Vassula in New York City : Part 1
May 25-30, 2004
May 25, Tuesday Arrival in New York City
We were met at JFK International Airport in New York City by the dynamic TLIG core group of Roman Catholics, Greek and Russian Orthodox. Vassula had visited New York just last year, and had spoken in Newark, NJ. This time, the group decided to set up Vassula's NY Meeting in the Armenian Orthodox Church Hall.
May 26, Wednesday Breakfast with the Russian Orthodox Priests
We were driven through the early morning NY traffic to Long Island, to the Archdiocese of The Orthodox Church of America which is the seat of the Russian Orthodox Church in the U.S., located in Syosset, NY. There are 600 Russian Orthodox parishes in the U.S., several monasteries and 3 Romanian monasteries. Vassula was enthusiastically welcomed by Fr. Stavros Strikis, a priest who had been reading the Messages of True Life in God and who was eagerly anticipating the opportunity to meet Vassula in person. Fr. Stavros was joined by Fr. David, the assistant to the Metropolitan; they both very kindly showed us around their office, their Archives and their Chapel dedicated to St. Sergius. We were introduced to icons of different Russian Orthodox saints of America namely St. Alexis Toth and St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and Russia, the Enlightener of North America, who died in 1925.
Over breakfast, Vassula witnessed about her experience and her mission. She spoke of the openness of the Armenian Orthodox clergy to her and to the Messages and how she was warmly welcomed recently by the Armenian Archbishop in L.A. They talked about the tendency in the Church "to back off" from Prophecy. Many people seem to think that God has already spoken in Scriptures and find it hard to believe that He speaks in our day. Vassula explained that thinking and believing that God has stopped speaking to His people contradicts what St. Paul says in Scriptures, as well as St. John in Jn 16:12-13 where Jesus says, "I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you now; but when the Spirit of Truth comes He will lead you to the complete Truth ..." Unfortunately, judgments are made by different priests without their having even studied the writings. She finds that the Orthodox priests outside of Greece are generally more receptive and open.
Fr. Stavros took the opportunity to bring up some questions he had regarding the Messages. He wondered why Jesus comes to us in True Life in God as the Sacred Heart and she answered that first of all, the Sacred Heart's language is loving, tender and intimate, and His children need to know Him and become intimate with Him. Secondly, the Orthodox do not have the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Our Lord would like us not to differentiate between Orthodox and Catholic devotions.
Another interesting question was the matter of being "slain in the Spirit" to which Vassula answered: "this is what happens when one is in direct contact with the Holy Spirit." She recalled Jn 18:6, the scene in Gethsemane when Jesus answered: "I Am he" and the soldier fell instantly, "slain in the Spirit." Fr. Stavros was intrigued to hear of the phenomenon which she said started in the Charismatic Movement and spread in the Catholic Church. Her first experience observing the Holy Spirit in action in this special way was in Canada years ago, with Henri Lemay, the Canadian charismatic leader. She was amazed to see people falling off their chairs "slain!" The very first time she prayed over people and saw them "slain" was at a conference in Pittsburgh, using the crucifix containing a relic of the True Cross, which had just been given to her. She prayed over a little sick boy in his mother's arms, traced crosses on his forehead, palms and soles of his feet and he was healed.
Each one of us was given a beautiful Russian icon of St. Herman of Alaska and All America, the first to bring Orthodoxy to the continent, the first Russian Orthodox American saint. Vassula in turn, gave them a compilation of the True Life in God prophecies for Russia, the Odes of the Holy Trinity and Vol. 12 with the CDF Questions and her answers. They showed us such hospitality; Fr. Stavros was so delighted with the visit that he didn't want to see us go.