Caritas Extended Community
The Community of Caritas has community members who live in the world as an extension of the Community…
The lone pine tree in the Field of Apparitions, which Our Lady has mentioned by name in Her apparitions to Marija. Our “tree” has branches that extend from the main trunk of the Community of Caritas. They live “our way” where they are. They are our “Extended Community.”
On May 31, 1995, a Friend of Medjugorje was the only one present with Marija when Our Lady gave a message specifically for him, his family, and the Community of Caritas. In this message, She gave a clear mandate to “get souls” close to Her heart and bring them to God. He, his family, and the community would become Her extended hands, Her tools, which She desires to use just as any craftsman uses his tools. Our Lady’s words:
Because of the spirituality already being lived at Caritas of Birmingham and what it was he knew Our Lady has shown by way of this path of salvation, namely of turning away from certain ways and things the world offers, a Friend of Medjugorje understood clearly Her desire to lead others along this way, and that She was strongly endorsing and blessing this path. After this mandate from Heaven, a Friend of Medjugorje, his family, and the community became only stronger in gathering hearts and showing them what Our Lady has taught them at Caritas and how She has guided their mission and the community.
The Extended Community is an “extended” part, “another arm,” of the Community of Caritas that live “A Way of Life” that was established by Our Lady of Medjugorje through insights given by Her to a Friend of Medjugorje. These individuals live outside of the community but have a desire to be a part of the community’s mission of pointing others to this “way”. Our Extended Community opens the door to the world in witness of Our Lady’s “way,” to be spread without bounds to the ends of the earth. They are Her apostles to the world to help countless towards conversion, thereby bringing about a time of peace that Our Lady has spoken of.
The impact that the Extended Community can have goes far beyond what they themselves are even aware of. They are the ones who support the work of Our Lady as carried out by the Community of Caritas. Some of these members have spent longer periods of time staying in the community, joining in the work and prayer of the community. Through their enthusiasm, they “fill in the workload” when the task to be done for Our Lady’s plans has the community’s hands full to capacity. They are the ones who often work “behind the scenes” and are deeply loved and appreciated by the community members. Their lives are fruitful and the benefits of their work will last them into eternity.
There are four levels of Apostleship that are a part of the community that people can choose from according to how deeply they can enter into “the way”. Through these levels one can grow deeper in their spiritual life and deeper in their walk with Our Lady. The second, third, and fourth level being for the Extended Community and the first level being exclusively for those who live within the community at Caritas.
The following was written by a Friend of Medjugorje when the idea of Extended Community was first being formulated in the Community:
It’s been clear to us for years that an Extended Community would one-day fruit into being, by God’s grace. Its path has been prepared for through prayer even longer, for the moment God wills its time. Though years of prayer and contemplation are behind it, we are still in the initial stages of organizing and putting form to ideas and inspirations. The step in wanting to be more in union with Caritas is a natural evolution for many who have lived Our Lady’s messages for years and are inspired, through the messages, to move more towards a deeper commitment in their involvement with Our Lady’s plans; specifically, a stronger connection to Our Lady, through serving Her with the Community of Caritas and the mission of Caritas of Birmingham. Though you may have been a friend and supporter of the mission of Caritas for years, you have the opportunity before you now to become a member of the Community where you live and according to your state in life. It entails bearing a larger accountability and responsibility in living and spreading the messages of Our Lady in your daily lives, but, at the same time, having a greater share in the spiritual benefits that the Community is often graced with because of the commitment we have made with our lives to be Our Lady’s extended hands and instruments. The Extended Community, then, will be one more tool as Our Lady’s extended hands.
This is a call to Apostleship. Our Lady said, 19 years after the apparitions began, these words on March 18, 2000:
These words came only after a great amount of direction and formation given, over the years, by Our Lady to bring souls who have followed Her to a point where they were seasoned enough spiritually to hear this special call. Before this date, the word “apostle” had been used differently, such as when She said on November 25, 1999,
On March 25, 1998, She said,
Yet again, on October 25, 1993,
And on March 25, 1997, She said,
But on March 18, 2000, for the first time, Our Lady put out a direct call “to be my apostles.” Before this date, the call was to “become” an apostle, but afterwards it became “be my” apostle. What is an apostle?
One definition according to Webster’s Dictionary is:
One who initiates a great moral reform or who first advocates an important belief or system.
Another definition states an apostle to be the first prominent Christian missionary to a region or group.
Our Lady stated on February 25, 1995:
Three thousand people were converted on that first Pentecost day 2,000 years ago. But what did they do? Where did they go? There was little form, no churches, no structure, no “way” to put into practice on a practical level the teachings of Christ, as the Church was not yet formed, except in the hearts of those who had heard and accepted Christ’s teachings and were trying to cultivate them into their lives. And so, other than individually, there was no way to bring about a transformation into the larger society. But, slowly a structure was formed, first through the development of small communities. Within these communities, the way of salvation was taught, learned and lived. A way of Christian life developed and eventually spread beyond the small groups gathered together to live out their Christian vocation. The world’s secular societies began to be influenced by the witness of Christians, and society began to change under that influence.
There can be no doubt that Our Lady is rising up apostles to be missionaries of Her messages. Another definition of an apostle is one sent on a mission. Millions of people have gone to Medjugorje and been converted, but where is the transformation of society to the way of Our Lady? It is important for people to be converting, as millions have converted through Medjugorje. The next step for the converted is to bring about the transformation of the world. We, as Our Lady’s apostles and disciples, are staring out at the future, just as the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ were staring out at theirs. They understood, as we do, that the whole world was to hear of the events that they personally witnessed unfold. They were to proclaim to the world the witness of Jesus Christ, His birth, death and resurrection. We are to do the same for the apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje. This proclamation is to take form, evolve into structure, be organized so as to aid the spreading of Our Lady’s messages to the ends of the earth. We believe strongly, this is our calling, to provide a form and structure in living Our Lady’s messages in such a way that all society will be moved, affected and changed by the messages. It will be important for those in the future to look back at those who were the closest sources to Our Lady, of how they transformed Our Lady’s messages into life.
December 25, 1989
What is An Apostolate?
Apostolate: The office or mission of an apostle; an association of people dedicated to the propagation of a religion or a doctrine.
If you answer “yes” after reading the rule, “A Way in a New Time,” you will be answering the call to join the Apostolate of the Community of Caritas. You will be in association with those who reside at Caritas in a bond, through serving the will of the Father, which will make us as family. Jesus was told; your mother and your brothers are outside. He responded,
We unite, in a bond in community together, to do the will of our Father, and as members of this apostolate, we make a special recognition of our common goal to perform our “Abba’s” will as “one” family, united through the same Father. This is not a call to vacate your state in life or your religious order or congregation or your responsibilities, but to more fully fulfill your state in life, your vows as a religious, and your responsibilities, improved and heightened by the “way” of life Our Lady has taught the Community through Her messages.
Once you have entered the Community, the direction gradually lived through grace and time, will show those who wish to go deeper into the life of the Community, when and if the call of Our Lady incites love in your spirit to do so, to proceed to the next step of the Apostolate. (The levels of the Apostolate are explained later.) Discerning to go deeper into the life of the Community requires an abandoned heart that seeks only to serve the Lord, through Our Lady. A correct discernment brings a confidence that your promptings are the Will of God. This pleasing fire to do God’s Will, will be filled with a noticeable peace, and it will tell you to act, to answer the call, to enter more deeply into the Community of Caritas.
For those who haven’t entered, but who are taking the beginning steps of answering this call, you are entering into a deeper spiritual life than your present state, even if you are already living the way, and it will bring greater grace. When you formalize your commitment to perform, even what you may be already practicing, you’ve entered more deeply by your action and so greater will be the grace received. It is a continual discovery of more of the life Our Lady’s messages offer. This call is a serious one. You are not entering into a “club” membership. In fact, it is not that we are so interested in building up numbers of people through the extended community of our apostolate, but rather, we know there are those who are longing to live a deeper commitment to Our Lady, who are ready to be used in a greater way, and who want to experience a closer relationship with the Community, in its walk of “a way of salvation.” It is a way Our Lady personally gave as a mandate, through a message She gave to the Community on May 31, 1995, when I was with Marija. Some today are interested in starting communities in their own areas. Others feel Our Lady has some work for them to do and are looking for stronger formation within Her messages to prepare for this work. Still others have the desire to bring greater holiness into their families and places of work as they have no other support around them. All these callings may be fulfilled by having a stronger connection with what Our Lady is establishing through the mission and Community of Caritas. Again, some of you may be interested in fully joining the Community one day. We believe becoming a community member, at whatever level you feel called in the Apostolate, is actually a bridge to bringing many, many people into a fuller experience of the messages of Medjugorje, and a way that will accomplish all the above by following Mary’s way to a more profound life of simplicity and peace. Though there are requirements to becoming a member, no one is excluded because of not being in a certain state in life, unless that state is not moral in the eyes of the Church. In becoming members, you are definitely making a stronger commitment to Our Lady’s call, in giving Her your lives for Her purposes. Our Lady said on December 25, 1992:
You are becoming a part of a body of people who have walked away from businesses, family, financial security all for the sake of serving Our Lady, so as to see Her plans succeed—and though you may never have to make those kinds of choices in your lives, this is the level of commitment of those here who you seek to be more strongly connected to who are inside the Community. That is the spirit of the Community that Our Lady has taught and made plain that She wants of us, and it is certainly the spirit that must be present in our new members who will be an extension of the Community, living and working in secular society. We believe this is a step Our Lady desires in bringing sanctification to work places and where one lives, in order to change them toward knowing the Creator and bringing peace to every part of society. At the same time, this is just one element of the spirituality of the Community. Part of what it means to become an Extended Apostolate Community Member is to study the spirituality of the Community and slowly make it your own. You will begin to do this primarily by studying the Rule of the Community, known as “A Way in a New Time.”
“A Way” of the Community of Caritas
In the year 2001, the Bishop of the Birmingham diocese asked me for the Rule of the life we live at Caritas. Written throughout the summer, it was completed in September of that year. With the Rule written, for the first time, it became possible to begin praying for God to show us the right time to open the Community for outside community members. Years of requests, from those living the spirit of Our Lady’s way revealed through the Community, can finally be realized for those who prayed for the apostolate to be formulated in order to grow closer in living the spirit of the Community back in their own homes and towns. Many may now inherit the abundance of the same spiritual blessings from Our Lady, as well as share in the work of being a missionary of Her messages.
It would be difficult for someone living and working in the general secular society’s present state to be able to take “a Way” of the Community and live it 100%. In the future transformation of society, it will be the case in which one will be able to live it 100% because, as already stated, we are to influence society to become such. A giant transformation, yes, but one Our Lady has as Her aim. A plan almost none recognize nor understands this at this time. In the meantime, however, there are certain rules that everyone can live, and so, depending upon everyone’s different circumstances, life situations, and spiritual levels, there can be different degrees in which the Way can be lived by different people, according to their state in life. With that understanding, each person can make his own decision at which level he feels he should enter the Community Apostolate, honestly discerning which of the Rules he can realistically live in his daily life. At the point that decision is made, a promise is made for one year to live the Way which they can apply according to their state in life.
There are four levels within the apostolate. If one were to enter the Apostolate at the 4th level, after fulfilling his year of commitment, he can move up towards the 3rd or skip to the 2nd or 1st levels of the Apostolate if he determines that he is able to live a larger number of the rules of A Way. You may enter at any level, according to what you know you can live. There is a detailed guide that can help you determine what level of the Apostolate would be best for you to begin. You, therefore, not us, decide, through what you are able to live, which promise you can make to Our Lady. As you will see, there are certain rules that must be lived at each level. Outside of those ways, you have some freedom in deciding which ones you can or can’t put into practice at this time in your life. The First Apostolic level is the highest one can achieve in living the “Way,” and it is the level to which those who live inside the community are called to live. Striving for perfection in holiness does not depend upon what level you’ve entered, but rather your heart. Yet again, we believe, in the future, much of society will be called to a way of life that Our Lady has guided us to live. To pave that way, we are commanded to “lead them” May 31, 1995 to a way of the Community through our apostolate. Certainly there are other questions you may have, however, what questions can’t be answered on a human level can be on a divine level, through prayer.
With great joy I look forward for others to become an Extended Member, and be united with the love of Our Lady and to join Her as Her extended hands in the transformation of all societies of the world through Her
In the Love and Peace of Jesus and Mary,
If you are interested in our Extended Community or would like more information please call Caritas: 205-672-2000.