5th International Day of Prayer
honoring the Lady and Mother of All Nations
Pentecost, June 7 – 8, 2003
The Lady of All Nations
and the Year of the Rosary
A Pentecostal Day of Mutual Love!
“What a Pentecost! I thank God and the Lady of All Nations for the great grace that I could participate in the Fifth International Day of Prayer. What repentance, joy and deep emotions I felt at this celebration which for me—without exaggerating—was a little piece of heaven,” wrote Ingrid Lutz from Bavaria in her thank you letter. “I have already been to many beatifications and canonizations,” she continues, “but I think that here in Amsterdam, at my nicest Pentecost ever, the atmosphere was somehow even nicer than in Rome. And to me it seemed like the Holy Father was tangibly among us in a spiritual way. The experience of the Universal Church’s unity around the world was very deep!”
Yes, more than one pilgrim experienced it so. We gathered from the countless telephone calls and people who wrote back to the Shrine of the Lady of All Nations that for many of the 7,500 participants from all continents this was the nicest Day of Prayer ever.
The 75 flag bearers in the traditional costumes of the country they were representing impressed some participants. Others were happy to see so many priests, 10 bishops from different rites, and, of course, Ignace Moussa Cardinal Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, from Rome. Still others were touched by the wonderful orchestra music, the choir of brothers and sisters from our spiritual family, the festive floral arrangements, the illuminated cross with Jesus of Divine Mercy in the middle of the hall, or one of the many talks from the bishops, a married couple from Chile, or the two youth who converted.
This says nothing about the many graces given during hundreds of talks in the confessionals! Only God and the relevant parties know. In any case, the priests, who sat again this year the whole time in the confessional and saw nothing from the program, said joyfully that there were some who had not confessed for 30 or 40 years that found their way to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Many of the youth went to confession also. Among them was also 20-year-old Stefan Schafer, a graduate who testified on a bus trip back to southern Germany, “Now I know that God’s all-encompassing love is open to all those who are open for this love.”
How telling of the Mother of All Nations! She leads us always to her Son, to reconciliation and to unity. Cardinal Daoud pointed that out at the Holy Mass, the true high point of the day, when in his nice homily he prayed, “Mary, Lady of All Nations, tear down the walls between the nations. Mary, Lady of All Nations, eliminate the hate which divides the nations.”
The Bishop of Haarlem-Amsterdam, His Excellency Jozef Marianus Punt, had already delivered at the beginning of Holy Mass the heart-felt greetings of many bishops from around the world.
Young and old alike were always coming with great joy before the glorious crowned image of the Lady of All Nations. Those who knelt once by her, the mother, know what an indescribably beautiful atmosphere of peace, silence and intimacy prevailed there. She is allowed to mediate, in fact, grace, redemption, and peace!
Additionally, Fr. Paul Maria Sigl, who guided the whole program with good-heartedness and spontaneity, explained very well, “In Amsterdam, Mary does not look at the Child Jesus in her arms. In Amsterdam, Mary looks like mine, like yours, like our mother at me, at you, at each individual. The image from Amsterdam is an image of love, deep motherly love for us. Sometimes we need nothing more in our moral, emotional and material poverty than simply to see her mild, peaceful face which never reproaches us.”
How much Mary is a mother. That was the experience of young programmer Matthias van Dorp from Amersfoort, who recently converted and was baptized. Still a non-believer and searching at the Day of Prayer last year, he deeply felt, through his newly converted friend Robin Pownall and through the Lady of All Nations, the grace to turn to the Catholic Church. He was especially joyful this year, “Today I have received enough love to last me the next 20 years!” Bishop Scarrone also said in thankfulness after the Pentecost weekend before his trip back to Uruguay, “We were all on Tabor. Now we all have to come back down to daily life.”
A very precious moment of grace was also the personal blessings which the bishops gave going among the pilgrims. Who would not want the blessing for himself and for those he loves? Many believers “have grown weary in battle,” and, in view of the state of the world and of the Church, know also dejection. Therefore, it was very much the intention of the Lady of All Nations that all the participants return home from this day strengthened by mutual love.
Even the Italian pilgrims from Rome, Foggia, Padua, and Milan agreed on their flight back, “We felt at the Day of Prayer that the Church is worldwide, it is a ‘universal church’—like in St. Peter’s Square! So many believers from different countries, tongues and races—even different religions! We all came with the same goal and we were one like a family!”
Mrs. Joanne Ceredi, a lawyer from Milan who is already very involved in Italy with Amsterdam and who is building an Italian website for the Lady of All Nations, came up with the unique idea at the Day of Prayer to set up an international Lady of All Nations prayer group on the internet where the prayer from Amsterdam is accessible in as many languages as possible so that everyone can learn it and pray it for their intentions. This is good because we need Our Lady in this tremendously pressing time like never before!
May her picture and her prayer reach all nations, as she desired in Amsterdam: “I told you, recited to you, that simple prayer to the Father and the Son. See to it that it is made known throughout the world, among all peoples. They all have a right to it. I assure you that the world will change” (April 29, 1951). “A Church and a nation without a mother is like a body without a soul” (May 31, 1965).