a prophetic novel by Michael H Brown
A coming sign? Events by a sinister personage? Disaster? In his first work of
fiction, Brown pens the driving, suspenseful, and deeply spiritual story of
a mysterious government property that harbors secrets relevant not only to a
young cop who tries to investigate strange goings-on, but also to an equally
mysterious and incredibly powerful old priest who joins forces with him to solve
the mystery -- and try to prevent an end-times-like disaster!
RETURN TO APPARITION: RECALLING PHENOMENA WITNESSED NOT FROM AFAR BUT AS 'EYEWITNESS'
God-willing, we'll be in Rome for the beatification of John Paul II (thanks to 206 Tours in Hauppauge, New York), and a month after that, we'll be leading a pilgrimage to Medjugorje (with Trinity Pilgrimages of Scottsdale, Arizona).
They are not necessarily unrelated events. John Paul II was a big if quiet proponent of Medjugorje, as seen even in handwritten notes.
As a writer with a degree in journalism and experience in newspapers, national magazines, and secular non-fiction, I'm astonished at how many put themselves forward as keen commentators and experts on Medjugorje without having ever visited there.
For me, it was not so much a matter of belief or intuition as observation. When I first visited Medjugorje in May of 1990, my initial reaction was aggravation. In fact, I was outright angry. My conversion had come years before (while writing a book in New York about the Mafia), and while I believed the Blessed Mother was probably appearing in this far-off place (I first read about it, of all places, in People Magazine), I had no plans to go there myself until I saw the dramatically positive effect it had on my mother, whom I had sent there.
So I went a few months later, and when I arrived was greatly disturbed by several elderly women from our small group (based in Ohio) who kept running up to me or someone nearby saying, "Look! The Cross (on the mountain) is spinning!"
When I looked up at the mountain -- known as Krizevac -- it was motionless; nothing out of the ordinary.
"Look!" another said a few moments later. "The Cross has disappeared!" When I looked, it was still there.
I was angered because despite my initial inclination I was now convinced that this "apparition" was a case of mass hysteria.
The good folks I had traveled with were imagining things.
And now I was stuck there in Bosnia-Hercegovina -- for the better part of a week -- in this hamlet that at the time had few phones, poor international phone service, no TV, no newsstands, and at the time not even good restaurants.
Then, things started happening.
As I recall, the first evening after a long day of prayer I looked up at the moon and it seemed to split into two moons -- one with the etched profile of a veiled woman, whom I identified, of course, with Mary, the other orb etched with a saintly-looking bearded man.
When I asked one of those women in the group if she saw anything (without telling her what I was seeing), she gulped and exclaimed, "Two moons!"
She saw Mary in the left one (and nothing in the other; I later saw that it resembled St. Benedict and Elijah the prophet).
Walking from the church across an old tobacco field a subsequent evening, at the time of apparition, I suddenly saw the sun not only spinning, as so many reported, but sending out huge, wide filaments of russet and purplish and bluish colors, which also encompassed the mountains, including Krizevac. It was an incredible stereoscopic aura unlike anything I had seen and have seen since. When I hurried up to a couple walking ahead of me and asked if they saw it also, the woman excitedly confirmed that, yes, she was seeing it too. It was the football coach Don Shula and his wife.
During Mass that week, I saw several lights right there in the incredibly crowded church -- like spots after staring at the sun, but I was inside, not looking skyward, and they were not only heart-shaped but of a pinkish hue. They just drifted by in front of me!
I am not prone to hallucination.
Our entire group watched through binoculars another night just before leaving as a star seemed to split into several smaller, colored stars (blue, white, and red), squiggle down, dance around the sky, then reunite into one. Far more significant was the overwhelming feeling of peace. In fact. the very word "peace" took on a new meaning for me. I never had experienced anything approaching it before -- and those who have not experienced it need to; I felt the Holy Spirit all over this place.
On subsequent trips, I saw a large, luminous dove in broad daylight over St. James Church (on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, that same year, observed for more than ten minutes as I shifted positions and even changed my glasses); a beam of light drop from the sun, seemingly touch the field ahead of me, and form a perfect Cross; more moving stars; meteors; a strange fire on Apparition Hill; more sun miracles (including the disc); a rosary suddenly with gold links.
On my first visit, every time I looked down, there were crosses on the ground -- formed perfectly by twigs or straw or weeds; too numerous. On several occasions during an apparition, I saw tiny meteorite-like lights flash to the Cross a split second before the seers fell to his or her knees. There is no way they created those "special effects." I saw a luminous cross appear on the wall at the foot of my bed as I prayed the Rosary. The Blessed Mother's voice seemed so clear here. During one pilgrimage, my two nephews encountered a most unusual older man dressed all in white but like a monk and though he didn't speak English, he kept mysteriously pointing to the sky above the village. When they turned away, he was gone (though there was nothing on Apparition Hill, where they were, to hide behind), and shortly after, they witnessed what seemed like a meteor or fireball streak down at the village right where the man had pointed. These are not dubious witnesses; one of them now works for one of the nation's largest law firms and the other recently finished medical school.
And so forth.
What was I to believe: the negative commentators who have never visited this place, or my own lying eyes?
I'll go by what the Church ends up formally concluding (it is currently in the hands of a Vatican commission) -- period -- but my personal belief is that this is a place halfway between here and the hereafter, a supernatural spot where the dimensional partition is thin. I had gone through my "conversion" (actually, my return) to the Church years before, as I said (independent of any apparition), but this brought me into a deeper and richer phase of Catholicism. It also spurred my writing in the Catholic realm. Not only did virtually everyone change for the better after visiting, but did so profoundly -- converting others, establishing Adoration in their parishes upon return to the U.S., starting uncountable Rosary groups, and in many cases becoming priests. The seers are human -- and not perfect (is anyone?) -- but the good fruits vastly outweighed any "bad."
And so -- God-willing -- we'll be returning there this June to lead a pilgrimage, one smaller and more intimate than some we have led in the past. It'll be my eighth time. We can't wait. We ask your prayers. The only certainty: that the peace will still be there, and that each trip will be different than any previous.
-- Michael H. Brown
[resources: Spirit Daily pilgrimage to Medjugorje]
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