Reflection on the Message of July 25, 1999
Dear children! Also today I rejoice with you and I call you all to prayer with the heart. I call all of you, little children, to give thanks to God here with me for the graces which He gives to you through me. I desire for you to comprehend that I want to realize here, not only a place of prayer but also a meeting of hearts. I desire for my, Jesus' and your heart to become one heart of love and peace. That is why, little children, pray and rejoice over everything that God does here, despite that Satan provokes quarrels and unrest. I am with you and I lead you all on the way of love. Thank you for having responded to my call.
I again greet all those who are following Mary's messages and before we think about this month's message we should again consider what she told us at the beginning of the 19th year of her presence here with us, and this, of course, means on June 25, 1999. There Our Lady thanked all those who are living the messages and who are witnessing them. She is grateful for all that we have done. Every one of us may personally accept this gratitude, because Mary does not look at the quantity of what we have done, but rather looks at everything that we have done, and this also when it is only a little. Mary's gratitude should also encourage us to live and witness her messages with greater joy and courage. Then she called us to be strong and told us that we get the strength in prayer. God does not want anything from us that He did not give us. When Mary, in God's name, calls us to be strong, then we should pray so that He may give us the strength and then we will also become strong. We, as Christians, must really regard our weakness as a chance to come closer to God just as St. Paul did. So we should pray that all of us can say "when I was weak, I was strong through the grace of God." This call of Mary's is good for us because it makes us ask: "What do I do when I am weak?" There are two possibilities. One is that we can use our weakness as an excuse to continue behaving badly, and the other is that in our weakness we can start looking for God and then, by way of His Spirit, experience His strength. All of us who are in Mary's school therefore have no reason to be fearful of our weakness, but rather to accept each difficult situation as a new reason to seek God more energetically, and this is what Mary is trying to teach us. She then tells us that when we do this we will belong to her and that she will then lead us on the path of salvation. The path of salvation means to leave behind and overcome the path of sin and of misery, and to go where Mary wants us. All of us know that it is not easy to fight against sin, misery and bad habits, but it is possible because God has given us Mary as our companion and our intercessor. Then, at the end of the message, she told us that we should pray and live and witness her presence here with us. This is most certainly our assignment. Every one of us who has been given a gift by way of Medjugorje must also be conscious of the fact that every gift can really become the foundation of what we are meant to do. And again, God can expect nothing from us that He did not give us in the first place. So through the gift that has been given us through Mary's presence here, we are each given the assignment to witness with love and courage her presence among us in that we personally pray, fast, attend Holy Mass, confess and that in our families we may perhaps with greater courage instigate family prayer and perhaps that we find the time to bring about a prayer group. In short that we simply become more active, because anyone who is in Mary's school must become more active, more active in a motherly sense, which means to love, protect, respect life, and this is why one must be active against what is bad, against all that destroys life and active for all that is good and that helps growth. Only in this way can we witness Mary's presence here. And by doing so we will, as it says at the end of that message, witness God's love with each day. So let us really live the entire 19th year of Mary's presence here in this fashion.
At the moment only Ivan is in town because Vicka and Marija have gone to Italy, but we believe that the daily apparitions are continuing for them. The other visionaries, Ivanka and Mirjana, are at home while Jacov too is in Italy. Jacov became a father to his third child this month, a girl. The entire month since the Anniversary we have had pilgrims here, but most of them were groups from Eastern European countries -- Hungary, Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics -- while from the west we had less, yet still we had French, German and Italians, and right now also a group from Vietnam.
At the beginning of July we held a Retreat for Priests and now I may say that it was large meeting. There were about 170 Priests from about 10 countries who were taking part in Mary's school. It was a wonderful experience for all and the theme, associated with this year that has been dedicated to God the Father, the source of all life, was PRIESTS IN SERVICE TO LIFE. So the Priest, who one can say is a man of God, is called to serve all life. All the subjects discussed during those days were related to this theme, so one day we listened to Mons. Philip Reilly who told us how he serves unborn life. For many years he had the yearning to protect unborn life, and when he thought he could not do anything, he started with it, and now he calls upon many people to quietly pray in front of the hospitals in which abortions are performed and some of the people are ready to speak to the women who are entering them or those who are already leaving them. He says that he saved many children, and that these are excellent moments of his Apostolate. From his experience to date he has greater problems with the 80 million who have had abortions than with the 40 million aborted children. Many priests also learned a great deal from his testimony. On another day it concerned the healing of the Priest himself so this meant that Priests who were themselves wounded can then also help others to be healed. About this topic Dr. Fernand Sanchez, the Moderator General of the Catholic Community of the Beatitudes, spoke excellently to us. His accent was that a Priest must accept that he lives in this world but is not from this world, and this is the great tension and therefore problem for all Priests. From one side people want him to be like this world, while from the other side, once he becomes of this world he also gets pushed aside. So all Priests must be ready to live out of God, to almost stand aside, so that they can also act as men sent by God for this world. Then Sr. Elvira told us Priests how one can serve wounded life, and with great strength she gave her testimony which later many said was like a fire that gave them more courage to do more for those who have been injured by alcohol and drugs. Frs. Jozo and Cosimo helped us Priests to delve into prayer and especially Fr. Jozo spoke to us about how the Priest, as being Mary's son, can serve life. The Priests all together were also present at an apparition and Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti came for this. All in all this experience was wonderful, and we all thank God that next year the same dates, June 30 until July 6, have been set aside for the same Priests Retreat. Right now we are preparing for the International Youth Prayer Meeting, and as far as we can tell, by the registrations at this moment, a great number of youth will be here for it. The theme is GOD THE FATHER THE FOUNTAIN OF LIFE, and again Sr. Elvira, Don Cosimo and others who have been invited will be speaking. While next month I will, if God wills it, be reporting more about this pending meeting, right now I only wish to say this. Please, all of you, pray so that the young people who will be coming here really open their hearts to encounter God the Father, that they decide only for life so that they may then live in love, faith and hope, and in this way will be renewed to make a good step into the Third Millennium.
Mary again has given us a message as she has done now since January 1987, and this time it was on the Feast day of our Parish, St. James's Day -- James also being the Patron Saint of all pilgrims. The Parish celebrated this day very well and this is also the reason that Mary says...
ALSO TODAY I REJOICE WITH YOU
Mary is our mother and a mother is happy when her children have a special reason for a joyful Feast. It is very important for us to know that Mary is with us so simply and in all situations, and this then also gives us another reason to be joyful.
AND I CALL YOU ALL TO PRAYER WITH THE HEART
In every message she calls us to prayer. It is also not the first time that she has called us to prayer with the heart, and one thing is certain. Prayer with the heart is prayer for which we have decided with love, for which we take time and make space, and which we then begin to do. That which happens in the heart is not in our hands, but when we find time for prayer, then the rest -- prayer with the heart -- will soon follow. This is really the constant connection between human hearts and God Himself. For this we need a special grace but one that again comes in prayer -- prayer as it happens or as we know how. Gratitude is an important theme in Mary's messages, and here...
I CALL ALL OF YOU ... TO GIVE THANKS TO GOD HERE WITH ME FOR THE GRACES WHICH HE GIVES TO YOU THROUGH ME
We have spoken about gratitude before on these pages. When we encapsulate everything about gratitude, one can say that a humble person is able to say "thank you" because a humble person sees and recognizes the other person in seeing and recognizing what is good in him, even if it is quite small. A proud person is not able to thank because such a person is blind toward the other person and what is good in him, and wants that the other person serve him, that they are obliged to do so and therefore must do so. A humble person always knows that everything that the others do for him is really a reason for him to be grateful, because they simply do not have to do so. So, whoever thanks is free. In relationship toward God, the one who thanks recognizes God as Lord, as Creator, and as the source of all gifts. Here in Medjugorje we have a special reason to be grateful because God, by way of Mary, began with this phenomenon and is also continuing with it. To open ones eyes for that which is happening here and to start thanking God is what Mary wants. But there is also a danger here in our Parish and for those pilgrims who come here often that we simply start taking all this for granted, because when we slip into what is all too normal, then we will soon lose the spirit of gratitude. That is why it is really a huge grace when we recognize what is wonderful about this simple, daily occurrence as being God's creation.
I DESIRE FOR YOU TO COMPREHEND THAT I WANT TO REALIZE HERE
Mary has already brought about a place of prayer, and this is also recognized as such by the Church, in that the Church has seen that many people come here to Medjugorje and that the Priests and Bishops are obligated to accompany them all on the correct path of prayer. This is what the Conference of Bishops of the former Yugoslavia concluded at the meeting in Zadar on April 11, 1991. We can also without exaggeration say that not for a single day since June 25, 1981, so at the very beginning of the apparitions, have we had a day without pilgrims. Despite all the problems and difficulties, including even the war, we always had people stay here or who came here under the most difficult of circumstances. Then when we add to all this the difficulties that came upon us by the hierarchy of the Church, then we can again say that in this 18 years and one month Mary managed to create a real place of prayer. Her wish and also the wish of everyone who has experienced God here is that this town grow and that it brings good fruits in renewing the Church throughout the whole world. But in this message Mary is making us very conscious of something for which she is praying and hoping, when she says...
NOT ONLY A PLACE OF PRAYER BUT ALSO A MEETING OF HEARTS
Then, as in no other message, Mary expresses something about hearts when she says...
I DESIRE FOR MY, JESUS' AND YOUR HEART TO BECOME ONE HEART OF LOVE AND PEACE
So the place of prayer which Mary wishes to and has created here is then really the place in which hearts meet one another. This meeting happens of course at Confession, at holy Mass, at Adoration and then also up on the two mountains -- the Hill of the Apparitions and on Cross Mountain. How many people have experienced precisely this here in town? It is for instance a special grace when someone slips into peace, and when he simply feels that that is a grace. And when the very deep Confessions occur where hearts open themselves so very easily. This is also the testimony of many Confessors who often confirm that they had never before heard Confessions such as they have here. When a heart that is in sin meets a heart that loves, then the former one opens itself and wishes to be freed and then to remain free. So before us stand Jesus and Mary and to revere the hearts of Jesus and of Mary has already become a Catholic tradition. They now stand before us and want our hearts to become one with theirs. This is an offer that no-one can possibly understand, for we are being given the chance to be one with their hearts! This then also becomes our assignment on which to work, and the first step in this work is that we bring very humbly everything that is not all right in our hearts, with Mary, to Jesus. The heart is however the symbol for the entire person. When one says that a person has a heart, then one is certainly not thinking of the organ called the "heart", but are thinking about all the goodness in that person. When one says that a person has no heart, then one again does not think about that organ, but of a person who has no love, faith, goodness or humility about him. So, when Mary has called us to become one with her heart and with Jesus' heart and in so doing our hearts then become hearts of love and of peace, then we are thinking about all of ourselves as well as about all of Jesus and Mary. Again, this is a huge assignment for us and we certainly also wish to decide that we always become increasingly similar to Jesus and to Mary. Toward the end of the message Mary says...
THAT IS WHY ... PRAY AND REJOICE OVER EVERYTHING THAT GOD DOES HERE,
Being joyful is another reason to see what God is doing here and to be grateful for it all. Gratitude and joy are very closely related and it is from joy that gratitude also grows. Mary also says that...
DESPITE THAT SATAN PROVOKES QUARRELS AND UNREST
...we may not let it destroy the hope, the joy and the faith that we have gained here. In many messages Our Lady has spoken about Satan, and all that she has said can be brought together in a few points. This means that Mary has told us that Satan exists, and this means no-one may doubt his existence. She has said that he is strong and works untiringly against peace and against our salvation. But Mary has told us to pray and to have no fear, then at another time to pray and to love, and that then everything will turn for the good. Once she also said that we should not work along with evil by sinning. Then she also said something that is extremely important and that is that we may not close our eyes to the reality in which we live, whether it is good or bad, whether it is positive or negative and this because we are also responsible for all reality. When one sees both sides of reality, then one will certainly, and as Mary calls us to do, to decide and thank for what is good, and in so doing to also fight against all that is bad. But every one of us is faced with the temptation of seeing only what is bad first and then to remain with it. When we stay with what is bad, then we are not looking at the source of all that is good, at God, but rather at Satan. Let us look at an example of this in daily life. When, for instance, someone sees a hole in the road in front of him, that person can stay at that hole when he complains about the poor condition of the roads and then stays there staring at it. The other possibility is that once one has seen that hole, that one looks around to see where the road is in good condition and then tries traveling only on that. Life is exactly this way for us. When we see what is not good in ourselves, in our families, in our communities or in the Church, then we may not simply stop and stare at that, but rather at that very moment to turn toward God -- God who is Light, Love and Peace. When we turn toward Him, then we will also get further, and then we will also become capable of bringing what is negative to God and He then will turn everything to the good. This is a very special assignment for those of us who are in Mary's school. Rather than to constantly stare at what is weak in us and those around us, we should bring all of it to God. Once we start doing only this, then it becomes very clear that Satan will in the end lose the fight, and that what is good will also triumph. At the end of the message Mary says...
I AM WITH YOU AND I LEAD YOU ALL ON THE WAY OF LOVE
Once again, when we have heard these words, we have another good reason to reflect on all that is happening here in Medjugorje. In his Encyclical, THE MOTHER OF THE SAVIOR, the Pope spoke about Mary who herself is a pilgrim in these times -- times that he calls Marian times -- and who then is on pilgrimage with the Church as its mother and its teacher. Mary is experiencing her Second Advent in that she wishes to prepare all of us for Jesus' 2,000th Birthday. Mary is with us, very actively, every day and her presence, her prayers, her blessings and her messages are all help that she is offering us on the path to God, the way of love. So, of course, it is very important for us during these times to decide for the way with Mary. Here we may think of the message when Mary gave us: "Do what I tell you, you will not regret it." So I now invite all of us to pray...
God, our Father, we thank You for being our good Father and, in the name of your Son, Jesus, and of Mary, we wish to ask You to give us the spirit of prayer, so that we may encounter You in prayer, and so that in our hearts we may encounter Your Fatherly Heart. Free us, O Father, of all that hinders us from encountering You. You are the good Father who has not forgotten us and who cannot forget us. Therefore we, along with Mary and in the name of Your Son, Jesus, thank You for all the graces that You give us here by way of Your humble servant, Mary. Open our eyes so that we may recognize Your work here in Medjugorje and then become grateful. Forgive us, O Father, if we have become blind in our lives, in this Parish and in the whole world. Free us from this blindness, so that we may become joyful witnesses to Your immense love for us every day. Give us the grace that we may keep alive this place of prayer, that Mary has brought about, and especially we ask You to cleanse our hearts so that they may become one with Jesus' and Mary's hearts, and so that we may all have hearts of love and of peace. We ask of You, O Father, that we may stay strong in the fight against evil so that through Your grace we may always look for what is good in our families, in the Church and in the world. In Your name we reject Satan and all his works and decide to open our hearts to You, Eternal Father, and to entrust them to You at all times. We wish to belong only to You, O Father, and this too we ask of You on behalf of all those who have given their hearts to the world. We ask You this also for all those who have lost their inner freedom and therefore live in sin and thereby have turned away from You and toward the world. Heavenly Father, in the name of Your Son, Jesus, we ask You on behalf of the visionaries, the entire Parish, all the pilgrims and especially for the youth who will be coming to the Prayer Festival, that this town may become for everyone who comes here a town of the meeting of hearts, and so that Your Fatherly Heart and Jesus' and Mary's Hearts may always remain before our eyes and that we build our lives according to them. Bless, us, O Father, and give us the grace that we may become Your children through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko, Medjugorje
July 27, 1999