Vassula visits the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, 22 September - 24 September, 2000
Although in the introduction of her presentation on 23 September, Vassula stated that this visit was only her second to Scotland, it was actually her third. She came first to us in 1991 and returned in 1994. A planned visit to Scotland along with the other countries in the United Kingdom was cancelled in 1997 as Vassula felt that "Scotland was not ready".
After discovering what she actually meant by this and understanding that it was because there were no TliG prayer groups formed at all in Scotland, we knew we had a task cut out for ourselves when we requested in 1998, that if we prepared the ground, would she consider returning. When we received confirmation in early 1999 that she would return, we were extremely happy and yet filled with a certain fear and trepidation realising the work that lay ahead.
Apart from working very hard and establishing prayer groups and witnessing in Scotland, we knew that even to find a venue in Scotland would be difficult. This country was really affected by the notification in 1995 and many devout Catholics chose to put the messages in to cold storage, so to speak, feeling that they were playing safe.
Jesus, who knows all, took care of this issue, as the first thing that our small organising committee got together to decide was the venue. The committee comprised of people from our two largest prayer groups who hail from two different cities and there were therefore suggestions of venues from both cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Both venues interestingly enough were non-Catholic churches and were tentatively booked until a decision reached. Vassula had visited Glasgow before but never the capital Edinburgh and although the people from Edinburgh desired that she be invited there, we, as a committee, decided to do as the apostles in Acts 1: 26 did, drawing lots... and the lot fell to Edinburgh, the venue being the Methodist Central Hall. This has particular significance in what was to happen two months later, and the very reason for reporting that Jesus really took care of this situation.
The next thing that had to be done was to inform the Archbishop of Edinburgh, Keith Patrick O'Brien, as the talk would take place within his archdiocese. This was done on 15 May, the reason being to invite him to meet with Vassula at a meeting for the church leaders of Scotland and also to the main venue in the evening. Unfortunately, but expectedly, the Archbishop declined the invitation as he felt that it would be seen as the "Catholic Church's approval of the messages". On the positive side of things, he did however wish us all the best and referred to the hard task that lay ahead of all involved in organising such an event.
We knew that the next thing to do was to inform the bishops of Vassula's visit and invite them to a meeting of the church leaders. In Scotland we have six catholic bishops and each of them were sent an explanatory letter along with two copies of the most recent TliG magazine from Unity Publishing, a poster advertising the event and a copy of the small red book, "A Divine Bridal Call". Only three of the bishops took the effort to write and decline the invitation and all of the other denominational church leaders, including the moderator of the church of Scotland, and the Episcopalian leaders sent apologies that they would be unable to attend. Sadly the Archimandrite of the Greek Orthodox church in Edinburgh said that he was unable to make the meeting but would send a representative, who did not turn up. All other churches were informed and invited but chose not to respond to the invitations given to them.
We had approximately 800 posters printed and the same amount of flyers advertising the event. These were used to target most of the main Catholic churches in the four main cities in Scotland, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee. A network of people (mostly involved in prayer groups throughout the country or those who follow the messages very closely) arranged to take a certain number of posters for designated areas so that no one was duplicating an area. This way we tried to geographically cover as much of the country as we could. A small music ministry group got together for a month before the meeting, never having played before as a group and practised very hard every week twice a week for about 4 hours at a time. They learned the "Doxa" and how to put the "Jesus my only love" prayer said at the end of the rosary to music, which had been composed by Valia Zoppa in Rhodos.
Many of the prayer group members in Edinburgh split the archdiocese up into groups and each took responsibility of informing the local parish priests either by a personal visit if possible or by sending a letter and a poster requesting permission to place them on church notice boards. Many other informal ways of doing the same thing were carried out. Any time we knew of someone travelling to a different area, we would ask that they take posters and leaflets. I believe that this ensured the fact that the people who did come to the presentation were in fact from all over Scotland and not just the main cities.
Tickets were printed by the committee in Glasgow and distributed at any large religious gathering that was known of prior to Vassula's visit so that people were being informed well in advance. Advertisements were placed also in local Catholic newspapers for a period of three weeks leading up to the event. We tried very hard to secure an interview with a local newspaper but many were disinterested. Despite the fact that we issued 20 press releases, no one would bite.
Two weeks before Vassula was due to arrive in Scotland a horrendous letter was circulated by the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Glasgow in which he openly stated "if you are asked, please try to discourage anyone from attending this event. Parishes should not advertise the event in any way".
People who had planned to come and had booked seats on organised buses started to pull out and there was great concern that Vassula might even cancel at the last minute due to this. Many of the people in the prayer group in Edinburgh fasted and prayed. Too much work had been done to allow the evil one to win now and we realised then that the Lord must have had great graces planned for us all in Scotland to have this struggle on our hands. It was wonderful to receive emails and phonecalls of prayers from the TliG family all around the world for this: Uruguay, America, Australia, Greece, and Bangladesh to mention a few. We were now to realise as to why Jesus had allowed the lot to fall on Edinburgh. It is in a different archdiocese and not under the jurisdiction of Glasgow's chancellor. In the meantime a petition had been sent to our Cardinal following the advice of a canon lawyer informing the Cardinal that the letter regarding Vassula had contravened five canon laws.
Vassula was supposed to arrive at 14.50 on Friday afternoon of 22 September. With video camera waiting and Fr Joe MacSeain from just outside the Glasgow archdiocese there to meet her with others at the airport, the wait was a long one. The flight was delayed 2 and a half hours and when Vassula did arrive, her luggage was missing, and remained so for the next 24 hours. Looked like we all had a fight on our hands.
The time waiting at the airport was not in vain however as Jesus had done His usual marvels for us. In the local Friday evening newspaper, a large coverage of Vassula's visit by a local journalist who had been contacted the previous day by Alan Pender in Glasgow, ate up all of page three of the paper. The article was amazing and apparently had the Methodist Central Hall deluged with phone-calls, following the publication. It was a great example of trying to do our best and Jesus doing the rest. We were all so sure that we had failed in getting any newspaper publicity despite the serious attempts to do so. And... in Jesus's timing, He arranged it all!
We quickly had to get Vassula to her hotel as she had an appointment for a radio interview with Radio Scotland's Lesley Lynch for a programme called "Benchmark".
The following morning, Saturday 23 September, we heard on the radio that there had been an earthquake in England, which measured 4.2 on the Richter scale. This is unheard of, and as we did some emergency shopping in the centre of town, (as Vassula's luggage still had not arrived), Vassula joked that the earth was shaking down in England because the Holy Spirit was going to move Scotland with such a force. It was great to hear and so uplifting! We laughed and we felt very positive about the evening ahead.
The meeting for church leaders had been scheduled for 2pm that afternoon. Since no-one had responded to the invitation, two Catholic priests, Fr Joe MacSeain, based in Glasgow and Fr Laurence Brassill, based in Edinburgh, along with a Pentecostal pastor and his wife turned up for an informal discussion and question time with Vassula. It was in this meeting that Vassula said that she had never had such a problem visiting a country as this one.
Six o'clock in the evening and the musicians were singing their hearts out. The hall looked splendid as flowers decorated the whole altar in preparation for harvest Thanksgiving that was to take place the following morning. The atmosphere was one of a party. People streamed in from five o'clock onwards. Each person was given a song sheet a card of the face of Jesus and information regarding the formation of prayer groups and the availability of the messages in book form. There were two bookstalls outside the main hall with two eager teams of people assisting and there was excitement in the air. Many people prior to Vassula coming on stage were standing with their arms outreached singing, and the large poster of Jesus face looked down at the steady crowd gathering.
Mary Pender from Glasgow introduced Vassula, informing everyone that this mission of Vassula's is almost 15 years old. In that time she has been invited to speak at the World Council of Churches, meet with UN spokespeople, has travelled to over 57 countries, met and spoken to Buddhists in Hiroshima and even with Voodoo chiefs in Benin in Africa. She also informed everyone that Vassula had been given the blessing of her own Greek Orthodox people, receiving a blessing from the patriarchate in Jerusalem this year. We were told that Vassula has now held more than 700 meetings all over the world and that Houses of Mary, Beth Myriams, are now located in 19 countries.
The people sitting waiting for Vassula to speak had come from far and wide. We had people from the North of Scotland, from the Outer Hebrides, from the borders region, from the four main cities, many from the central belt and from over the border in North England and southern England. We had people who had travelled from Iceland, Holland, Germany, Belgium, Colombia, Venezuela, and Cameroon! All the clergy who attended were incognito so it was difficult to say how many we had but we know of at least two from Edinburgh who chose the visit as a subject for their homily at their respective masses the following morning. One of them from the largest Catholic Church in Edinburgh! There were several Church of Scotland people and Methodists but the majority of people were Catholic. Many young people came, some who had never been interested in God but had read the article in the newspaper. Many people with addictions to alcohol and drugs came and many of the faithful who wanted to hear the Lord's Echo speak.
Following the Lord's prayer, said and sung in Aramaic, and a decade of the rosary also in Aramaic, Vassula began her talk with an introduction to her background and with an explanation of locutions. She reminded us of the sins by which we offend God, who gives us blessings daily, of our life; our health, clothing, our families, and the fact that we are fed each day. She reminded us that we are not appreciative and that we should thank and glorify God more. This has happened because we have intellectualised God and we have made a gap between God and ourselves because we have created an image of Him. Vassula explained that God comes in these messages to SHATTER these images, reminding us that the Voice of The Father is the sweetest, most gentle voice that we could hear.
She reminded us of God's invitation to get to know Him, to understand Him, to be intimate with Him, quoting Jesus as saying "Approach Me and get to know Me, nevertheless, never forget that I AM Holy". She talked about the prophecies of Daniel, of the apostasy alluded to in Thessalonians 2:2; and the appeal to unity and reconciliation in our hearts, not only in our churches but in our families. She reminded us that any division does not come from God. To reconcile we have to repent truly and freely and she told us that after repenting comes the fruit of love followed by the fruit of unity.
Vassula talked for almost an hour and a half, powerful powerful words emanating from her lips in which we were asked to "live the beatific vision whilst on earth. Die to yourself and empty ourselves so that God can fill us". We were reminded that love is missing amongst us and how Jesus said to Vassula, "Pupil stand up with my cross of unity and walk with me". Jesus explains through Vassula that it is not enough to keep the law of the church, He needs love and humility.
The meeting was concluded with the blessing of Jesus and a minute's silence to drink in the graces poured on us.
The whole hall then joined hands and sang the Greek Hymn of praise, "Doxa Doxa". Vassula laughed as we were singing it too slowly so she invited all of us to sing it again. It was such a moving experience; a crowd of five hundred and fifty strong filled the air with the melody of this moving song of praise. People were stamping their feet as the tempo was speeded up and the party began. Vassula had to be called off the stage to her awaiting car outside and the Scots kept on partying, singing more songs and some of them dancing in the aisles, much to the stress of the hall manager who finally had to order everyone out at 22.15 hours! A true victory for Jesus!
The following morning we made our way south of the border to Newcastle to her next venue where she was eagerly awaited. There is much work to be continued here in Scotland but Jesus has shown us that we too have fertile ground, and unlike 1997, Scotland seems to be ready! Praised be Jesus and Mary!
True Life in God Association, Scotland