Jesus, I’m here

From March 3rd to 8th, the Seminar of Fasting, Prayer and Silence for the Ukrainian pilgrims took place in Medjugorje. These spiritual exercises, or as we call them here, a seminar, are held in a special retreat house – the House of Peace. Local Franciscan Fathers lead the spiritual exercises and the group spends time in silence, fasting and prayer, listening more attentively to the Word of God and his will for each individual.

Let us share with you a few testimonies from seminar participants.

For me, Medjugorje and the Seminar of Fasting, Prayer and Silence is like Mount Tabor. I was touched by the words “Man must live his conversion”. I realized that I had not yet experienced my conversion enough in my heart, but I immediately wanted to convert the whole world. And here I encountered the truth. I just need to be present, accept and embrace that the Lord came for me. Here at the seminar, I met God’s love. I see how God has been working in my heart. During the time of adoration, I was deeply touched by the priest’s words that the Lord holds the whole world through this piece of bread – the Eucharist – and I came to understand that he holds in his might hands my life as well. Now I feel gratitude in my heart and the awareness that God’s love is real. (Lilja)

I have been to Medjugorje many times, but this is the very first time I have been to the Seminar of Fasting. Actually, I didn’t want to come here, but on the advice of my family I did. I thought I knew everything, I had seen everything, I had heard everything, and I was doing almost everything from what I was learning in the school of Our Lady. And I thought to myself, why do I need this seminar? When I came to Medjugorje, I was very angry and I thought I was going to blow up. I decided right from the beginning that I would do nothing here: I would not fast or be silent, I would not read the Holy Scriptures, I would not even go to the adoration, that I would just sit in my room. Everything was driving me crazy. But God was at work in his own way. During adoration on the first day, I brought up a question in my conversation with God: “Who am I? I do not recognize myself, why am I rebelling, why am I angry?” Through the Holy Scriptures, I received the answer that I, like Jonah, was simply running away from everything and that the fish was the peace for me – the house where the spiritual exercises were being held. At that time, I understood what I needed to work on: humility and pride. If I want to be a sign for someone first and foremost for myself, for my family, for the others, then I have to yield and accept God’s will. (Romana)

I wanted very much to take part in this seminar. I faced my weakness and learned to surrender it to God. What touched me most were the words during the adoration, “Jesus, I am here”. I repeated these words over and over again when I came to the adoration, “I have come to meet you, to be closer to you, to do everything that would draw me to you, and to let everything that distances me from you die away, so that I could be risen together with you.” After completing this seminar, I decided to get to know God’s will for me even more deeply. (Lilja)

I have been to this Fasting, Prayer and Silence Seminar for the first time. This time became a great wilderness for me where I met Jesus. I remember the talk about the encounter of Simon and Jesus when Simon let Jesus to come into his life in his boat. For several days I have been trying to let Jesus into my life, to look deeper into my heart, which is something I still need to work on. The highlight of this whole seminar was that I went to confession after which I experienced a great and deep mercy and felt the presence of God. (Mykola)

When I came here, I was really devastated, both physically and spiritually. At this seminar I wanted to understand where and how to move on in my life. And I realized that my life and my heart are in a great mess. When I ask God to act in my life, I realized that he cannot act in all this chaos. Fasting has exposed a lot of things about me and also the need to get my life in order. The moment I said to God, “Bring order to my heart, to my life,” I realized that I had not allowed myself to be loved, I had not let love in, and I had not let God come into my heart. I had told many people about God’s love, but I had never felt it fully myself. I realized that in reality I was not letting God to come into my heart at all. (Kristina)

God does come in silence. I experienced it. Maybe someone had the first general confession here and I experienced the first “general” thanking for life. Fr. Zvonimir told us to go back to the very beginning. And from the very beginning the Lord started to show me moments so simple and clear, but full of the love from my relatives. I thank God for every person, because it is people who create precious moments. (Irina)

At the beginning of our seminar, I said that I was very tired of life and I wanted to feel that someone loved me too. During this seminar God has revealed to me how many people love me, but that I am not always able to receive their love. And this is my testimony on these days. My son lives a long way from me and our communication is seldom: we text each other and he occasionally writes back, rarely do we call each other. One evening I had my phone with me and I saw that my son was calling me. I answered the phone and started to ask what had happened. He said nothing, he just wanted to ask how I was. When I told him that I loved him, I heard him reply that he loved me even more. During the seminar, the Lord showed me all the times I experienced love and was loved. I was given the grace to experience it all over again. (Svetlana)

I experienced the time of Lent most profoundly at this seminar. What touched me the most from the talks were the words that at the end of every Lent there is the Resurrection. Like the life of St. Francis and his transition to the Lord. If we live with the Lord, if we are close to him, then regardless of how many sufferings or trials we have, the time of transition will be just a beautiful encounter with the Father. (Violeta)

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