Encountering heaven on earth

Encountering heaven on earth Photo Credit: Gabriela Zarzycka

Aleksandra Januszewska and Gabriela Zarzycka

A couple of weeks ago, we had a very spontaneous idea to go together on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Medjugorje is a small village in Bosnia and Hercegovina where the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing since 1981. We are sisters – the elder Aleksandra is a busy homeschooling mother of six and the younger, Gabriela, decided to change her job after 14 years. We both needed a break  from our busy lives and space to pray and think.

Aleksandra’s story

The very first time I heard about Medjugorje was in 1994 when I was 17 years old and I was in secondary school. I read an article in a Christian magazine about this small village in a far away country, where Our Lady appears regularly. I thought that I would love to  visit and experience this place as any other apparition that I heard about happened long before I was born. Unfortunately, here
was war in the Balkans and going there was not even an option.

In secondary school, I talked about faith with friends a lot, many of them were Protestants and they used to say that they didn’t need Our Lady and Jesus is the only mediator between God and men.

I still didn’t understand why a man needed Our Lady, I was very confused. A few years later I obtained a master’s degree in Theology and even though I had the knowledge of Our Lady I still didn’t have it in my heart.

In 2012 we finally decided to visit Medjugorje, I  was both excited and a bit sceptical, but in this little village between mountains something amazing happened – I experienced Our Lady in my heart, I experienced her as my mother. I fell in love in praying the rosary and in that moment the whole Mariology  became clear and I understood why we need her in our lives. I got so close to her and that hasn’t changed since.

Gabriela’s story

I have just returned from my fifth pilgrimage to Medjugorje where I was blessed to attend the apparition of Our Lady to Mirjana.

The first I heard about Medjugorje was about 10 years ago at a Youth 2000 retreat. I heard of people’s experiences, of how their
lives had changed since visiting this small village in Bosnia and Hercegovina, and most importantly about Our Lady’s messages to all of us. I then started to read everything I could find on Medjugorje and felt this desire to go there and experience what others were talking about.

I remember very clearly my first arrival to Medjugorje, I suddenly felt this instant peace in my heart, as if there were no worries in my life because someone else took care of them all for me. Now I understand why she is also called ‘The Queen of Peace’.

Medjugorje to me is heaven on earth. I wish I could go there every year, I wish I could take all my relatives there, and friends – but especially the nonbelievers so they could experience the love Our Lady and her son Jesus Christ have for them. As Our Lady said in one of her messages: “If you knew how much I love you you’d cry of joy”.