The AATLIG 9th Ecumenical Retreat, Tampa, Florida, USA
On Friday, May 20th, we began our retreat by having our Priests bless our conference room with Holy Water and an Orthodox Prayer to the Holy Spirit. “ Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, present in all places and filling all things, Treasury of Goodness and Giver of life: come and abide in us. Cleanse us from every stain of sin and save our souls, O Gracious Lord.” Our unified exaltation further prepared us for our prayer retreat when we all sang the Orthodox hymn "Christos Annesti" ("Christ is Risen"), as it was still within the 40 days after Easter in the Eastern Orthodox church."Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!"
We were blessed to have with us four Priests representing the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. We commenced the two-day retreat with a TLIG prayer from the message dated, Dec. 29, 1989, then read the February 13, 2016 message, along with a random message from the Canticle of the Holy Spirit. We subsequently prayed the Holy Rosary and meditated on TLIG passages.
Two inspiring presentations by one of our Clergy further illuminated our day. He presented a talk on The Holy Spirit and another on the “Discernment of Spirits”.
Following the inspiration was given by Georgia Klamson, retreat attendee, and long-time friend and advocate of TLIG, presented a talk on the history and the miracles of The Saint Michael Taxiarchis Shrine in Tarpon Springs, FL (that we would be visiting), and the correlation of it to The Archangel Michael Taxiarchis Monastery Panormiti on the island of Simi. Georgia also showed a video of Vassula on the island of Simi, Greece, along with a message that the Archangel Michael gave Vassula on the island of Simi on August 19, 1996.
You can view this video here: Video of Vassula Speaking on the Island of Simi about St. Michael, and here to read about the Shrine in Florida and here to read about the Monastery in Panormiti, Simi.
After the talks, we split our attendees into 5 groups and had an activity session where we chose different messages on and about The Holy Spirit from the True Life in God books. We were given a pencil and paper to draw, depicting what the messages meant to us. To culminate this activity, each group collectively chose the best picture and shared it with everyone.
As a conclusion to the day, we partook in a Catholic Mass, shared a break and dinner. To top the evening, we observed adoration and gave confessions.
Our first day was filled by feeding our souls through fellowship, sharing our thoughts and insights through the messages, and allowing the Holy Spirit to move us.
So as to implement our spiritual journey onto our day to day endeavors, a book table with the TLIG messages, TLIG DVDs and paintings gave our retreat members the opportunity to take any of the items home. We thank God that through these tangible items we can grow deeper in the True Life in God spirituality.
Our second day of the retreat, Saturday, May 21, was the feast day of Sts. Constantine and Helen. We departed for the Saint Michael Shrine in Tarpon Springs, which was approximately a 45 min. bus ride.
Upon arrival, we were welcomed by Goldie Parr, the current caretaker of the Shrine of Saint Michael Taxiarchis (Taxiarchis in Greek means "commander" but in English, it has been translated to Archangel) in Tarpon Springs. She recalled the story about the antique icon of the Taxiarchis Michael, which was said to have been dug-up more than 400 years ago on the island of Simi, Dodecanese Greece, by a farmer planting figs, pears, and grapes on his property. It now resides at the Shrine.
Goldie's mother made a vow to St. Michael to build the Shrine on their property, in return for healing her son of a brain tumor many years ago. Once we were inside the Shrine, we began to pray the Litany prayer to St. Michael, read by one of our Clergy, and read out-loud a recitation of a message from St. Michael, given to Vassula on July 17, 1994. This was so touching as if St. Michael was speaking to us right there and then with his words saying:
"I have indeed called you here to honour the Most High and I, the archangel, Saint Michael, am mightily touched by your visit; My hands are in full battle and My arm is constantly raised to keep evil away .... pray to Me as you do and encourage others too to do the same; the Enemy of God weakens with this prayer;" 1
Goldie addressed our group and explained to us first-hand the circumstances behind the erection of the Shrine and all the miracles that have taken place around it, as it is her family's Shrine. She was very entertaining; she had a wonderful sense of humor. She along with her son, Dionysios, made us all feel welcomed.
They were gracious enough to share with us the blessed oil and the tears from the icon of the Virgin Mary that had wept oil and tears in the 80’s. The oil and tears had been mixed together; they placed the liquid onto cotton balls and gave them to all of us. It was truly special. Many of our TLIG people had not been to an Orthodox Church before, and so through this experience, they were able to truly feel its riches.
After departing from the Shrine, we had lunch at the Hellas restaurant in Tarpon Springs. We distributed TLIG material to our waiters and explained to them that we are an Ecumenical group promoting Christian Unity. It was a great experience to evangelize as a unified group, after visiting the Shrine. After lunch, we had some free time to walk along the water of the docks.
Along the way, we met passers-by to whom we distributed our “Come as You Are” pamphlets and informed them they can read more by going onto the website. We met a few volunteer coastguards, shared the True Life in God messages with them and informed them we are praying for Christian Unity.
In time, we eventually headed back to our bus. Active and enthused, we happily engaged ourselves in an open mic session, so that people could share their testimonies of how they heard about TLIG and what it means to them. People also sang hymns, prayed the Rosary, etc.
Upon our return to the hotel, we celebrated an Orthodox Liturgy. This was especially meaningful to people that had never experienced this type of liturgy. One person told me that he has been reading the messages for years, but only now, through this retreat, is he able to experience the unity that is talked about in the messages. Another lady was so touched by the Orthodox liturgy that she exclaimed that she wanted to know more about the Orthodox Church, as she too reads about it in the TLIG messages. Her enthusiasm for the Orthodox liturgy provoked her to say that she will make an effort to learn the Orthodox hymns.
After the Divine Liturgy, one of our Clergy did a presentation on “Born of The Spirit“, and then subsequently, after dinner, a guest speaker from Tampa named Malcolm from “Malcolm Outloud” spoke to us. Here is a link to America Out Loud, that has a special section devoted to True Life in God and Vassula Ryden. He shared with us the special work he is doing through his interviews with Vassula on the messages and this new venture towards placing the interviews on Podcasts. He stated that we can help evangelize this effort by going on Itunes, and YouTube, Subscribing, and Rate & Review the podcasts.
We ended the evening with a Healing Service from our 4 Clergy followed by adoration and Confessions.
Our last day, Sunday, May 23rd, we started by praying the Rosary and attending Holy Mass. A few individuals disclosed their personal testimonies about how they heard of the TLIG messages and the impact the messages have had on their lives.
In closing, a random message that was read, led to a discussion, guided by one of our Clergy. We ended the retreat by singing the Christos Annesti and the Thoxa Thoxa hymns.
We can now look forward to our next 10th annual retreat, which was announced. It will be held in Los Angeles in 2017; the West Coast region will be hosting.
God bless the Southeast regional volunteers and all those who helped make this possible. Many people commented that they felt this was the best retreat that they have attended so far because it was more Ecumenical and the Holy Spirit was in full force, in the Spirit of Unity!
Click here to see the 12 min video highlights of the retreat
“Yes. Tim's review says it all. The Holy Spirit gives each of us what we need to grow in The Holy Trinity. Thank you, Lord.” Mark K.
“This retreat had a profound impact on my husband David. In our almost 38 years of marriage, I have only seen him cry a handful of times. As he was describing certain events that took place during the retreat, tears were flowing down his face. The Lord was truly present to him and to others. We are so blessed to have the messages and each other! Thanks to Anna, and Tess, and all that contributed for all of their hard work which brought forth much fruit.” God bless, Roberta
“Mother Teresa says our work for God is not counted as how successful it is, but how faithfully it is done to glorify God. I felt this retreat was done with humility and lots of love. Above all, I witnessed a true love and unity in-between the organizers, which radiated on all of us. Be blessed and Thank you, Anna, Tess, and Vanessa, and all who supported the retreat behind the scenes." In Christ, Arpy
”Dear Anna, Tess, and Vanessa, as Lisa pointed out to me, we say after every retreat, 'this is the best ever!' ”
"Yes, this is true because of the work of the Holy Spirit at every retreat!
I believe this will not be eclipsed in the future because for the first time we had a truly ecumenical retreat with the “two lungs” of the church, (St.Pope John Paul II). It had the following distinctions:
And two non-repeatable graces:
The rooms were the best ever! OK, anyone can outdo it, but at what cost?
The food was fresh and everyday free food and drinks! One day it was fresh fruit with berries in addition to the usual chips and dips
Another day Asian noodles with big juicy meatballs and sauce. - the best hotel food ever!
Transportation to and from airport and restaurants frequent, regular and FREE!
Anna, Tess, Vanessa ran it like the Swiss, but with Southern hospitality!
I believe that like angels, each retreat is its own species, so….
Truly the best ever! And that’s that! :) “ God Bless, Josephine
“Very observant Josie especially, the men manning the book-table part, I love it.” David Ceasar
“There were many people from the Southwest Region who participated, but Anna, Tess, and Vanessa deserve a special Blessing for their great contribution to AATLIG. This was a very inspiring and Holy Spirit present Retreat. As Father John once or more has said all our retreats are the greatest, but this truly offered many new opportunities and experiences. We are still seeing the miracles of the Holy Spirit at work in us and we hope in all. See everyone hopefully in LA. next year for another WE US retreat.“ God Bless, Jim & Carole, NW Region Volunteers
“Miracles abound, Hearts were touched, Tears flowed and We were all brought one step closer to The Holy Trinity and Immaculate Mary--Bravo!!!“With Abundant Blessings, Janet
“You are a gifted writer Josie! Thanks for the great detail and positive feedback.“
One of our Priests said 'Love is in the Air'.
“Great to be with all of you as we get recharged from one another! We truly practiced Unity in Diversity!!Praise God and thank you All!“ In Christ, Georgia☦☦☦
“Dear Anna, Tess, and the whole TLIG family, God bless you all abundantly for serving Him with Love. Although I was not physically there I was with you in spirit, thought, and prayer.“ Love in Christ, Toula
“Thank you for picking up the baton, and built it up to the house of Love, Hospitality, Joy, and Peace! Thank you for following the Voice of the Holy Spirit in your hearts, and worked compassionately to make our retreat happened in the Springtime! Thank you for all the sacrifice and love which allow us to get together again as a Big Family! May all the Blessings which came along the way and will come in the future become a precious treasure for your regions, and for all of us!“ Love in Christ, Lisa
The journey home
After I left the Tampa retreat God continued to move in such powerful ways I could not ‘WAIT’ to share and shout from the rooftop. He is making a very clear point/message for the TLIG Group which all came together for me at the end of my trip last night. This is so beautiful, you will find this extra special and extremely touching. Unbelievable God is using a little peanut like me for this… Praise be to God! Feel free to share this with whomever you wish!
I missed my 11:30 AM hotel shuttle by a few minutes and had to wait an extra 30 min for the next van at noon. As I was sitting in the shuttle van waiting, Fr. loaded up and sat right next to me. We had a great conversation and he went into explaining how truly special the Eucharist was I had received the day before. I knew it was special but didn’t know all the details. This Eucharist is rarely used and from the Eastern Orthodox Holy Thursday Mass with extra long prayers during Passion Week. It was dipped in the blood of Christ and dried for emergency reserve only 1x a year. We also discussed how I had never had a confession. Fr. said if we have time and you’re ok let’s have your first confession. Of course, I was willing… Within the same breath, the driver said… you're (Jamie) going to Delta and Fr. to American. So Fr. said seconds before we went our separate ways…”well you will have your first confession someday.” Then we were off rushing in separate directions to catch our flights at the airport.
As I approach my Delta gate I see TLIG Dave (From Buffalo NY, the gentleman who managed book sales table this retreat). We sat together and were talking for a while when all of a sudden Fr. walked up … He said I have been looking for you, I am at American (Airlines) around the corner and felt that I needed to “do my best and God will do the rest” (funny thing about him saying this is I USE THIS SAYING ALL THE TIME from the messages- so I had to laugh internally...God knew I would recognize Him being a part of what was going on with this saying.) So Fr. offered my first Confession in a quiet corner of the Delta gate. It was so special, unique, and amazing. It was hard to hold my composure with hundreds of people around but this was an absolute God thing. Dave was also so moved by what was happening he also was emotional at being a witness of what just unfolded. This was, as you could imagine, very moving. So the plane was about to take off and I loaded on the plane… off to Atlanta then Kansas City...full of emotional fireworks with all that has been happening in the last few days…my mind was exploding...
Plane ride home:
As I am on my 2nd flight headed to Kansas City I had an opportunity pick up my TLIG ‘One book’ and start reading where I last left off a while ago since I had other readings I was distracted with for some time. To my awe astounding amazement, the page I read took my breath away and my jaw literally smacked to the airplane FLOOR! God’s message was clear now…My bookmark was on page 774 of the ‘One book’…
Messages: October 24, 1994- “My House In The West Is Being Plundered The East And The West Will Be One Kingdomhttp://tlig.org/en/messages/885/
“…listen and write: glory will shine from the Eastern bank; that is why I say to the House of the West: turn your eyes towards the East; do not weep bitterly over the Apostasy and the destruction of your House; do not panic, for tomorrow you will eat and drink together with My shoot from the Eastern bank; My Spirit will bring you together; have you not heard that the East and West will be one kingdom? have you not heard that I shall settle for one date?13
“I am going to reach out My Hand and carve on a stick the words: West bank, House of Peter and all those who are loyal to him; then, on another stick I will carve: East bank, House of Paul, together with all those who are loyal to him; and when the members of the two Houses will say: "Lord, tell us what you mean now", I will say to them: "I will take the stick on which I carved Paul's name together with all those who are loyal to him and put the stick of Peter and his loyal ones, as one; I shall make one stick out of the two and I shall hold them as one; I shall bind them together with My New Name; this will be the bridge between the West and the East; My Holy Name will bind the bridge, so that you will exchange your possessions across this bridge; they will no longer practise alone, but together and I shall reign over them all;“
- “what I have planned shall happen, and should men say to you, daughter, that these signs are not from Me, tell them: "do not fear, have you not heard that He is the Sanctuary and the Stumbling Stone as well? the Rock that can bring down the two Houses but raise them up again as one single House?" this is what you will tell them, daughter;
I, God, am with you; I shall inundate with My Spirit many more hearts;
come, I love you; have My Peace;“
After reading this there was no doubt in my mind God was sending a very clear message using me as an example/testimony in the TLIG Tampa Retreat… on how the East church will join the West church. What an absolutely amazing gift to share.
Godcidents are beyond words!
Georgia & The Southeast Region