Aegina January 2018
The sweetest mini retreat for Unity Week
Vassula surprised us when she asked that the TLIG Greek Association and prayer groups start getting ready to have a retreat not long after the Moscow pilgrimage. Her purpose, of course, is to keep that fire alight that God has in His Boundless Love given us. When two or three are gathered in His Name says the Scriptures, Christ is present. So how much more would Christ be present with His angels, and give us His blessings, were we to be more than three, reminding us of His Sweetness and His Mercy. When we hear how God is a tender Father we fall short of words. So what we can do is at the very least, to gather His flock to remind them of God’s Sweetness and of His Perpetual Presence. In one of God’s Messages, dated 19 October 1998, He says:
"by Our Own free-Will, We, in Our Triune Glory, it so pleased Us to befriend you intimately and pour on you in abundance torrents of delights and consolations; We revealed to you something forgotten by My Church: this overflowing sweetness, yes! Almighty God’s divine sweetness that attracts myriads of angels around My Throne,…"
Vassula decided to choose a place where a renowned Greek Saint would be. This time she chose to go where Saint Nectarios’s tomb is located, on the island of Aegina; a convenient island because it is one of the closest islands, near the mainland. Many people were enthusiastic when they heard that we were going to have a retreat. Vassula knew that many of the Greek people could not afford or have never afforded to go to the pilgrimages that we usually have, and sympathizing with them, she decided to gather all of them to an affordable retreat. The response was great, for 98 Greek people said that they can come.
Aegina is a beautiful island close to Athens; it’s a one hour trip by ferry. The island’s great blessing is that the monastery that Saint Nectarios had found there, in disuse, began to function again in 1904 with 7 nuns. Accomplishing great spiritual work, Saint Nectarios spent the last years of his life at this monastery (1846-1920). He performed miracles while he was still alive and still does. It was, therefore, a great joy for us to visit the monastery and hear about St. Nectarios’s turbulent life. He faced a great deal of persecution for his virtue and his work.
Our first day began with a welcome speech from Vassula, with recited messages on the unity that Jesus wants. The first message was one from 2003, February to April, and is entitled Odes of the Holy Trinity. These messages clearly talk about the three persons of the Holy Trinity, their teaching, and what they ask of our souls, their children.
First of all, we can discover them by obtaining a pure heart. To obtain a pure heart, God is always by our side. He never leaves us and manifests Himself in all kinds of ways so as to approach us. In His infinite charity and mercy, He comes to call us and to give us the grace to strengthen our inner man so that we can, through our faith, live in Him and take root by building our foundations on Love.
And with such beautiful words in our hearts, we sang hymns and prepared ourselves psychologically and spiritually for Holy Mass, where we all received the Body and Blood of Christ with great reverence.
We then boarded the buses for the visit to the Monastery of St. Nectarios, which is situated on a green hill in the heart of the island. The nuns that live there showed us around this beautiful place and took us to the room where the saint spent his life, which they have preserved intact. At the church, we prayed, lit our candles and submitted the names of relatives and friends, both the living and the dead, for prayers and Masses. On the grounds of the monastery, there was a gift shop where we purchased little icons and crosses for those friends who could not attend. We left the monastery through another door, which led us to a church that had been built much later so as to meet the needs of the growing number of pilgrims. We descended the hill on large steps which made our walk comfortable, and with pleasure, we admired the nature around us, along with the large and stately church. Inside this church lies the body, the holy relic of Saint Nectarios. It is here where we prayed that he intercedes for us and blesses us, and we thanked him for the grace of our visit to his island.
Later on, we returned to the town of Aegina, walked around the beautiful coastal neighborhood, and some of us took the opportunity to eat at the restaurants and enjoy the local delicacies.
On Saturday afternoon, we gathered at the hotel’s conference hall to hear the speeches delivered by the priests who were with us, and then prayed the rosary, the prayer to Our Lady. The blessings we received were many, and the heart overflows with love and peace through such experiences. In the evening, as we all dined at the hotel’s restaurant, we could not stop talking about the joy we felt to be there all together.
The following day was Sunday, so early-on we celebrated Mass and attended the scheduled speeches. During Vassula’s speech, something extraordinary happened, which we heard about afterward. A friend who had arrived late the previous day because of her job and hardly had time to settle into the day’s activities, after sitting down to listen to Vassula’s speech, saw her face transform into the face of Jesus. Again at noon, after this news had spread among us, another lady who for the first time joined our pilgrimage told us that on the previous day, during Vassula’s speech, she too had experienced this phenomenon, and had seen Jesus appear on Vassula’s face. Both were touched to tears. This occurrence is not uncommon; it has occurred in the past as well, for Jesus in His messages mentions that He will allow it to happen in order for people to understand that He is the Author of these messages.
Personally, I have always enjoyed hearing about such experiences. When one has faith, this circumstance sounds simple or matter-of-fact. Indeed, Jesus can do whatever He wants, so there is no reason why He would not manifest His Presence in this way.
For those who do not believe or cannot understand what the True Life in God messages mean in our times, the love, joy, and harmony between us is the best testimony to their legitimacy. In fact, the hotel staff, to whom some members from our group talked to and gave the book of messages, noted our love-filled spirit. During the day, after Mass and speeches, we prayed the rosary and sang hymns, while our priests listened to those who wished to confess. After the speeches concluded and Vassula thanked us for our participation, she asked us to bring more souls to our subsequent meetings so that others can also experience unity and live the True Life in God.
Let us all be messengers and fishermen of men, with the blessings of Jesus and Our Lady.