Reflection on the Message of March 25, 2000
Dear children! Pray and make good use of this time, because this is a time of grace. I am with you and I intercede for each one of you before God, for your heart to open to God and to God's love. Little children, pray without ceasing, until prayer becomes a joy for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Again I greet all those who are expecting and contemplating Mary's messages of Medjugorje, and then trying to incorporate them in their daily lives. Before we look at the latest message, I wish to remind all of us what Mary told us in the message of February 2000. In that message there were after all three main points, that we awaken from the sleep of lack of faith and of sin because it is a time of grace, that we pray for the healing of hearts so that we may be able look at God and the other people with our hearts, that we pray for the experience of God's love for those people who have not yet experienced it, and that we may with our lives show others God's immeasurable love for us. The lack of faith itself and every sin is essentially a real sleep, and here we just have to think of Jesus' words which He took from the Prophets: "These people have eyes, but cannot see, have ears and cannot hear." So here it really concerns an inner blindness and deafness. This time of the apparitions as well as this time of Lent are both times of grace in which we again ought to awaken, and let us work on this during this Lent, also especially because we accept Mary's messages and believe that it is She who is speaking to us. So it is our real assignment with which we may never become tired and in which we must really stay awake and continue seeing where we should awaken or where we are still asleep. Sleep comes easiest when I am unable to see the relationships with others that do not succeed. We always see and expect that which the others are meant to do for us, but when they do not do it for us, then we remain wounded and thus permit sinful behavior toward them. The true form of being awake with the heart begins when we begin to see what we do for or against the others. And then along with this humility must also be in place, because only then are we able to ask for forgiveness and thus reconcile, and there where we have humility and love, there we also able to live in peace. We are all wounded because we expect very much from the others but at the same time are not willing to give them what they expect of us. This is why we remain wounded and it is through our woundedness that we do evil things or justify our sinful behavior. Every one of us need a healing of the heart so that we become able to see God and the others around us with our hearts. There the question, "How do I see the others?" is a good one for us to ask ourselves. I can see the others with the eyes of love, mercy and goodness and in so doing always create good relationships, or I can see them with the eyes of egotism, pride, envy, laziness, and dependency, because then I will always have reasons to judge or complain about the others. How often have we made the others sound bad because our pride or egotism were wounded? How often were we like that rather than saying, 'I was an egotist' and expected this or that from the others and because they did not do it, they were bad. I should have simply said that I was proud and egotistical. When we see the others with love, then we will primarily see the others as people, and only then perhaps their sins. The other question is how do I see God? We can see God only in that we expect something from Him and thus our prayers themselves are only egotistical because we ask that He do something for us. If we see God only that way we will also very quickly have problems with Him and then complain about Him and accuse Him of everything that is not going well. But we can also see God the way that Mary is teaching us when She told us in one message: "Seek God not because you need something, but because He loves you." Doing that would be a true healing. The third point is that it is our assignment to always pray that others, who have yet to experience God's love, may also come to experience God's love, because only love can bring us to new relationships with God and with the others. And here not merely our prayers but also our example are mandatory, because it is also our lives that should help the others to discover the God and His immeasurable love for us. So let us pray for this without ever tiring of it.
Regarding the visionaries we can say the following: Vicka is here at home and untiringly speaks with the pilgrims while we are soon expecting Ivan to return to Medjugorje with his wife and now two children. Ivanka and Jacov are also here with their families. Marija had been here since March 18 with her children, while Mirjana and her family are also at home. Mirjana had her yearly apparition on March 18 but Mary already told her on March 2 that she would appear to her on the 18th at 10 o'clock. The prayers were organized at the Cenacolo Community and a great number of people came to pray. At 10:55 Mary came and stayed for about five minutes. Mirjana told us that Mary prayed over everyone and blessed everyone, and Mirjana especially recommended the sick. This time Mary did not speak about the secrets but she again gave us a message.
"Dear children! Do not seek peace and happiness in vain, in the wrong places and in wrong things. Do not permit your hearts to become hard by loving vanity. Invoke the name of my Son. Receive Him in your heart. Only in the name of my Son will you experience true happiness and true peace in your heart. Only in this way will you come to know the love of God and spread it further. I am calling you to be my apostles."
And so in this message it again concerns a call about our seeking peace and happiness in the wrong places and wrong things, and so it always concerns a call concerning our conversion. So it is important to come to see where we are really seeking our well-being, our luck and our peace. Recognizing where we are seeking these and then changing this, is also a grace. Our hearts very easily become hard when we turn toward the world and that is because we love the world. That is why we so often do not hear what God is telling us, and therefore we can understand why people turn to God and open themselves to Him only once they are having a bad time or when they have arrived at the end of a dead-end road. Only when we have hit the wall hard with our own heads do we really start thinking. Mary tells us to call on the name of Jesus and His name is He, the person. St. Paul tells us: "In this name we are saved." Whoever is able to say "Jesus is my Lord" is simply His. We are supposed to take Jesus into our hearts, because only in this way will we ever come to experience real peace and also God's infinite love. Mary calls us to become Her Apostles because anyone who has experienced God's love can and will become an Apostle. One is simply unable to hide love because love will then lead our lives, and then in our behavior, more easily than in our words, the others will then come to recognize love, because if we speak nicely but behave differently, then we will not remain credible. And so we wish to pay more attention now and throughout the rest of this year for where we are seeking our peace and our well-being. We should ask God and His light to show us where these places and things are and then leave them and then chose good places and things in which to seek our peace and well-being. We can also perhaps unite this intention with this Jubilee Year when we are called, by the Church to travel to good places and also to the places where we have been promised a plenary indulgence. This is a time of grace, as Mary constantly is reminding us, and so we may not circumvent this grace because God, in His goodness and His love, is giving this gift to us.
The serious streams of pilgrims have again begun to return to return to Medjugorje, and right now there are again pilgrims from every part of the world and this was especially the case for the Feast of the Annunciation. If I just scan who is here then there are at least 700 pilgrims from Hungary and many from Romania, the Czech Republic, many French, Austrians, Germans, Italians, Irish, Americans and also a large number of Croatians who came spontaneously because they have been able to tell that their country again needs Our Lady's help.
Mary again gave us a message on the 25th of the month and Mary is again repeating things that She has said before.
PRAY AND MAKE GOOD USE OF THIS TIME
I am sure that it is clear to all of us that in nearly every message Mary has been calling us to prayer. She also said "pray and make good use of this time" in last month's message and I believe that if She is saying this so often that we should really take this seriously and ignore all excuses that we might be able to come up with that we are unable to pray. Mary most certainly knows why She is saying these words so often and even if we do not know why, we should still be able to hear them and then accept them. In this spirit it is very important that we accept Mary as our mother, because every good child, even if it does not understand why, will still do what its mother says, and I hope that all of us have already learned that we only can come to understand things when we have begun to do them. We must ask ourselves with what does our time pass? For what are we using it? When it is said so often and also correctly 'time is money' we can say, 'time is grace'. Lost time is therefore, lost grace. What happens to our time in relationship to prayer? Many people complain that they do not have enough time for prayer and therefore do not pray or pray very little. It is not time that is the problem. The key for proper use of this time is not the hours, but is love. So when we know for what we have the most time, then we will also know what we are loving. In the process of conversion, we should examine our use of time. A priest spoke about time in the following manner… if you work for ten hours, you are still left with fourteen hours. If you sleep for eight hours, then we are still left with six hours. If you need to eat for two hours, you are still left with four hours. If you watch television for four hours, you are still left with two hours. Could you not just use those last two hours for prayer? Time there always is, but for what we use it, depends on love!!! Make good use of this time...
BECAUSE THIS IS A TIME OF GRACE
This expression can be understood from two sides. First, from the very beginning of the apparitions until this very moment it has been a great time of grace for this Parish as well as for every one of the many millions pilgrims who either have returned to their faith or who have had an easier decision to pray, to fast, to attend Mass and go to Confession. But, on the other hand, it is also Lent and according to the Church Liturgy we are also called upon to use this time to again convert in that we do acts of penance. It is a time of grace. From God's perspective, all time is a time of grace. God loves us and wishes to make us great gifts. So from His perspective, there is never a better or a worse moment because He is always ready to give, but from our perspective we are able to speak of times of grace because we are more open. A time of grace, from our perspective, is also a time when we must suffer, because suffering often makes it clear to us what we are doing wrong and then we turn toward God and thereby convert ourselves. But let us also pray that every one of us, and all people, accept this time of grace. Moreover since it is also a Jubilee Year, and thus the year in which the Holy Father in Rome has said to all of us that it is a Year of Grace and, therefore, there are different towns and churches where believers, if they fulfill the conditions, can also attain plenary indulgences. It is a time of grace when we pray and when, like the Pope says, we wish and pray for reconciliation inside the Church and among all Christian Churches as well as among all religions. Mary says...
I AM WITH YOU
We all know that there is not a single new message that has been given in Medjugorje when we hear "peace," convert yourselves, pray, fast, believe, love, reconcile yourselves or when we hear about the Rosary, the Mass, Confession, reading the Bible. All these have been taken from either the Bible or from Catholic tradition, and so there are no new messages in the monthly messages. All this we can do, but there is a new message and that is Mary's presence with us here in Medjugorje. And this new message is that She has been here with us now for some 18 years and 9 months by way of Her daily apparitions, and Her weekly and then monthly messages here. For many who only look at Medjugorje from the outside, it is a real problem because they ask themselves why Mary has stayed here for so long and why on a daily basis, and therefore can one believe this? For us who believe that Mary is continuing to appear here, the special message is Her presence here and the special grace that God has given us during this long time by way of Mary's presence here. In the Biblical revelation one finds the words "I am with you, have no fear" some 365 times. Jesus often said this and also after the Resurrection when He said "peace be with you, have no fear, it is I." Man needs the presence of God, for otherwise he remains fearful. Mary is Jesus' mother, the Emmanuel's mother, and thus the mother of the God "who is with us"; and therefore she can also speak of this presence. She is with us as mother. Medjugorje can only be explained properly by way of Mary's presence here. It can not be explained in any other way. When someone wishes to explain Medjugorje in some other manner, then he very soon becomes entangled in impossible situations. When one tries to explain Medjugorje due to some disobedience, or lies, or some manipulation, then one soon arrives at the end of a dead-end. The so many good fruits themselves speak for the reality of Mary's presence here, and any manipulations have never brought and will never bring about any such good fruits. And these good fruits are themselves the primary criterion. There are people who act and write against Medjugorje, and one of these said that the conversions in Medjugorje are happening based on nothing. When someone says or believes such a thing, then one must immediately ask how it is possible for something good to come about based on nothing. Mary is with us and for this we wish to be grateful. When Mary says...
AND I INTERCEDE FOR EACH OF YOU BEFORE GOD
...we already know that Mary is our mother and our intercessor, and that She helps us in that She prays for us. She is a mighty intercessor and She does so for every one of us. When we see Her as the new Eve, as the woman who fights against Satan, then we can also say the following... Satan accuses the brothers, so it says in the Bible, and Mary does it exactly the other way around, in that She helps us, interceding for us. She knows that we need Her, She loves us and therefore intercedes for us before God so that we may encounter Emmanuel, Her Son. She has no other wish but to lead us all to Her Son, and therefore She is the Mediatrix and therefore She is our mother and therefore we may deduce that we always ought to have hope because we have a mother in Heaven who speaks on and intercedes on our behalf.
FOR YOUR HEART TO OPEN TO GOD AND TO GOD'S LOVE
Mary prays for us so that our hearts may open themselves to God and to His love. So in this message Her purpose has but once again been expressed very clearly. We know for what She prays and it concerns the same thing when She says that we ought to pray for those who have yet experienced God's love. When She says that She is praying for our hearts to open themselves to God and to His love, then we ought to ask ourselves what it is that closes us from God and from His love? And what is it that helps us to open ourselves to God and to His love? It is only our pride, our egotism, our selfishness, our wishes in which we follow our own will and listen only to ourselves that will close us to God, to His love and to His will. Every dependency and every turning toward this world rather than to Him will close us. The good that we have can also close us from God because we somehow have decided that we can be alone and do not need God. This is the greatest of all deceptions to which man can fall victim! Where man wishes to make himself independent from God, there he is signing his own, his family's as well as other people's death warrant. God has revealed Himself as our Father and His Son says "I am the way, the truth, the life and the light" and so He wishes to serve us and so we have no reasons at all to close ourselves from Him or to be fearful of Him. When we have sinned we may come to Him because He is merciful, but also difficulties and problems can close us from God in that we then judge or accuse God for our situation. But we may also hope that exactly our difficulties and problems may also have us come closer to God and to His love; moreover, many people have witnessed precisely this experience - that when they found themselves in that dead-end road, they then started to pray and to think, and, in so doing, found their way to God. So it should really become a joy for us to know at every moment that Mary is in fact praying for us. So when we have just once been touched by God's love for us, then we know that everything will turn out for the good. Then...
PRAY WITHOUT CEASING
We certainly have, speaking generally, problems with prayer, especially when we hear "pray without ceasing", because, for instance, we are unable to pray the Rosary without ceasing, and we are unable to be in Church or at Adoration without ceasing. For those prayers we must all take well-defined time and that is because we have been made this way. But still prayer without ceasing is possible when we come to realize that prayer is an encounter. We can encounter God everywhere because God is everywhere, and if we have an open heart for God and have been touched by His love then we will recognize Him in our lives, in all that we do, in all encounters with others and in our encounter also with nature. As we all know from Mathew, Chapter 25, Jesus says that in every person, and most especially in every suffering person, we find Jesus and every encounter with Jesus that happens with love for the people is in fact an encounter with Jesus. Mary calls us to pray...
UNTIL PRAYER BECOMES A JOY FOR YOU
When we come to love God and have come to feel God's love for us, then we will certainly always have joy even when we suffer because it is in everything that we encounter God. Here we must however emphasize that we must pray for this grace because many people and sadly, even many Christians have never had a good relationship with prayer. Even many who do pray do not experience joy and prayer and it remains difficult and therefore do not like to pray. The first step has already happened, and that is that Mary is praying for each of us so that prayer may become a joy for us. If we decide for prayer, then we should never pay any attention to our feelings but simply to stay loyal to doing so. Then there is the formal prayer with the Rosary, Holy Mass, Adoration, Confession and reading Holy Scripture and when these become a joy for us, then our entire life will soon become a joy and even when we suffer. We who are so often plagued by problems and worries can so easily fall into sadness, endless worrying and feelings of uselessness. We Christians should never have reasons for this to occur because God is with us and one can say, especially there, where things are the hardest for us. One thing again remains to be emphazied and that is that THIS A TIME OF GRACE and Mary is calling upon us to MAKE GOOD USE OF THIS TIME. Therefore, we especially from now until Easter, really ought to decide to pray, to fast and to do good works. Once we have done this and been touched by God's love, then we will be touched again and this time more deeply than before and then be carried by God all the way. This will then also mean a resurrection for us and for which we now also wish to pray...
God, our Father, we thank You that You have, out of Your love for us, given us Your Son and that He did not even protect Himself from all suffering only so that He could be our salvation. Give us the grace that we may in the suffering of Your Son recognize Your love for us, that our hearts may open themselves to You and to your love. We bring before You our hearts and we ask that You cleanse us of everything that closes us from You, so that we may, in every situation of our lives, remain open to You and to Your love. God, our Father, give us the grace of prayer without ceasing, that we may recognize and then meet You, our Father, in every creature, in every person and in everything that we experience in our lives. We ask of You now on behalf of our families, of all pilgrims and of the whole world that during this time of grace that everyone may touched by Your love and that we may all open ourselves to You and to Your love. Touch with Your love, the people who still are running their own lives with a lack of faith, and touch all those who are still in sin because their hearts are only turned toward the world. In a special way we ask You on behalf of all those people who have placed themselves, other people or only the material world at the first place in their lives, so that they may be freed and they then may come to adore and pray to You, the only true God. We also ask You on behalf of those people who find themselves under the influence of evil and for those who have given their entire lives to things that are evil, that You may, through Your Son, Jesus Christ free them, so that they, too, may come to live in true freedom and that they may then encounter You and Your love. God, our Father, bless us, our families, all pilgrims, the entire Church and the whole world that we may, during this Jubilee Year, be ready to forgive one another, that forgiveness may come into the Church and among all other Churches and Communities, and that all of them may find unity, that all races may be healed of all effects of war and so that they may all live in peace. For this we ask you in the name of Your Son, Jesus, along with Mary, our Queen of Peace. May it be so, peace be with all of you!
Fr. Slavko, Medjugorje
March 28, 00