Updated January 22, 2023
30th Special Anniversary Originally Published on Nov. 30, 2018 A.D.
On November 30, 1988, Our Lady gave a message in the home of our founder and his wife, Annette, that has been considered by many across the world as one of the most beautiful messages ever given in the messages of the Medjugorje apparitions. Our Lady appeared around 10:30 p.m. Medjugorje visionary, Marija, relayed afterwards:
Our Lady came and was very happy. She blessed and prayed over everyone. Marija recommended all those present to Our Lady and She prayed “The Lord’s Prayer” and the “Glory Be.” Our Lady extended Her arms and prayed in Hebrew over everyone. Her message:
Then Our Lady made the Sign of the Cross and left saying, “Go in peace.”
There are many ways we can speak about this message. Some people will only scratch the surface of this message, taking it superficially without realizing how this message might be lived. We want to share with you just one example from our history that shows how this message came to life.
“Caritas” means love and charity. Our Lady has mentioned love over 30 times in messages She gave at the home of our founder and his wife. However, if there is any one message which best describes the mission of Caritas of Birmingham, it is the November 30, 1988, message that defines what what Our Lady would call our founder, also known as a Friend of Medjugorje, to accomplish and to foundation the Caritas mission and Community upon.
In the year 1999, our founder and his wife, went to the Holy Land. They were looking forward to visiting Cana where they planned to renew their wedding vows during their 25th wedding anniversary year. The entire Caritas Community prayed a 54-day Rosary Novena for them to be “filled to the brim” as that is what happened in the miracle of the Wedding Feast of Cana. “Jesus told them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ So they filled them to the brim.” Luke 2:7 They were deeply disappointed when they arrived in Cana only to find that the Church of Cana was covered with scaffolding for major renovations, not the most inspiring scene to renew their wedding vows. However, since the novena had specifically mentioned Cana as the place for their renewal, our founder and his wife arranged for their priest to assist them in restating their vows which happened in front of their whole group under the scaffolding at the entrance of the church. They could not help but be disappointed that the scaffolding prevented them from going inside the church. But as Our Lady says that nothing is by chance, the grace from the novena at Cana was still beautiful, but a greater grace awaited them in Bethlehem at the Crib of Jesus. It was there that they received a grace of truly experiencing Jesus born in their hearts. So deep was this grace that both of them fell to their knees weeping and they could not stop themselves. Even the priests were moved by their reaction, and while other pilgrims were being prodded to move in and move out, our founder and his wife were allowed to stay. They eventually scooted back into a corner as they could not force themselves to leave. For the next two hours, their tears flowed endlessly.
Days later, when visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Jesus was Crucified, laid in a tomb, and was Resurrected, they had an encounter with a priest who was assigned to the Church. It seemed that this was an encounter prepared by the hand of Our Lady as it led to the priest inviting our founder and his wife to a private Mass in the tomb of Jesus the next day. The love showed to them by this priest was very touching and added to the experience of their time in the Holy Land. They believed it to be another grace from the community’s novena for them.
This contrasts sharply, to another time, shortly after Marija was first here in the home of our founder and his wife in 1988. A priest, we will call him “Fr. Paul,” came to Birmingham in 1988, intending to stop what was taking place here, believing that Medjugorje was the only place Our Lady should be appearing. Fr. Paul, an American priest, believed in the apparitions and was able to move to Medjugorje to serve the English speaking pilgrims through the contacts and assistance our founder made on his behalf. Fr. Paul remained in Medjugorje for many years and often did the homilies at the English masses. Our founder recorded and distributed many of his homilies, as they were often powerful and very orthodox teachings. Another priest told our founder that he considered Fr. Paul to be a great homilist. Because our founder had structured the mission of Caritas to be able to give material away for free, Fr. Paul became known worldwide through our founder’s free distribution of the cassette tapes of his homilies.
However, over the years, Fr. Paul slowly began to lose his belief in the Medjugorje apparitions. He started speaking against Medjugorje from the pulpit in St. James Church. His homilies and his countenance became dark and hypocritical, no longer filled with light. Some pilgrims would go to Confession to Fr. Paul only to come out saying that Fr. Paul told them that though Medjugorje maybe was real in the beginning, it was not real now.
Seeing this direct action against Our Lady’s apparitions, our founder could no longer direct people to Fr. Paul’s homilies. He made the decision to drop his cassette tapes from the Caritas inventory, no longer making them available. In doing this, he knew it may not go well for him, but our founder never spoke an unkind word to or about Fr. Paul and continued to greet him warmly and with love whenever he was in Medjugorje. One day, after the English Mass in Medjugorje, our founder walked up to Fr. Paul outside St. James Church to greet him. Fr. Paul, in front of dozens of pilgrims started to yell at our founder. Fr. Paul yelled at him, “You’re a murderer! You’re a murderer!” Our founder realized that Fr. Paul had calculated this encounter to publicly humiliate him for dropping his cassette tapes. He was very, very nasty, in an extreme way. He intended, by this outburst, to draw people away from our founder and his mission in spreading Medjugorje. And it worked. Many of the people who heard Fr. Paul’s attack, began to ostracize our founder, realizing that if they kept their friendship with him, the ire of Fr. Paul may come back upon them. Word spread about what Fr. Paul had done and many others in the movement also began to disassociate themselves from our founder. Obviously, our founder, his family and the mission suffered from this, but he never regretted his decision knowing it was the right thing to do. He intended to live as Our Lady said, with love, like Jesus, continuing to sacrifice for love.
In all the years that followed, and many untold stories of persecution which resulted from this, our founder never spoke an unkind word about Fr. Paul, often greeting him warmly and with love. Sadly though, Fr. Paul eventually left Medjugorje, an unbeliever in the apparitions. This incident with Fr. Paul and all the fallout from it only showed our founder, those who were true friends and those who were not.
It is said that time heals all wounds. Yet, all the while, our founder strived to live as Our Lady said with love, he continued to be ostracized from the Medjugorje movement. His name was smeared in the mud, as was the mission of Caritas, yet the mission continued to grow and prosper. This incident was just one more thing added to the cross that Our Lady asked our founder and his wife to carry, as Her words spoken in the Bedroom of Apparitions on November 30, 1988, said:
Years later, as was relayed at the beginning of this article, after having gone through such a time of purification, our founder felt called to go with his wife to the Holy Land. The community’s novena prayer, asking that they be “filled to the brim” with special graces was answered when they renewed their vows in Cana, but even more profoundly, when they were before the Manger in Bethlehem.
Knowing the community had invested so much fasting and prayer for their pilgrimage, our founder and his wife wrote a letter to the community at the end of every day relaying the events of each day. The community gathered together each day and were thrilled to hear all the stories and blessings being received. On March 19, 1999, our founder and his wife visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. What follows is taken directly from his letter to the community in relaying a “miracle” that happened that day.
“…Upon leaving the Crucifixion Spot, we go around and down to the Tomb, where the line is very long. Our guide then says, now we come to the most glorious spot in Christendom…
“Waiting for an hour to get into the tomb because of lines, we knew our time would be limited inside, so we began praying our prayers outside of the Tomb. While in line, the Greek Orthodox [priest] kept hollering for people to move in and move out. Once we finally got in, I understood [why].”
He described in detail the experience of walking into the preparation room, where the body of Jesus was laid and prepared with ointments and the shroud, and then further in was the actual tomb. He was surprised at how small both rooms were, but especially the actual tomb. The doorway was so small, you had to duck to get inside. Our founder continued in his letter:
“So, the most you could squeeze in would be 4 or 5 [people], and then not all of you could kneel down at the same time. We hated to leave and of all the places we visited, it was the most serene, peaceful and somehow connected with our hearts, not as strong as at Bethlehem, but certainly more so than any other visited site…
“Upon leaving the area we knew we would not get to do what we did in Bethlehem, but just the same we prayed in thanksgiving, realizing the birth of Jesus and His Resurrection are so much of what our life is about. The novena speaks so much about Christmas in the Field and our community being a community of future, of life and birth. The two most logical spots would be Jesus’ Birth Place and His place of Resurrection [where we would be touched by the grace of the community’s novena].
“Upon walking around, we had many questions. Seeing a priest, I humbly greeted him and asked him if he would mind answering our questions. He didn’t seem to want to talk and I sensed Annette and I were being brushed off. After one or two questions he walked away. We walked to another area and I suddenly remembered the words from one of Our Lady’s messages, ‘love makes things great’. So when we saw this same priest later, I decided to persist and be kind. He answered more questions but again, I could tell he was too busy for us. So, he walked on into the sacristy.
“The priest walked by and a third time I began asking questions. ‘Then a miracle happened.’ It was as if I could not silence him. He knew incredible details and Annette and I devoured what no guide could possibly tell us. He became a personal guide for us and showed us the actual pillar where Jesus was scourged, and many other things. He became incredibly friendly like a grace descended upon him. Perhaps being persistent and being very kind, remembering Our Lady’s message ‘love makes things great,’ really brought down the grace. He spent two whole hours with us and I can tell you, we learned more than in three days with the guides, in regards to what happened where. He then brings up, out of the blue, that he will be saying Mass at 5 AM inside the small tomb, by himself and asked if we would like to come. We were thrilled and I could not believe it! How “love makes great things.” The priest became so kind to us that he walked us out of the old city showing us where to turn so that at 4:30 AM we would know where to go to get back in. (It’s a maze.) He then walked us to his room to show us where he stayed.
“The next morning, Annette and I were up by 4:00 AM and arrived outside the tomb. We prayed the Glorious mysteries and the priest showed up.
“Annette and I were on both sides of him during Holy Mass, and it almost didn’t seem real. The candles, the closed-in effect, laying our hands upon the stone Jesus laid on almost throughout the whole Mass, Annette and I doing the readings, all could only have been orchestrated by Our Lady, through the Holy Spirit.
“To receive the Holy Eucharist, and drink from the Chalice, Holy Wine over Jesus’ burial slab, was a grace we could not have dreamed of the day before. We prayed for our family and for all of you in the community and are awed at where God brings us. For, the miracle that I wrote about earlier in this letter, and listen closely… when I wrote ‘Then a miracle happened,’ it was not what I just wrote you about, but rather the miracle was, ‘the priest’… for he was…
“Love Makes Things Great.”
AFOM & Annette
March 19, 1999
The message of Our Lady that our founder was quoting was April 12, 1987:
In a world when many do not know what real love is, when spouses are willing to call it quits over disagreements, when people go to their deathbed with grudges and unforgiveness in their hearts, Our Lady shines a light on love. Love is powerful. Love wins, every time. Never underestimate the power of love, though painful, though hard, calling quits on your spouse, your church, your family is not the answer. Our founder, a Friend of Medjugorje, has witnessed to us in community and in life, more than any book or people, how to love. The sacrificial love of Jesus, Who “died out of love for you,” is the answer.
Love Makes Great Things,
The Community of Caritas
P. S. Here it was that a Friend of Medjugorje had given his life to something, only for it to turn against him. One of the most well-known Medjugorje writings in the world, To Love, was birthed in the years that followed. To Love took a Friend of Medjugorje only a couple of minutes to write. He had lived this to such a degree, in so many situations, there was no need to prepare to write it, he prepared by what he lived. Here below is, To Love, a first-hand glimpse into many hidden stories. While many in the world have told us that they relate to, To Love, there is within this writing, many stories untold, like the one told above for the first time.
18 thoughts on “A Lesson in Love”
City: Lake City
Dear FOM, I have not lived a stellar life and made many bad choices that I regret. It has not been easy to reconcile my past. The writing “To Love” rings true for me, but now I see it’s a blessing from God and a reminder to always love everyone and to forgive. Thank you for the writings and for all the help that Caritas of Birmingham has been to me. God bless, Susan
Country: United States
We are HIS and Our hearts of Holy, Love beat as one, ALLELUIA, Amen, Amen, Amen, again I say Amen !!!!!!!
I was so deeply touched by this story of love. I cried as I felt a deeper awareness of the lovevshiwn to me by some significant other and how I had not received their love with gratitude. Thank you for sharing this beautiful testimony of God’s blessing, goodness and restoration. I can only pray for more of Him and less of me, and for His heart to fill my heart with His pure love. This is a very important and meaningful message. .
On the day of celebrating our 50th anniversary, my husband, with me standing next to him, he declared his great love to a young woman. They somehow knew each other and she kept looking at him with love and sighing breathlessly and soaking in every word of love he spoke to her. I did not know her and stood there in complete shock. That was 18 years ago and am still in shock at his cruelty to me and the loss of his love for me. He died 7 years ago. I know I will meet him again in the afterlife but will his love be for-me or one of his illicit lovers? I still love him so deeply in spite of his disrespect for me. Blessed Mother Mary help me. I am towards the end of my life and still need his love. I need your strength and Jesus’ to finish this life with love in my heart, my mind and my soul. I have forgiven him but I need his love to make all things great once more. Give me your love Blessed Mother.❤️
C. P. C.
Country: United States
My husband and I are going to the Holy Land for our 25th anniversary year this March. I’m so excited to walk where Jesus, Mary and Joseph walked. Please pray for us to be “filled to the brim” with special graces also.
Beautiful story and example of the depth of love God wants fir all his children the date of your beautiful message is my birthday God bless you always a happy and blessed new year for all that you have done for love Ave Maria
Country: United States
What a beautiful story and lesson on love and prayer!❤️🙏❤️🙏
And being an example and encouragement
on living Our Lady’s messages… even when things become very difficult…
Thank you for sharing! May God Bless you all!!
In Christ & Mary
City: West Jefferson
Very true and inspiring. Thank you for the message.
City: Ville Platte
Country: United States
Beautiful. So beautiful and so true, I cried the whole time I read this. Please keep on loving and doing what you are doing out of love ❤️ for God us and our Lady.
State: NC. 27025
Absolutely wonderful ! A heart melting message of love for God and Mother Mary
Thank you for sharing this! It’s quite ab amazing story you’ve told here! God bless you abundantly! I can identify a lot to ‘To Love” that you wrote here! Thank you so much for writing and sharing it! Again, God bless you abundantly!
Country: United States
Mend your fences those that separate you from the love of neighbor, never harbor a grudge, time is so short here. Come Holy Spirit enkindle in us the fire of your love, pour forth your Spirit here and renew the face of the earth. Mother Mary says when you pray to the Holy Spirit you have everything!!! Praised be Jesus. Thank you for all these lessons in love. Peace.
Many years ago my son walked away from me and my entire family to appease his father and place in his Will to inherit millions. My world was shattered. Our Lady continued to melt my heart and I finally placed his graduation picture on the family graduates wall along with his 2 sisters and brother. When asked why do I want to see his picture and suffer, I say that he was given to me for a season and now my motherly duty for him is to pray for the salvation of his soul and his family. I encourage his siblings to do the same. I pray I will see him in Heaven. Pure Love is the only medicine for this type of heartache! I thank Our Lady for her help with this everyday.
Praised be Jesus and Mary. Thank you for sharing this story again! When first introduced to Medjugorje I was given Fr Paul’s inspiring tapes. In 1996 our parish priest organized a trip to Medjugorje. Before the trip, hell came to the parish. I was still on the Medjugorje honeymoon and I wasn’t ready for the Cross. Our priest was cancelled, stripped of his faculties and so on. The pilgrimage went on. But the poor priest was not able give provide the Sacraments for his flock. Before the first English speaking Mass in Medjugorje, Fr Paul talked to us. He wasn’t exactly nice to us. When I got home I didn’t care to listen to Father Paul’s tapes any longer. The justified anger I had for bishop and his cronies turned into resentful anger. Not properly formed by Our Lady, the anger was harbored. I still continued to try to live the messages but you truly can’t without love. What I love about Our Lady is she doesn’t ever give up on her poor sinful children. It was through Our Lady that I was led to A Friend of Medjugorje, the Mission and Community of Caritas. It’s easy to hate and be angry but it takes prayer and work to love. A FOM and the community perfect examples how to love in persecution and everyday events. It’s a struggle for me to love the Cross but with Our Lady the burden in lightened. Thank you again these stories, they are instrumental in helping to live the messages. I pray love converted Fr. Paul before his death. God Bless A Friend of Medjugorje, the Mission and Community of Caritas!
I lost my dear sweet 23 year old son December 21, 2022 my heart is shattered I am lost sad broken no will to go on he was accidentally shot by my other so who I am angry with yet love as well so confusing so hard Drew was my youngest son a true gift such an amazing son he did so much with his father and I and so much for us so helpful. Everything makes me miss him it’s the most pain I cannot even put in words I will never be on I just want to know he is beyond happy in heaven with Jesus I pray for a sign PLEASE pray for us
AFOM can understand how life is giving itself to humanity through the apostles of Our Lady. We are alone but not abandonned. We are despised but not forgotten. We are in pain but the happiness from heaven is shining in our hearts. Thanks a lot for so much Love.
I know how it feels with most those things and it is not always easy tu God keeps me going because without God I wouldn’t be able to keep on going He is my strength
This is just beautiful. How many times we have suffered the pain of loving and love just as Jesus did. How many times there were miracles, big and small. I have known many that I have encountered, big and small. All with love, love from the most precious, giving, loving heart of Jesus, his Mother Mary, Joseph, God, Saints, Apostles, and Angels, not to mention family and friends in heaven. We are love no matter no matter what has happened to us to darken our days. What a miracle that Father Paul was the Priest saying mass at 4:00 a.m. in the morning. He left Medjugorje for the Holy Land. He ended up believing, again. His revelation came from God and Jesus. They put him from heaven where he would be closest to Jesus. Amazing and so beautiful. In the end Our Lady Mother Mary has all the answers, her heart will triumph with love from all those that love her, her beautiful son, Jesus, Joseph, God, Saints, Angels, Apostles, family, and friends in heaven. That is all she asks is to hold on to her, pray the rosary, stay by her side during these days. I love Mother Mary. She is Majestic and Magnificent. With Her love, Jesus’ love, God’s love, anything is possible. Believe and forget about rejection. Jesus was rejected. I was rejected, too. I think we have all been rejected at one time or another and rejection hurts to no end, but if we return our love for the person or persons rejecting us, eventually, love will win. This is so true with me, also. In God’s Speed with Jesus’ love and heart, and Mary’s love for us.