Priest Leonid, redemptorist from Ukraine province, participated in the 15th International seminar for priest in Medjugorje and gave the testimony, first to the other participants and then to Radio Station Mir Medjugorje. We publish the testimony as it was given:
My first pilgrimage to Medjugorje was related to my obligations and to my occupation in the priest vocation. Namely, in 2005 local Church entrusted me with huge responsibility and gave me heavy burden to carry and that was service of exorcist. The first months and the very first year were filled with God’s love and grace, but also with great difficulties and tempations. One of the major difficulties took place during one session of exorcism over one possessed person. That person spoke to me in very rough voice, full of horror in these words: “I am horrible, I am powerful, and I will destroy you. I will destroy your priesthood and all of your life.” Although that was quite bad, I did not take that seriously at all. After all, I believed in God completely and I did not have any reasons to doubt that. I also knew that if I had fear in front of the Satan that would be as if I already lost something. But God allowed this situation to take place, and I am going to share with you how great and how mighty his Mother is, and how Medjugorje is sacred ground.
When I was in great pain, when I suffered and when I was tempted daily, I was not able to pray at all. I would go to confession every single day, but Satan tempted me all the times. The temptations were so strong that I lost peace in my soul completely. And not only that, I also felt that I lost my priesthood and my vocation. I felt that was complete and total destruction of my life. In that difficult reality, while I was still unable to figure out what was happening to me, somebody offered me to come to Medjugorje. And I came. I was with a group of priests. I was just not able to pray, not even when they prayed. During that pilgrimage I met one other priest, father Ambrosias from Slovakia. He completely sacrificed his life and his vocation working with people from Ukraine in the region of Carpatho – Ukraine. He travelled soon after heart attack, and he also had diabetes. He was a Franciscan priest who came to Medjugorje five times before that. He absolutely thrilled me with his life and humbleness. He became my friend, I would help him around, take him by the hand, as he was older man. It appeared as I was helping to him, but the truth was that it was the other way round. We were once climbing up the Hill of Apparitions and it was to be the apparition to one of the visionaries. Everything was packed with people, priests. I sat next to Fr. Ambrosias and I turned my back to the apparition site. I felt myself not worthy of being there at all. But during the time of the Rosary, I felt desire to look towards that direction, to see what was happening there. At the same time, as I felt that desire, other inner voice was saying to me not to look there. You are failure and you will end up in hell, I heard. It was horrible. Those first, positive feelings directed my look towards the apparition site. I started to look and I was searching for a sign. Maybe I was to see something at the end. Hope was being born in me slowly, but also more new arguments about how my humiliation was not to be changed. But, I believed in crucial moment. Just for a moment. And in that very moment, as the answer to all of the questions ever rose, I was able to feel how Our Lady was coming down, from Heaven to this world. It was horrible in that moment. Such a powerful perception, scent of the other world I used to feel up to that point. And then, I was appeased by certain gentleness, light touch, like a gentle breeze of Our Lady’s presence. She was coming closer to me. And as She was closer to me, the power of evil was disappearing. In my heart I experienced new revelation. I was able to experience how powerful Her presence is, how she was humble. Then I realised that She does not cast away evil spirits, but they ran themselves. The are not able to bear Her purity and beauty of Her presence. She does not humiliate them nor She sends them away. She simply loves them and they can not stand that! And then, change of spirits within me took place. Spirit of Satan, spirit that destroys, disappeared with all of his depressions and fears. Instead of that spirit, Our Lady’s spirit took place. In my heart, I heard the voice: “Do not be afraid, I am your mother! I am your guarantee that you will not be destroyed, that you will not fail.” Everything was changed. That experience of presence of Our Blessed Mother became miracle of love that saves me, my vocation and my life! I started to feel Our Lady’s presence in every exorcism I perform. I will just share one little example, since there are many similar ones. Our priests were dealing with one possessed girl who came to confess in front of one young priest who just returned after his studies in Rome. And as he was saying the absolution words, that person, Satan in that person hit that priest so hard that he felt down immediately. Then, the same person started calling other priest in some strange voice. That priest was scared and he called me. After few moments that girl was in front of me and I started to pray over her. As I began exorcism, I knew the diagnosis straight away, the girl was severely possessed and I invited five devoted faithful to pray as well. As I recited traditional prayers of exorcism, Satan just laughed. It spoke to me in English language, humiliated me and constantly laughed at me. Then, I began to pray to Our Lady. I was totally exhausted. I began to be nervous as well. I felt that I need to finish my prayer, but the evil spirit was not going away. It was the spirit of suicide. I began to call Our Lady with all of my heart. In the same way as the child calls his mom. And real screaming began at those moments: “ I can not stay here any longer, Our Lady is here, I need to go away.” And the spirit was gone. This was just one situation and there are so many similar ones. During these five years, as I have been entrusted the service of exorcism, I experience many temptations and trials. I had those before; I know I will have those in the future as well. But, Our Lady keeps me in Her heart. I CAN NO LONGER LIVE WITHOUT MEDJUGORJE AND JERUSALEM. I need to be in Medjugorje and Jerusalem every year. That is what faith is for me. Here I have faith, blessing and grace. I am grateful to dear God that I am able to witness Our Lady’s grace in this way. I would like each one of us to want to love more our Blessed Mother, Mother of God. She is our Mother. She loves Her children. She is prepared to do anything Her children ask of Her. I feel that if it wasn’t for Her presence, we would all be destroyed. That is why we should try to live every second of our lives with Her. I feel personal invitation to help other people to come to Medjugorje. To bring here all of those people who experience tremendous spiritual suffering.”
At the end, priest Leonid blessed all of the listeners of Radio Mir.