Homily by His Excellency, Bishop Julito Cortes Cebu, Philippines

The young Auxiliary Bishop, Julito Cortes, very happily came for the first time to Amsterdam and brought with him a heartfelt letter from Cardinal Vidal to the Lady of All Nations for the pilgrims gathered there. Upon returning to the Philippines, he wrote in two e-mails sent for Easter, “I was just thinking of… my whole experience of the Seventh International Day of Prayer for Our Lady of All Nations. …[It] was a providential, grace-filled experience for me too. …It was so touching to be affirmed in faith by the testimonies of believers from different continents of the world. …I’m now back in my Parish, sharing many memorable experiences of the International Day of Prayer with our people.” Bishop Cortes considered it an express privilege and grace to hold the homily on this feast.

How blessed we are to be here! I, from Cebu, Philippines, feel humbled to stand before you and feel privileged to hear the many stories of faith affirming that God indeed is alive, that faith in God, in deed, is alive in the hearts of many nations. I believe that Our Blessed Mother has called us her children, from many different nations, to be blessed in this gathering, that we too may be instruments of blessings when we go back to our homes in different countries.

Our liturgy today reminds us how we can be more blessed each day and be blessings to others by following the path of Jesus and Mary, the path of self-giving in love. In the gospel of Luke just read, we heard Our Lord Jesus say, my mother and my brother are those who hear the word of God and live it. At first glance, these words seem to put down Mary who was referred to earlier in the text as the mother who was looking for Jesus. Yet, on further reflection, these words actually affirm what was truly great about Mary. She heard the word of God and lived it. She heard the word of God and acted on it. More than blood relations, what is vital in our relationship with Christ is the faith by which we hold him firmly in our hearts.

It is by this faith that Mary said her fiat to the angel’s message. It was this faith which made her keep all things in her heart even though she could not as yet understand the meaning of those events. It was this faith which moved her to approach her son at Cana and tell him that the wedding banquet had run out of wine. It was this faith which made her say to the servants, do whatever he tells you. Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it in their lives. It is by faith manifested fully and primarily in the fiat of Mary that we are all children of God.

No matter what nation we come from, we are all children of God by the Lord’s salvific offering of himself. No matter what race we belong to, we are children of Mary by her unique cooperation in God’s work of redemption. We can only appreciate Mary’s unique cooperation in our redemption by going back to the central event of the Lord’s salvific act, the cross. There at the foot of the cross, Mary stood by her Son. In the image of the Lady of All Nations, the cross figures prominently. To teach us of that reality, Mary shared in the suffering of her son as only a mother can.

Please allow me to share with you a story we got from Korea. There was a young Korean man who discovered that the parents who had raised him were not his real father or real mother. As is usually the case in situations of adoption, the young man found it hard to accept that he was only an adopted son. As an adverse reaction, he began to rebel against his adoptive parents. He became unruly in the school; he went with bad company. He tried alcohol and drugs. His parents tried to plead with him, told him how much they loved him, but it seems that no love could fill up the feeling of rejection he had in his heart for having been given away by his real parents.

After one particularly violent incident in the home, his adoptive mother took out a shoebox from the closet and asked him to open it. The young man, puzzled, pulled out from the shoebox a worn out and blooded dress of a woman. Then the adoptive mother told the young man the story of how he came into their lives.

It was at the height of the Korean war, in a particularly bitter Korean winter. A woman was running for cover and desperately holding on to her child, holding on to her baby, but there was no place to hide from the bombs and the bullets, nowhere to take shelter from the cold. She walked and walked, looking for a place to escape until she could no longer walk. Then the woman took off her blooded clothes, wrapped her child with the clothes, and embraced the child tightly. Later, when people came, when help came, they discovered this naked woman frozen in the middle of the street, holding a bundle of clothes. When they pried open the clothes from her arms, they heard the wail of a child. The child was saved from the cold by the sacrifice of his mother. Is that not love to the extreme?

Now the child had grown into a young man, someone who thought his parents had merely given him up. And when that young man heard the story of his life, he asked to be brought to the place where they found him and his mother. The parents brought him to a tree by the roadside and indicated to him the exact place where they found his mother holding him close to her heart. And the young man knelt and kissed the ground, weeping bitterly, asking to be forgiven.

Dear brothers and sisters, fellow citizens of the world, and fellow Christians and fellow believers in God. In our materialistic and secular world, we too often forget the story of our lives. We too often forget the story of how we have been saved. We often forget the story of how much of what we enjoy today—a relative peace, a relative prosperity, a relative freedom—we owe to the people who suffered and labored before us.

Just the other day, last May 5, Holland celebrated its liberation day to remind its people, especially its young, the price their forefathers paid for their peace today. On a more personally level, did not our mothers take the risk of childbirth, no matter how painful, no matter how difficult because they were determined to bring us into this world. On the deepest level, how often humanity forgets the story of how so much of what we enjoy today, all the things that make life meaningful and beautiful, are fruits of the redemption wrought for us by Jesus Christ. Like the young man in our story, we often forget that the human dignity we so often ascert has been purchased at the steep price by one who was denied his own dignity, who suffered and died so that we might recover the image of God in our souls. And don’t we often forget that the one who suffered bitterly on the Cross had a mother too, who shared in the suffering of her son as only a mother can?

Please allow me to share with you another mother’s story which took place in Mindenau, the southern part of my country, the Philippines. You know that until today, we suffer from armed conflicts between the military and the Communist guerillas called the New People’s Army. This story was just recently narrated by a bishop coming from that place in Mindenau. The story was that a Communist guerilla leader was slain in an encounter with the military in one of the barrios of that diocese. As the funeral day was approaching, the people in that barrio were very nervous and concerned because, surely, MPA leaders would be coming to attend the funeral, the burial. The place would surely be heavily surrounded by the military. The people did not know what to do to prevent even more bloodshed. This was until the mother of the slain guerilla leader bravely went to the military commander of the area.

This mother went to the military commander and begged for a day, even just for a day of cease-fire, so that she could give her son a decent burial, that she could bury her son in peace. The military commander, being an honorable man, honored the mother’s request and allowed her to grieve in peace and to give her son a decent burial. That military commander knew what pain there is in every mothers’ heart when a son is lost, for he too has a mother.

If we recall the pain our mothers took to give life to us, is it so difficult to recall the pain which the Blessed Virgin Mary took for us so that we might come to faith in her own beloved son? The pain of the Cross is integral to our Christian identity. And if life today seems to have conquered many pains and sufferings, it is only because Jesus has absorbed it into his own body. And sorrow, like a dagger, has pierced the heart of his mother Mary. We people today no longer know the meaning of sacrifice because we have forgotten the persons who have taken the pain for us. People today are afraid to suffer for the sake of others because they have forgotten that the only reason that they are enjoying a relatively painless life today is because someone in the past has taken the pain for them. But as surely as we try to avoid pain today, so will it rear its ugly head sometime in our future. For pain can only be overcome if we absorb it in our own body today and not pass it on for someone else to suffer.

Dear brothers and sisters, this is what makes the Eucharistic celebration so beautiful. The Eucharist which we now celebrate is such a bittersweet sacrament because we partake of the body and blood, beaten and poured out in pain for our sakes. The body of Jesus absorbed the evil of the world and when we partake of that same body, it tastes sweet in the mouth, but bitter in the stomach. For it is a reminder of the good that we have failed to do, the evil that we have not acted to prevent, the suffering which we have caused others to bear. The Eucharist which we now celebrate allows us to participate in the paschal mystery of Christ. But the paschal mystery is not just a scene from a movie, which moves us to tears or vicariously plays out our sufferings and purges us of all our bad feelings. The paschal mystery is a salvific act of God to which we are all called to actively participate so that we might continue the saving work of the Lord in our midst, where we are, back in our own homes and countries.

Brothers and sisters, this, I believe, is the challenge for us. We must continue the saving work of the Lord. We must carry each other’s burdens as St. Paul tells us in the Letter to the Galatians 6:2. That is how to keep the law of Christ according to St. Paul. We must carry each other’s burdens. That is how to hear the word of God and keep it in our lives. Mary took the burden on herself when she said her fiat to God when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant in her old age, when she intervened at Cana and asked her son to help the newlyweds. Mary took the burden on herself when she stood at the foot of the cross. We must carry each other’s burdens just as the Lord asked us to wash each other’s feet, to forgive each other not only seven time, but seventy times seven times. We must carry each other’s burdens, just as Jesus calls us to himself when we are overly laden, for his yoke is easy and his burden light.

In a world full of illusions and false hopes, Our Lady of All Nations comes to make us see that suffering is part of our lives. Our Lady of All Nations comes to make us see that sacrifice is the very stuff of joy. Our Lady of All Nations comes to make us see that self-giving in love is the true conqueror of pain.

Through our lives may Jesus Christ be praised!

Homily by His Excellency, Bishop Paul Maria Hnilica S.J., Rome Titular Bishop of Rusado

The power of suffering offered up in love John Paul II – an example of a man who lived love to the extreme

Most reverend Eminences, dear brother bishops, dear priests, dear pilgrims,

In the history of humanity, the world has never been as united as in the last days of the suffering and death of Pope John Paul II. Throughout the world people prayed for him, Jews and Christians just like Muslims. Young and old came from all nations to pay their beloved Holy Father their last respects and to see him one last time. National leaders who can be considered archenemies such as the Syrian president Baschar al-Assad and Israel’s president, Mosche Katzav, smiled at each other and shook hands.

What moved 4 million people from around the world to take upon themselves the incredible strain of the trip and the waiting? What united those who have for decades only encountered each other with prejudice or who were even inclined toward enmity?

It is the unconditional love which John Paul II gave to everyone without distinction from his fatherly heart, a love which comes from god and leads to god. He gained this grace as the Good Shepherd through the offering of his life.

We all were witnesses of how, since the assassination attempt in 1981, his life was always marked with suffering which he never kept secret in public. This is because he understood so well and counted upon the transforming and redeeming power of coredemptive suffering.

Regarding the assassination attempt, he said, “Christ suffered for us all and has given suffering a new sense. He has placed it in a new dimension,… on the order of love. Suffering burns and distorts evil with the flame of love and brings also forth also from sin many … blossoms of good.” John Paul II lived this faith; therefore the message of his suffering and his silence was so meaningful and fruitful.

Archbishop Angelo Comastri, who was allowed to give the spiritual retreat for the pope and the curia three years ago, was able to be with the Holy Father just a few hours before his death. He wrote about this encounter, “As I came before the pope, I felt an indescribable emotion. … The sight of such suffering led me to say to him, ‘ You are truly Christ’s vicar on earth until the end – in this passion that you are going through and that builds up the whole world and moves it so deeply.’ … With his suffering, the pope wrote the most beautiful encyclical of his life, because he remained faithful to Jesus until the very end.”

Pope John Paul II was completely penetrated with the Christian message of coredemptive suffering. On Good Friday of this year, he had the following words read: “The adoration of the Cross directs us to a commitment that we cannot shirk: the mission that St Paul expressed in these words: “[I]n my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church” (Col 1: 24). I also offer my sufferings so that God’s plan may be completed and his Word spread among the peoples. … On this memorable day of Christ’s crucifixion, I look at the Cross with you in adoration, repeating the words of the liturgy: “O crux, ave spes unica!”. Hail, O Cross, our only hope, give us patience and courage and obtain peace for the world!

Do we not think automatically here upon the words that the Mother of All Nations said to us: “…the nations of the whole world … will not find rest until they lie down and in tranquility look up at the Cross, the center of this world.” (May 31, 1951) It is the cross which saves us. We therefore have to be thankful when also we feel the cross in our lives.

John Paul II was a priest, a pope, with the heart of Jesus. He encountered every person with humility and esteem regardless of race or religion. He made no distinctions in his love, for he knew that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gave his life up for all people. In that way, also he wanted to be a father for all so that all could be united under one truth. He is wonderful example of how humble love and coredeeming suffering brings unity. That was and is his attractiveness. By his death, we were able to be witnesses of how he fulfilled the words of the Lord before our eyes: “When I am lifted up on the cross, I will draw all to myself!” (cf. Jn 12:32).

I myself was able to pray several times for an extended period before the body of this great pope lying in state and I felt a fervent spiritual bond. That was my longest audience. I have promised him in this time that I will continue his legacy and I would like to invite all of you to help me in this.

In considering the deceased pope, I am reminded of a confrere of mine who was also called Karol. He was still a seminarian with the Jesuits when he was imprisoned under the Communist Regime. They brought him from one concentration camp to the next, yet nothing could silence is desire to one day go to India as a missionary and to bring Jesus to the people there. Through a work related accident, he was buried beneath some earth and remained unconscious for three days. When he awoke, his first words were, “Can I go to India!” Yet month by month it became clearer that he might never get out of those work camps. He therefore sent me in secret his diary and his mission cross. He sent me the message, “I received this cross as a Jesuit. Please take it. In battle, when one standard-bearer falls, another immediately takes up the flag and the battle goes on until victory. It is not decisive who bears the flag, but that it be borne until the end. So please take my cross, our standard. If you should one day go to India, leave it there in a mission station. I will suffer and pray for that people here.”

This event occurred to me while I was praying before the corpse of Pope John Paul II. What was the banner under which he fought?

He had “Totus tuus”, this unconditional self-offering to Our Lady, as his motto already as a bishop. But with the assassination attempt on May 13, the Totus tuus took on a totally new dimension. John Paul II experienced his physical weakness here in a hospital. I remember well how he confided to a friend, “Look, I can barely even move. The church needs a healthy pope though.” Still, after a short pause he said, “But not my will be done, rather yours Lord!” Through the assassination attempt, John Paul II came to a deeper understanding of the value of sacrifice and the message of Fatima.

He asked me to bring him all the literature about Fatima. I had many texts in Polish. He read everything with great attentiveness, and it became clear that he was the pope of whom Our Lady had spoken in Fatima and that HE had to fulfill Mary’s assignment. When he left the hospital, he explained to me, “I have now understood that the only way to save the world from self-destruction and militant atheism is the conversion of Russia according to the messages of Fatima.”

After his stay in the hospital, I gave the Holy Father a Fatima statue which German pilgrims brought as a gift from Fatima. He crowned it and kissed it with the words Totus Tuus. I then said to him, “The conversion of Russia will be carried out under your pontificate.” The Holy Father remained silent for a time and prayed silently standing before the statue. He then asked me, “How am I supposed to do that?” I said to him, “You have been chosen by God’s providence to consecrate Russia in union with all bishops to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. World peace depends upon this because the conversion of Russia is the victory over Satan.” A short time later the Holy Father had the state brought to Poland and had a chapel built there on the border. To this day, Our Lady looks from there in direction Russia.

On March 25, 1984, the time had finally come. John Paul II prayed the consecration in St. Peter’s Square with the many bishops present. We can see the fruits: Today missionaries may work in Russia and bring the gospel to the countries of the former Soviet Union. When we do what Our Lady says, then, like in Cana, we can experience the miracles that God then works.

On that day, I had the great grace to pray this consecration in the Kremlin in Moscow and, hidden behind a newspaper, to even celebrate mass there in union with the Holy Father. That was a very special day in my life. I had been trying for thirty years to go once to Russia, but it was never possible. Divine providence brought me to Moscow on that March 25th. I had visited Mother Theresa, with whom I had worked together with her for more than 20 years, in her mission in Calcutta. For my return trip, she received a visa for Moscow for me. Because I had fled from Slovakia, it was a great risk for me to visit the eastern block countries. My companion said at the border, “We are supposed to go to Moscow for four days now? Maybe we will stay for fourteen years in Siberia for it!” In fact, we did have to wait for hours at the border until they had investigated our passports. I had prayed the entire Psalter before we were allowed to cross the border. It can be said that on that occasion, the Rosary was the key that opened the lock to Moscow.

When I told the Holy Father about this adventure, he had tears in his eyes and said, “This is truly a sign for me Paul, because many cardinals, bishops, and theologians were against the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Yet God sent a Catholic bishop to Moscow to carry out the consecration there on the spot. Our Lady guided you by hand on that day.” I answered him, “No Holy Father, she did not guide me. She carried me in her arms!”

Pope John Paul II is the pope of Fatima. He not only consecrated himself and the whole world to Our Lady, but he also made prayer and sacrifice on our behalf the center of his pontificate. When I met Sr. Lucia for the first time, I asked her what the center of the message of Fatima is. She answered without pausing to consider: “Father Bishop, the first thing Our Lady asked was, ‘Are you ready to offer up for the conversion of sinners every cross and every suffering that the Lord sends you?’” We live in a Marian era, in a time in which Mary enters into human history like never before. She turns to us also today, to the ‘healthy’ members of the mystical body so that we will believe, hope, and love on behalf of others.

Many of those that had observed the Holy Father in his suffering over the years, even his close coworkers, asked themselves where he drew the strength from to not give up and, in his suffering, to even give others courage and hope. He himself gave us the answer: “To Mary, Mother of the Church, I once again entrust myself: Totus tuus! May she help us to fulfill God’s will in every moment of life.” (Feb 27, 2005) Even as he woke up after the tracheotomy he wrote on a piece of paper the words, “Ma che mi hanno fatto? Comunque io sono sempre totus tuus.” (What have they done to me? Whatever, I am still totally yours [Maria].) That was the mystery of his life. Through this, he was, as pope, a living example for the Church of what it needs so much today: Mary. Here in Amsterdam the Lady of All Nations said, “A church and a people without a mother is like a body without a soul.” (May 31, 1965)

Among other things, the mercy of God was, in word and deed, at the center of the message of Pope John Paul II. Right after his election, I was asked, “What do you think the key themes of this pope will be?” I answered the journalist, “The dignity and rights of man!” Wherever he went, he also brought understanding and the readiness to reconcile.
On August 17, 2002, he called out to the pilgrims in the sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow-Lagiewniki, “Be witnesses of mercy!”, and he said the prophetic words, “Only in the mercy of God will the world find peace and man happiness.”

He himself beatified and canonized Sr. Faustyna Kowalska, the great messenger of mercy, and instituted the Feast of Mercy for the whole church on the first Sunday after Easter. Is it not typical that the Lord called him to himself precisely on the vigil of this great feast?

In his last speech, which he had prepared for the Sunday of Divine Mercy this year, he left us the following words as his legacy: “As a gift to humanity, which sometimes seems bewildered and overwhelmed by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the Risen Lord offers his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens hearts to love. It is a love that converts hearts and gives peace. How much the world needs to understand and accept Divine Mercy!”

Pope John Paul II was the greatest apostle of mercy in our times. With his last words, the Holy allows us to look inside his heart when he invites us to pray with him: “Lord, … we believe in you and confidently repeat to you today: Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world.” (from the message for the Sunday of Divine Mercy, 2005).

This is also the standard that John Paul II has left to us. On the one side stand the words: totus tuus, totally yours, Mary, and on the other side: Jesus I trust in you! We could also say: the heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI, a true friend and close confidant of John Paul II, will be the first to bear this standard. Let us help him with our prayers and our faithfulness. Under this standard we will achieve victory. Let us thank God and sing the Te Deum for the great gift of the new successor. The Lord gave us the right man in the right place, at the right time. Amen.

Reading of Greetings from Bishops by His Excellency, Msgr. Jozef Marianus Punt, Bishop of Haarlem – Amsterdam

Worldwide greetings from 46 dioceses!

Dear friends, never before were there so many greetings sent to Amsterdam by e-mail, fax and telephone. Seven cardinals and 39 archbishops and bishops from 29 countries sent their salutations from every inhabited continent: from the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Syria and Iran; from Canada, Taiwan, Brazil, Slovakia, Sweden, Rumania, Belgium, Rome, the Netherlands and the Ukraine. Bishops from Vietnam, the USA, Australia, India and Indonesia expressed their unity. Six greetings came from France. From Africa, bishops sent letters from Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania and also the German dioceses of Fulda, Bamberg, Regensburg, Augsburg and Eichstatt sent letters. There are so many that it is possible now, in the context of the Holy Mass, to only briefly mention them all.

We truly want to thank the bishops for the beautiful and encouraging words and for their testimonies. Some of them were already at some of the Days of Prayer and also told about what they have done in their dioceses now for the veneration of the Mother of All Nations. Some of them have even had new churches built in her honor.
In the course of the day, we will hear still other greetings we have received.

Also Cardinals have written to us.

Cardinal Vidal from the Philippines wrote in his letter a reminder of Mary’s words in Cana, “Do what he tells you! Only then can we really love to the extreme.”

Cardinal Scheid from Brazil also expressed his deep unity, as did Cardinal Dulles from New York and Cardinal Barbarin from Lyon, France.

From Rome, Cardinal Daoud sent his heart-felt greetings and his blessing. How fatherly he guided the last four Days of Prayer!

“I was so looking forward to counting myself among the numerous pilgrims to the Lady of All Nations,” wrote Cardinal Agre from the Ivory Coast and very much regretted that he had to renounce the trip because he caught a bad flu.

Pastoral obligations, overbooked calendars and finding out too late about the celebration of the Lady of All Nations inhibited many from coming:

“I would like so much to come once to Amsterdam since I have desired to experience this event for a long time. However, there is so much to do here, but I hope that another time I will find out about it earlier and have a place in my schedule for it,” regretted Bishop Léonard from Namur, Belgium.

“Unfortunately, there is no one to substitute for me here,” explained Bishop Lucien Fischer from France.

Similarly, Bishop Mesian from Rumania and Bishop Mijn from India lamented, “Hopefully it will work out in 2006!”

Bishop Okombo from Kenya humorously thought, “I will definitely come next year, if I still have a chance.”

Archbishop Chung wrote from Malaysia, “The message of our good Mother is really so important. May this celebration in Amsterdam awake the Christians in Europe so that they follow the Marian message and return to the Lord, whom their ancestors brought to pagan Asia.”

On Sumatra, Bishop Henrisoesanta built a shrine to the Mother of All Nations, as Archbishop Sirkar from Calcutta had already done in his previous diocese Krishnagar where now, “thousands of pilgrims from every religion come to a statue of the Lady of All Nations.”

Bishop Bilyk from the Ukraine would have been extremely happy to come again “to thank the Mother of All Nations. She instilled courage and hope in everybody during the 17 day, bloodless revolution in Kiev.”

Archbishop Garmou from Teheran, Iran prayed, “that through the Day of Prayer the grace of deep conversion comes and that it has special effects on the poor and suffering.”
“With joyful trust in the assistance of the Mother of All Nations, I wish you all confidence and a strengthening in the living faith.” With these words, Bishop Mixa from Eichstatt, Germany concluded his caring greeting.

On behalf of His Holiness, Patriarch Ignatius IV from Damascus, the head of the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Syria, his Auxiliary, Bishop Luka Khory wrote to us and sent Fr. Peter Esber and Sr. Theodora as his representatives.

Let us now hear the greetings of His Eminence, Cardinal Vithayathil, the head of the Syrian-Malabar Church in India. It would have been a pleasure to have been able to have him in our midst, but at the last minute had to cancel even though he already had his ticket.

One of the three bishops of his who are present, Bishop Manatodath, will now transmit his personal greetings and read to us the words of Cardinal Vithayathil.

The letter of His Excellency, Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am very sorry that I had to cancel my proposed visit to Amsterdam to take part in the 7th International Day of Prayer in Honour of the Mother of All Nations due to some important engagements here. Though I am not attending this meeting I associate myself with all those who are present there to honour our Bl. Lady. I am happy to know that the Bishop of Haarlem/Amsterdam has recognized the authenticity of the apparitions of Mary as Lady of all Nations in Amsterdam.

May is truly the Mother of all Nations. It has been the belief of the catholic church that all graces which Jesus won for us through his work of redemption come to us through the mediation of Mary, his Mother. If the Author of our salvation came to us through Mary it was only fitting that all the graces the Saviour won for us also come to us through Mary. This teaching was held by several saints including St. Bernard, St. Alfonsus de Ligouri, St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, etc.. Our Lady is the Spiritual Mother not only of the baptized but of all human beings because the grace of Christ is offered to every human being by God who wills the salvation of all. Experience also shows that people of all religions flock to Marian Shrines of all over the world to seek her intercession. Great shrine of our Lady at Vailankanny in S. India is a great example of this. Unless thousands of pilgrims obtain favours by praying to our Lady they would not repeatedly make pilgrimages to seek Mary’s intercession.

Therefore Our Lady, mediatrix of all graces and unique co-operator in the redemptive work of Christ can truly be honoured as Mother of All Nations.

May your meeting be a source of blessing for the whole world.

Word of Welcome to the 7th International Day of Prayer of the Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam May 6 – 8, 2005

By Dr. Arnold Leeman President of the Lady of All Nations Foundation

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, pilgrims present here,

At this 7th International Day of Prayer honoring the Lady of All Nations I may extend to you a heartfelt welcome on behalf of the Foundation and the Community, the Family of Mary.

In being here, you are fulfilling a wish of the Lady of All Nations, that each year the nations may be gathered around this image. This was especially intended for here in Amsterdam, the place where the majority of the Marian apparitions took place from 1945 to 1959.
There are days of prayer in a few countries to pray to Mary, the Lady of All Nations; here however, it is on a special scale. The whole world is represented here and many nations as the procession of flags at the beginning of mass will attest.

Welcome and thanks go out to all the many pilgrims who have come here from afar, sometimes with great difficulty. But we all are called by Mary, the Lady and Mother of us all. A special welcome goes to the more than 20 bishops from around the world who have come here for Mary and who want to encourage the veneration of the Lady of All Nations in their own lands and dioceses by, first of all, spreading out the prayer.

Saturday was chosen this year to be able to give also priests the possibility to be here. The theme of the previous Day of Prayer was “The Power of Prayer”, or better said, the power of the prayer of Amsterdam in that we pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Now, this day falls under the theme: “Living Love to the Extreme” and also shows us how Mary wants to be the mother for everyone as the Lady of All Nations and how through that she brings unity and peace.

We want to pray together here with Protestant and Orthodox Christians and also with Jews and Muslims for peace in the world.

Exactly 60 years ago, on March 25, the apparitions began in a world full of war, in a city where Anne Frank lived, in a world that also then yearned for peace. In this month, let us also remember those who died in concentration camps or on the field of battle. (On May 5 “Liberation Day” is celebrated, when the Allied forces freed the Netherlands.)
In looking back at the events of the past years, one could be inclined to become pessimistic finding war, violence, and degeneration everywhere anew.

Also the great natural disasters can be a call to reflection for people. We can speak of a world that is in great distress, but above all in spiritual distress wherever degeneration, disaster, and war still reign.

In our times, the world yearns for quiet, security, and ultimately, for peace.
Mary shows us the way to that. In 1946, right after the Second World War, she showed herself as a mother with her child on her lap and said, “First back to Him, only then will there be true peace.”

In our time which is characterized by many wars and unrest, so many people of all confessions yearn for true peace throughout the world.

Be the past year has positive sides as well. The great worldwide participation in the illness, dying, and death of Pope John Paul II made signs of unity visible. He prayed and worked his whole life long for peace.

We also know that his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, strives for truth and unity. Let us pray also for him that the Holy Spirit inspires him and gives him strength.

In conclusion, we want to look back 100 years. It was in 1905 that Ida Peerdeman was born in Alkmar on August 13. Mary appeared to her from 1945 to 1959, revealing herself as the Lady of All Nations and giving her the messages. Special attention will be given to her life at a later date in this year.

In May, 2002, the Bishop of Haarlem proclaimed that the apparitions are of supernatural origin.

We are now in the days when Mary prayed together with the Apostles, between the Ascension and Pentecost: let us ask Mary, the Lady of All Nations, to help us prepare the way for peace through the coming of the Holy Spirit, that a new Pentecost will be given to us.

7th International Day of Prayer Honoring the Lady and Mother of All Nations Amsterdam, May 6 – 8, 2005










“Live Love to the Extreme”

Mary, the Mother of All Nations, the Bond of Unity and Peace

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On the way to the RAI center, Madame Monique Guerin from Brittany, France was especially excited, “My friend Pierre Devé and I are coming for the seventh time! We were there in the beginning and we are both 200% for the Lady of All Nations. Without exaggeration, I think every day of the year about the upcoming Day of Prayer!”

Twenty-two bishops from different rites and nations came to this Day of Prayer, almost twice as many as last year! The participation of 100 priests, 22 more than in 2004, from many countries shows clearly the great international interest and the growing openness of priests to the Mother of All Nations.

Among the good 7,000 pilgrims from 80 countries, there were also believers from other religious confessions. Because of this, it really was an ecumenical day of prayer gathering around the Mother, “more international than ever,” as it was reported in the “Katholiek Niewsblad”, the Catholic newspaper in the Netherlands.

It was a confirmation that ecumenism with Mary really produces spiritual fruit and creates unity. This was demonstrated by the very impressive interconfessional testimonies, but also, for example, by the young Catholic priest, a Protestant, a Muslim, and a Jew who worked together to set up the confessionals before the Day of Prayer.

As in years past, the preparations were not always so easy. Dorothea Jochum from Germany, who guided one of the 48 buses, felt this also in her own way, “When we still had only 27 people signed up on April 18th, my husband said, ‘Let’s pray a novena to the Lady of All Nations that she fills the bus.’ Two days later already five pilgrims had signed up, then six, and after a week the bus was full!”

To our great joy many came also for the first time. A Catholic from the Netherlands, who had been away from the Church for six years, said, full of happiness, after going to confession on the first day, “Now I am home again.”

Mrs. Schelb from Münstertal, Germany was also there for the first time, “I know that I am not so young anymore, but I have never experienced something as wonderful as the Day of Prayer. Unity among so many nations! I have never felt the spirit of God so strongly. He has already begun here with his renewal! When we join in, the victory of Our Lady is certain. I began to distribute the prayer cards right away, and the people are happy to take them!”
Mrs. Steinke said thanks in the name of some women from the area around Rheinfelden, Germany, almost all of whom had come for the first time. “We were deeply impressed. Only the Mother of All Nations could unite such fundamentally different people into a family. You could really feel it, such harmony and love!”

Federica Ceredi and Enrica Padovano sent thanks by e-mail on behalf of all the pilgrims of Bologna and Milan, Italy. “We needed to share with you the tremendous joy we experienced at the Day of Prayer. We were all very touched and certainly want to come again next year. It was also an unforgettable experience for our three priests. Fr. Rana, a Barnabite from Milan who belongs to the Marian Movement of Priests, said, ‘I had the most holy experience of my priestly life.’”

Fr. Svetoslav Weigl, a priest from Prague, Czech Republic said on his trip home, “I experienced the springtime of the Church. The New Time has already begun here.”
Even the bishops came to pray for concrete intentions, to offer thanksgiving or to get to know the Lady of All Nations better. They all showed a lot of interest and attended every conference.
Fr. Peter Esber, a Greek Orthodox emissary, repeated over and over, “What a magnificent liturgy!”
Bishop Rwoma from Tanzania found inspiration for the work in his diocese, “This is my first time at a Marian prayer meeting. But now I know what I have to change and what I have to do when I go home.”

At the end of the Day of Prayer, a giant, brightly colored rainbow, sign of reconciliation and unity, stretched across the whole Amsterdam sky for a long period of time. Everyone thought of it as such!

A Young Manager Who Works for the Lady of All Nations Testimony by the Chinese Soe Hin Woei Jet Kong from Utrecht, Nehterlands

“What I like so much about the Lady of All Nations: you can talk about everything with a mother

As you already hear from his name, Soe Hin Woei Jet Kong is of Chinese descent though he was born and raised here in the Netherlands. His short testimony should show us that also a young, successful manager who works for a bank, can be a missionary. Through his natural and lively personality he has access to many people, even those of other faiths. He understands listening to others, showing an interest in them, and above all, since he came to know her three years ago, to bring them closer to the Lady of All Nations.

For this he thanks his mother, Rita, who is among us today. Also she has great zeal in distributing and sending the prayer card in every possible language and each time prays, “So mother, now you do the rest!” She also gladly speaks to priests and religious that they can come to know the Lady of All Nations. She was even able to win over Bishop Sichem from Surinam to the Lady of All Nations. She grew up there and also gave out a great many prayer cards there. She brought him informational material and he for his part has already visited the shrine here in Amsterdam.

In the year 2000, I came to be a deeper believer and in October of that same year I accompanied my mother to Amsterdam for the first time to the chapel of the Lady of All Nations. My mother had already told me about it. She herself did not know the Lady of All Nations until she received an invitation to the 3rd International Day of Prayer. She immediately “caught fire.”

After I had read the messages, I understood that the words of the “Lady” must be true and so I wanted to fulfill her desire and spread out her image.

What immediately struck me about the Lady of All Nations was the certainty that she is acceptable for everyone. She is not standing there with the rosary which would be typically Catholic, and she also does not say, “I am Mary.” No, she says, “I am the Mother of all Nations” and because of that she is acceptable also to non-Catholics and non-Christians.
I have experienced that myself, for example, with my coworkers, of whom some are Muslim. Precisely with them I sometimes have such nice conversations about Mary, who they know as “Miriam”, the mother of the prophet Jesus and who, in my opinion, they often respect more than some Catholics. Yes, in the bank basically everyone knows that I am a believer. They accept it and step by step some of them have accepted the image and prayer of the Lady of All Nations, even my Muslim colleagues. At the same time, I have gotten accustomed to pray for whoever I want to give the prayer card so that they are open then in that moment.

Ramasé the Buddhist

That is how it was also with my Thai friend, Ramasé who is Buddhist. It was three years ago as she was cutting my hair that she told me that she had severe liver problems and was fatally ill. The doctors only gave her three more years to live if they could not perform a liver transplant.

Then I told Ramasé about the Lady of All Nations and gave her one of the images which she promised to put next to her statue of Buddha. She also read the prayer of Our Mother with certain joy and, from then on, prayed it every evening in her mother language, Thai. I also taught her the Our Father and Hail Mary so that she could start with the rosary. How she did all of this before her little altar of Buddha, I do not know, but one thing is certain: she got better day by day. Then, three months later, she had a liver transplant that went very well. Last year she went to Thailand and was happily willing to even take a few hundred Thai prayer cards with her. She brought them to a Catholic school. Her husband is Catholic but does not practice. And I thought to myself, “Ramasé, you are Buddhist but in your heart you already think and pray as a Christian.”

Mary solves problems in her own way

For almost ten years now, I have been going several times a year to Banneux, a Marian pilgrimage place in Belgium. There I help with the care of the ill. Obviously I give all of the patients in my group the prayer card which I always have with me in various languages. One time a patient was discontent, complaining that she suffered from great difficulty in sleeping whenever she would travel. Now she was supposed to share a room with a woman who even snored. What should I tell her? I gave her the prayer card saying, “You came here for Mary didn’t you? I can’t get you a single room, but I can give you a prayer from the Mother of All Nations. Pray it! Mary can help you. After all, you made this pilgrimage for Mary.” And truly during the five days the woman was with us in Banneux she slept exceptionally well and, as she put it, she did not forget “to thank the Lady for this miracle.”

My coworkers

Whenever I give out a prayer card or encourage someone to pray the rosary, I like to speak about what fills me. I often say, “I am one hundred percent certain that praying to Mary helps. You, however, don’t know that yet. You have to try it out and experience it for yourself. You will recognize that I have told the truth. Our Lady helps one hundred percent.”
A very nice example of this is my coworker. Three years ago he was almost fired. Since he asked me for advice, I gave him the prayer of Amsterdam, a rosary for daily prayer, and a tip to work both disciplined and hard. It was amazing even for me to see how obviously Eric’s productivity improved to the degree that he faithfully prayed the rosary and went to Holy Mass.

To give witness as a witness

About a year ago I gave a prayer card to a lady in a church. She was very touched and began to tell me how she was extremely concerned about her son who had left the Church because of the scandal in the United States. Exactly as I gave her the image and prayer of the Mother of Amsterdam, she was asking Mary interiorly how she could bring her son back to the Catholic Church. Maybe there was a prayer that would be a help for her. In that moment she received the image of the Lady of All Nations with the prayer on the back. She saw this as the answer from Mary and accepted the prayer card with tears in her eyes.
She had never heard of an apparition in Amsterdam and wanted very much to know what message Mary had given there. I then explained to her about the fifth Marian dogma, Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, and Advocate. She naturally knew nothing about it and yet she asked me, “Have you seen the film ‘The Passion’? Can you remember the scene when Jesus falls and his mother runs to help him and supports him? And how he received the strength through that to keep going? She suffered with him there and supported him in the Redemption.” I realized then that I did not need to explain anything more about coredemption to this woman!

Contribution by Tony and Chona Montinola from Manila, Philippines

“The Lady of All Nations in the Philippines”

Good afternoon, dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

The Philippines has a population of 82 million, about 80% of whom are Catholic. Our country has been known as “pueblo amante de Maria”, a people who love Mary. My husband Tony and I first heard about The Lady of All Nations in 1991. The messages of our Lady impressed us greatly and we started distributing the prayer cards.
Knowing that bishops could play a very important role in the spreading of the prayer we made an effort to write them regularly, sending them materials, encouraging them to hold Days of Prayer and Teaching.

And just as our Lady said, the devotion is spreading as of its own accord. Many people are inspired to help spread the prayer. The Confraternity of The Lady of All Nations was organized with the support of His Eminence Cardinal Vidal of Cebu. Through this group and other chapters of the Confraternity, the devotion spread to many other dioceses throughout the country.

The Bishop of La Union made the Lady of All Nations prayer the official prayer in schools of his diocese, and the children have been saying it at the start of each subject.

When the Bishop of Iba wanted his diocese to pray for peace, he chose the Lady of All Nations prayer and directed all his priests to pray it at every Mass, after Communion. These two bishops have recently been installed in bigger dioceses around Manila, and they have begun to spread the devotion in these new dioceses as well.

Our Blessed Mother asks us to use modern means to spread her prayer. Well, Bishop Villena has the prayer prayed over the radio in the local dialect—every hour, on the hour!

Sometime ago one bishop asked for 200 poster-sized pictures of The Lady of All Nations. He was giving the pictures to drivers of tricycles to display them on these public vehicles! Imagine all these motorcycles with little side-cars running around the city center with the picture of our Blessed Mother!

On his pastoral visits to the military camps the Military Bishop would let us speak to the people about the Lady of All Nations, and when he brought the relics of St. Therese all over the country drawing great crowds, the Lady of All Nations accompanied them.

Some bishops have very kindly invited us to speak to their priests during their meetings.

When the Holy Father proposed the new Mysteries of Light Archbishop Lagdameo instructed our group to make a Rosary Guide with the picture of The Lady of All Nations. This guide calls our Lady’s prayer “Prayer for Peace”, and puts it in at every decade. Over a million and a half of these rosary guides have been given away.
In July some 3,000 bishops and priests from all over the country will be in Manila for a National Congress of the Clergy. Each participant will receive a packet of Lady of All Nations materials, with the blessing of the new Archbishop of Manila. Therefore we ask you—please pray with us that these seeds may fall on fertile ground and bear much fruit.

Our country had national elections on May 10. Faced with great political turmoil in the months before, the people turned to prayer. In Manila a 9-day novena was organized to seek the intercession of The Lady of All Nations. By some miracle, on the last day, the eve of elections, the Novena Mass became a Prayer for Unity. The Archbishop officiated at the Mass, and in attendance, praying together, were the President of the Republic and the 4 other presidential candidates, and many of the highest officials of the land. Only through the action of The Lady of All Nations was this possible!

We could go on with many more stories of the wonderful things unfolding in our country through the Lady of All Nations and her little helpers, but it would take all afternoon! We thank the Lord for giving us a Mother who unites her children.

Thank you and God bless us all.

A Short Testimony by Vietnamese Refugees Sr. Hai and Kim Thuy and an Introduction to the Children’s Dance

“Mary, our Star of the Sea, was with us in every difficulty”

Today is Pentecost and we pray, together with Mary, the Lady of All Nations, for the descent of the Holy Spirit.

We are a group of Vietnamese refugees who fled by boat and have been living in the Netherlands for already quite some time. We come from a land in the Far East with a population of 85 million, less than 10% of whom are Catholic. Nevertheless, Mary, the Lady of All Nations, has a very important place in the Catholic Church in Vietnam. Also during the Vietnam War we directed all our prayers for peace to her because she is known by us as “Our Lady of Peace.” In every house there is a statue of Our Lady in a place of honor. In the past, throughout the entire Marian month of May there would be processions through the streets and villages in honor of Our Lady.

At this time such religious activities are very restricted by the communist government. And yet two years ago our people celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Marian apparition of La Vang. During that whole year hundreds of thousands of people made pilgrimages to that place of apparition to pray there for the Church throughout the world. Many poor people had to save money for a very long time to be able to even make the trip. There were so many pilgrims that many of them had to sleep outdoors.

As we fled from Vietnam 20 years ago there were 74 of us seated in a small fishing boat; our ages varied from 1 to 55 years old. On a dark and rainy night we fled without luggage or provisions. We didn’t know where we would end up. At sea we raised our eyes to heaven and sang a Marian song that we all knew: “Mary, brightly shining star of the heavens, give us light and guide us safely to our destiny.” The meaning of this song applied literally to us. Mary truly did protect us and guide us to freedom through three stormy days and nights in which we saw only high, threatening waves. We felt so small and lost in the immense ocean. We prayed the rosary and entrusted ourselves to Our Lady as children who turn to their mother in danger. We were completely exhausted and at that hopeless point in time a miracle happened: at the last moment we were saved by a Dutch freighter. And that even though a small fishing boat next to a freighter is like a hut next to a skyscraper, and that also in spite of the stormy seas. The rescue was difficult, but we all made it safely on board. That day remains unforgettable for us. We were witnesses of the miracle of God and are thankful that we were able to experience this in our lives.

You will now see a group of Vietnamese children whose parents were among those that fled by boat. These children were born in the Netherlands. As a sign of our thanksgiving they will dance in honor of Mary, the Lady of All Nations. This should be the contribution of our people to this special day. Yet before the children dance to a Marian song from our homeland, we would like to ask Our Lady for her intercession.


Mary, Lady of All Nations, you have protected and helped us. We pray for all people who are wavering in their faith. Give them courage and strength to continue on to the finish. Especially in this time give them inner peace in the midst of their daily worries and occupations. Let them experience the peace of God. Give them clarity to be able to hear and recognize the voice of God. Mary, Lady of All Nations, let us be one as children and protect us from all evil.

Testimony by the 16 year old Madzia Buczek from Poland

“No unused suffering –A worldwide apostolate of coredeeming suffering and prayer”

On Pentecost Sunday morning a small, blond girl from Poland was pushed in a stroller by her mother to the image of the Mother of All Nations. Madzia gave such a touching testimony that many people cried. Fr. Paul Maria Sigl, who led the program, introduced the severely handicapped girl:

Madzia is 16 years old and is one of those children who normally, after medical advice, is aborted. Madzia shows in a unique way that each child is a gift from God that has to be treasured and loved from the first moment of its existence. Yes, even way more! Her life proves that a handicapped child is a blessing for the family and the whole of mankind.
When Madzia was born, she was so severely handicapped and disfigured that the doctors permitted the mother of this newly born child to take her home only at her own risk. Since her first light of day, pain has been Madzia’s daily companion. She has no bones whatsoever below her knees. Already in the first years of her life, the little one’s spine and bones broke so often that she had to lie repeatedly for months on end with her arms stretched out in a plaster form.

Yet what God was doing simultaneously in this suffering child amazed her parents. She never complained, and she bore painful operations silently, gazing at the image of the Jesus of Divine Mercy with the Rosary beads in her hands. Through inner enlightenment, Madzia understood deeply the infinite value of pain and how precious it is when offered up, united with Jesus’s suffering.

This young girl explained the coredemptive value of suffering to her mother Pelagia. She had not known this until then and understood more and more what a special gift God gave to her in her daughter. Once, Madzia lost so much blood that her mother thought, “Now she will die.” As if reading her mother’s thoughts, Madzia said convincingly, “Mama there is no need to worry, I am not going to die. I have a task to fulfill.” She was actually very much inspired at the age of ten when playing with her friends in the courtyard. Instead of joining the gang the children wanted to form, Madzia founded a so-called ‘Rosary Court’. Thousands of Rosary Courts have formed to this day.

Madzia will now speak from her heart in her typically spirited manner about what moves her and what she understands interiorly as being important for us.

I greet very warmly all of you who have come to this Day of Prayer to honor the Lady of All Nations. I am very happy to be able to be among you. Fr. Paul already introduced me and now I would like to say the following to you.

Since the age of three, I pray the Rosary and cannot imagine a day going by without this prayer because Our Lady gives me the strength to persevere in my suffering through praying the Rosary. I cannot walk and have had 29 fractures up to now. Since my birth, I suffer from a fragile bone syndrome. I want to offer up each suffering to God and Our Lady and to accept it with love and joy because this suffering is necessary for the conversion of sinners and for peace to reign in the world.

There are many who do not accept their cross, their suffering, and therefore rebel against God. However, through suffering we become similar to Christ, to Him who suffered so much for us in order to redeem us. Our ailments are small in comparison to the suffering that Jesus took upon himself out of love for each one of us.

Every single one of you here is suffering in some way or another, be it physically or spiritually, with problems or difficulties for which, perhaps, there is no solution from a purely human point of view. Yet, when we believe in God and entrust ourselves, our whole lives, all that we are to God, he will enable us to carry these difficulties better—yes, even with joy and love in our hearts.

I know that this is not easy. Yet when things are going wrong, when we are weak and have the feeling the whole world has let us down, exactly then we should begin to pray. Let us take the Rosary in our hands and unite our suffering with Jesus’ suffering and Our Lady’s suffering. We will then find it easier to bear our suffering because Jesus himself will help us to carry the cross on the way of the cross in our personal lives. God is waiting for us; resurrection and eternal happiness are awaiting us at the end of this way of the cross. Therefore, we should not want to get rid of our cross but rather carry it enduringly, following Jesus’ example. When we persevere, we will reach the true happiness which the world cannot give. God alone can give it if we go on the way of holiness, praying and persevering.

Our Lady has asked in various places in the world, “Pray the Rosary, pray it persistently every day!” Also today, the Mother of the Lord calls on us, irrespective of age, sex and background to, “Pray the Rosary, pray it persistently every day!” This prayer is a great gift and at the same time a big grace and calling that we have received from God through Mary for these difficult times.

We can unite our prayers with the one Our Lady gave in Amsterdam. She entrusted this prayer to us here and we are called upon to pray it every day. Therefore I am asking you to consecrate yourselves to Mary here in this holy place where she came. Let us offer up our hearts, our lives and our families, our nations and the whole world to Mary since we represent different nations from around the world. All are children of Our Lady who invites us to consecrate ourselves to her. She will lead us through prayer, the Rosary, in the simplest and shortest way to her Son, so that we will love and imitate him more and more, and recognize and become more similar to him.

May each one of us say to Our Lady, “I want to be your Apostle, an Apostle of the Rosary and the messages of Amsterdam.” Let us carry her to the remotest parts of the world, to all nations.

We all have to go to Our Lady so as to come closer to Christ. But we should not just go to Mary but rather lead others through the Rosary to her, those who are far from God, those who are lost on their path of life. By our example, by our love to God and Mary, we have to lead all the lost sheep back to her as we see in the image of the Mother of All Nations. When this has been achieved the world will change. Then peace, joy and love will reign.

In order to achieve this Mary needs every single one of us. We may not say, “We do not need to pray!” or “Someone else is praying for us.” No, not so! Mary calls on each one of us! Without our help through prayer the world cannot change! Therefore Our Lady continually asks us to pray. Yet since we are still deaf, we are not corresponding and are lacking courage and perseverance. But do not be afraid of the Rosary! Try praying one decade to start with. It only takes five minutes. That is so little! Yet how much it can do for an individual, families and nations! We must become Knights of Our Lady who fight against evil, against Satan, with two weapons: the Rosary and love.

Let us, therefore, win all people for the Rosary! May children win their parents, brothers and sisters their grandparents, and boyfriends their girlfriends. And the other way around too, parents should also lead their children to prayer. There should not be a person on earth who does not know God and Our Lady and who does not pray the Rosary. This is our task, our mission to fulfill. We have to hurry since we do not have much time! We have to get to work right away! When you are at home with your families again, start praying the Rosary! Our Lady says when the Rosary is prayed in the family, there will be peace, joy and unity.

Take the Rosary beads in your hand and pray it in the evening when everyone is at home so that the fruit of peace may come! This is very important nowadays in order to save families. The world has become estranged from God. It only depends on itself and not on God. Yet we cannot do anything without God. He gives us life, freedom, everything! Let us open ourselves for his great love!

I really hope that after this meeting with the Lady of All Nations, you will spread the nicest, most wonderful and at the same time simplest prayer, the Rosary. In your countries you may be “Apostles of Our Lady in your surroundings”, so that the Rosary Court will emerge all over your countries. They already exist in 27 countries on all the continents with 116,000 members. This is a great number. Yet more people who pray are needed for the world to be redeemed.

As Fr. Paul mentioned that Padre Pio spoke about five million children who could redeem the world by praying the Rosary. Gather all your strength! Mobilize, it is possible to reach five million children who pray the Rosary. We have to spread the prayer in our families, among friends, at home, at school, at work, in the Court and on playgrounds-everywhere where you are. Look, I would not be here without the Rosary! My mother consecrated me to Our Lady. That is why I am alive. I am here with you today by the Lady of All Nations to thank her for being her child and for daily experiencing her care and love and for being able to serve her and spread her cause throughout the whole world.

Now I have just one request of you dear parents who are gathered here: If you have not already consecrated your children to Our Lady, please do it here and now. Entrust your children’s lives to your mother, at the feet of the Lady of All Nations, so that she will lead your children. The children and youth are the future of our countries. If from their childhood onwards they grow up in prayer and in an atmosphere of love for Jesus and Our Lady, they will be different. They will become apostles of Mary and Jesus in today’s world, and the world will change. We pray for this through the intercession of the Lady of All Nations.

To finish up I would like to ask you a question that you really have to answer: Do you want to help Our Lady and take responsibility for the world in a coredemptive way by praying at least one decade of the Rosary every day? I hope that this applause is an expression of your consent.

Our Lady takes you at your word now! You must not let her down! Pray with joy and love every day, pray recollected and in silence! It is so important to pray with your heart because every prayer is a conversation with God, our best friend and with Mary, our best mother. We can entrust to them everything that weighs us down, hurts us and also what makes us happy. Our Lady takes care of our difficulties and brings them before God’s throne.

Believe me, Our Lady works great miracles through praying the Rosary. The Rosary’s power is great and each of you who begins to pray will experience this. You will become better, more full of joy and changed somehow or other. Mary will lead you and give you the graces that you need for your daily routine. I will also think of you in my prayers so that you will learn to love Mary and the Rosary.

May the Lady of All Nations gather us people from so many nations around her so that we may come to know God’s great love for each individual. May we all find a place under her mantel in spite of our different backgrounds and languages.

I am much obliged for being invited to this wonderful Day of Prayer in honor of the Mother and Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam and for being able to be present. May the applause be for Jesus and his mother.

Excerpts from the Testimony of Thuy Tien, Sister of Francis Xavier Nguyen Cardinal Van Thuân († 2002) from Vietnam / Australia

“Prayer formed the life of my family in the time of the Vietnamese persecution.”

Tien Thuy comes from Vietnam, but had to flee during the war to Australia. It was from there that she came to the Day of Prayer to thank Our Lady for all of her help and grace which she was able to experience in her life.

Today Tien is a social worker and helps refugees and immigrants from around the world who are seeking to find a new home in Australia. Tien said to us, “I have been through everything that they have to go through: loss of identity and dear ones, being without a home, with a new way of life, and with a foreign language.” Yes, when you think that she herself experienced the lot of a refugee, then it is easy to imagine that how empathetic she is with people from Argentina, China, Chile, from Iran and Iraq, from Bosnia, Bangladesh, or Africa. She often takes them with her in her car and puts in the cassette of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Through this, she is sometimes able to develop a nice conversations and frequently Tien’s advice is accepted when she suggests, “when in need, repeat again and again, ‘Jesus I trust in YOU.’”

Even non-believers and those of other faiths ask her, “Tien, pray to your God for me!” Then later they come back and tell her, “Tien, your god helped me. Tell HIM thanks for me!”
Tien will tell us today about her family and also about her brother, Cardinal Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan (†2002, former Prefect for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace), who was in prison in Vietnam because of his faith for 13 years, 9 of which were in solitary confinement. The Holy Father described him as a “heroic herald of Christ’s Gospel” and therefore personally presided at his funeral in St. Peter’s Basilica in September of 2002 as a sign of his great esteem and personal love for Cardinal Van Thuan, about whom he said,

“His secret was indomitable trust in God, nourished by prayer and suffering, accepted with love. … During the last days, when he could no longer speak, he fixed his gaze on the Crucifix before him. He prayed in silence while he consummated his last sacrifice, crowning a life marked by heroic configuration with Christ on the Cross. His Spiritual Testament ends with the three-fold exhortation: ‘Love the Holy Virgin and trust in St. Joseph, remain faithful to the Church, be united and charitable to all.’ His whole being is summarized by this.”

I think that we should all work hard for the canonization of this great prince of the church in our days, because I am convinced he earned it! He testified to the scarlet worn by a bishop through his whole life which was a martyrdom.

My name is Thuy Tien and I was born in Hue, in central Vietnam. We were ten children at home, five girls and five boys. My parents were deeply faithful and both came from families that for many, many decades had personally experienced the persecution of Christians in Vietnam. When we were children and heard about the courage of our relatives who were ready to give their lives for the Faith, it was my brother Van Thuan, who later became a Cardinal, that even as a boy always wanted to die one day as a martyr. We were accustomed to pray with our parents from a very young age. That was a very natural and given part of our lives. I can remember so well how every evening our whole family would gather in the chapel of our beautiful house for prayers to thank God and say good night to Him. My mother told me later how she would often nudge me because when I was six or seven I would often fall asleep during prayer. Yes, as a little girl I found it to be quite a lot to pray the entire Rosary, litanies, the Memorare, and then the prayer to our guardian angels every evening before we were allowed to go to bed. But, my parents simply responded, “God gives us 24 hours a day. If we barely give Him an hour, then it is really not too much!”

My brother Van Thuan, baptized Francois Xavier (†2002, former Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace), became a priest in spite of the persecution and from 1967 on worked fruitfully for eight years as the bishop of the diocese Hna Trang. In 1975, he was named bishop of the capitol Saigon where, soon after his arrival, he was imprisoned.
He was in prison because of his Faith for almost 14 years, 9 of which were in solitary confinement. For five years we did not even know if he was alive or not. But at home we prayed every day for him, especially my mother. She always reassured dad saying, “Didn’t we give him to God? Then He will look after him!” The Holy Father described him as a “heroic herald of Christ’s Gospel.”

Van Thuan told us about his experiences in those years of suffering. He was always known for the same calmness and a great trust in God. I never saw him panicked or afraid. During the time of war and persecution, we kids all had that as a gift from our mother at home and so we could remain so calm even as we lost everything. Because our mother and also father always said, “God sees all and God knows all. He loves us and therefore whatever he allows is always the best for us. If He sends us suffering, that doesn’t mean he has abandoned us. No! Through suffering He helps us to become stronger.”

In difficult situations, my brother would say, “We are all refugees on this earth. Our eternal home is only with our loving Father in heaven.”

When I fled with my daughter in 1975, we experienced tangibly the help of Our Lady. When I arrived in Singapore, I did not know what we should do. Above all we prayed the Memorare that we had learned as kids. In difficult times, my mother would repeat this prayer constantly, while cooking and during everything else she did. She often said, “Our Lady has to hear us, because we pray, ‘never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.’”

We actually received a visa to enter Australia, but we had to leave my husband in the chaos of Saigon. Through incredible providence, he was able to escape by ship to Korea. She then helped us to begin a new life.

It was in Australia that I first heard about the Lady of All Nations. I understood immediately that if we want peace, then we have to go to her.

I often hear people complain about war. They are afraid and are full of distrust for each other. Therefore, in such cases, I always give the image and prayer of the Lady of All Nations and say, “Pray this prayer and you will have peace in your life. In this way you may contribute to spreading peace throughout the world.”