History of this Adventure
What are the origins of this project?
Here is a small sharing of what we have experienced:
First step: 2016 in Rome
The first call was heard in Rome, in 2016, during the assembly closing the Year of Consecrated Life: Agnès (ov Arras) experiences a fire in her heart for several days; she hears inwardly a call for the consecrated virgins to go on pilgrimage to Israel, to celebrate the jubilee of the 50th anniversary of the renewal of the ritual. An opportunity is offered to her to speak about it to the Prefect of the Congregation for Consecrated Life, in front of the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. He asks her to put this in writing, which she does. A first milestone is laid.
Agnès is French, she has been living and working in Israel (especially as a guide for groups of pilgrims) since some fifteen years. She knows the country well, its ecclesial reality, and the Jewish world.
The months pass by, the idea often returns in her heart, but she surrenders it to the Lord, because she is alone.
Second step: Summer 2018 in France
But during the summer of 2018, four other French consecrated virgins also hear the same call, each in a very personal way:
- In July, Geneviève (ov Lyon) is at the shrine of Notre-Dame du Laus, for a session on the themes “Heavens, shout for joy... for the Lord consoles his people” (Isa 49:13) and “Christ and healing in the announcement of salvation.” Throughout the week, the mystery of the Church, Bride and Mother, is unveiled to her. She strongly receives the idea that the Lord wants to heal and renew his spouses, so that they radiate and testify stronger, and in truth, the love of the Church-Bride for Christ her Bridegroom. The Church needs to be healed and purified, and this must begin with the consecrated virgins! She is stupefied.
(Notre-Dame du Laus is situated in the south-east of France. There were many apparitions of Our Lady between 1664 and 1718, as well as apparitions of Christ on the Cross.)
- In early August, Edith-Marie (ov Paris) joins, with other French and two Spanish women, fifty consecrated virgins who had come from Milan (Italy) to spend a few days in Paris. During a time of common prayer, at the foot of a statue of Our Lady, in the garden of the MEP, she hears a particular call: to go together to the Holy Land, to receive there “hearts of virgins, hearts of children”, and thus be able to bring the whole Church under “the nuptial canopy.”
(MEP: The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, sending missionaries to Asia since 1663)
- At the beginning of August, Christel (ov Paris) is at Notre-Dame du Laus, where about twenty consecrated virgins, Belgian and French, spend a week of holidays together. During the projection of a slide show about Renée de Tryon-Montalembert (1920-2007; ov Paris), on the evocation of the pilgrimage of consecrated virgins to the Holy Land, which Renée had organized for the Jubilee of the year 2000, Christel hears a call to prepare a new pilgrimage for our Jubilee of 2020. An inner image is then imposed on her: processions of consecrated virgins in white, who assemble on Mount Zion. Edith-Marie is there as well. They understand that they are receiving a same call.
- At the end of August, Geneviève and Edith-Marie are together at a session at Paray-le-Monial, which invited “to progress in the union with Christ, to intercede with Him, asking the grace to receive entrails torn by the mercy of the Father and to enter into the folly of God’s Love.” Both feel confirmed in the call received in July. People who pray for them invite them to share their intuitions. And they understand that they have something to do together.
(Paray-le-Monial is situated in the center of France. It is the place of the apparitions of the Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary, between 1673 and 1675.)
- Mid-September, in Lyon, on the Feast of the Glorious Cross, Agnès (ov Autun) also receives an inner image, which imposes itself on her as a call: consecrated virgins and bishops praying together on Golgotha. She understands that one should go to Jerusalem, at the foot of the Cross, to present together to Christ our wounds and the wounds of the Church, and to receive there, in that place, the graces that the Lord wants to pour on the Church of this time.
Third step: The team is constituted
So we are five, and we do not know all of us, but we have sought contact among each other. We did not choose ourselves, the Lord has gathered us together. We understand that we must let ourselves be led by Him, that He is the Master of the project. For several months each one prayed, listened, consulted, sought help to discern. In December, each one gave to the others a prayer theme, based on what she believed to “hear.”
After three weeks of prayer on the themes sent by the others, a first meeting by Skype was organized in January 2019. Each one then shared what had been come up during her prayer.
This first exchange yields a big surprise: many elements are clearly common, which allows us to take precise directions immediately (When? For whom? How long? How many people? What kind of pilgrimage?).
Each one seems to have received elements of a puzzle, which fit beautifully together. The style, the theme, the schedule of the week, the places to visit, the spiritual journey, ... Everything will appear almost obvious, and this from the first day after this first Skype exchange.
Fourth stage: Jerusalem, February 2019, meeting with Msgr. Pizzaballa.
We then request a meeting with Msgr. Pizzaballa (apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) and we meet him in February. He is very pleased with this project, and strongly encourages us to construct it together, to move forward without fear.
Fifth stage: August 2019, meeting all together for the first time.
Thereafter, we are often tempted to stop everything. It seems completely crazy, the obstacles are so numerous and we so fragile!
But, relying on this encouragement and on this call now received from our Mother Church, we are going through the crises, the anxieties and the discouragements, step by step, until today.
After a year of prayer and personal maturation, of prayer and discernment with outsiders, of exchanges by Skype and email, we finally met in August 2019 to get to know each other and to spend two days together.
Several of us arrive at this WE very perplexed and ready to give up everything. But at the end of the meeting, we understand very well that we cannot let go, if we just want to listen a little bit to the voice that whispers deep inside of our hearts:
“Go for it! Trust in me! Do not be afraid! I want to spread streams of grace on the Ordo virginum and, through her, on the whole Church!”