June 29, 1998
The Blessed Mother is wearing a long, gray gown. She has a blue mantle and a white veil and a sash around her waist. She has a coral colored rosary in her hands, which are folded in front of her. There are red and pink roses around the bottom of her gown and over her feet.
St. Stephen is with her. He is a rather small man. He has bright blue eyes and long, brown, curly hair with a beard. He is dressed in brown, in the same kind of gown that the Blessed Mother is wearing, and he has a burgundy sash around his waist. St. Stephen has a rock in his hand that he holds out in front of him.
The Blessed Mother’s Words:
My dear little ones, it is good to be with you this day. As your mother, I am overjoyed that you have come in such great numbers to receive this gift of the Father. Praise Him, dear children, for it is through His mercy and His goodness that He has allowed such a grace as this. My little ones, I am as ever with you. I come to guide you, to advise you, to counsel you as a mother, to show you the way to our father’s home.
My dear ones, I bring this day to you a servant of God who has suffered much for Him. I wish for you to listen intently, to learn from the wisdom he has now gained, to listen for God’s call to you through his message, to open your hearts that Christ might be alive there and welcome there, that He might truly rule your hearts and your souls, your minds and your bodies, and that you, like my son and servant, will one day come to share in His glory. May His peace fill you.
St. Stephen’s Words:
Sisters and brothers in the Lord, may His name be exalted for always. Let me share with you some of who I am that you might know how it is that God is alive in our lives and present with us at all times, even when we do not see His hands nor sense His presence with us. When we know not who He is, He fathers us yet.
I grew up a Jew and was taught in the ways of the law. Regrettably, I was not an obedient child. When still a young man, I took to the street and left my home. I left my father and all he had, all that would have become mine. I left my family and my friends. I left the law of God. I left the temple . . . I desired not to go there again. I went to build my life, to gather things, to be someone. Many people did I meet and many friends did I have. What a good time it was for me then . . . parties, friends, work. This was the darkest time in my life.
I worked and I toiled for many years on my own, far from God, far from the law, from the teachings I had known. And then a day came when I felt within my heart the loneliness from the life I had chosen and a desire to return to God. But first, I had to make peace with my father. This perhaps was more difficult. And so I went home and there I remained for some time. But again the restlessness of youth set in and, after many good months of faith and strength and family unity, again I forced the wedge of division in my household to break open my family, and took off to be my own man. Many years I was away. Many things did I do and see, but none of this is important. None of this matters.
Again as a young man taking a wife, I found God in the temple. And as my child was born I saw the goodness of God in him. These things brought me near to God and made me feel that the God of my father’s fathers was alive! Three times I fell away. This new found love for God did not last. I was a wretched person. I mistreated those I loved. Many times in my life, many times did I find God only to lose Him by my own will again.
And then, when finally I felt as though I had established myself as an upstanding man in my community and had begun to attend those rituals in the temple that I had sorely missed, I heard of someone, a man from a very small town who had come claiming he was the messiah, the chosen one for the people of God . . . the sons of Abraham. My heart was still restless. Nothing had changed in those years of falling away from God and returning. Still I yearned for something . . . something I did not find in my family and this life I had created of misery, of things that meant nothing, in my job, in work, in friends. And so, through those who belonged to the way, I came to know of this man. I came to know the Lord.
Throughout my life I had known Him and lost Him and known Him and lost Him, but I realize that I never did know Him until the day I heard of our Christ and of His great love. I believe that I could not accept the God of our fathers, for I felt that He was cold. I was taught that He was a vengeful God. I was taught that He was a God of anger. My heart . . . my very soul . . . could not accept this to be true, for as I looked at my children I knew no God of anger could create such beauty. I loved my family and I knew how faulted I was. God must have been so much greater! In this Christ, this messiah, I found God and I became zealous for Him!
First, to my family, the news . . . the good news of the messiah. Many of them scoffed and ridiculed. Know that this was a time of great persecutions for those who belonged to the way. Many, many were killed. And yet, no one knew! There was no outcry in the government. There was no outcry from the people, from these people of God. Those who belonged to the way simply vanished . . . were gone! How frightened I was! How terribly frightened to know not what had happened to those who I had come to love. What would become of me if I followed this man? Would I too disappear? Gone, leaving a wife and children? What would happen to me? Did I truly trust this messiah? What reason did I have to trust that this was truly the Son of God, for so many times in my life I had felt so near to a God that I then abandoned?
At this point in my life, I knew I must make the decision to find myself in God. I was so wayward and so lost and so without meaning and purpose. And so, despite these fears, I began to teach. I began to teach not only my family and friends, but all those I met, that the messiah had come, that truly He had come to save the children of Abraham. For the first time in all of my life, through the many falls, through the many terrible injuries inflicted upon my soul by my own hand, I felt fulfilled! I felt the grace of God! And as this grace multiplied in my soul, I began to become more fervent and more bold in the spirit and I spoke freely of my beliefs in this Messiah and freely of His love, His forgiveness, His ultimate sacrifice. Even then, in those times I had moments of doubt in my life and in my heart . . . oh, and such fear . . . I simply relied on God, the God I had come to know through my messiah, to give me the strength that I needed to do whatever it was that He would ask of me. Whatever fate I would share with my brothers and sisters, I would do so for God, if it was the only good thing I had ever done.
For several years I taught and spoke. And during those years I felt within me something I had never known: peace, tremendous peace! Grace! Love! No longer did I mistreat my family, but I knew how to love them as God must have loved me. So many . . . so many injuries did I inflict upon my own soul through those times when I fell away from God! By my own hand I had bruised and battered my very own soul. For just as a body falls and is injured, so too does the soul become tarnished and bloodied when fallen from God. This I knew must be true. Oh how I feared that God would see me as nothing but wretched. Still, I persevered and it was difficult. By no means do I wish to say that it was an easy road. There were many times when I fell and many times when I felt I could not get up but to pull myself up on the cross.
One day, as I spoke to a crowd of people, many men who were known to persecute those who belong to the way came and surrounded me. This moment was the defining moment of my life. All the things that had happened to me, I do believe, had the purpose of preparing me for this moment. All those years of searching for God and searching for purpose. Did I have the courage now to face what I did not know, to walk blindly into a fate I could only hope that God would deliver me from or give me peace with? By His grace alone I stood tall and as my soul had been battered and bloodied so many times in my life, my body was then battered and broken . . . and I left this earth with my body in the very state that my soul had been in so many years.
I found myself then in a place I could not have imagined, I could not have comprehended. I was so afraid. I was so afraid! I could scarcely look down, nor up, nor anywhere. And a light, a bright light! And I looked away. How strange it is that at this moment, when I was about to meet He who had created me from the dust and the sky, all I could think about is how wretched I must look, how terrible, and I glanced down to see myself then. Oh, and I was astounded! All my life I had been convinced that my soul must be ugly for all of those injuries I had inflicted there on, but it was beautiful. I could scarcely believe it was me. How could this be? I did not understand and, in my shock and amazement, I looked up and my eyes filled with tears of terrible sorrow.
Then . . . at that moment . . . I saw the Lamb of God! And I looked down at myself, beautiful. And I saw Him. He wore my bruises, my cuts, those injuries that I had inflicted with my sin, with my disbelief. He wore my stripes upon His back, my lacerations on His head. His blood spilled from Him that my blood, the very life of a soul, might be preserved. I fell before Him, wishing only that I could go . . . go back and do what I ought to have done!
I carried with me though a stone, the stone that had taken my life, and it was all I had and so I gave it to Him. And as He took it a tremendous thing happened. I dared to raise my eyes and I know not why, but suddenly a light overcame me that was so bright I had to turn my face from it! And as He took that stone that held my life, all that I had to give, He became not a beaten lamb offered as a sacrifice, slaughtered by my injuries, but a lion with such power and such light that I was more afraid then than I had been before! He reached out to me and when He touched me that light overcame me and He who bore my scars, who bore my injuries, who spilt the blood that I should have spilt from my very soul, gave to me a share in His glory. Oh, what a tremendous thing! Nothing I had seen on this earth, nor experienced, nor loved, nor hated . . . nothing could be in my mind, but that moment . . . that moment when I met my messiah!
Just as He bore my scars, He bears yours. But as the good shepherd, He wishes not for you to know Him as one who desires to punish you, nor be angry with you, nor resent you for these wounds inflicted upon Him, but as He gave me this vision of glory, He promises to you this same glory, this same eternal life. This is a tremendous thing! Something that you, too, will know.
Many times people speak of life changing events . . . life changing. May your life be always changing. May your life be always, always precious in that it was created by God to be perfected in Him. Do not do as I have done, but instead stand before Him with balms and oils for His wounds of service and love, to sooth and comfort Him in His distress. I had a rock to give to Him, a rock that took my life. And without it, I know not what I would have done there. What do you have to give to Him? I tell you this, there is nothing you can give Him that will match what He will give to you in return, not even your lives as even mine was not worthy. But He is so good and is such love that He cares not, but wishes to give to you all things.
Pray that you might receive the grace to live your lives with the strength of faith and the courage of the spirit, that you might have an arm load of flowers to present to Him, that you might have your very self to give to Him as a gift, that even if it is a rock you might have something. Your lives are precious. They are dear. Do not live them flamboyantly, without thought for cause or reason or purpose, but give every moment and every day meaning in God and you will see yourself stand before Him bathed in His light, and you might reach out and comfort Him in His distress, share in His glory, and be with Him in His kingdom for always.
My friends . . . my sisters and brothers in the Lord . . . I thank you for having heard me. Do as I have told you, for yourselves, for the Lord. You cannot know what that moment will be like until you are there, until you have your eyes unveiled, until your vision is renewed and your soul renewed and you see in that way that God sees. I tell you this that you might know a piece of what is to come for all of you. And I tell you this that you might have hope, for you know what I knew not. You know that He waits for you, that He stands at the gates of His kingdom and waits for you. Join Him there! May you be filled with His love and serve Him always in your thoughts, in your words, and in your deeds.
The Blessed Mother’s Words:
My little children, I offer to you this day my motherly blessing. I give to you my prayers of intercession and I ask the saints in heaven and all the angels that God has created to care for you and love you, to pray with me for you that you might receive His grace, that you might know Him always, that you might join Him in heaven. Do pray. Do serve Him. Do love Him. It is in His name that I bless you. Remember that I am with you in all things and that I love you as your mother.