Vassula in Venezuela, May 2004
by Cecilia Lutz
Vassula's first presentation at the Poliedro Stadium began with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrated by Father Vinke and several visiting priests. The stadium was filled with nearly 8,000 people coming from all over Venezuela by planes and buses. The Sunday Mass was solemn, yet full of joy expressed in music and song. Latin Americans pray with a lot of emotion, rhythm, and happiness in their blood, expressed at the slightest vibration of a guitar string! Imagine the Greek Orthodox song of praise to the Trinity "Thoxa, Thoxa" played, sung, and danced in the Latin beat! We couldn't believe our eyes.. .8,000 people standing, clapping, swaying, and singing in Greek! Those seated below the stage danced in circles; we on the stage held hands and danced the "Sirtaki" around the altar! There we were, the entire stadium, singing, swaying and following the lead of those on the stage, led by Vassula, Father Vinke, and the visiting priests.
Also on stage were Mary Trevino, Benito Prieto, Gogui Merced from Puerto Rico, Cecile Lutz, and in God's glory, ninety-one-year-old Sr. San Luis and another elderly nun, Sister Ampara, all giving glory to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! What a sight to see and to experience; what a wonderful introduction to Vassula's talk.
Before she spoke, Benito Prieto, who is very active in TLIG evangelization, spoke powerfully about TLIG and Vassula in his inspired style raising the crowd's expectation and enthusiasm to heights that only God's Word would satisfy them.
Vassula's calm voice filled the place reciting the "Our Father" in Aramaic. She gave a brief background of her past; spoke of God's desire for Intimacy, His Sweetness, Repentance, the Sacred Heart, the Holy Spirit, and Our Blessed Mother. Vassula read a very beautiful passage from the message of March 25, 1996, wherein Jesus speaks to His Mother proclaiming:
The whole of Latin America is devoted to Our Blessed Mother, and hearing Jesus' Words to Her touched everyone, filling all our hearts to bursting. She reminded us that True Life in God is a message for all of us: Christians, non-Christians, atheists, agnostics, all the children of God, and that knowing God is the greatest Treasure one can obtain in life.
When Vassula emphasized that Jesus does not make distinctions, His Mystical Body is One, we have divided ourselves, the crowd broke out in applause, cheering for Unity!
Mary, Gogui, and Cecile asked Vassula how it went. She answered in her quiet voice: "Fantastic. It was full of joy, and joy is the Holy Spirit!"
Vassula's friends from a few years back, ninety-one-year-old Sr. San Luis and Sr. Amparo, whom Vassula calls a "soldier" for TLIG, invited her and a party of about thirty-five TLIG workers, including some priests, for luncheon at the Colegio Belen. Sr. Ampara shared her experience of being a TLIG witness, and of her reaction to the CDF Notification in 1995, which was to write a letter to Cardinal Ratzinger in defense of Vassula. The time we spent sharing the meal together was the celebration of a job well done.
Benito Prieto arranged for Vassula to be interviewed live on Venezuelan nationwide TV on the 12 o'clock news hosted by Ms. Anna Vaccarella, a young and very popular news celebrity. Mary Trevino was the translator. Anna was overwhelmed by Vassula's presence, honored to convey Vassula's experience to her listeners. She was interested to know why God chose her, about her Guardian Angel, and the details of how she receives the messages.
Anna asked for God's Message to Venezuela and Vassula's reply was: "If you abandon yourself completely, the Holy Spirit can transform your soul from a desert into a garden where I can have My Rest in you; into a Palace where I can be King and reign over you; into a heaven where I can be glorified. Venezuela, return to God and the Holy Sacraments of the Church."
Later Mary drove Vassula to the site of a future Beth Myriam in Caracas, the fifth of its kind in Venezuela. It is located in the hills surrounding the city, in the town of Sisipa with a population of 10,000 inhabitants of which 2,000 are children. The plans include a community center to feed and clothe the needy, to supply educational and medical help, and a church to teach and live the spirituality of the messages. Fr. Vinke is very much involved in the Beth Myriam Project and has witnessed about True Life in God and its Apostolate to his fellow priests and many bishops in Venezuela. Thanks to his fervor and commitment to True Life in God, none of the Catholic clergy in Caracas opposed Vassula's meeting. In the past, the organizers have always had the bishop's permission to hold the TLIG events, but they would always have to deal with one bishop or priest's objection to Vassula. The existence of the Beth Myriams in Venezuela and all over the world is a product of and testimony to the conversion through the messages of True Life in God. They are clearly and undoubtedly the Work of the Holy Spirit.
An International TLIG Prayer Group WT (Work Team) assist the TLIG Prayer Groups worldwide. Yolis Rivas coordinates the prayer groups in Venezuela. There is news of new groups forming in the eastern part of Venezuela particularly, as well as in other places, and of plans to invite TLIG witnesses from abroad to help spread the messages.
Vassula also pointed out the spiritual habits of people multiplying prayers yet still lacking in charity. What matters is the conversion of the heart, the Scriptures, and living the messages. She stressed the importance of reading the messages from the beginning and meditating on them. She called on us to strive to become witnesses by our conversion and by knowing the messages inside out. There is a great need to bring TLIG over all the Americas, especially in Central America where many countries still have not received the messages. Fr. Vinke, together with Nicole Ponte and Mary Trevino, are now meeting regularly, preparing to become TLIG witnesses for Latin America, according to Vassula's wish. A long anticipated invitation brought us to the heart of the Greek Orthodox community of Caracas. Our host was Father Emanueil Remudakis, the parish priest of the Greek Orthodox Church of Venezuela. Father Manoli, as he is called, had invited his colleagues in the Ecumenical Commission of Venezuela. It was very moving to see Vassula so warmly welcomed by her own people anxiously waiting for her to be among them. He introduced her to the members of his community, to his friends and colleagues, namely Bishop Kahhale, the Exarch of the Melkites in Venezuela, Bishop Guerrero of the Anglican Church of Venezuela, Reverent Samuel Olson, Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Venezuela, and Father Elias Kasrin, a Salesian priest of Syrian descent working closely with the Melkite community numbering 150,000 in Venezuela alone.
The mood was totally Greek; the dinner and the music transported us to Greece and we could see that Vassula was delighted to speak to everyone and witness about her experience and her mission. Father Remudakis was enchanted and very proud to be her host. Benito Prieto, who is ever ready with TLIG books and promotional material, promised to bring books in Greek for Father Manoli's parishioners. Jorge Benavides and Nicole Ponte of TLIG were also present with the rest of us, to quietly witness. Vassula invited the clergy she met that night to our coming Inter-Faith Pilgrimage in 2005.
When Vassula stepped up to the check-in counter at the airport, the clerk took one look at her and her passport and asked if she was the one interviewed on TV the day before. Vassula nodded with a big smile. It was just the signature we needed to authenticate her visit to our country.