phone call that he had died. He had had a heart attack, one of the many victims of the heat wave that hit France this summer.
"His death was such a shock. I felt sorrow and at the same time I felt he had been allowed to go to a better place, where there would be no suffering, no loneliness, no pain, no rejection anymore. I thanked Mary for taking him with Her, and for this immense grace of having given us this special time of reconciliation. All in my family were amazed at the connection between my unexpected trip to Medjugorje, my reconciliation to my brother and his sudden departure.
"I know all this could be looked at as just coincidences. But when you have lived your life under the threat of a sick mad man that you learned to fear and hate, and that by some inexplicable grace you feel compelled to ask and to offer him forgiveness, and that this person just dies weeks later, it puts into light a grander scheme of things.
"I now go to daily Mass! My life is filled with hope and peace. I am glad people like you are actively promoting Medjugorje and the messages of Mary. I wish for everybody to go there and experience for themselves the power of what is happening there. Let's use the Media to offer Mary's message of Love and Hope to all!"