Vassula's Visit to North America, April 2003
Friday 4th April
At 10.00 in the morning I met Vassula at the airport in Rome. We got on board on time and we waited for the airplane to take off to Atlanta. Unfortunately we had to wait another thirty minutes, as there was some problem with the engine!!! As Vassula said with a Greek proverb; "All that has to do with marriage is difficult!". That means odd things happen to her at the beginning of her trips! This is a spiritual battle as we all know so we are used to this kind of trouble!
During our flight Vassula informed me of the latest news about the Vatican’s view of TLIG messages. She said that she had been in contact with Cardinal Ratzinger and things are now in process for a more positive consideration. It is obvious that Our Lord is pouring out more and more graces for our difficult times of apostasy and atheism. Nevertheless the new volume of TRUE LIFE IN GOD in English was ready and that was a happy occasion!!!
We were concerned about the next flight that we had to catch for Kansas as we needed to be there at 4.00 pm. in order to be able to fly at 5.25 p.m. But unfortunately we arrived at 4.30!!! At that time we knew we had to run. And we did. While we hurried out of the plane, with our luggage in our hands, Vassula noticed a man holding a tag saying ‘Vassula Ryden’. That man (Richard) who was sent by a friend of TLIG helped us go to the right desk and so we checked in just on time!!! Wow! That was Divine intercession! I thought; ‘this is how God intervenes when we are working for Him’.
At 7.00pm. we arrived in Kansas and we were welcomed by friends from Trinitas, Pat and Sue Calahan, John Campbell, and Sister Josephine Boyles. We drove to our hotel and met many people involved in TLIG but we felt exhausted and we went to sleep.
Saturday 5th April. Independence Missouri
The meeting was taking place in a Senior High School very near to our hotel. The program of the meeting had been arranged in a slightly different way than what Vassula is used to, and she said to me: "organizers have to accept the way I work…". After all, Vassula knows very well her capacities and has a strong sense of discernment when it comes to her mission.
The meeting began with myself singing an hymn from our CD ‘Salt of the earth’. Then Vassula started with the good news from the Vatican. She said that there was a reason that she and her family had moved to Rome and now we could see why. Vassula also said TLIG groups are establishing more ‘Beth Miriam’s’ which are places of charity where disadvantaged people and homeless children can receive some love and food. Because what good is believing in God without acts of love? Vassula said that even demons believe in God, but they don’t love Him or serve Him. And it is written in the Bible that when we serve other people in His name, it is like serving Him.
Vassula continued her speech concentrating on the messages. She spoke about how our Lord approached her in the beginning of her mission and how Jesus taught her step by step to feel His Divine Presence. Because this is how Our Lord works, and that is how we are supposed to read the books of the messages, from volume 1 to the next volume, in order to follow His method of teaching! What more could we ask than having Our God our dedicated professor? Going into some profound subjects Vassula discussed three concepts that are very evident in the later messages.
Detachment; that is as Vassula said the first step towards ‘dying to ourselves’. To be detached from earthly cares and ambitions is something that sets free the soul and leaves it open for the Holy Spirit.
Dispassion; that goes even deeper and has to do with instincts and sentiments.
Impassibility; Vassula explained that this is an angelic virtue and has to do with the absence of carnal feelings.
Then Vassula along with the people prayed to the Holy Spirit for deliverance and health. Before the end of the meeting Vassula offered some excerpts from the messages for meditation. Two priests attended the meeting, Father John Watson and Father Richard who also celebrated Mass in the same hall at 4.00 p.m. After mass the TLIG association took us to a restaurant where we relaxed and talked about the promotion of the messages. I happened to sit next to Kurt, a sixteen-year-old boy and when I asked him how he and his parents were involved with TLIG he told his amazing story. Of course I had heard it before but only through some friend of mine. To make it short, Kurt was healed at the age of 4 by Jesus through Vassula when she came to speak in Independence 12 years ago!!!
The boy suffered from an illness and was near death. Vassula prayed to our Lord with two words only; "Do something". How great was the mercy of Our God who took these two words in His Sacred Heart and performed the miracle!
Kurt, now a handsome youngster, was cured completely and he is like many people a living miracle, signed by Jesus… We thank Him for the greatest miracle… of knowing Him.
Sunday, April 6th
We got up at 4.00 am. in order to fly to Chicago and then to Toronto, Canada. Patti Potoglou a friend from Chicago travelled with us. As usual something went wrong with the airplane and they could not start the engine!!! So we had one hour delay and finally we took off. Due to this little problem we missed our next flight! Of course everything is in God’s hands, so we relaxed and changed our tickets for the next flight to Toronto.
Finally at 1.45 p.m. we arrived in Canada where the temperature was -7 Celsius, snow all over the place, and we had to be checked again by the security officers. (Especially me with my strange-looking guitar case!)
At the airport Nikos and Toula Kasias waited for us. We drove straight to the Ukrainian Center where the meeting would take place. The hall was packed with people (around 600-700) waiting eagerly to listen to Vassula. She entered and began her speech right away! She started by informing the audience of the latest developments in charity work and of the spreading of TLIG message. Vassula continued explaining that the human soul, when God creates it, is like a glass full of clear water. But day after day because of our way of life it starts to crack. This way the soul starts leaking and if it carries on, it will become hollow.
Vassula added that it is possible to repair these cracks of the soul. With repentance, which is the first step of our conversion to God, we can start to see clearly the state of our soul. Of course this is a grace from Him. And while we understand how far we were from Our Creator the tears of repentance bring the Holy Spirit closer to us. The Holy Spirit can remedy our soul.
Vassula also stressed the importance of unceasing repentance. It is when we never forget our wretchedness and how easy it is to fall into sin. So w are not worthy of His kindness or His Mercy. Our God nevertheless receives every little thing we offer Him if it’s done with love. And as Vassula always repeats, we will be judged by the measure of love we had here on earth… Not an easy task! But we can freely ask for more love from God. I think He will happily grant us this request!!!
Unceasing prayer… It has been one of the major topics of the TLIG message. To pray without ceasing, Vassula said, is when you think of God all day long, when everything you do, your work, your family services you offer it to Him. And of course when your soul is thirsty for Him.
After all what is the true theology? God, Himself… That’s all we need to know… when the Holy Trinity declares "I Am" there is not much you can say… Another two words that could make us bow our heads and worship Him…
The meeting closed with songs which were performed by me and a pianist who accompanied two ladies who sang some hymns. Vassula told us before the meeting that she was going to meet her uncle Vasos, 85 years old whom she hadn’t seen for 35 years. Her uncle and her cousin were present in the hall and Vassula was very happy to introduce them before the audience. It was a very touching moment. Also she had the honor of having in the audience Bishop Pierce Lacy, who was very moved by her speech and came to greet her afterwards.
Vassula and our company left for the hotel where we had lunch with her relatives, Toula, Nicos, Georgina and her husband and Patti. The day finished quietly…
Monday, April 7
The whole morning we were free and we rested. Vassula had planned to meet with the organizers at 4.00 pm. in our hotel. And so it happened. Vassula asked everyone how they helped in setting this meeting and offered some guidelines. She stressed how important is unity and love among TLIG organizers. Nobody must expect to be the leader or the superior of the others. Control and power are temptations that can affect seriously a group that is working for God. It is important that everybody fulfills the task he has chosen and every problem should be discussed with humility and love. Vassula repeated that God doesn’t need us to accomplish His plans. She even went so far to say that God doesn’t even need her!!!
People who bear no fruits for His Glory can be replaced easily as it has been done many times before.
With humility, patience and tolerance we can succeed in our mission. So why judge each other? Vassula says we are all handicapped in a certain way.
Tuesday, April 8
Our next stop would be Sudbury a city of 100.000 people at the north of Toronto.
In Sudbury the weather was even colder. At the airport we were welcomed by Paul, Gloria and other members of the TLIG group.
In this city there had been strong opposition from some of the clergy that threatened even some priests of the town. But God is with the brave at heart. The meeting was arranged for 6.00 in the afternoon. When we got to the hall around 250 people were there.
Vassula among other topics spoke about this new disease that appeared in the world, the S.A.R.S. She said that all these disasters are the consequences of our apostasy. The world is showing indifference to God’s calls and continues to abuse nature. That’s why nature reacts very abruptly causing earthquakes, floods and other phenomena. Our sins made evil come back to us. But, Vassula said, the message of Christ is not of doom and gloom! When God speaks He brings hope. If man chooses to follow Jesus, the Holy Spirit will come and clear everything that is not from Him and He will set a flame, the soul will live thus the New Pentecost. A beautiful moment was when Vassula narrated her difficulty to learn to pray the ‘Our Father’ from her heart and how God the Father was patient with her. Or even when at one time Jesus asked her; "Which bread is more important? Yours or Mine?". To hear her answer "Both" Jesus replied, "Yes, but My Bread lasts forever!!…"
After the meeting we came back at the hotel and met with Lina Nadore one of the main organizers. Lina is a very fervent and courageous person despite the problems she is facing with her health. I am sure that makes God very happy!
Wednesday, April 9
Our destination was Lethbridge a small city at the north of Canada. We flew from Sudbury to Toronto and then to Calgary. I did not complain at all, since I was visiting all these airports for the first time in my life!!!
The plane to Lethbridge was a small one. Only 20 seats and the wind was blowing. Vassula really laughed with my reaction, since I started praying! Thank God it lasted only for half an hour.
In Lethbridge, Len and Sandy Whyte welcomed us. They led us to their house where we met other friends from their prayer group and together we had a beautiful dinner. At 9.30 pm. we arrived at our hotel.
Tuesday, April 10.
This would be a busy day as Vassula had to give two interviews and a speech! The interviews would take place in the Miracle Channel, an Ecumenical TV channel covering Canada and part of the northern U.S. that hosted Vassula last year. The first interview was at 11.00 am. for a program called INSIGHT, hosted by Paul Arthur. As this network is focused on Protestantism some viewers called to ask if we should pray to Our Blessed Mother and the saints…
They didn’t understand how we can communicate with them when only God is omnipresent. Vassula answered that in Heaven everyone is living in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is omnipresent because He is one with God. So through the Holy Spirit we can pray to them and receive answers from them. This is more evident for Our Lady, because Jesus speaks of Her in the messages and wants us to Love Her and respect Her. It is funny, said Vassula, that many times people say to each other; "Pray for me" and we don’t comprehend how to say this to our saints. Our prayers are taken from them and are presented to God. It’s a big family really up there. Vassula also gave an explanation on the ‘rapture’ of the Church that is written in the bible. She said that many of the words in scriptures are symbolic or figurative. So, the ‘rapture’ of the souls is already taking place. How is it? By believing and converting towards God, by changing our lives and coming closer to God. When this happens the person is choosing to be with God and Love Him. This way he enters the ‘rapture’ serving Him and preparing to meet Him. All these mysteries can be revealed only through the light of the Holy Spirit.
The second interview took place at 1.00 p.m. for the program LIFELINE with journalist Gil Matis. Vassula spoke about her experience receiving these messages and pointed out that intimacy with God is very important. How can somebody love God if he doesn’t know Him? Nevertheless, Vassula exclaimed, we must never forget that He is Holy… Gil concluded the program with a beautiful prayer for Canada. After a brief lunch we were back at the Miracle Channel for the 7.00 o’clock meeting. Helen Layton who is charge of the music ministry prepared with her group a nice program of hymns, spiritual songs she had composed. I joined also with my guitar and it was very inspiring to praise Our Lord this way!
About 200 people stood up and praised God and the atmosphere was overwhelming! Vassula walked to the microphone and started to speak. She spoke of the times of Grace we are living in and how we can profit from these days of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Vassula also remembered when Jesus reminded her to say "We, Us" whenever she occupied herself with something. She said that this is a meditation of the presence of the Lord and of intimacy with Him.
By approaching Jesus, she said, you can love Him. Then God can transfigure you into a new Jerusalem, a new Earth and Heaven. In this new Heaven God can rest and be a King.
There were so many important points that Vassula mentioned in her speech and I cannot list every one of them. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit was so powerful that Vassula’s words were as David said for God, sweeter than the honeycomb!!!
Vassula ended her speech with some quotations from the messages that she gave for meditation. The meeting was very successful as many people came to talk with us and thank Vassula. Two priests were among the audience. Father John Wang from Montana and Father Lean from Edmonton. We had also people who came from Prince George, Vancouver, Wennipeg Saskatoon, Calgary and even a couple with their baby from South Innvik of North West Territory!!!
Friday, April 11
After our breakfast we had some free time since that day we would travel to Los Angeles. At 1.00 pm. Sandy and Len came to give us a lift to the airport. We kissed them goodbye and we left for Calgary. Fortunately everything went according to our itinerary. Of course getting to Los Angeles meant 5 more hours of flying and Vassula remarked; "Now you see how I live". And I thought "We thank our Lord for this gift that you offer us through Vassula".
At 8.30 pm. we arrived in L.A. At the airport we were welcomed by Josephine Shiplacoff, Tim Maher and Pam Fischer. Our friends informed us that they had a flat tyre on their way to the airport!!! These are the usual obstacles Vassula encounters during her mission. Los Angeles felt very different compared to the smaller cities of Canada. It reminded me a lot of Athens during the summer time. So we drove to Holiday Garden Inn Hotel early enough to relax and rest for the next days program.
Saturday, April 12
At 9.30 in the morning while we had our breakfast Josephine informed us that a couple, which are very well-know journalists (Bob and Sharon Jimenez) would come to meet Vassula. They came at 11.00 am. at our hotel. Bob was a former journalist at N.B.C. and now he is a free-lance T.V. journalist. They are both very successful people in their field and seemed open to help Vassula to appear on T.V.
They were very warm with Vassula and suggested that she could appear on the ‘Larry King Live’ T.V. program. Josephine had tried to promote this but it’s always better when you have someone who knows the network from inside. We had a nice time with them and it is always amazing to see how God opens some new doors.
At 2.00 pm. we arrived at the Veterans Memorial Park Auditorium, where Vassula would talk. It was a huge hall with many seats and a large video screen behind the speaker’s table. Father Ken Deasy introduced Vassula and the messages. Then Shron Jimenez said a few words about Vassula and I took my guitar and performed two songs to set the atmosphere. In her speech Vassula pointed out that only in the U.S. had she spoken about 87 times! She said that she expected a lot more spiritual movement in the U.S. regarding TLIG and the way of life may be the cause of this. She added that people in countries with high standards of living usually don’t want to loose their comfort. God, she said, needs our will to help us detach ourselves from material pleasures. He knows what we need and what are our limits, so Christians should trust Him.
Vassula of course spoke about the heart of the message. She said that His words are engraved on her heart when she hears His voice.
The audience was speechless as the video screen projected Vassula’s face who spoke with such affection about God. Vassula read a beautiful passage from the messages where Jesus describes His Father (Vassula actually read this passage in all the meetings she had in the US). He says how gentle He is, how meek and how familiar is His voice. Vassula said that when she first heard the Father, she felt as though she knew Him all her life… And indeed she did…
It was a wonderful speech and Bod I think captured these moments with his camera. When Vassula finished we hurried to Bob’s car as there were many people who wanted to talk and get advice from her and we left for the hotel. Very much like the film stars that escape from their fans!
When we got there we had to pack our luggage as at 10.15 that night we would be traveling to New Jersey! So we met with the main organizers, Josephine, some friends and had dinner. At 9.30 we were at the L.A. airport ready to go… Everybody was saying that we stayed so little and that they wanted so much to show us around… Vassula’s usual answer to such requests is: "I am on a mission and I’ll stay in my hotel". Well, that was true…The plane was on time and we found ourselves crossing the U.S. from the Pacific to the Atlantic!
Sunday, April 13
After 5 hours we arrived in Newark airport at 6.30 in the morning. We had slept for a few hours fortunately. Bob and Teckla Johnides were waiting for us at the airport. They welcomed us very warmly; you know this Greek blood in their veins!
We went to Holiday Inn hotel just to refresh ourselves and then we set out for the ‘Holy Face of Jesus’ monastery in Clifton, N. Jersey. There, brother Luis Marie a friend of TLIG and Father Bernard were looking forward to see Vassula. Brother Luis greeted us and was so happy to show us around. Then Fr. Bernard celebrated Mass and afterwards he offered us some light drinks and snacks and talked with Vassula.
He was very enthusiastic to the point where he invited Vassula to have a meeting in the yard outside the monastery!!! That was a miracle!
From there we went back to the hotel as the meeting was scheduled for 1.00 pm. At the hotel I met my friends from the TLIG group in New York, Georgia, Mary, Harry, Joseph, Elaine who had done a lot of work to organize this meeting.
In the conference hall of the hotel more than 600 people were present. And the seats were hardly for 500!! Vassula entered very quickly and began right away. We didn’t have a lot of time. At 3.10pm. we had to leave for the airport again! Vassula asked if there were people who heard about the message for the first time. More than half answered positively. That was great because I could see among them many young people as well… I was running around like crazy trying to get some pictures and I was very excited! Vassula after all that travelling was still full of energy and full of Spirit. She unfolded her story about her experience with Jesus at the beginning of her mission, how He taught her to discern Him and follow Him. The audience was very thirsty to hear about how simple and gentle Jesus had been with her as she felt His Divine humor. In between her speech I played one song with my guitar and Vassula commented; "Dimitri is singing only with his guitar, on the CD, other instruments as used too…" She carried on for one more hour and as soon as the meeting ended we ran to Bob’s car.
As I learned later a friend of Georgia Klamson and other people saw Jesus’ face in the face of Vassula!!! This phenomenon is not weird as it’s a grace that sometimes God gives to a certain person. All around the world many people have experienced this apparition and Vassula doesn’t even realize when it’s happening!
While we got in the car a woman brought her little girl who was sick to Vassula, and I thought "God, do something again". Vassula blessed the little girl and off we went…
What a day! Praised be Our Lord! At the airport F. Eugene Nicolau waited for us. He was talkative and hilarious as always and we had some nice conversations.
At 18.15 pm we had to get onboard. At 7.00 we said goodbye to U.S.A and set off to Europe. Vassula said that the States are opening again to the TLIG messages as the Vatican is reconsidering the content of the message. As the fruits of this mystic experience spread around the world it would be wise for us to remember Jesus words; "Don’t suppress the work of the Holy Spirit".
When we were in L.A. somebody asked Vassula to say something about the war in Iraq. She replied; "I am not a politician". She said also that God promotes peace. Peace of the soul and peace of the world… That was enough I think.
Vassula also all these days kept saying that for us Christians unity is very important. Differentiating ourselves from our brothers is hurting God. Unity is in the heart of the spirit not in the documents.
There are a lot of other things that happened during this trip with Vassula. It has been a spiritual experience of a lifetime because you can learn a lot from just travelling with her. You realize then how God can mould a person to worship Him and serve Him. After all we will never know enough about Him and I hope that we will know more about ourselves…
As a person I learned a lot from this journey… and some things I didn’t like… about myself…
For now let’s thank Our Holy Trinity for His exquisite work on the Hymn of Love and for our loved TLIG family around the world.
Praised by Our Lord, for ever and ever. Amen.