Cenacolo community. As a matter of fact, I had started praying for this even before I arrived in Medjugorje. As circumstances were in Medjugorje, it appeared that my prayer was not going to be answered, since during my first week I was not asked to celebrate mass and during my second week there were plenty of priests present for the retreat. The Cenacolo community had many priests to celebrate mass for them. As my time in Medjugorje was drawing to a close I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not be celebrating mass for the Cenacolo community.
As a matter of fact, on Friday as part of my fast and prayer I said to the Blessed Mother "Mary thank you for all the gifts you have given me during my two weeks here. Thank you even for the fact that this time I will not be celebrating mass for the Cenacolo community. Also thank you for allowing us, the priests, to be present at an apparition. (We, the priests, on retreat had been told that the visionaries would be present that evening and we were invited to attend the apparition.)"Little did I know that even though I thought I was being generous in my prayer Our Blessed Mother had other plans. Within moments of my prayer, my friend and my gracious host, Mate, received a call from the Cenacolo community. He said, “Father, the women's community of the Cenacolo needs a priest to celebrate mass tonight at six, can you do it?” They have no one else? I asked myself can I celebrate mass for the community. Now my prayer was finally answered, but not the way I expected. What was I supposed to do? If I celebrated mass I would miss the apparition. At that moment, I had a great sense of peace. I felt as if Mary said to me, “be at peace I will honor whatever decision you make”. After a few moments, I said to Mate, “yes, I will do it”. Without hesitation I will celebrate mass. I realized that the invitation Mary had given me to open my heart meant just that - open your heart to my Son in every way possible. It is only when you open your heart and even more so when it breaks that you begin to understand the love that Jesus has for you. I had a wonderful and blessed experience celebrating mass for the women of the Cenacolo community. I felt again as if I was in heaven. Their singing and their prayers (in Italian) filled me with joy! I felt as if I was on holy ground. I told the women a story about when I returned from my first trip to Medjugorje. My first trip was in 1985, and on the plane ride home I fell sound asleep. When I was asleep, I saw in my mind's eye Mary and she was holding the baby Jesus. I heard Mary say to me, “Peter, my son, take my Son back with you to the United States”. In the background, I heard singing, it sounded like angels to me. I had never heard these voices again - until I celebrated mass for the women of the Cenacolo community. I told them that their voices reminded me of angels. So now, I am back in New York City. I am preparing to begin my new assignment as a teacher of theology at one of our Jesuit high schools in Manhattan. Each day, I face the challenge of living from the graces I experienced in Medjugorje, but more importantly, living from the grace of the sacraments. So you see, next time you receive a sign from God - open your hearts - for He wants to use you as an instrument of His love and care for all whom you meet.
Fr. Peter Arabia, S.J.
Link (here) to medjugorje.net