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5th International Day of Prayer, Amsterdam 2003

Testimony of
Monica Harneker from Chile

I would like to share a very special experience with you, a love story that I lived with God and Our Lady sixteen years ago and that changed my life completely.
I was born to Catholic parents and was educated at a convent’s school. I married a very good man but he was agnostic, meaning God had no importance in his life. The truth is that, very subtlety and without quite realizing it, I began to move away from God.

First, on some Sundays I did not go to church, and eventually I stopped going altogether. Then, I stopped praying, and finally, I left God and the Church behind me. And so, ten years passed; I had completely separated myself from God, until our third child was born, a girl, Andrea.
When Andrea was three months old, we realized something was not right with her. We had her checked-in to a neurological hospital for children, and for one week, they gave her every type of medical examination. At the end of that week, they concluded that she had a considerable mental deficiency.

We will never forget the day or the moment when they told us that Andrea would never be able to go to a normal school or live life like any other normal child. We left the hospital holding back our tears, devastated, with an unexplainable loneliness and anguish in our hearts. Not all the words of comfort from my husband could help me in my pain; they sounded empty, and so were mine for him.
I needed to take refuge in someone in order to understand what had happened. I seemed to loose the strength and the will to live with this cross that loomed suddenly in my life.
We spent many days like this, in anguish and desolation. Why us? What had we done to deserve this? We asked ourselves these questions until one night, I felt I needed to pray. I tried to pray the Our Father and, with shame and sadness, I confess that I had forgotten how to pray it. Oh, how I needed a savior.

We found out that there is a Catholic Church close to our house. We went to Mass for the first time in ten long years. After mass a Charismatic group met to pray and we decided to go to that meeting.
On entering, we saw this group of people who were praying and singing with joy led by their bishop. Their faces, full of peace, made me feel that they were either mad or they were very special people, full of joy and serenity. And from the depth of my heart, I longed to have what they had. How far I felt from all that!
When the prayer meeting had finished, my husband and I remained seated. I felt emptier than ever, as if I would never find the strength even to get up and walk out.
We were in this hopelessness when we suddenly felt a hand on our shoulders; a little old lady stood behind and between us, and she said, “When I saw you both enter here I said to myself I am so happy that you finally decided to come”.
We can only describe the expression on her face as celestial; the way she looked at us, her words of comfort, everything in her expressed PURE LOVE. Although we saw her many times, never did we see such a transfiguration in her again. We have no doubt in our hearts that it was Our Blessed Mother who spoke to us in that moment through this good old Lady.
Something broke inside me. I felt God’s love so ALIVE in me. I felt so loved by God that I was not capable of containing so much love; I cried for weeks, months even, on and off, but I cried from LOVE, tears of love. I FELT IN LOVE WITH GOD. I FELT IN LOVE WITH LOVE.
The hunger and thirst for God that I experienced was such that I began to go to daily Mass, and to pray. I spoke to Him from my heart, with my own words, passionately, and like a child.

The second important stage in my life of faith started when I came to know the Lady of All Nations.
The first time I heard about the Lady of All Nations was through Father Pablo Martin who was in Chile giving a retreat on the Divine Will. He gave me a prayer card with the powerful prayer that she gave us, and from that moment, I felt a longing to visit her in Amsterdam.

In June last year, that longing became a reality. We came to Amsterdam for only two days and we looked for the street that was written on the prayer card. A nice sister opened the door for us. After a few moments, she invited us to join in the Rosary that was about to begin. We did not know that there was a shrine right there, in the house.

Great was our surprise when she opened the door to the Chapel and the first thing we saw was a huge painting of the Lady of All Nations that, with her gentle gaze and her open arms, seemed to say to us once more, “I am so happy that you finally decided to come.” At that moment, I knelt down. I knew I was in her very real presence. I felt that she was bestowing a great gift to us in bringing us here, and our hearts swelled with enormous gratitude.
The next day, on our departure, Sr. Maria Columba said, “I believe Our Lady brought you here for you to take her to Chile.” On seeing my surprise, she added, “Our Mother has said, ‘Do not be afraid! I will take responsibility!” This is exactly what has happened.

Over this last year, the Mother of All Nations has become known in Chile through the handing out of the prayer card, the pamphlet on the World Action, and the conference given by Fr. Paul Maria Sigl on May 31, 1997 that we had printed. She has also been brought through the forty framed images that make their pilgrimage through the houses of Chile, from North to South, fulfilling in this way her words of encouragement.

For me, the power of this prayer is that it fills the heart with hope, and hope makes love grow. Love however gives the strength to accept every cross which God allows in our lives.

Sixteen years have passed since our conversion, the happiest of our lives, because Mary, putting her motherly hands on our shoulders, made us look at Jesus. She taught us that the cross in the light of faith is the greatest treasure of a life, and if we carry this cross with Him and for Him it becomes our redemption, our life, our happiness, our peace, our hope, and, above all, it leads us to love.