We called our recent tour of Europe’s sacred sites “Experiencing the Miraculous” not only because of what had taken place there in earlier times. Miracles large and small can occur for us every day; and when we go into an experience expecting wondrous things, we won’t be disappointed. Here are a few of the miraculous events that happened for me on our trip to three of the spiritual centers of Europe last month when I traveled with 157 like-minded souls to Assisi, Italy—home of Saint Francis; Lourdes, France—where a teenaged Saint Bernadette saw the Holy Mother, and Medjugorje—site of a more contemporary visit from Mary in the Balkan country of Bosnia-Herzegovina:
- Journeying to these holy places with my three youngest kids who might not have had churches and monasteries on their list of top places to see this summer, but who came alive with the spiritual power we encountered and became fully engaged members of this pilgrimage.
- Meeting a woman from Slovenia who joined our group for dinner near Medjugorje and learning that she had just watched The Shift the night before and was carrying with her a Slovenian copy of You’ll See It When You Believe It.
- Lecturing in a 1000-year-old church in Assisi, reading a scene from Nikos Kazantzakis’ Saint Francis where Francis conquers his fear and embraces a leper, and suddenly sobbing uncontrollably while the audience stood with their hands extended toward me in silent sympathy.
- Seeing an endless number of orbs in the many, many photos that people took of the lectures and the sites we visited.
- Joining the thousands of pilgrims who waited patiently for a chance to bathe in the healing waters at Lourdes and emerging like everyone else with a renewed spirit and no trace of having been near anything wet.
In a small village not far from Florence, Italy, a thirteenth-century soldier was imprisoned. The son of a rich merchant, this young soldier had been “lost” for most of his life when suddenly he had a vision to serve God in an unconditional way. He gave up all material possessions, ultimately living and teaching the message of Jesus of Nazareth. This was the man who would come to be known as Saint Francis of Assisi. He became renowned for helping many by simply being in their presence. Wild animals and birds became tame near him, meekly tickling his fingers and flying into his open hands.
On a pilgrimage many years ago, I went to Lower Assisi to visit the tiny chapel that Saint Francis had prayed in every day. The chapel still stands in its exact condition from that time. Today it is surrounded by a spacious building with glorious stained glass windows and an ornate ceiling. Thousands of people mill about in this outer structure; all are in Assisi to pray and pay homage to the thirteenth-century saint. The visitors come and go every day from all over the globe, in solemn, somber, loving tribute to this divine being.
I was escorted into the tiny chapel Continue Reading
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
— The Prayer of St. Francis
You can become an instrument of peace in any given moment of your life by deciding that you are not going to use your mind for anything other than peaceful thoughts. This may sound extreme to you when you take into consideration all the difficult people you have to deal with, your financial picture, the illness of a close relative, the inconsiderate boss you must face, the taxes you owe, as well as outrageous traffic delays, and on and on. Try taking a breather from your habit of continuously looking for occasions to be non-peaceful. Go to that quiet, serene peaceful place within you that is covered by the outer layers of your material life. It is here that you know what being an instrument of peace means. Here, your emphasis is on giving, rather than receiving, peace.
When you are an instrument of peace, you are not seeking anything, you are a peace provider. You do not seek peace by looking into the lives of others and wishing that they would change so that you could become more peaceful. Rather, you bring your own sense of calm to everyone you encounter. You do not go about viewing every circumstance of your life in terms of whether it meets with your standard of peace. Rather, you bring your peaceful countenance to the chaos you encounter and your presence soothes the outer turmoil. Even if the turmoil continues, you have the freedom to choose a peaceful thought, or to quietly remove yourself from the immediate scene. How do you do this? Continue Reading