Transfigured on Cross Mountain
By: Thomas Kyle Meadors
 I was no stranger to Medjugorje.  I had read Medjugorje: The Message by Waybe Weible in 1998.  I came across it in a second hand bookstore, and the price was good - $2.50!  A small miracle if you ask me!  I read each chapter very carefully, and by the time I finished it I was convinced of the apparitions.  As I started to share what I had learned to those in my parish family I was immediately provided with anti-Medjugorje literature.  I was heartbroken.  I had wanted to believe that Our Lady was bringing us messages from the Father.  Fatima, Lourdes and the others are wonderful and I love them, but I wanted to believe Our Lady was coming from Heaven in my lifetime. 
     In the fall of 2000 I was experiencing a crisis of faith.  I believed in God, but He seemed very far away.  Sunday after Sunday, I listened to the magnificent, almost mystical in my opinion, homilies of Msgr. John O'Donnell at The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Fort Smith, Arkansas.  I was always uplifted, but I still felt disconnected from God.  It was then that Our Lady intervened.
     It had always been my custom to go to the mailbox when I arrived home from school.  One day in late August I found "The Medjugorje Star" in my mailbox.  The message featured was from July 25, 2000 and read:
      "Dear Children, do not forget that you are here on earth on the way to eternity and that your home is in Heaven.  May your joy be   only in discovering God in daily prayer.  That is why, make good us of this time and pray, pray, pray; and God is near to you in    prayer and through prayer.  Thank you for having responded to my call."
Words can never express what I felt as I read those words from Our Lady, Our Mother, and most importantly MY MOTHER!  Another miracle occurred in Van Buren, Arkansas on that hot August day.  My days in the desert were over!  God used "The Medjugorje Star" as an instrument to pour water into my parched soul.  I had never heard of this publication nor did I know any one in Metairie, Louisiana.  I stood in my front yard, totally oblivious to the many cars and school buses passing by, reading that issue from cover to cover.  It was then that I knew that Mary, the Mother of God was truly present in the small village "between the hills" in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 
I was born into a fundamentalist Christian family.  By the time I was about eight or nine we had stopped going to church.  It was around this time that I started to attend Immaculate Conception Catholic Church with a friend of the family, Sara.  The first mass I attended will always be one of my most treasured memories.  There was not a whole lot of pomp and ceremony, but I felt something in the air that I had never felt in the churches of my childhood.  I was very drawn to the statue of "the beautiful lady" as I called her.  Sara explained that was Mary, the Mother of God.  I always rushed Sara around on Sunday morning as I liked to get to church early to pray silently around the altar of "the beautiful lady."  Sara faithfully took me to mass with her every Sunday for many years.  The Catholic Faith is the only faith I have ever really known, and "the beautiful lady" has always been with me.  I believe I saw her once in a dream when I was little, but the greatest miracle was yet to come. 
 After the "Star Miracle" (receiving The Medjugorje Star) I was filled with the fire of Medjugorje.  I impatiently waited for the end of each month to receive the next issue.  Each message from Our Lady seemed to be meant just for me.  (Patrick Latta, in his Medjugorje testimony, refers to them as "my messages!")  Filled with a renewed zeal for God I continued my faith journey.  I was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Faith on Holy Saturday, April 10, 2004 by Msgr. John O'Donnell.  Sister Agatha Knittig, OSB, a Benedictine Sister, sponsored and supported me.  Furthermore, on Sunday, May 16, 2004, in the presence of the monastic community of Saint Scholastica Monastery,  I made my Final Oblation promising to serve God and all people according to the Rule of St. Benedict.
 I have been discerning my call to seek God in the Benedictine Way of Life since I was 15.  I have always felt called to totally abandon myself to God.  This call is especially hard to answer in the world we live in today.   There is a community of Benedictine Monks about an hour from where I live.  I have visited Subiaco Abbey many times over the years, and each time I leave it feels like I am leaving home.  I spent most of 2005 discerning this call.  It was during this time that I met Mimi Kelly with The MIR Group.  I was on the search for a rosary from Medjugorje, and I found the phone number for The MIR Group written on a small sheet of paper in one of my prayer books.  When I saw the word "MIR" I knew that the phone number must be related to something about Medjugorje.  It was around 6:00 P.M., but I called anyway.  A lady answered.  She sounded like she was at the end of a hard day, but immediately came alive when I mentioned Medjugorje and how I found her number.  I told her I was looking for a rosary from Medjugorje, and I gave her all my contact information.  Within days I received several different rosaries from supporers of The MIR Group.  Mimi and I continued to stay in contact, and over the course of several months we had developed a friendship.  It was during this time that I received permission from Abbot Jerome Kodell of Subiaco to start the application process.  I expressed my desire to travel to Medjugorje before I entered the monastery, and I asked Mimi for her prayers.  I received an e-mail in mid-June from Mimi informing me that The MIR Group wanted to send me to Medjugorje in August of that year.  August!  The same month that I had received "The Medjugorje Star" five years earlier.  August!  The Feast of the Transfiguration! August!  Our Lady's birthday (according to the Medjugorje visionaries!)
 I arrived in New Orleans on the evening of July 29, 2005.  I was met by Mimi Kelly and immediately whisked away for dinner at Drago's in Metairie.  The restaurant was very busy, but space was made available when it was made known that Mimi Kelly was in the restaurant.  Person after person came up to speak with Mimi, and when she informed them that she was taking me to Medjugorje they all said something similar to, "Medjugorje!  You will love it there!"  I was restless the night before we left.  My mind filled with so many questions I wanted to ask Our Lady in Medjugorje.  I took out one of the journals that I brought along for the trip and filled it full by sunrise with questions and intentions. The weekend before departing for Medjugorje, Mimi took me to mass at St. Patrick's in the Quarter and we also made a stop at the National Votive Shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor where we promised to pray for the intention of one of the Urusline Sisters.  The morning of our departure we attended mass at Saint Rita of Cascia in Harahan, LA.  This church was my favorite of all that I saw in the New Orleans area partly because I have always turned to this "saint of the impossible."  I love ornate churches, but the simplicity of this church touched me for some reason.   Mimi was taking eleven other pilgrims.  We met at the airport and spent that time getting to know each other.  Then our flight for New York was called.  It had begun!  It was Monday morning in New Orleans, and it would be Wednesday evening when I set foot in the parish of Medjugorje. 
 The plane landed in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  As I stepped off the plane I was hit with unbareable heat.  I kept reminding myself that I was on a pilgrimage, and not on my way to a Stevie Nicks concert.  The bus ride to Medjugorje was a trial in itself.  One of our youngest pilgrims became car sick.  The bus was small with no air conditioning.  I kept telling myself that it was a pilgrimage not a vacation as Mimi reminded us.  We prayed the rosary on the bus ride, and it was one of the best rosaries I have ever said.  I was on the road to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace.  We arrived in time for dinner.  Shelley Aubert (from Mandeville, Louisiana) and I rushed through dinner as we wanted to make it to the evening program at the Church of St. James.  As we turned the corner about 3 blocks from the home of our host family...there it was!  The Church of St. James, and it was beautiful.  Thousands of pilgrims were in the streets!  We had made it to the church around 6:30.  About ten minutes later we heard a bell ring, and everyone fell to their knees.  Everything stopped and it became very silent.  I had never felt such peace surround me.  Shelley took my hand, and expressed the same emotion over what was happening.  I felt that Our Lady was indeed appearing in Medjugorje.  We later found out from Mimi that the bell signaled the time for the apparition to Marjia, Ivan and Vicka!  Shelley and I returned home after many hours of shopping.  The other ten pilgrims were asleep so we decided to sit in the dining room and look through the items we had purchased.  It was now around midnight, but Shelley and myself could not sleep.  We decided that it must be a short walk to Apparition Hill.  Armed with flashlights and water we set out on foot.  The courtyard of the Church of St. James was still full of pilgrims even at this late hour.  We never found Apparition Hill that evening, but we came very close.  At one point, Shelley and myself both smelled the VERY strong scent of roses in one area of the road.  It was now around 2 A.M. and there was no one around.  We decided to head back for the house, but we still talk about that night whenever we call one another. 
 We were about to attend the 16th Annual Youth Prayer Festival.  I was very moved to see so many people close to may age praising the Living God in song and dance in this small village.  I have always been very traditional in my approach to religion.  Sister Macrina Wiederkehr, once wrote in my birthday card: "It's OK to smile in church!"  I resisted to get very involved in the praise and worship at first, but I had a burning desire just to open up and get lost in the Spirit.  It finally happened on August 5, 2005!  Our Lady's birthday!  I sang and danced in the presence of God.  To me it seemed like I had lost time.  I was not aware of things around me.  It was a beautiful dance with the Divine.  A dance that might never had happened anywhere else.  I opened myself up on Apparition Hill to Our Lady and I took her motherly hand.  I asked her to walk with me as I made my way back to her Son.  That walk took me to Cross Mountain.
 On the evening of Our Lady's birthday five us decided to climb Cross Mountain and camp out.  The closing mass of the Youth Prayer Festival was to be held on Cross Mountain at 5 A.M. on the Feast of the Transfiguration.  That night was not a night of comfort.  It was very cold, and who could sleep with rocks stabbing them from every angle?  Kelle Serio of Metairie and myself decided to pray the 20 decades of the rosary.  I suppose we drifted in and out of sleep that night.  Finally, morning came.  That mass was the single most important experience of my entire life.  We are told in the Gospel of Matthew that Jesus gathered three of his disciples, took them up on a mountain, and was transfigured before their eyes. After hearing the voice of God the three disciples fell prostrate and were afraid.  Jesus, the Risen Lord, touched them and told them, "Rise, and do not be afraid!."  (Matthew 17:1-8)  A miracle occurred that cold morning on Cross Mountain.  The mass was in Croatian, but I understood every word.  My soul started to rejoice in the presence of God, and my body followed.  The Youth of the World danced with the Creator that cold morning on Cross Mountain.  I was changed.  I was forever changed.  That is a morning I will never forget until the Creator calls me home to dance with Him eternally.  There is a contemporary Christian song called "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?"  I felt that mountain in the parish of Medjugorje tremble.  The Youth from many different nations caused an earthquake that I pray will be felt all across the world.  It is time for us, the Youth of the World, to carry the message of Our Lady from Medjugorje into our homes, families, schools, churches and everywhere.  I prayed for vocations to the religious life and priesthood almost every moment of my pilgrimage.  I also had my vocation to the Benedictine Way of Life confirmed that morning on Cross Mountain.  Our Lady has told the visionaries that she prays every morning at the foot of the Cross on the mountain.  I can tell you myself that she does. 
     I must thank Kay Mule for her continued dedication to the message of Our Lady of Medjugorje.  Her newsletter is what restored my faith.  Our Lady knew that I needed to here the message of July 25, 2000 as well as all of her messages!  But most importantly, I must thank Mimi Kelly and The MIR Group.  Mimi has given everything to spreading the urgent message of Our Lady.  I was full of so much anger, pain and every other negative emotion known on this earth when I arrived in Medjugorje.  I returned with none.  Instead I returned with a fire for God that has never burned so hot.  Mimi is a Saint in my eyes.  I can never express my gratitude to her.  I hope that this testimony to Our Lady of Medjugorje will also speak volumes to Mimi.  Mimi Kelly, I love and thank you.  I would like to leave everyone with a few lines of "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble" by Martin Smith.  "Did you feel the mountains tremble?  Did you hear the ocean roar?  When the people rose to sing of Jesus Christ the Risen One...and we can see that God your moving...a mighty river through the nations....open up the doors and let the music play...let the streets resound with singing...Did you feel the darkness tremble...when all the saints joined in one song...and all the streams flow as one river...to wash away our brokenness..." 
    I ask the prayers of all of the believers in the message of Medjugorje for their prayers as I continue to respond to the call of God to seek Him in the Benedictine Way of Life.  I pray for the readers of testimony. I am sure Our Lady blesses each of you.   I will fill the cloister halls with song and dance for the Risen Lord. 
 Praised be Jesus and Mary,
Thomas Kyle Meadors