Written by Brenda Coleman
The January 2008 HNOJ KC Rosary Story
Eighteen years ago this January, I experienced my first pilgrimage trip, going to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia, where supernatural phenomena involving visions of Mary had been capturing the attention of the world’s Catholics. I had no extraordinary devotion to Mary or the rosary, but had been feeling an increased desire to deepen my spiritual life. Choosing this particular trip had more to do with the timing (I had just become pregnant with our first child and left my career to “stay-at-home”) and having a few months to travel before I became busy with a new baby.
On the plane to Yugoslavia, I read a book describing what was happening in Medjugorje – the visions and messages of the Blessed Mother being received by six children – and the miracles experienced by some of the pilgrims who travelled there. As an engineer trained in facts and reality, I was somewhat skeptical about the phenomena of miracles. But I went, expecting a nice prayerful and uneventful trip – completely predictable and within my comfort zone.
The first day we arrived, we walked to Apparition Hill – the site of the first vision years before – to spend some time in prayer. As we prepared to pray a rosary, I pulled out my white First Communion rosary from 1964 and was startled to find that the silver metal chain had turned gold-colored – all except the crucifix, which remained silver. This, of course, was one of the “miracles” commonly occurring in Medjugorje. I was very conflicted about it – why did this happen to me? I had not really wanted to become the target of something like that – rather, I had hoped, at most, to be an observer of someone else’s experience.
Initially, I didn’t share this with many people on the trip. But over the last 18 years, my perspective on it has matured. To this day, the rosary remains gold and the crucifix remains silver – living proof of the conversion from old to new (both of the rosary and of me). The message for me has become … life does not always happen as we want and we are given God experiences we must wrestle with. The part of me that likes control, order and predictability has been presented with a God who desires to stretch me, to show me that I need to change, however painful or uncomfortable, if I am to grow in my faith. My rosary is a physical sign of God’s desire for my conversion. Needless to say, that rosary has special significance to me even today . . . and I still pray with it, especially when I need to feel that God is still there in the painful stretching.