Jesus, you preached and performed miracles, you touched and healed the sick, you revealed Yourself to all who were rejected.
Jesus, you preached and performed miracles, you touched and healed the sick, you revealed Yourself to all who were rejected. Therefore, many people believed in You. However, many also rejected you. Yet you went on to embrace the Cross and every drop of your most precious blood was poured out in love for all the people – for all those who loved you and for all those who rejected you. Your sacrifice opened the doors to eternal salvation, to the Resurrection, so that we could share eternal life with You. Heavenly Father, You called and You continue to call out of the darkness every immortal soul. Father here they are, those whom you have called. They are your children. The human heart is boundless and its desires are endless. However, in you Heavenly Father, in your Loving Heart, your children shall find a home.
This is the same for the doctors who came from Ukraine on the pilgrimage to Medugorje for the first time in their lives these last April 11-17, 2012. They were obstetricians and gynecologists from many different regions in Ukraine including: Kiev, Vinnitsa, Zhitomir, Ternopil, Zaporozhye, Kherson, Kirovograd, Berdichev, Donetsk, Poltava, Khmelnytsky, and KhmelnikBoyarka. The majority of these doctors were baptized in the Orthodox Church, therefore, they came during their Holy Week as the Eastern Church continues to follow the Julian calendar. As Roman Catholics we had already celebrated Easter. However, to be in solidarity with our pilgrims we spent this time in anticipation for their Easter celebration.
The doctor’s trip to Medjugorje was not easy. After a long journey by train and bus, they arrived late at night and everyone was very tired. It was a sacrifice on their part, yet it bore much fruit in the coming week. Despite their tiredness, it was so very nice to meet them and to see their happy eyes and to hear the words, “We have finally arrived.”
The next day, Thursday morning, was the great feast of the Last Supper which established the Holy Eucharist. In prior descriptions of the pilgrimages we have already discussed the many hardships endured by the people who lived in the former Soviet Union. Due to the religious repression during the Soviet era, many of our pilgrims did not know the full tradition of Holy Week. Therefore, these celebrations were very new and interesting for them.
On Thursday we also went to Apparition Hill where Mother Mary had first appeared to the visionaries. Mary was waiting for us with open arms. Through her intercession every heart is opened to the love of her Son. We began to climb the hill with the prayer, “Hail Mary…”. It was at this time that I was so deeply touched by the fact that in the hands of the doctors were simple plastic white Rosaries.
Just as if the pure and loving hands of Mother Mary were holding each one of them. Thus indicating the great instrument that overcomes death and the cunning of the devil. The hand’s of the doctors were now holding life and not destroying it. Almost every one of themwere holding a Rosary for the first time in their lives. One other thing touched me so deeply is that when we were at the site of the second day of Apparition of Our Lady, one of the doctors, director of a woman’s clinic, holding a little prayer book in his hands, was reading from it prayers with such devotion just like a little child, it was so beautiful, it was seems for the first time in his life he was reading a prayer and wanting memorize everything. Heavenly Father, how much they all want to live! How important is this time, the beginning of their conversion to You.
Every evening our group participated in the evening program at the church of St. James. This first Thursday evening was very special! When Holy Mass was finished the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. This was the first time for these doctors to encounter Jesus in such a profound way, as Jesus gazes back at them in humble and merciful love from the monstrance. This day was, therefore, truly a Holy Thursday! We were dedicating our hearts to the Blessed Mother and being cleansed by her maternal love, which was leading us and preparing us for a special meeting with Jesus.
On Good Friday all of our pilgrims wanted to fast and expressed a deep desire to climb Cross Mountain. As we climbed we reflected deeply on how our Savior had suffered and endured such hardship on his walk to Calvary. I must say that it was very evident that the doctors experienced deep graces during the climb. Many of them are living with deep inner suffering. They have wounded hearts and during this walk these deep wounds, which had remained hidden for many years, were beginning to open up. When our group reached the foot of the cross, there were many people present; however, this did not stop our prayer. At the end of our prayers, Fr. Andrei Popov gave each of us an individual blessing.
Saturday morning was highlighted by a meeting with the visionary Vicka. Her words left a deep impression on our hearts. Vicka brings a special joy! Her reflections show the deep love of Mary. The joy from this experience radiated from the faces of our pilgrims.
After lunch we began the first of the three parts of our seminar. We opened with the question, “At what point does human life begin?” The doctor’s response was clear, “From the moment of conception.” But as we proceeded , the many issues brought up were very painful for the doctors. I must mention that the average salary for an obstetrician or gynecologist in Ukraine is $125 per month. Without this income how are they to live? How are they to feed their families? These were the questions and fears that entered the minds of the doctors. However, we tried to awaken within them the fact that it is not possible for one to build up their own family and to feed their own children at the expense of destroying lives of other children through abortion. Each of the doctors understand that abortion and contraception is evil, but in their opinion it is impossible to stop. One of the doctors said, “If we do not do it, someone else will.” The doctors are often, at least in Ukraine, taking on a social responsibility in their commitment to preserve life or not to preserve life. There is much debate on this topic. But the truth is that we are not simply talking about the justice of two people who think they have the right to vote and decide on the life of a little child, but we must also consider the right of the person who is to be born and the rights of the many generations to which that child would then leave behind. How many generations have been destroyed? How many people are no longer with us? Yes the devil is evil and he does not care how he destroys the physical life of man. He looks for every opportunity, even penetrating to the most secret place – to that of the womb – where a child, a true person, is already conceived. It is important for the physicians to be aware of this vicious cycle and to be shown that there is a solution and that their choices can be changed. The civilization of deathceases when we look beyond ourselves in love.
Our mission and hope is to bring into the hearts of the doctors the message that every life has dignity and significance. We also greatly express the hope that the doctors will see their profession as doctors as a vocation and a path to holiness.
On Holy Saturday evening, our pansionowners, Kruno and JasnaVasil, helped us to prepare for the Easter celebration. They gave us a beautiful Pasqua Easter Cake and prepared for us many Krasenki Easter Eggs. Fathers Andrew and Zbigniew blessed the Pasqua near the Church of St. James.
Sunday began with a loud, “Christ is Risen!” We all sang songs celebrating the Resurrection of Christ. The mood was very festive! After Easter breakfast we went to Mother’s Village where we had Easter Holy Mass. Many thanks to Fr. Zvigniew for his deep and candid preaching. The pilgrims shared from their hearts about the Resurrection of Christ.
We then went to the center, Mika Krispina, where we heard the testimony of Susanna, a young woman who helps many girls and women in difficult situations. About 1000 lives of children have been saved through this center. We have been praying that a similar center could one day be opened in Zaporozhye, Ukraine where with the same love and specific care we could help women who are in need of support and love.
Sunday was for us a double celebration because it was also the feast of Divine Mercy. Jesus promised St. FaustinaKowalska that“Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy.(Diary, p. 264, 687).Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this chaplet(Diary, p. 310, 848) … Through the chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.(Diary, p.566, 1731).In the afternoon at 3:00 PM, I offered for the whole group the prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Almost the whole group came and joined in praying, “…For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, Have mercy on us and on the whole world…” The prayer sounded childlike in its simple purity as we asked God the Father for forgiveness from our sins. What a gift this was and what a gift are the souls of these doctors. This will remain as one of the most memorable moments.
On Monday morning we continued our seminar and after dinner our group visited the center of Cenacolo. Here two young men from Slovakia shared their life stories. We laughed and cried. It was a very beautiful and open meeting.
On our last morning together in Medjugorje, everyone shared their experiences from the past week. Many said that they experienced deep love and joy. One doctor said that she had decided to finally quit and that she would not do abortions any more. For her the pilgrimage was very difficult. Her thoughts constantly went back to our discussions from the seminars and were colored by the graces and joys she experienced in Medjugorje. In the end she decided to begin a brand new life and to stop doing abortions. Several other people came up to me and said that they want to come back to Medjugorje very soon.
Many of the doctors said that the seminars and the pilgrimage helped to open their eyes to the reality of abortion. Again, like last time, the doctors were eager to share with the families and colleagues their experiences and to encourage them to sign up for a pilgrimage. From the materials that were handed out in defense of life, almost nothing was left. The doctors were eager to bring the prolife message back to Ukraine.
We remain in contact with our pilgrims and neither leave them in heart or in prayer. We believe that the lives of many are already on the path to conversion.
Thank you Dearest Blessed Mother. With your presence, the whole world is renewed as we are led to your Son Jesus. For only through the Holy Sacraments can we who live on earth begin to experience a foretaste of heaven. Thank you God for the mercy you show to every soul and for your great providence. We thank our sponsors who give themselves entirely through prayer, fasting, and hard work as they assist with the providence of the pilgrimages. We offer deep gratitude to our dear Krunos and YasnaVasil for their help and for their love as they allowed us to stay in their home. And to all of you, our dear friends around the world, we sincerely thank you for your prayers and for your love!
In prayer and with love,