Prior to Medjugorje, I didn’t have a particular devotion to Our Lady. I knew who She was. I loved Her for being the Mother of God. I thought that was great, but I always found it difficult to talk to Her. It always seemed more appropriate to talk to Jesus or to talk to God.
Alexandra [my wife] has always had a devotion to Our Mother. She goes out of her way when we’re praying at home saying, “La Virgincita,” The Little Virgin.
For me, it was difficult to build that type of appreciation for who She really is in our lives.
Since being here, She couldn’t have been more obvious if She’d slapped me in the face. Last Sunday, I had gone to church. I sat there, and it was really the first time that I ever addressed Our Lady during a Mass. I have never done that before. Even when I asked Her intercession on special occasions, I had never done it during a Mass.
So I said a special prayer for somebody that really needed it, and I said, “Our Lady, please, protect her with Your mantle and intercede on her behalf for the graces that she needs.” All of a sudden, I was enveloped in a warmth that can only be described as a hug.
When I felt it, I was overpowered with emotion. I immediately started crying, and I had no control over it. I sat there, tears streaming down.
The only word I can use to describe it is a feeling of love. It was immensely powerful. I truly feel that Our Lady was making Herself known to me in that moment.
Even if I never experience anything remotely close to that again for the rest of my life, She’s always going to be very special to me. There’s no way anybody can convince me it was anything other than Our Blessed Mother, not only saying that She heard my prayers on behalf of this girl that needs it, but that She’s our protector as well.
Since that point in time, I find it very easy to reach out and talk to Her regularly. Even if She doesn’t respond, that’s totally fine. I know that She’s there listening to me.
None of this would have happened if we hadn’t been here this past week. We’ve been able to use this past week to truly discern the role of Our Blessed Mother in our lives.
The thing that stands out the most to us is going to the International Mass. Sitting through the Rosary first, then attending the International Mass and watching thousands of other people there with such a devout love for Catholicism, for Our Lord Jesus Christ, for the Blessed Mary. It’s incredible to see that.
Then to watch how everything shuts off as soon as the mass starts. There’s a singular focus on what is going on at the altar. It’s a beautiful thing that’s so difficult to find in other places.
That has been the biggest, most impactful thing, seeing a gathering of so many people wanting to share their faith.
We kind of expected, we probably get off a bus, Mirjana would be there; maybe we might see her at another point in time. We didn’t realize we were going to get to the point where she knew our names, she knows I’m in the Marine Core and constantly says, “Semper fi,” to me.
“Semper fi,” is actually, “Semper fidelis.” Miki actually said as he was translating for Mirjana, he translated it as, “Always strong.” I told him later, “It’s ‘Always faithful,’ and in the Marine Core, ‘Semper fidelis,’ means always faithful to God, family, country, and core.” Mirjana knew that because a Marine had stayed with her before, and it stuck with her.
Just getting to know the people that are here, being able to share Catholic faith, it’s a lost experience in the United States. Even with fellow Catholics, it’s difficult to talk about Catholicism because the majority of people here tend to be conservative Catholics. They tend to believe the fundamentals of the faith. Even the Catholic church is so divided in society, it gets difficult at times.
We came here, saw what’s going on, and we fell in love with Medjugorje.
We’ve already planned what we’re going to do next time we come. It’s not if, it’s more of a when.