Part 6 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010.

It looked like Juan Diego took my plea seriously as he led me away from the town through a green pasture with the cutest little lambs frolicking around reminding me of Iona in Scotland; except here, there were lion cubs frolicking with them. Juan Diego hummed a merry little tune that quickened the pace of our steps. I wondered why he was always in a hurry. What was he rushing to do? I had forgotten that he could read my mind.

“I promised to get you back to your old life on earth before Creation Day on September 1st and there are still a few people who want to speak with you. People here don’t have to walk unless they want to; they know how to teleport. Walking takes precious time. We have to walk fast because they have packed your schedule so tight. If you would write more than one post a week we could also get more in.”

“Oh, I’m sorry;” I said, wishing too that I could teleport or write more. 

When we reached the top of the hill I saw in the distance a large lake with a good sized beach on one side and majestic hemlock trees surrounding two thirds of its circumference. As we approached the shore I spotted a lovely young woman among a group of children. She looked up and walked toward Juan Diego and me until we were face to face, “Welcome, my name is Mary. We have a lot to talk about. Come and sit in my cabana.”

“Holy Mary, Mother of God!” I blurted out. Instinctively I knew that she was THE Mary, the original after whom billions of ladies, including my own mother, were named.  “I am deeply honored to meet you!” I said with a bow. Seeing the Virgin Mary was like meeting an old pen pal. Yet I had so many questions for her.”

“Come, let us sit together.” She gently took my hand and walked me to her cabana by the lake. When I sat down, she said, “Ask me whatever you’d like.”

“How can you do all that people expect of you? You are the head of the Greek Navy and the queen of Mt. Athos; you intercede to your Son for billions of souls. You must never get a moment’s rest.” Taking a quick breath I added quickly (lest I forget the questions that I had been harboring for years) “How did you communicate with me on earth; are you an angel? Did you really never die? Tell me about that? How do you remain humble when you receive so much adoration? Did you know Jesus would rise after the crucifixion?”

“Is that all?” she responded with the patience and conviviality I would expect from a queen. Also, like a queen she stepped lightly over some of the questions. “My service to our God and to His people is pure joy but angels do most of the work.” she said with a smiling glance at Juan Diego who returned it with a nod. “I have regular meetings with my Son where I tell him about the most compelling cases. Then He sends angels on their missions in the same way He directed you.”

“Speaking of that, how shall I awake the sleeping souls?” I asked.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

Mary replied, “Remember the passage, ‘Awake you who sleep. Arise from the dead. And Christ will give you light’? Reveal that which sits in darkness.”

“That sounds important,” I said, “but what is darkness?”

She smiled as if to remember how stupid I could be, and then replied patiently, “Darkness is anything that distorts or hides reality, or causes separation from God such as lies, pride and arrogance, pornography which distorts love, and drunkenness.”

“Stay awake, alert to anything that would separate you from God’s likeness, receive Christ’s light, then shine it, like a flashlight, on everything around you. When darkness falls upon you, whatever you do, do not fall asleep! Stay awake and wait for the light.” Then she fell quiet.

As if I was reading her mind, I heard her say in my heart, “as I stayed awake during the darkness of the gossips when I was pregnant, the darkness of fleeing to Egypt, the darkness of the crucifixion. Darkness lies. I knew that as long as I stayed awake, I would receive the light.”

Then she said out loud, “Dormition and assumption, was I sleeping, mmm? They called it sleeping because that’s what it looked like to them, but I only shut my eyes so I could better see the light that lead me here. It was such a gift for me to be able to bring my body with me.

The joy of living here is infinitely greater than what sleep gives. Remember, our dreams are not true; this is truth and reality. Enough with the lessons already! It’s time for my feast. Come, let’s dance together! We will continue to speak often when you go back, especially now that you know the sound of my voice. If you return to live here, we can have many more happy times together. Would you like to borrow a dress for my party?” 

7. Opus of Saints

This is Part 7 in the series, My Summer Vacation 2010.

We laughed and sang; we danced and ate sublimely delicious foods. We even swam in the lake and played volleyball. Merriment must have received its meaning from the first party for Mary. Hundreds of people dressed in white congregated from the four corners of heaven to celebrate August 15th, the 2,000th anniversary of Mary’s arrival. Of course I didn’t know who any of these people were, or rather had been in their old lives. Frankly, I didn’t have the nerve to ask. I was just so grateful to be among them, the happiest group of people human eyes has ever seen. Yes, there was wine at the party, plenty of wine but no one appeared drunk. It was also strange that night never fell. After a while, one by one the guests approached Mary to thank her with a kiss and a hug and then disappeared.

Juan Diego tugged at my shirt and told me that we had better head out too. I hated to leave but I was glad to have a reason to speak with Mary again. Of course she knew instinctively that I was about to depart so she first came over to me, and after a big mother hug, she looked me right in the eyes and said, “I will be listening for you. Go back and make me proud.”

I thought I would melt; a puddle of Evangeline, like a scoop of ice cream that fell off its cone and flattened into a little gooey raw pancake. Instead I hugged her back a few seconds too long to let her know how much I didn’t want to leave. Juan Diego yanked me away and waved good-bye while shouting to be heard over the cacophony of merrymaking. “I had better get her out of here before she makes a scene. “

Only this time Juan Diego and I were not walking alone. A lovely lady and a young gentleman were behind us. Juan Diego turned to see them and then stopped to let them catch up.

“Thank-you,” said the gent when they finally met-up with us. “I know you have somewhere to go; we don’t want to hold you up, so we’ll join you. We like to walk. My name is Paul and this is my sister Juliana. “

“Juliana! Oh, I am so happy to meet you,” I said with a hug. “Can you tell me how you did that?!”

“Yes, but we must keep walking. I was strictly ordered not to hold you up.” She replied.

“Good” said Juan Diego and recommenced his march on the path through a vast meadow of sun flowers that reminded me of Italy.

Paul walked silently beside Juan Diego. Juliana and I followed close behind.

It is here in my report that we should jump back to earth momentarily so I can fill you in on you why I was so thrilled to see Saint Juliana in heaven. It was August 17 and my little grandbaby Lilly Juliana was still not yet Christened, but we knew that she would be named after saint Juliana who was a very brave and faithful young lady of the third century when Christendom was united as one petal of faith in a whole weedy world of mean power grabbers and ignorance.

A girl would have to stretch very big inside to live up to the namesake of Juliana, a most stubborn and tough young lady if ever there was one. When the emperor Aurelian came to visit Juliana’s town of Ptolemais, her brother Paul, to show that his king was Jesus and no other, made the sign of the cross right smack in front of Aurelian. Aurelian had him arrested. The next day at Paul’s trial he openly confessed Christ which was a crime punishable by torture. Seeing the suffering of her brother Juliana denounced the emperor for his cruelty, so she was also taken into custody and tortured. More strong willed teens the town of Ptolemais had never known. Juliana and Paul refused to deny Christ as God and their Lord no matter how much they were beaten or burned. The emperor tried another tactic on her by offering to take her as his own wife; when she refused he sent her to a brothel. Juliana’s faith grew even stronger when every man who tried to have her was blinded. The enraged emperor then had her and her brother tortured some more and when the townspeople started to murmur against him for overreacting with these young people, Aurelian decided to end the debacle once and for all by having Juliana and Paul beheaded. That tragic episode was relatively short albeit intense; besides, their valor won them a place at King Jesus table every Thanksgiving Day.

Last August 17th, the feast day of Juliana, during my prayers, I had introduced to her myself and the baby. I asked her to please watch over little Juliana her whole life, to keep her safe and faithful too so that someday she and I could live together in heaven forever and ever as friends. I added that I would fast on that, her feast day, as Father Max instructed me, to invoke her help. Well, even to my surprise, Saint Juliana indeed heard me and got right to work choosing Andrea and George to be Lilly Juliana’s godparents.

“Juliana, please tell me how prayer works? Or was it a coincidence that Lilly Juliana’s godparents were chosen on your feast day?”

I used the energy of your prayer and fasting coupled with my feast day to catapult my efforts and make obvious the power of the Lord. Even as you prayed, I ran a search of all godparent possibilities, and frankly the options were few, probably because this match was perfect, no one could compete. I was rather pleased myself. Gabrielle is a tough cookie, just like me, that’s why I like her so much. It would have to be striking.”

Juliana replied, “Don’t be silly. You know how fast a computer works; when we are admitted here our original God-given powers are restored so we can respond with equal precision and reliability. That is, when circumstances warrant. In your case I knew that the key to little Lilly’s salvation was giving her good godparents and convincing her bio-parents of the power and reality of Christ.

The criteria for the selection was this:

  • Special relationship: Andrea was Gabrielle’s little sorority sister - check.
  • Orthodox: Andrea and George were Orthodox and married in the Church – check.
  • Additional secular and/or ecclesiastical bonds: George and Gabrielle were born the same week in the same hospital and after 40 days or so were presented to the Church on the same Sunday morning one infant in each of Father John’s arms- bonus check.
  • Additional family relationship: George’s grandfather had been a priest at their church when Gabrielle was a child- bonus check.
  • Post life relationship: Priest George and his wife are buried across from the grandmother and great grandparents of Gabrielle, Taki, Evangelia and your own mother, Maria. They know each other as they prepare for the bodily resurrection together. These family members also participated in the selection – double bonus check.

“Once Andrea was chosen the rest was easy. We planted the urge for Facebook in both ladies’ minds. They did the rest. Rest assured; this was not all my doing. The Lord Jesus approved every phase of the operation. He who said, ‘Go and bear fruit and keep on bearing, that your fruit may be lasting; so whatever you ask the Father in my name He may give it to you.’ He has seen your fruit and heard your prayers for your children. You did not mobilize me as much as He did. The angels and saints serve Him. We form a network of life and light to bring holy achievers, you call them aspiring immortals, into the real and lasting world of His kingdom.”

“Juliana,” I said, “After all these centuries in heaven, do you ever cease to be amazed at how the Lord operates?”

“No my dear, never, Paul and I must go now; I am afraid we are holding you up. When you go back to earth, remember that reading minds and hearts is the key to the functionality of prayer and is how we communicate here. If you want to be able to live here with us, prepare. Remember when He said through Matthew, ‘Be pure in heart.’ He meant not to allow or accept anything in your mind which is not in alliance with perfection in Christ. I hope to see you and little Juliana and all of her parents here someday! Yes, I will personally be watching over them all. That little Nicholas is a pistol isn’t he?”

With that, Juliana and Paul disappeared leaving me with Juan Diego in a meadow of sunflowers feeling awe struck.