A call to visit Medjugorje
By Lucina Chao
I was “called” to visit Medjugorje in April 2005. It was a 10-day self-guided Italy-Medjugorje pilgrimage arranged by a group of parishioners. Foreseeing the trip to be quite disorganized, and having to leave my two kids home, I was very reluctant to go. The major reason to eventually join was to accompany my mother, who would have great difficulty climbing up the hills all by herself. My first feeling after arriving at Medjugorje was disappointment. What was I supposed to do in this rural city? No formal guide, no organized talks, I was disillusioned, especially after hearing all the great stories about Medjugorje, and right after visiting the magnificent cathedrals in Italy. Anyway, our plan was to stay for only four days, and then returned to Italy to finish off the trip. I was trying to understand how and why my sister, Maria, could yearn to spend her whole life in this small town.
The next day in Medjugorje when we gathered to pray, I noticed my rosary had changed colour, from silvery to a beautiful rustic copper colour. I have always been and continue to be a very rational and skeptical person. But this time, I am convinced, something unusual had happened. Cautious of pickpocket in Italy, I put my valuables (including my rosary) in a small pouch, inside a bigger bag snuggled deep in my knapsack. Will oxidation or other chemical reactions still take place within the three layers of “protection”? I never bother to find out.
When I went to confession and told the priest about my rosary, my frustration and disappointment with this trip, he told me that the changed rosary was indeed a sign of consolation from our Holy Mother. She was trying to comfort me, knowing how upset I was. I agreed with him and my affection for Medjugorje had started to change since then.
We returned to Toronto on April 30, 2005. Within a week, on May 6, I got the most terrible news any mother could possibly receive: my younger son was diagnosed with cancer. It was also the worst Mother’s Day (May present any one could have ever received. However, this present was actually a tremendous blessing in disguise.
Now I finally know why I was called to Medjugorje, to receive a sign from our Holy Mother that She is always with me, that She has heard my prayers, that She loves me and will help me carry my cross. Now I also know why my sister, a Carmelite nun, told me to offer my sons to the Holy Mother, the same way Pope John Paul II consecrated himself to Her. Just before we departed for the trip, she phoned (something she seldom does being a cloistered nun) and reminded me to do this offering at the spot of apparitions.
I hope our whole family can one day have the chance to visit Medjugorje. Not to look for miracles or signs, but just to drench ourselves in the loving embrace of our Holy Mother, to thank Her and our Holy Father for the many crosses given to us, to pray for help and guidance each step of our earthly journey.
Dear Holy Mother, thank you for calling me to Medjugorje!