Fr. Slavko's Commentary
Reflection on the Message of February 25, 1998
"Dear Children! Also today I am with you and I, again, call all of you to come closer to me through your prayers. In a special way, I call you to renunciation in this time of grace. Little children, meditate on and live, through your little sacrifices, the Passion and Death of Jesus for each one of you. Only if you come closer to Jesus will you comprehend the immeasurable love He has for each of you. Through prayer and your renunciation you will become more open to the gift of faith and love towards the Church and the people who are around you. I love you and bless you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet all those who read this reflection and who follow Our Lady's messages. I also hope that this message, that Mary gave us on Ash Wednesday, will become a renewed impulse and a good beginning for this holy time of graces. As usual I first wish to remind us of January's message. In it Mary called us to improve our heart in prayer so that it will become more open for and thereby filled by the Word of God. She also called us to be careful that Satan cannot do with us what he wants. But the central point was her reminder that Mass should not become a habit, but that Mass can become life. This means when those who forgive at home, who reconcile and who speak and read of God, those who pray with the others and who offer themselves for the others, those who are ready to speak with the others, those who bring supportive words to those who are sad, those who bring hopeful words to those who feel hopeless -- all these are teaching the Mass and Mass has become their life. This is because all that is contained in and happens with us during Holy Mass should then, through us, also happen with the others -- forgiveness, speaking of God, and offering oneself up for the others. This is how, as Mary says, we will grow in holiness and then feel the need for holiness. So, we may never forget that we either become holy because we participate at Holy Mass, or we remain the biggest egotists. This is because at Mass we ask for forgiveness, we hear the Word of God, we ask that He give Himself to us, and that He says one word and heals us, but then in life we are no longer ready to do the same for the others. God protect and hinder us from this type of egoism and give us the grace that we may live Holy Mass the way we ought to and the way it is worthy of God.
At the moment Vicka, Jacov, Mirjana and Ivanka are all here in Međugorje, while Marija is in Italy and Ivan in the U.S. Ivan should be returning the end of February and certainly Marija and her family too will be returning sometime during Lent. We believe that the apparitions are continuing for the four, and also nothing has changed with either Mirjana or Ivanka. These two have their apparitions on a yearly basis and Mirjana has an encounter with Mary on the 2nd of every month where they pray together for non-believers.
At the moment there are a good number of pilgrims here but, because it has been quiet now for some time, the real season has yet to begin. As far as we know there will be a very large number of groups coming this next season. We just had an Auxiliary Bishop here from Canberra, Australia -- Mon. Patrick Power -- and this was already his second time here while the first time he came incognito. This time he came with pilgrims and at the evening Mass on Ash Wednesday he spoke with us before the blessing. He gave us his testimony and then expressed his gratitude for all the good experiences that he, his pilgrims and members of his own family had while here in Međugorje. Then he gave us all his Bishop's blessing. We are grateful for his presence among us, and hope that from now on more Bishops will begin to come along with their faithful.
As usual Our Lady gave us a message in which she says...
ALSO TODAY I AM WITH YOU
...and this was also the last thought that she expressed in January's message -- that she is with us and that she intercedes before God for us that we may change our hearts. Here however, when she repeats this, we should also understand it in respect to Lent. Mary was present throughout Jesus' entire life -- from the Annunciation all the way to His Burial and His Resurrection. Here it is good to consider, for all those who pray the 'Way of the Cross' on Križevac, that the artist Carmello Puzzolo incorporated something in his bronze reliefs that the classical 'Way of the Cross' normally does not have. Normally Mary is only pictured in perhaps three or four of the Stations, but in Carmello's 'Way of the Cross' she is present in every one, except during the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. The artist says that he discovered Mary, here in Međugorje, as the mother who is present everywhere, but had she been in the Garden of Gethsemane, Carmello says convincingly, then the agony would not have been possible. So, Mary is with Jesus everywhere and she is loyal. So this is how we should understand these words and especially so when we are suffering or having difficulties. This time Mary again calls us to prayer, yet this time not only that, but...
AGAIN I CALL ALL OF YOU TO COME CLOSER TO ME THROUGH YOUR PRAYERS
This is another criterion with which to understand our prayer and find another reason for our prayer. There is always the danger that we in prayer do not come any closer to God or to Mary because we are not seeking God or seeking Mary, but we are only seeking help and asking for resolutions to our problems. In this way our problems, our difficulties or our intentions remain between ourselves and God, between ourselves and Mary, and we thereby do not meet them and so our hearts do not change. So through prayer this 'coming closer', or 'being closer' should also be occurring. The closer we come to Mary or to God Himself the more peace, joy, faith and hope there will be in our hearts. Mary now calls us...
IN A SPECIAL WAY I CALL YOU TO RENUNCIATION IN THIS TIME OF GRACE
I know that in many languages this idea of 'renunciation' is in fact something negative, but this is wrong, for it is absolutely something positive. For instance, just think that you are working on something and your hands are full of things and suddenly, unexpectedly, out there on the horizon, you see a very much loved and yearned for person. What do you then do? You put everything away, or the things just drop out of your hands onto the floor. You throw everything aside that hinders you from them and you run toward that much loved person. Here too there is a purpose -- we put away things so that we may meet with that person. THAT is the purpose of renunciation. It means a freedom in our hearts from things, from dependencies, or from people that may be hindering us from meeting with God or with Mary. It is in this freedom and in this love that one can meet them and then to stay close to one another. Here we should very specifically ask ourselves what it may be right now that hinders us from coming closer to God or to Mary, and what causes a distance between us and the others. This then is what I must renounce so that I may become free. Every one of us has certainly already thought about what we will do in this respect during this time of Lent, this time of grace. This is a time of grace because during this time we want to be especially close to the suffering Jesus.
LITTLE CHILDREN, MEDITATE ON
To mediate means to try to find the center of things, and in this message meditation has already or will become possible when we renounce. Whoever renounces, practices renunciation, will leave away all that distracts him, what pulls him apart, and thereby remains balanced and then seeks what is central. We are all in danger of remaining superficial, so taking time for mediation means to concentrate on what is important, and through renunciation,-- to distance and free oneself from all that which is not.
AND LIVE, THROUGH YOUR LITTLE SACRIFICES,
Mary calls our sacrifices our "little sacrifices" that will then help us to live...
THE PASSION AND DEATH OF JESUS FOR EACH ONE OF YOU
Again, when we renounce and free ourselves we will, through these offerings and renunciation, discover the Passion and Death of Jesus.
ONLY IF YOU COME CLOSER TO JESUS WILL YOU COMPREHEND THE IMMEASURABLE LOVE HE HAS FOR EACH OF YOU
Here we actually discover the purpose of Lent, the purpose of the 'Way of the Cross', and the purpose of the Sorrowful Mysteries. Here it absolutely does NOT mean that we should only think of Jesus' suffering and all that He suffered for each of us, but rather that we, in His suffering, in His Cross and in His Death, discover His love for each of us. He did not save the world by way of His suffering, but by way of His love which was and still is ready to suffer for us. Someone once wrote that the only credible love is crucified love. All those who say that they love someone but who, when the problems and difficulties arise, are not ready to offer themselves show in such situations that they never did love and do not know what love is. True love, Jesus' love, is not only ready to suffer but is ready to die. When we discover that Jesus really loved and still loves us in this way, then our hearts too will be healed and be ready to open themselves toward the others. This is why Mary tells us...
THROUGH PRAYER AND YOUR RENUNCIATION YOU WILL BECOME MORE OPEN TO THE GIFT OF FAITH
Faith means to entrust oneself to God, to let oneself be led by Him, to let one be spoken to by Him, and to become more sensitive toward His Word. This is the faith that we all need and especially so when we are suffering. When the heart opens itself to faith, then at the same time the heart opens itself for love. In this message Mary emphasizes....
AND LOVE TOWARDS THE CHURCH AND THE PEOPLE WHO ARE AROUND YOU
We are the Church, all of us, but also the entire hierarchy. We know that in particular countries, and in some ways everywhere, the Church today is being attacked and criticized because mistakes and weaknesses within the Church are being uncovered and given great emphasis in the press. This way distrust comes into the hearts of the faithful and many leave the Church, many no longer wish to work along with the Priests, the Bishops and the Pope, even though they were baptized Catholic and practicing Catholics before. Here it does not concern a criticism but merely a call that we, during this Lent, may think about and can deal with all these problems and in so doing may grow in love for the Church. When we succeed at this we will also be able to love all the people around us. Then at the end Mary says...
I LOVE YOU AND BLESS YOU
This is the love, a motherly love, that can move our heart and that, in these 16 years and 8 months, has helped so very, very many pilgrims to open themselves to God and to thereby turn onto a new path. Mary's blessing, being a mother's blessing, will certainly follow us and especially so during this time of Lent. I think it is again important to emphasize here that prayer and fasting do not serve their own purpose, but are rather ways or means to open the heart for the gifts of faith and of love that are given to us by God through Mary and which then carry their fruits in our love for the Church and toward all the people around us. Therefore it is so very important that we, during this time of grace, really live in such a way that our hearts may change, that our families renew themselves, that in this Year of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit may really show Himself through us. I wish for every one of you an enriching Lent, and in this spirit I now wish to pray with and for all of you.
God, our Father, we thank You that You gave us Your Son, Jesus Christ, and sent Him into this world as our Messiah, Savior and Redeemer. We thank You for His Passion, Cross and Death. Give us the grace that we may come closer to Him in this time, that we may comprehend His immeasurable Love, that His Love touches us in such a way that our hearts change. Along with Mary, we ask for the grace, O Father, of strength to renounce everything that bothers or hinders us on the path to You, to Mary, to the Church and to the people around us. We, along with Mary ask You, O Father, for the strength to live our small sacrifices so that we may follow Jesus. Give us Your Spirit of Wisdom and Love that we may also be able to meditate and concentrate on what is important in life and so that we may become witnesses for Your Love. We ask You, O Father, for the gift of faith for all those who have lost their faith, and especially for those who, due to suffering, have lost their faith and hope. We bring before You the entire Church, all people who at this moment are leading the Church in Your name -- the Pope, all Bishops, all Priests and members of the Orders. We bring before You all those who have left the Church, all those who are criticizing, accusing or fighting against the Church, that their hearts may be healed so that the Church may achieve its assignment during these times. Lord, let all people who are in conflicts with one another have the gift of reconciliation. By way of Your Spirit heal everything that hinders their reconciliation. Give us the grace that we may feel Your Love also through Mary and that we may receive her blessing. Bless our sick, bless the youth and all those who at this moment do not believe in Your love and mercy. Bless all those who do not believe that everything turns out for the good. Bless all those who are unable to believe in eternal life and resurrection, and that through the path of suffering all of us will reach You in Your Glory. Bless us, protect us and give us peace. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Last Modified 03/02/98