“Dear children! With joy, also today I call you to open your hearts and to listen to my call. Anew, I desire to draw you closer to my Immaculate Heart, where you will find refuge and peace. Open yourselves to prayer, until it becomes a joy for you. Through prayer, the Most High will give you an abundance of grace and you will become my extended hands in this restless world which longs for peace. Little children, with your lives witness faith and pray that faith may grow day by day in your hearts. I am with you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
“Dear children! I call you, for this time to be for all of you, a time of witnessing. You, who live in the love of God and have experienced His gifts, witness them with your words and life that they may be for the joy and encouragement to others in faith. I am with you and incessantly intercede before God for all of you that your faith may always be alive and joyful, and in the love of God. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
“Dear children! May this time be for you a time of prayer and silence. Rest your body and spirit, may they be in God’s love. Permit me, little children, to lead you, open your hearts to the Holy Spirit so that all the good that is in you may blossom and bear fruit one hundred fold. Begin and end the day with prayer with the heart. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
The following interview was conducted and published by ministryvalues.com. – Asst. Ed.
Last week, Ministryvalues.com was lucky enough to catch Dr. Mark Miravalle between radio broadcasts, and he was kind enough to give us some of his very valuable time to ask him some questions – tough questions, it turns out for many – questions that seem to consistently cause a stir in many circles of a very large family called the Catholic Church.
Today it seems the subject of a Fifth Marian Dogma and the events taking place at Medjugorje, certainly when it comes to debating the issues, can split even the most well meaning Catholics into a veritable Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s family feud. The Fifth Dogma seeks to establish the Blessed Mother as Co-redemptrix and the Mother of all graces. The concept of Co-redemptrix refers to an indirect or unequal but important participation by the Blessed Virgin Mary in redemption, a status that many say would widen the ecumenical divide between Catholics and Protestants.
Medjugorje is perhaps even more controversial, especially among the Catholic faithful. Medjugorje is a town in Bosnia and since 1981, the Virgin Mary is said to be appearing to six people bringing special messages to the world urging us all to return to prayer and to seek “Peace in our hearts”. The controversy surrounding Medjugoje stems from the fact that the movement has become the fastest growing Marian shrine in the world, rivaling now even Fatima and Lourdes, but has yet to receive official Vatican approval as an authentic apparition of the Blessed Mother of Jesus.
At Ministryvalues.com, we bring these subjects up a lot in our content and we have found ourselves in the middle of the bazooka crossfire many times. Perhaps that is why Dr. Miravalle took pity on us and accepted our request to speak with him.
As soon as we began our conversation with Dr. Miravalle, he quickly insisted we call him Mark. At first we thought we had mispronounced his name and rather than go through the niceties of straightening that business out, we figured he decided it would be simpler and quicker to go with just “Mark”. But that was not the case – turns out one of the most esteemed and respected Marian theologians and authors in the world, a man who has had private meetings with Pope John Paul II and Our Holy See, Pope Benedict XVI, a man who has given his enormous talents and energy to make this world a better place by helping people get to know the Blessed Mother more intimately, more realistically and more lovingly, really likes being called just plain old Mark.
Without a doubt, Dr. Mark Miravalle is not only a treasure within the Catholic Church, but also the politest man you will ever meet. And did we mention patient. Dr. Miravalle, a man who is pulled at once in many directions, and as a father of eight, we mean that literally as well as figuratively, made us feel like he had all the time in the world as we fumbled around trying to get our phone conference buttons to be punched in correctly. It was an eerie feeling, for us anyway, keeping a man on hold who has broken bread with Popes in private rooms. After we managed to work our way through the technological hurdles, Dr. Miravalle’s first words were, “It’s nice to talk with you on this special feast day of the Nativity, the Blessed Mother’s birthday.”
Ministryvalues.com: Dr. Miravalle, when the Catholic Church investigates reports of supernatural phenomena, it often invokes your assistance. What are some of the cases that you have investigated and what are some of the criteria that you use to discern such cases, especially when someone reports experiencing an apparition?
Dr. Miravalle: In investigating and discerning reported cases of supernatural phenomena, I use the official guidelines for criteria that the Church, through the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith), issued and works with. These guidelines were established in 1978 under Cardinal Seper at that time the Prefect of the CDF.
There are three primary criteria that are used to evaluate and judge any claim of supernatural phenomena. They include:
1) The content of the revealed message; does it align with Church teaching on faith and morals, with the Magisterium, does it align with Church history?
2) The nature of the ecstasy and other concurring phenomena
3) The recognized spiritual fruits resulting from the reported message and phenomena.
Ministryvalues.com: As a doctoral student, you wrote your dissertation on the reported Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, which are currently being investigated by the Holy See. Can you tell us how your dissertation came to be and what were your original experiences with Medjugorje?
Dr. Miravalle: I originally traveled to Medjugorje in 1983 while pursuing my doctoral studies at the Angelicum in Rome. I first heard of Medjugorje by finding a book on the subject by Fr. Robert Faricy and Sister Lucy Rooney in a bookstore across the street from the Vatican. Arriving at Medjugorje, I studied and investigated the events there, coming to the conclusion that Medjugorje fully aligns with Church teaching and, in my opinion, is absolutely authentic. Upon arriving in Medjugorje I soon felt a great sense of peace around me and my personal experience could only be described as a supernatural event. The dissertation was called, “The Message of Medjugorje: A Postconcilar Formulation of Lourdes and Fatima.” The dissertation showed how the messages of Medjugorje align with Church tradition, ranging from the Gospels to the teachings of the early Church Fathers in their foundational elements, to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and to the messages of other Church-approved apparitions.
Ministryvalues.com: As you probably know, the Vatican has taken the judgment of the apparitions in Medjugorje away from the local bishop, setting up an international commission under the guidance of the CDF in Rome to examine this phenomenon. What does this tell us about the significance of Medjugorje?
Dr. Miravalle: I see this as a continuation of what has transpired before, when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger intervened in 1986 and took the jurisdiction of Medjugorje away from the local bishop of Mostar, Bishop Zanic, placing it into the hands of the Yugoslav Bishops Conference. This was done so Medjugorje could be judged objectively. That’s why Medjugorje has recently been placed under an international commission headed by the Holy See, so the apparitions could be judged objectively. I see this is as a continuation of the Church’s previous actions now.
What is most important is Our Lady’s wishes. Perhaps local Church authorities not certain of the authenticity of the apparitions at Medjugorje have themselves at times not been in conformity with the Church’s process of objective evaluation which therefore calls for ongoing cooperation. Much of the debate surrounding Medjugorje generally results from misunderstandings of official Church position pertaining to Medjugorje. Which in light of the 1991 Zadar statement from the ex Yugoslav conference of bishops, and the May 26, 1998 letter of Arcbishop Tarcisio Bertone then secretary of the CDF, does allow for private pilgrims to go to Medjugorje in good faith and in full obedience to the Magisterium.
Ministryvalues.com: Can you comment about this Marian movement, regarding the fifth Marian dogma, that you’re a part of?
Dr. Miravalle: I am the president of Vox Populi Mariae Mediatrici, a movement within Catholicism that hopes to promote and gain, through papal infallibility, an official recognition of a fifth Marian dogma, a papal definition identifying Our Lady as the Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of all grace, and Advocate of all peoples. This dogma simply proclaims Our Lady to be the greatest helper to her Son in the Redemption of humanity, more than any other human being. As part of the movement, millions of people have sent their petitions to the Vatican for the official recognition of this dogma, including hundreds of priests, cardinals, and bishops; including the President of the Phillipines, Gloria Arroyo, who, on behalf of the Filipino people, petitioned the Pope Benedict directly for the proclamation of the Fifth Marian dogma.
Ministryvalues.com: You have written many books on Medjugorje. Many of your works emphasize how to live the messages of Medjugorje – from daily Mass to prayer and, perhaps most difficult for modern people, fasting. Can you talk about how you and your family incorporate the messages in your lives and what advice would you give to Christians who are sincerely trying, but struggling, to live these messages?
Dr. Miravalle: All Christians should struggle to live the messages. It is a message which really needs Christian perfection. Our Lady has been very pastoral with the call to fasting , for example. In the early periods of the apparitions, she recommended fasting on bread and water on Fridays; and only later, once people got used to it, she gradually added Wednesday to the fast; helping us to gradually adopt to these needs. But, while Our Lady says that bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays is the best fast, it’s not the only way to fast. There’s other things we can give up, other things that hinder us. We all can give up watching television. We can all give up eating meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. There’s also the fast of the tongue. We should try to be less judgmental, giving up negative words and thoughts. So, while bread and water constitute the best fast, according to Our Lady, it’s not the only way to fast.
Ministryvalues.com: When Cardinal Christoph Schonborn spoke at the Catholic University of America last February, he was asked about Medjugorje. One of the things that he emphasized was how many young people have discovered faith through Medjugorje, and how he could not ignore this blessing. He also emphasized how many vocations have been discovered through Medjugorje, explaining that if it wasn’t for Medjugorje he wouldn’t have any seminarians in Austria since most of his seminarians have found their vocation to the priesthood someone through Medjugorje. Being a professor at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, what has been the response that your students, that young people which you know and encounter on a daily basis, have given to Medjugorje and your lectures on the subject?
Dr. Miravalle: My students have been very receptive toward Medjugorje. Many of my students at Franciscan love Medjugorje, many have traveled to Medjugorje. For young people, Medjugorje is a place where we see a fire of conversion. .. Love flows to the hearts of young people and Medjugorje is a place that generates extraordinary graces. How powerful the spiritual fruits have been of Medjugorje, especially with young people. How many have overcome drug addictions, or sex addictions, how many have had their lives transformed completely because of Medjugorje. These are supernatural fruits which are being evidenced throughout the world, therefore this must be an authentic tree. Those who oppose Medjugorje have to ignore the foundational elements of Christian discernment, the fruits of the tree, according to the exceptional guidelines for discernment that Jesus Himself gives us. Many who oppose Medjugorje even try to separate the two, claiming that the fruits are good but the tree isn’t. This doesn’t make any sense in the tradition of Christian discernment, for, as Christ taught us in the Gospel, you will know the tree by the fruits. If the spiritual fruits are authentic, so then must be the tree.
Ministryvalues.com: As a devout Catholic and a father of eight, what advice can you give parents about raising their children with a love of faith, especially fostering a love for Our Lady? How have you attempted to foster this love in your own children’s lives?
Dr. Miravalle: It is very important to foster regular family prayer, especially devotions like the Rosary. When families set time each day to pray together in the home, children will learn from this. They will notice that if this routine is broken, something is not right, for they will grow to appreciate the routine of prayer as part of their family’s tradition.
Ministryvalues.com: What can people do if they want to support efforts for the Fifth Marian Dogma?
Dr. Miravalle: Our Lady has specifically asked, through the Marian message to the modern world, that we pray and petition for the Papal Definition of Mary as Our Spiritual Mother under its three essential aspects of Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. An international Rosary Crusade is presently taking place from August 15, 2010 to August 15, 2011 for this dogmatic crown for Our Lady. Pray the Rosary Daily for the Dogma, and also include the powerful prayer from the Lady of All Nations …
People can join the millions who have already sent their petitions in by going to fifthmariandogma.com and sending their own petition to the Holy Father. But especially pray. The Dogma will bring torrents of grace to the Church. The Fifth Marian Dogma will also bring the peace promised at Fatima, leading to the Triumph of her most Immaculate Heart.
Ministryvalues.com: Thanks Dr. Miravalle ….sorry thanks Mark, thank you so much for your time on this special day – the feast day of the Nativity, the Blessed Mother’s birthday
Daniel Klimek attended Harvard, graduated with a Masters degree from Yale, and is now pursuing his PHD at Catholic University in Washington D.C.
Stephen Ryan is Publisher of ministryvalues.com, is a graduate of George Washington University, and lives in Alexandria Va.
“Dear children! My prayer today is for all of you who seek the grace of conversion. You knock on the door of my heart, but without hope and prayer, in sin, and without the Sacrament of Reconciliation with God. Leave sin and decide, little children, for holiness. Only in this way can I help you, hear your prayers and seek intercession before the Most High. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
The reported apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Bosnia-Herzegovina (former Yugoslavia) have attracted the attention of the world and approximately 30 million pilgrims. Since June 24, 1981, six children began to report daily visits from the “Queen of Peace” and several of the “visionaries” continue to report receiving a daily apparition from the Mother of Jesus over 25 years later.
Is Medjugorje real? Are these authentic apparitions of the Virgin Mary? What is the official position of the Catholic Church about their authenticity? Could these simply be the fraudulent deception of hysteric children (now adults) for reasons of attention and personal gain?
“Dear children; You are gathering around me, you are seeking your way, you are seeking, you are seeking the truth but are forgetting what is the most important, you are forgetting to pray properly. Your lips pronounce countless words, but your spirit does not feel anything. Wandering in darkness, you even imagine God Himself according to yourselves, and not such as He really is in His love. Dear children, proper prayer comes from the depth of your heart, from your suffering, from your joy, from your seeking the forgiveness of sins. This is the way to come to know the right God and by that also yourselves, because you are created according to Him. Prayer will bring you to the fulfillment of my desire, of my mission here with you, to the unity in God’s family. Thank you.” Our Lady blessed everyone present, thanked them and called us to pray for priests.
“Dear children! Also today I am with you and I am looking at you and blessing you, and I am not losing hope that this world will change for the good and that peace will reign in the hearts of men. Joy will begin to reign in the world because you have opened yourselves to my call and to God’s love. The Holy Spirit is changing a multitude of those who have said ‘yes’. Therefore I desire to say to you: thank you for having responded to my call. ”
“Dear children! I look at you and I see in your heart death without hope, restlessness and hunger. There is no prayer or trust in God, that is why the Most High permits me to bring you hope and joy. Open yourselves. Open your hearts to God’s mercy and He will give you everything you need and will fill your hearts with peace, because He is peace and your hope. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
“Dear children! May this time be a time of prayer for you. My call, little children, desires to be for you a call to decide to follow the way of conversion; therefore, pray and seek the intercession of all the saints. May they be for you an example, an incentive and a joy towards eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”
October 02 2010 Message to Mirjana
“Dear children, Today I call you to a humble, my children, humble devotion. Your hearts need to be just. May your crosses be your means in the battle against the sins of the present time. May your weapon be patience and boundless love – a love that knows to wait and which will make you capable of recognizing God’s signs – that your life, by humble love, may show the truth to all those who seek it in the darkness of lies. My children, my apostles, help me to open the paths to my Son. Once again I call you to pray for your shepherds. Alongside them, I will triumph. Thank you.”
September 25 2010 Message to Marija
“Dear children! Today I am with you and bless you all with my motherly blessing of peace, and I urge you to live your life of faith even more, because you are still weak and are not humble. I urge you, little children, to speak less and to work more on your personal conversion so that your witness may be fruitful. And may your life be unceasing prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Latest Monthly Medjugorje Message, August 25, 2010
“Dear children! With great joy, also today, I desire to call you anew: pray, pray, pray. May this time be a time of personal prayer for you. During the day, find a place where you will pray joyfully in a recollected way. I love you and bless you all. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”
Latest Special Medjugorje Message, September 2, 2010 – Our Lady’s apparitions to Mirjana
“Dear children, I am beside you because I desire to help you to overcome trials, which this time of purification puts before you. My children, one of those is not to forgive and not to ask for forgiveness. Every sin offends Love and distances you from it – and Love is my Son. Therefore, my children, if you desire to walk with me towards the peace of God’s love, you must learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Thank you. ”
Our Lady’s apparitions to Mirjana.
“Dear Children! Today I call you, together with me, to begin to build the Kingdom of Heaven in your hearts; that you may forget that what is personal and – led by the example of my Son – think of what is of God. What does He desire of you? Do not permit Satan to open the paths of of earthly happiness, the paths without my Son. My children, they are false and last a short while. My Son exists. I offer you eternal happiness and peace and unity with my Son, with God; I offer you the Kingdom of God. Thank you. ”
“Dear children! Anew I call you to follow me with joy. I desire to lead all of you to my Son, your Savior. You are not aware that without Him you do not have joy and peace, nor a future or eternal life. Therefore, little children, make good use of this time of joyful prayer and surrender. Thank you for having responded to my call. ”
“Dear children, my motherly call, which I direct to you today, is a call of truth and life. My Son, who is Life, loves you and knows you in truth. To come to know and to love yourself, you must come to know my Son; to come to know and to love others, you must see my Son in them. Therefore, my children, pray, pray, that you may comprehend and surrender with a spirit that is free, be completely transformed and, in this way, may have the Kingdom of Heaven in your heart on earth. Thank you! “
“Dear children! With joy, I call you all to live my messages with joy; only in this way, little children, will you be able to be closer to my Son. I desire to lead you all only to Him, and in Him you will find true peace and the joy of your heart. I bless you all and love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call. “
Medjugorje is without doubt the most influential apparition of the twentieth century after Fatima. The parish records of St. James Catholic Church in Medjugorje show that over fifty thousand priests and religious—among them hundreds of bishops and cardinals—have come to Medjugorje, inspired by the presence of the Virgin. Second, other than Guadalupe, no other Marian apparition in history has been the direct cause of as many conversions as Medjugorje. Guadalupe brought about the conversion of eight million Aztecs. Medjugorje has now attracted over thirty million pilgrims, the vast majority of whom have had their lives transformed or touched by their encounter with the Queen of Peace (not to speak of the tens of millions of others who have never visited Medjugorje but have been third-party recipients of the graces mediated by the Virgin).
Pope John Paul II many times expressed his faith in Medjugorje. The late Cardinal Tomasek had made public the Holy Father’s remark in his presence, “If he were not Pope he would like to go to Medjugorje to help at the work with the pilgrims.” The Holy Father had invited numerous priests and bishops to go there. He had received several of the Medjugorje visionaries, (1) among them Mirjana Dragicevic. Upon visiting Rome in 1987 he spoke for 20 minutes with her in private. The visionary states that she will reveal nothing about this conversation for the time being, apart from these words of the Holy Father: “If I were not the Pope, I would be in Medjugorje already.” (In March, 2004, she received an invitation from Pope John Paul II to come to the Vatican to meet with him again. His declining health, however, prevented the meeting from taking place).
Monthly Message, June 25, 1988
“Dear children! I am calling you to that love which is loyal and pleasing to God. Little children, love bears everything bitter and difficult for the sake of Jesus who is love. Therefore, dear children, pray that God come to your aid, not however according to your desire, but according to His love. Surrender yourself to God so that He may hear you, console you and forgive everything inside you which is a hindrance on the way of love. In this way God can move your life, and you will grow in love. Dear children, glorify God with a hymn of love so that God’s love may be able to grow in you day by day to its fullness. Thank you for having responded to my call. “
Message of September 11, 1986
“Dear children! For these days while you are joyfully celebrating the cross, I desire that your cross also would be a joy for you. Especially, dear children, pray that you may be able to accept sickness and suffering with love the way Jesus accepted them. Only that way shall I be able with joy to give out to you the graces and healings which Jesus is permitting me. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Latest Special Medjugorje Message, June 2, 2010 - Our Lady’s apparitions to Mirjana
“Dear children, today I call you, with fasting and prayer, to clear the way by which my Son will enter into your hearts. Accept me as a mother and a messenger of God’s love and of His desire for your salvation. Free yourself of everything from the past which burdens you and gives you a sense of guilt; of everything that brought you to error – darkness. Accept the light. Be born anew in the justice of my Son. Thank you.
“Dear children! God gave you the grace to live and to defend all the good that is in you and around you, and to inspire others to be better and holier; but Satan, too, does not sleep and through modernism diverts you and leads you to his way. Therefore, little children, in the love for my Immaculate Heart, love God above everything and live His commandments. In this way, your life will have meaning and peace will rule on earth. Thank you for having responded to my call. “
“Dear children! Also today I desire to call you all to be strong in prayer and in the moments when trials attack you. Live your Christian vocation in joy and humility and witness to everyone. I am with you and I carry you all before my Son Jesus, and He will be your strength and support. Thank you for having responded to my call. “
Monthly Message, February 25, 2010
“Dear children! In this time of grace, when nature also prepares to give the most beautiful colors of the year, I call you, little children, to open your hearts to God the Creator for Him to transform and mould you in His image, so that all the good which has fallen asleep in your hearts may awaken to a new life and a longing towards eternity. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Our Lady’s Message to the Visionary Mirjana, March 2, 2010
Dear children, In this special time of your effort to be all the closer to my Son, to his suffering, but also to the love with which he bore it, I desire to tell you that I am with you. I will help you to triumph over errors and temptations with my grace. I will teach you love, love which wipes away all sins and makes you perfect, love which gives you the peace of my Son now and forever. Peace with you and in you, because I am the Queen of Peace. Thank you.
The following interviews conducted by Bruno Volpe concern the apparitions of Medjugorje. In the first interview, he speaks about the apparitions with Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, Archbishop Emeritus of Ravenna-Cervia, Italy. In the second, he speaks with the Bishop of Trani, in Puglia, Mons. Giovanni Battista Pichierri.
Interview with Cardinal Tonini
What do you think about the Medjugorje phenomenon?
“I think that it is a blessed place and a grace of God; who goes to Medjugorje returns transformed, changed, he reflects himself in that source of grace that is Christ. Christ is at the same time the tap and the source. If in Medjugorje, as it is obvious by now, many conversions happen, it surely means that there is the hand of God. I believe that we should look at Medjugorje with serenity and trust, appreciating all the good and holy things that happen in that place.”
The following homily was delivered Sunday, June 15, at St. James Church in Medjugorje by Fr. Timothy Deeter. The apparitions began 27 years ago, on June 24, 1981.
Last night, I finished another book for my spiritual reading. I’m constantly amazed at how God directs me to read spiritual works that have important lessons for my own life at the time I’m reading them. The book I just finished is entitled Testimony of Hope and it’s by Archbishop—later Cardinal—Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan. In 1975, only a few months after his appointment as archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), he was imprisoned by the Vietnamese government for 13 years. Then he was placed under house arrest for three more years, before finally being expelled from Vietnam. Archbishop Van Thuan went to Rome to work in the Vatican, and in the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II asked him to preach the annual Lenten retreat for himself and the heads of various Vatican departments. The retreat was so successful that the Pope asked the Archbishop to publish the text of his reflections.
The message of Medjugorje is practical and pastoral in nature. Though theologically sound and in complete conformity with Church teaching, its primary purpose is not to be studied but to make a difference in an individual’s life. The Blessed Virgin Mary has not revealed astonishing supernatural realities or new aspects of her role as mediatrix or intercessor but rather, as a loving mother, she repeatedly returns to the ordinary ways believers can live out their faith. The following set of themes are the “how-tos” of the messages. They develop the foundational themes of faith, prayer, fasting, penance, conversion and peace in a way that can be lived out day by day. We will consider them in the light of contemporary Church documents to grasp the significance of Mary’s message and their conformity to Church teaching.
The Mass Is the Greatest Prayer
The message of Medjugorje calls for a strong devotion to Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist. The May 30, 1984, message encourages daily Mass attendance:
Children, I want the Holy Mass to be the gift of the day for you. Go to it; long for it to begin, because Jesus Christ Himself gives Himself to you during Mass. So, live for this moment when you are purified. Pray much that the Holy Spirit will renew your parish. If people assist at Mass in a half-hearted fashion, they will return with cold, empty hearts.
The Mass, as the continuation of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ at Calvary, is the summit of prayer and worship of God:
The Mass is the greatest prayer from God, and you will never understand the greatness of it. Therefore, you must be perfect and humble at Mass, and you must prepare for it.
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is stressed as a time when great graces are received:
Adore continually the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. I am always present when the faithful are in adoration. Then special graces are being received.
The Madonna has called for a renewal of Mass attendance, including the “very young” of each family: “…encourage the very young to pray and to go to Holy Mass.” Perseverance in attending Mass despite hard weather will bring about the Lord’s abundant reward (November 2, 1985). But mere attendance without whole-hearted participation is not enough:
Dear children, I am calling you to more attentive prayer and participation in the Mass. I wish you to experience God within yourselves during Mass (May 16, 1985).
The Blessed Virgin summons all the faithful to live the Mass throughout the day:
There are many of you who have experienced the beauty of the Mass, but there are some who come unwillingly. I have chosen you, dear children, and Jesus is giving you His graces in the Holy Mass.
Therefore, live consciously the Holy Mass. Let every coming to Holy Mass be joyful. Come with love and accept the Holy Mass (April 3, 1986).
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) strongly emphasizes full and complete participation in the Mass by all Christians in the fullness of faith:
They (the faithful) should be instructed by God’s word, and be nourished at the table of the Lord’s Body. They should give thanks to God, offering the Immaculate Victim, not only through the hands of the priest but also together with him; they should learn to offer themselves through Christ, the Mediator. They should be drawn day by day into ever more perfect union with God and each other, so that finally God may be all in all (S.C., No. 48).
Inaestimabile Donum (Instruction on Certain Norms Concerning the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, April, 1980) repeats traditional Church teaching regarding adoration of the Blessed Sacrament:
Public and private devotion to the Holy Eucharist outside Mass also is highly recommended: For the presence of Christ, who is adored by the faithful in the Sacrament, derives from the sacrifice and is directed towards sacramental and spiritual communion (I.D., No. 20).
Pope John Paul II describes the unequaled earthly union with Christ attainable in the reception of the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist in the encyclical Redemptor Hominis:
The Eucharist is the most perfect Sacrament of this union. By celebrating and also partaking of the Eucharist we unite ourselves with Christ on earth and in Heaven . . . but we always do so through the redeeming act of His sacrifice . . . (R.H., No. 20).
I Wish to Call You to Confession
The request for sacramental Confession has been present since the third day of the apparitions, June 26, 1981, and as such is integral to the message of Medjugorje as a major means of conversion.
Reconciliation with God and with neighbor is effected by the Sacrament of Penance:
Men must be reconciled with God and with one another. For this to happen, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession.
Our Lady has referred to the Sacrament of Penance as a “medicine for the Church of the West,” stating that “whole regions of the Church would be healed if believers would go to Confession once a month.”
Mary’s request for monthly Confession was made at least as early as August 6, 1982, and was immediately implemented by the members of St. James parish. On November 7, 1983, Our Lady spoke to Jelena and warned against a type of mechanical, habitual Confession:
Don’t go to Confession from habit to stay the same after it. No, that is not good. Confession should give drive to your faith. It should stir you, and draw you near to Jesus. If Confession doesn’t mean much to you, you will be converted only with difficulty.
Confession as a means of surrender to God is the focus of the message given on the eve of the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 1985:
Dear children, today I wish to call you to Confession, even if you had Confession a few days ago. I wish you to experience my Feast Day within yourselves. You cannot, unless you give yourselves to God completely. And so I am calling you to reconciliation with God! Thank you for your response to my call.
The Church’s Magisterium has stressed the importance of sacramental Confession as the forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with Christ several times since Vatican II. In 1974, the document Misericordiam Suam introduced the New Order of Penance and spoke of the significance of sacramental Confession, in particular for the forgiveness of grave sin:
Those who depart from the fellowship of the love of God through grave sin are recalled through the Sacrament of Penance to the life which they had lost. Those who fall into venial sin, however, experiencing their weakness daily, receive through frequent Confession the strength to arrive at the full freedom of the Children of God.
… in order to receive the saving remedy of the Sacrament of Penance, the Christian should confess to a priest all and every grave sin which he can recall after an examination of his conscience (M.S., No. 7).
Reconciliatio et Paenitentia emphasizes that sacramental confession is to be the regular and ordinary means to receive the forgiveness of sins and should not be disregarded:
The first conviction is that, for a Christian, the Sacrament of Penance is the ordinary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sins committed after Baptism … In the school of faith we learn that the same Savior desired and provided that the simple and precious Sacraments of faith would ordinarily be the effective means through which His redemptive power passes and operates. It would therefore be foolish, as well as presumptuous, to wish arbitrarily to disregard the means of grace and salvation which the Lord has provided (R.P., No. 30).
Pope John Paul II also refers to the contemporary neglect of the Sacrament and calls for renewal and reaffirmation:
It is good to renew and reaffirm this faith (in the Sacrament of Penance) at the moment when it might be weakening, losing some of its completeness, or entering into an area of shadow or silence, threatened as it is by the negative elements in the above-mentioned crisis. For the Sacrament of Confession is indeed being undermined … A further negative influence is the routine of a sacramental practice sometimes lacking in fervor and real spontaneity, deriving perhaps from a mistaken and distorted idea of the effects of the Sacrament. It is therefore appropriate to recall the principal aspects of this great sacrament (R.P., No. 28).
With Rosaries in Your Hand You Will Conquer
The rosary is unquestionably the fundamental form of devotional prayer requested in the Medjugorjian message. Our Lady often requested that the rosary be prayed more frequently.
On the eve of the Feast of the Assumption, August 14, 1984, Ivan reported an unexpected apparition of Mary accompanied with the request for the full fifteen-decade rosary every day: “I ask the people to pray with me these days. Pray all the more . . . Say every day at least one rosary; joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.”
The Madonna specifically requested a nightly family rosary in two Thursday Messages (September 27, 1984 and October 8, 1984) for the fulfillment of her plans for the parish and for all people.
On June 25, 1985, four years after the apparitions began, Our Lady asked everyone to pray the rosary in order to combat Satan:
Dear children, I ask you to ask everyone to pray the rosary. With the rosary you will overcome all the troubles which Satan is trying to inflict on the Catholic Church.
On August 8, 1985, Our Lady reiterated the powerful effect of the rosary against Satan:
Dear Children, today I call you to pray against Satan in a special way. Satan wants to work more now that you know he is active. Dear children, put on your armor against Satan; with rosaries in your hands you will conquer. Thank you for your response to my call.
Our Lady gave this message to Mirjana when she asked, “Madonna, what do you wish to say to priests?”: “Let all priests pray the rosary. Give time to the rosary” (June 25, 1985).
Finally, in the June 12, 1986 message, the Madonna begs that the rosary be prayed with commitment and lively faith so we may understand the reason for her apparitions:
Today I am begging you to pray the rosary with lively faith. Only this way can I help you. Pray. I cannot help you because you don’t want to be moved. Dear children, I am calling you to pray the rosary. The rosary should be your commitment, prayed with joy and so you will understand why I am visiting you for such a long time. I want to teach you to pray.
In Marialis Cultus, Pope Paul VI extols the benefits of frequent recitation of the rosary:
To this our predecessors have devoted close attention and care. On many occasions they have recommended its frequent recitation, encouraged its diffusion, explained its nature, recognized its suitability for fostering contemplative prayer—prayer of both praise and petition—and recalled its intrinsic effectiveness for promoting Christian life and apostolic commitment (M.C., No. 42).
Paul VI continues to describe the rosary as a meditational prayer on the principal salvation events accomplished by Christ and the final events in the life of Our Lady, and as such it is “the compendium of the entire Gospel” (M.C., No. 45). The rosary is a Gospel prayer of continual praise of Christ. It is Jesus who is the object of the Angel’s announcement and the greeting of Elizabeth; therefore, the rosary is intrinsically Christ-centered:
As Gospel prayer, centered on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the rosary is therefore a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. Its most characteristic element, in fact, the litany-like succession of Hail Marys, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ, who is the ultimate object both of the Angel’s announcement and of the greeting of the mother of John the Baptist: “Blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Lk. 1:42) (M.C., No. 46).
Pope John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio particularly encourages the recitation of the family rosary, another call accentuated in the message of Medjugorje:
We now desire, as a continuation of the thought of our predecessors, to recommend strongly the recitation of the family rosary . . . There is no doubt that . . . the rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite. We like to think, and sincerely hope, that when the family gathering becomes a time of prayer, the rosary is a frequent and favored manner of praying (F.C., No. 42).
The Answer Is in the Gospel
Reading and praying the Sacred Scriptures are integral components in the Blessed Virgin’s message. According to Jelena, Our Lady has responded on several occasions, “Why so many questions? The answer is in the Gospel.” Our Lady requested that Matthew 6:24-34 be read every Thursday during the parish service. The messages reaffirm that the Scriptures are a source of spiritual strength, an encouragement to pray, and are the divinely revealed Word of God. This message given to Jelena accents the daily strength that comes from reading the Bible:
I will tell you a spiritual secret: If you wish to be stronger than evil, make an active conscience for yourself—that is, pray a reasonable amount in the morning; read a text of the Holy Scripture and plant the divine word in your heart; and try to live it during the day, especially in moments of trial—so you will be stronger than evil.
The emphasis on reading and praying Sacred Scripture is the theme in this Thursday Message to the parish:
Dear children, today I ask you to read the Bible in your houses every day and let it be in a visible place in the house, so that it will always encourage you to pray.
A renewal of Sacred Scripture in prayer, study and meditation has been emphasized by the Magisterium. Dei Verbum (the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation) discusses the central role of Sacred Scripture in the Church as inerrant and as the norm of faith for the believer:
She (the Church) has always regarded, and continues to regard the Scriptures, taken together with Sacred Tradition, as the supreme rule of her faith. For, since they are inspired by God and committed to writing once and for all time, they present God’s own Word in an unalterable form, and they make the voice of the Holy Spirit sound again and again in the words of the prophets and apostles. It follows that … the entire Christian religion should be nourished and be ruled by Sacred Scripture . . . (D.V., No. 21, 22).
Dei Verbum also attests to the primacy of the Gospels among all inspired writings, which the Medjugorjian messages also emphasize:
It is common knowledge that among all the inspired writings, even among those of the New Testament, the Gospels have special place, and rightly so, because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate Word, our Savior (D.V, No. 18).
The Sacred Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes issued an invitation that Medjugorje echoes in its 1981 document, La Plenaria (The Contemplative Dimension of Religious Life):
Listening to and meditating on the Work of God is a daily encounter with the “surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ” (PC 6; ES II, 16, 1). The Council “warmly and insistently exhorts all the Christian faithful, especially those who live the religious life, to learn this sublime knowledge” (DV 25) (L.P., No. 8).
The Power of Love
Love of neighbor and the concern for the conversion and well-being of our neighbor is the heart of fraternal charity. It is fundamental to Christianity and to the Medjugorjian message. Love of one’s neighbor and family is linked to the power of intercession, as in this message:
Dear children, again I invite you to prayer of the heart. If you pray from your heart, dear children, the ice cold hearts of your brothers will be melted and every barrier will disappear. Conversion will be easily achieved by those who want it. You must intercede for this gift for your neighbors (January 23, 1986).
And the Thursday Message of May 29, 1986, calls for love of God and neighbor, a living in mutual love:
Dear children, today I am calling you to a life of love towards God and your neighbor. Without love, dear children, you cannot do anything. Therefore, dear children, I am calling you to live in mutual love. Only in that way can you love me and accept everyone around you coming to your parish. Everyone will feel my love through you. Therefore, today I beg you to start loving with a burning love.
The “power of love” is the right response for one’s enemies:
Dear children, I am calling you to love your neighbors, to love those from whom the evil is coming to you, and so in the power of love you will be able to judge the intentions of the heart. Pray and love, dear children. In the power of love you can do even those things that seem impossible to you (November 7, 1985).
This message given to Jelena is strongly evocative of the Sermon on the Mount: “Love your enemies. Pray for them and bless them.”
Love of neighbor must first begin with love of family members, as the June 6, 1985, message states:
Dear children, in these days many people of all nationalities will come to the parish, and now I am telling you to love. Love, first of all, members of your own family and then you might be able to accept in love all those who are coming. Thank you for your response to my call.
An authentic love of neighbor, including love of enemies, is a fundamental Christian directive ratified by Vatican II. Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, November 18, 1965) speaks of the love of neighbor as the personal commandment of Christ:
The greatest commandment of the law is to love God with one’s whole heart and one’s neighbor as oneself (cf. Mt. 22:37-40). Christ has made this love of neighbor His personal commandment and has enriched it with a new meaning when He willed Himself, along with His brothers, to be the object of His charity saying: “When you showed it to one of the least of My brothers here, you show it to Me” (Mt. 35:40) (A.A., No. 8).
The same document goes on to identify fraternal charity as the distinguishing characteristic of Christian discipleship:
In assuming human nature He has united to Himself all humanity in a supernatural solidarity which makes of it a single family. He has made charity the distinguishing mark of His disciples, in the words: “By this will all men know you for My disciples, by the love you bear one another” (Jn. 13:35) (A.A., No. 8).
The Gospel call to “love your enemies,” stated so simply in the Medjugorjian content, is re-affirmed in the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (December 7, 1965):
The teaching of Christ even demands that we forgive injury, and the precept of love, which is the commandment of the New Law, includes all our enemies (cf. Mt. 5:43-44) (G.S., No 27).
“You in the World Have Made the Divisions”
The Medjugorjian theme of ecumenism stresses cooperation between all peoples who worship the one God and calls for a sincere respect for individuals with different religious beliefs. The messages clearly state the one and only mediator to the Father is Jesus Christ and that one’s own Church is not a matter of religious indifference. Man has created religious differences unintended by God. All religions are not equally filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit; nor can they all claim to be the one Church instituted by Jesus Christ. The visionaries tell us that the Madonna stated:
In God’s eyes, there are no divisions and there are no religions. You in the world have made the divisions. The one mediator is Jesus Christ. Which religion you belong to cannot be a matter of indifference. The presence of the Holy Spirit is not the same in every Church.
Mirjana expanded on this theme in an interview with Fr. Vlasic in 1983.
She (the Madonna) also emphasized the failings of religious people, especially in small villages. For example, here in Medjugorje there is a separation between Serbians and Moslems. This separation is not good. The Madonna always stresses that there is but one God, and that people have enforced unnatural separation.
Mirjana questioned: If the Moslem religion is a good religion, what is the role of Jesus Christ? She responded,
We did not discuss that. She merely explained and deplored the lack of religious unity, “especially in the villages.” She said that everybody’s religion should be respected, and of course, one’s own.
The conciliar document, Nostrae Aetate (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, October 28, 1965), sets forth guidelines for Christian relations to non-Christian religions. The Medjugorjian theme is remarkably similar in content.
The Council Fathers first discuss the elements of truth and high moral conduct that can be found in several of the major world religions, then they turn to the singularity of Christ and the completeness of the Christian religion:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet, she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 1:6). In Him, in whom God reconciled all things to Himself (2 Cor 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life (N.A., No. 2).
The Magisterium consistently teaches that the Catholic Church is the one true Church of Christ. The fullness of the presence of the Holy Spirit, as alluded to in the Madonna’s message, and the full means of His sanctification is found only in the Catholic Church as stated here in this passage from Lumen Gentium:
This is the sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic…This Church, constituted and organized as a society in the present world, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successors of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines. Since these are gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity (L.G., No. 8).
Further, the post-conciliar document, Ecumenical Collaboration at the Regional, National and Local Levels (1975), stresses that ecumenical efforts are to be initiated by the “local Church” in every respective town or city:
From the Catholic perspective ecumenical responsibilities of the local Church emerge clearly… Therefore, the local Church… can be in a very favorable position to make contact and establish fraternal relations with other Christian churches and communicate at these levels.
The Church is calling all parishes, whether urban or rural, to a greater respect, dialogue and prudent cooperation with other churches and with our separated brethren in Christ. The Church at the same time cautions the faithful to uphold and proclaim the fullness of the truth within the Catholic Church.
This commitment to the fullness of truth and yet tolerance and love for others is the same stance taken by the message of Medjugorje.
Let Family Prayer Take the First Place
Mary’s message at Medjugorje promotes family prayer and community prayer as a powerful means of combating Satan in the modern world. The accent is on families united in prayer, but there is also a strong call for community prayer.
In addition to Mary’s request that all Christians attend daily Mass, she has also requested the formation of prayer groups in all parishes:
Yes, there is a need for a prayer group, not only in this parish, but in all parishes. Spiritual renewal is needed for the entire Church.
Communal, and especially family prayer is effective against Satan according to Mirjana:
The devil is not in them (people in general) but they’re under the influence of the devil. To prevent this, at least to some extent, the Madonna said we need communal prayer, family prayer. She stressed the need for family prayer most of all.
The ability and the degree to which families can pray together is greater than is commonly supposed, according to this dialogue between Jelena and the Madonna:
Madonna: I know that every family can pray four hours a day.
Jelena: But if I tell this to the people, they may back out.
Madonna: Even you do not understand. It is only one-sixth of the day.
Jelena: I know that you want us to pray continually.
Everyone in the family is to participate in the life of prayer within the home:
Dear children, today I am calling you to prayer. You are forgetting that everyone is important, especially the elderly in the family. Incite them to pray. Let the youth be an example by their lives and testify for Jesus. Dear children, I beg you to start transforming yourselves through prayer and then you will know what you have to do (April 24, 1986).
This invitation is extended even to the youngest children:
Dear children, today I invite you to renew prayer in your families… Encourage the very young to pray and go to Holy Mass (March 7, 1985).
Furthermore, family prayer is to “take the first place in your families” (November 1, 1984). Family life is changed, is made “harmonious” through prayer:
Dear children, I ask you to begin to change your life in your families. Let your family be a harmonious flower which I wish to give to Jesus. Dear children, every family should be active in prayer. It is my wish that the fruits of prayer will be seen one day in the family. Only that way will I give you as petals to Jesus in fulfillment of God’s plan. Thank you for your response to my call (May 1, 1986).
A strong post-conciliar movement supported by the teaching of the Magisterium is reflected by the Medjugorjian stress on family and communal prayer. For example, the multiplication of youth prayer groups is noted by Pope John Paul II in Catechesi Tradendae:
I may also mention the youth groups that, under varying names and forms but always with the purpose of making Jesus Christ known and of living the Gospel, are in some areas multiplying and flourishing in a sort of springtime that is very comforting to the Church… These groups are a source of great hope for the Church of tomorrow (C.T., No. 47).
The Church recognizes the growth of small groups dedicated to communal prayer as a gift of God and encourages them to persevere in the 1978 document Mutuae Relationes:
Today, by the disposition of divine providence, many of the faithful are led to gather into small groups to hear the Gospel, to meditate in depth and practice contemplation… It is indispensable to make certain that all, above all pastors, give themselves to prayer… (M.R., No. 16).
The apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio epitomizes the Magisterial teaching on the role of family prayer in a way that the message of Medjugorje parallels. The proper dignity and responsibility of the family can be achieved through joining in prayer:
The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer (F.C., No. 59).
The Holy Father exhorts the family to the family rosary and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, quoting his predecessor Paul VI:
“There is no doubt that… the rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite. We like to think and sincerely hope, that when the family gathering becomes a time of prayer, the rosary is a frequent and favored manner of praying.” In this way authentic devotion to Mary… constitutes a special instrument for nourishing loving communion in the family and for developing conjugal and family spirituality (F.C., No. 61).
Offer Every Sacrifice with Love
The patient endurance of trials and a willing acceptance of the unchangeable events in God’s perfect will can be offered to God in reparation for the sins of mankind and for the conversion of sinners. This practice, deeply rooted in Catholic tradition, was one of the strongest themes from the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima in 1917. By “offering up” their sufferings and sacrifices the faithful “make up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ” (Col 1:24) for the purification and sanctification of the Church. This theme is also strongly emphasized in Medjugorje.
A Thursday Message from the 1984 Lenten season illustrates the way we can share in the mystery of Christ’s salvific death:
Ponder how the Almighty is still suffering because of your sins. So when the sufferings come, offer them as your sacrifice to God.
This theme continues in the Thursday Message given October 11, 1984:
Dear children, thank you for offering all your pains to God, even now when He is testing you through the fruits which you are reaping. Realize, dear children, that He loves you and for that reason He tests you. Always present your burdens to God and do not worry.
The “testing” was a long rain in the middle of the reaping season which caused great damage to the harvest.
This practice is praised by the Madonna in the message from July 4, 1985:
Dear children, thank you for every sacrifice you have offered. Now I urge you to offer every sacrifice with love. I desire that you who are helpless begin with trust. The Lord will give to you always if you trust.
Spiritual power is unleashed through the practice of “offering up” sacrifices so that the Lord’s plans may be fulfilled: “By offerings and sacrifices to Jesus, everything will be fulfilled that is planned” (January 9, 1986).
Lent, 1986, brought a request for all “little sacrifices” to be offered to God, and speaks of spiritual reward for such sacrifices:
Dear children, today I am calling you to live this Lent with your little sacrifices. Thank you for every sacrifice you have brought me. Dear children, live in such a way continuously and with love. Help me to bring offerings of your sacrifices to God for which He will reward you.
Finally, the message for Holy Thursday, March 27, 1986, expresses the purpose of this practice:
Dear children, I wish to thank you for your sacrifices and I invite you to the greatest sacrifice, the sacrifice of love. Without love you are not able to accept either me or my Son. Without love you cannot witness your experience to others. That is why I invite you, dear children, to begin to live the love in your hearts.
Lumen Gentium strongly endorses the offerings of one’s daily trials and sufferings in the chapter on the laity.
The daily events of the Christian life, and in particular, trials patiently endured “in the Spirit,” are offerings pleasing to the Father:
For all their works, prayer, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit—indeed even the hardships of life if patiently borne—all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (cf. Pet 2:5) (L.G., No. 34).
This offering is given to the Father most appropriately during the Eucharist: “In celebration of the Eucharist these (sacrifices) may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the Body of the Lord” (L.G., No. 34).
Salvifici Doloris (On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering) also specifically refers to the practice of offering one’s suffering to God. In it Pope John Paul II states that this practice is effective in bringing about unity among all mankind:
And so there should come together in spirit beneath the Cross on Calvary all suffering people who believe in Christ, and particularly those who suffer because of their faith in Him who is the Crucified and Risen One, so that the offering of their sufferings may hasten the fulfillment of the prayer of the Savior Himself that all may be one (S.D., No. 31).
Lastly, John Paul II points to Our Lady as the greatest example of one who shared in the sufferings of Christ and was united with the Passion of Christ with all her being:
… It was on Calvary that Mary’s suffering, beside the suffering of Jesus, reached an intensity which can hardly be imagined from a human point of view… As a witness to her Son’s Passion by her presence, as a sharer in it by her compassion, Mary offered a unique contribution to the Gospel of suffering… She truly has a special title to be able to claim that she “completes in her flesh”—as already in her heart—”what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (S.D., No. 25).
Abandon Yourselves Totally
Abandonment to God does not mean to withdraw all human effort for the day-to-day living of the Christian life and expect God to accomplish everything. Abandonment is an unfailing trust and reliance on the workings of God in the daily events of life. This is a perfection of Christian hope and involves either an active or passive response of loving obedience to the will of God depending on the situation. It is best exemplified in Mary’s fiat, “Let it be done unto me…” spoken at the Annunciation.
Abandonment to God is another strong theme in the message of Medjugorje. Jelena reported this message on June 16, 1983:
Abandon yourselves totally to God. Renounce disordered passions. Reject fear and give yourself; those who know how to abandon themselves will no longer know either fear or obstacles.
The Gospel passage read every Thursday (Matthew 6:24-34) by members of the parish is a profound call to a deeper trust and faith in the Heavenly Father. It is a call to “seek first of all His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be yours.”
Abandonment to God is particularly effective in the battle against Satan:
Dear children, pray, because Satan is continually trying to thwart my plans. Pray with your hearts and in prayer give yourselves up to Jesus (August 11, 1984).
Complete surrender to God enables one to live the message of Medjugorje completely:
Dear children, I invite you to decide completely for God. I beg you, dear children, to surrender yourselves completely and you will be able to live everything I say to you. It will not be difficult for you to surrender yourselves completely to God (January 2, 1986).
Abandonment to the Holy Spirit allows Jesus to strengthen the believer and work through the individual:
Open your hearts to the Holy Spirit in a special way these days. The Holy Spirit is working in a special way through you. Open your hearts and give your life to Jesus so that He may work through your hearts and strengthen you” (May 23, 1985).
Our Lady has frequently asked for an abandonment to herself as a sure means of complete abandonment to God: “Consecrate yourselves to the Immaculate Heart. Abandon yourselves totally. I will protect you” (August 2, 1983).
Abandonment to Our Lady as loving mother will result in her guidance:
Dear children, abandon yourselves to me so that I can lead you totally. Do not be preoccupied with the material things of this world (April 24, 1986).
The conciliar and post-conciliar documents of the Church speak of this same type of abandonment to God. Dei Verbum (Constitution on Divine Revelation) highlights man’s freedom to surrender himself in faith to God: “By faith man freely commits his entire self to God, making ‘the full submission of his intellect and will to God…’” (D.V. No. 5).
Abandonment to the Holy Spirit is acknowledged in Paul VI’s document, Evangelii Nuntiandi. This is found as well in the message of Medjugorje:
The faithful are striving everywhere, not merely to know and understand Him (the Holy Spirit) better… but also to surrender themselves to Him with joyous hearts, opening their minds to His inspiration. They are eager to be guided by Him (E.N., No. 75).
The same post-conciliar document associates abandonment to God with obedience to His will:
Men and women are called to obey the will of God freely in all things. This is “the obedience of faith by which people freely commit their entire selves to God” (D.V., No. 5) (G.C.D., No. 64).
It is evident, then, that the various devotional calls of the Medjugorje message have their parallels in the mind of the official teaching authority of the Church. To participate in the sacramental and spiritual life of the Body of Christ is to say “yes” both to Vatican II’s universal call to Christian holiness and to the spiritual directives of the message of Medjugorje.
This article was excerpted from Introduction to Medjugorje, Queenship, 2004.
Some years ago when I was first a bishop in Louisiana, it must have been 1988, I was making my first “ad limina” visit to the Holy Father in Rome.
The other bishops of Louisiana were with me and, as was the custom of John Paul II, we were invited in to enjoy a lunch with him. There were eight of us at the table with him.
Soup was being served. Bishop Stanley Ott of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who has since gone to God, asked the Holy Father: “Holy Father, what do you think of Medjugorje?”
The Holy Father kept eating his soup and responded: “Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things are happening at Medjugorje. People are praying there. People are going to Confession. People are adoring the Eucharist, and people are turning to God. And, only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje.”
That seemed to have ended the discussion and we went on to another topic. But, I will long remember the very skillfully cautious response of our Holy Father. [...]
“Dear children, today I want to wrap you all in my mantle and lead you all along the way of conversion. Dear children, I beseech you, surrender to the Lord your entire past, all the evil that has accumulated in your hearts. I want each of you to be happy, but in sin nobody can be happy…” (Our Lady of Medjugorje, February 25, 1987).
The Blessed Mother reveals to us her call to wrap us in that immaculate mantle, that mantle that is stainless by its very nature. That’s the meaning of the word “immaculate,” that which is without sin. Also, as part of this process of conversion the Madonna calls us to let go of all the evil that has been accumulated in our hearts. She has asked for specific means of doing this because our sins, especially those of long past, can have a special tiring and laboring effect on the soul. Sin is the opponent of authentic human happiness, for human happiness is ultimately obtained through the presence of God in the heart. As St. Augustine says in the most famous quote from his book Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” [...]
Peace through faith, prayer, fasting, penance, and conversions summarize the heart of the Madonna’s messages according to the visionaries. These six foundational themes are the basis of the message of Medjugorje upon which other important elements, such as the rosary and daily Mass are developed.
We will take up each theme by examining individual messages given by the visionaries and then look at how that same theme appears in the Gospels. The similarity between the message of Medjugorje as it appears in these themes and the identical themes found in the Gospels affirms the sound Christian doctrine contained in the reported Marian message. [...]
What is presently the official Church position concerning the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje? Our minds and hearts must always be in obedience to the final and definitive judgment provided by the Holy See and proper ecclesiastical authority in union with the Holy See.
On April 10, 1991, the Bishops’ Conference of the former Yugoslavia issued a declaration entitled, “Declaration of the Ex-Yugoslavia Bishops’ Conference on Medjugorje.” While the declaration is inconclusive, stating that at this point of the investigation “it cannot be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations,” it then goes on to state that “the faithful journeying to Medjugorje, prompted both by motives of belief and other motives, require attention and pastoral care” by the Bishop of Mostar and his brother bishops while the investigation continues.
This declaration makes clear that the Medjugorje apparitions are at present neither formally approved (constat de supernaturalitate) nor formally condemned (constat de non supernaturalitate), but represent a middle category of Church evaluation referred to as “non constat de supernaturalitate,” which allows for both continued personal belief in the apparitions and personal (non-diocesan sponsored) pilgrimages to Medjugorje while the investigation is ongoing. [...]
Whenever I tell my story I get pumped. As I tell it I relive it, and I become so much more grateful for the graces I’ve been given. I have been like the recipient of Divine Mercy. It’s no mistake that I was the Assistant Shrine Rector. Where? At the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. God knows what He’s doing.
Okay, so let’s get right back into the story. When my mother told me to run, I did. I put down the book and bolted out the front door, practically going through the screen door. I’ve still got my long hair, my funky clothes and all that. Now I’m moving across this military base and there are marines doing their morning march but I don’t care. I’m running and I’m not in good shape so when I get there I’m exhausted. I didn’t know what to do but I saw a sign over this archway. It amazes me to this day what it said: “Our Lady of Victory.” Wow, I thought, you ain’t kidding. But I didn’t want to go into a church. For me to cross the doorway of a church was radical stuff. So I went into another building. Now I want to be healed. Whatever has to happen, just do it to me. So I go into this building where all these people are sipping their morning coffee and I literally yell out, “Catholic priest!” They look at me like … whoa! I hated the looks they gave me. It was a look I’d known since I was age eleven. One of those “don’t steal from us” looks. [...]
The following transcription is Part I of an oral testimony given by Fr. Donald Calloway of his extraordinary conversion which he experienced through the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje.
The May 26, 1998 statement by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as authored by the former secretary to Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, clearly presents the Holy See’s position which allows for private pilgrimages to Medjugorje while the process of examination continues. – Ed.
Many people don’t really believe what I say happened to me so I show them my picture and then they believe. Can you see that? That’s not a girl; that’s me! That creature has been transformed. Through whom? Through her (pointing to Our Lady’s statue). Actually, I’m amazed I’m a Roman Catholic priest. I still am in awe. I haven’t even been a priest for a year yet. My first anniversary will be on May 31st, the feast of Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces.
The young man you see in front of you, a newly ordained priest, is not the man I always was. A lot of people look at me and think to themselves, “Oh, it’s so good to see a nice, young Catholic priest. He probably was home-schooled, has twelve brothers and sisters, his parents were like St. Joseph and Mary, he had a perfect life.” No. Not at all. [...]
On June 24, 1981, in Medjugorje, a small village in the former Yugoslavia, the Mother of God began appearing daily to six local children from St. James Parish. Our Lady introduced herself to the six visionaries as The Queen of Peace and it has been under this title that Our Lady has been appearing for over twenty-three years. Our Lady appears daily to three of the six visionaries, while the other three visionaries have a yearly apparition. Throughout these nearly twenty-four years, Our Lady, the Queen of Peace, has called the world to peace through faith, conversion, prayer, penance and fasting. (1) Messages from Our Lady were given on a weekly basis to the six visionaries, and in 1987 monthly messages were given through the visionary Marija Pavlovic; these continue to be given on the twenty-fifth of every month. It has been through these words from heaven that those who choose to believe in Medjugorje have come to find out what it is Our Lady desires from the world.
The apparitions in Medjugorje are not only for the people of St. James Parish, but rather they are a call being sent forth from this tiny hamlet to the entire world. Simply stated, Our Lady in Medjugorje has come to call the world to live the Gospel message. The content of the messages are simple—they do not contain orders or threats, there is no anxiety or anything exceptional or unknown. They are simply motherly suggestions. Our Lady desires with all her heart that not one of Her children should ever be lost and that we her children never forget her words from Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). That is why she continues to seek the permission of God to appear each day in Medjugorje. [...]