A few weeks before the sudden call to eternal life, Andrea and her husband Zvone testified their faith to many young couples gathered for a Community meeting. We are publishing Andreja’s testimony, almost a “spiritual testament,” to thank the Lord for the true faith that He gave to them, faith that became true strength in the “hour” of trial and pain. We thank the Lord and the Madonna for everything that Andreja lived, shared, and gave to us all.
The moment in which Andreja, my wife, gave everything for me was the moment in which she chose to enter the Community to do an experience so that she could stay close to me and understand more profoundly my walk of rebirth. I thank God that she was also touched profoundly by Community life, that she did not limit herself by only waiting for me while thinking the only one who had problems between us was me. It was my and our salvation. Also, our marriage, like our lives, has a new face. We were no longer only Andreja and Zvone, but the Lord was also in our midst. One time they asked her, “But why did you also enter?” And she said, “I wanted to understand who I am.” However, I had said to myself, “She did it for me because she loved me, simple enough.” The Community “put” us on our knees and taught us to pray. For three years we lived in different fraternities, and thus we decided to commit ourselves to waking up at 2 a.m. to go in the chapel and pray for each other. Every night, when I went into the chapel, I knew that in another house Andreja was in front of Jesus and that she knew I was with her. I learned to sacrifice myself—if I wasn’t going for Jesus, I was going for her. I wanted to be faithful to this appointment, and I wanted to be faithful to her; we did this for three years. Jesus united us, and we felt this first union in silence, without speaking. We had a lot of things to tell each other, to confess, to share; and every time that we saw each other we never had time. After some time we began to attend Father Gasparino’s prayer course in Cuneo; I thought that there we would finally be able to share what we were living inside. Instead, all the meetings consisted of silence and prayer! Still, we communicated much more in silence, in a way that is not easy to explain-but we did communicate. It was like Jesus said to us, “Forget about words, forget the past, and forget everything you want to say with lips.” Today there exists something else that is important to us, and it has been years since we made this life choice. Once a month, while praying the rosary on the trip there, we go to the Vicoforte Sanctuary to become closer through the Sacrament of Confession. We go without saying anything to one another. Every time it is wonderful when we leave the confessional and look at each other, as if to say, “We’re free, now we can begin again, we’re free!” We look at each other with light in our eyes, and we also have a little party - simply, with coffee and pastries. This has become a very important appointment that helps us very much to walk and grow in love.
This year the Lord asked Andreja to put the “nails” in her hands and for me to put on the “apron” because for a year new we live with the presence of an illness. Just one year ago, during this time of year, she was diagnosed with a tumor in her chest. It was difficult to accept, but thanks to faith and love, we have journeyed through it together. Andreja has spent six months in bed recovering from chemotherapy, and I have had to serve her in every way. She has suffered a lot, and I have had a hard time seeing myself there, next to her but unable to do anything—powerless. This cross, lived through faith, has made us grow in love; and for this reason we have never thought of it as a burden, but a grace. Many times I woke up in the morning and, while she was sleeping, said in silence, “Lord, leave her here with me for a little bit longer, I need her.” I had fear of losing her, and I understood how important she was in my life. We have overcome all this suffering thanks to prayer and the graces that Jesus has worked in us through the Eucharist.
The image of Jesus who puts on an apron to serve his dear ones is alive in my heart as well. Everyday I am thankful for all the times that I saw Zvone lovingly do this for me in this cross-filled period, without ever complaining. I believe that “putting on the apron” is giving everything to another person, being silent, asking excuse, and going beyond the qualities of the other that bother me. There exist things in our character and in our poverties that will always be there, and “putting on the apron” also means accepting ourselves and loving ourselves for who we are. Surely for us it was a big help to live close to Mother Elvira, who many times reminded us of the importance of knowing how to ask for forgiveness, of going beyond both our poverties, in order to affirm that in our house may reign peace and love, that our children may grow up in serenity, and that they may come home willingly at the end of the day. Mother Elvira always said, “One can always begin again, now, immediately—not tomorrow, but now.”
Zvone spoke of the illness that has entered our lives. Still another test! Speaking with the Lord, one would want to say, “But still this!” There were already a thousand things and lots of suffering that we had already lived. Lots of people said, “You don’t deserve it, why this?” Maybe it was also people of faith who would ask this. But we never thought that anyone deserves a disgrace or an illness. I think that it is necessary to accept; He asks you to carry your cross, you accept it, and you go forward. Now we must re-start everything, and it’s necessary to undergo another operation because the illness has returned. There was a moment of discouragement: “All of us have prayed, the whole Community, from Brazil to Croatia, the children, us, I don’t know who didn’t pray for us! But You didn’t hear, Lord, eh?” And this doubt comes, “Why doesn’t He work a miracle? He can if He wants to.” Maybe you also feel anger and you say, “Now I won’t pray anymore!”. Instead, when you put yourself on your knees during the Eucharist, and the priest lifts Jesus, you say, “Mamma mia… but He died for me, too!” And then I really can’t believe how He loved me this much. Surely I believe that all this will serve some purpose for something else that right now I don’t understand. Already right now our marriage and our relationship are different; they have matured with a lot of patience, with a lot of service. We found ourselves in a situation that wasn’t there before, and we didn’t know what to do; instead, it was another experience where we grew in love, and through which we became even closer to the Lord!