Our Lady's school of trust
In the last decades I have travelled far more than 150 times from Graz / Austria to the place of Our Lady's apparitions in Medjugorje in Bosnia - Herzegovina. Most of the journeys were to bring relief supplies to the suffering population during and after the Balkan war. After the end of the war, I often journeyed to this place of grace with all kinds of people. During these many journeys we were able to experience the surprising protection and help of the Blessed Mother.
We had an unbelievable experience with a youth group from the parish of Our Lady in Graz, with whom we undertook a pilgrimage to Medjugorje. We travelled together in two cars: I travelled in a minibus full of young people and the parish priest, Fr Florian Parth, accompanied us with other young people in his own car.
Graz is about 700 km away from Medjugorje. The route from Austria leads through the EU states of Slovenia and Croatia. The external border of the European Union runs through Croatia, so that strict border controls are carried out by both countries at the border with Bosnia-Herzegovina, both when entering and leaving the country. Therefore, when advertising this trip, I pointedly stressed the necessity of passports. When we left Graz, I also insistently asked all the young people whether they had their passports with them, which they all confirmed. We therefore drove off and reached the EU member state Croatia without any problems and without border controls via Slovenia.
In Makarska, in the south of Croatia, we took a break and celebrated a service in the Lourdes Chapel there, as we did not know whether we would make it to Medjugorje in time for the evening mass. As we were close to the border, I wanted to collect the passports for the border control. To our great shock, it turned out that one of the girls had left her passport at home. That was now a huge problem. How were we supposed to get across the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina without a passport? We couldn't leave this girl alone and there was a risk that the whole bus would not be allowed to cross the border. We had only one option: I made it clear to the young people that only Our Lady could help in this hopeless situation. I asked the group to pray fervently for Our Lady to help us, so that we could somehow get across the border and then to Medjugorje. And so it happened, everyone prayed the rosary loudly and fervently as we drove towards the border.
The unbelievable happened. While Fr Florian and his car were being carefully checked, another customs officer let us drive on unhindered without any checks.
As I said, I have been to Medjugorje far more than 150 times, but I have never crossed the border into Bosnia-Herzegovina before or since without passport control.
It was an incredible experience for the young people to experience the help of heaven so soon after saying a trusting prayer. Full of gratitude, we prayed another rosary and reached Medjugorje in time for us to thank God for this help during the celebration of Mass.
We were actually able to experience this unbelievable help from heaven a second time.
Of course we were worried whether and how we would be able to cross the border on the return journey, as the problem of the missing passport had still not been solved. When we started our return journey, the young people on the bus began to pray the rosary without being asked to do so. This time it was not a fearful prayer. Everyone prayed with great trust that Mary would help us this time too. And so it happened: while Father Florian had to stop at every border on the way back and show all of his passports, we were able to cross all the borders unhindered without any checks. When we finally left the Austrian border behind us, a general jubilation broke out, which finally led to a fervent prayer of thanksgiving.
Back home, a transformed youth group emerged from the bus, having had a valuable experience of the power of prayer. God can also bring blessings out of our mistakes if we lay our problems before Him in trust.