Fr. Slavko's Commentary
Reflection on the Message of April 25, 1998
Today I call you, through prayer, to open yourselves to God as a flower opens itself to the rays of the morning sun. Little children, do not be afraid. I am with you and I intercede before God for each of you so that your heart receives the gift of conversion. Only in this way, little children, will you comprehend the importance of grace in these times, and God will become nearer to you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet all who are trying to follow Our Lady's messages, and again would like to wish everyone a Happy Easter. Let us now remember the main points of last month's message that was given to us on March 25, that being the period before Easter, and therefore Lent, and at the same time the Feast of the Annunciation of Mary. There were three main points to the message -- a call to fast and to renounce, a call that we pray and that in prayer we may be able to overcome our own will in order to discover God's Will, and finally that we may become apostles of love. Fasting is very important and this we may simply not forget. We must decide to fast. Of the message of Meğugorje one might as well just say it is "life with bread". Fasting is good for the body, the soul and the mind. Through fasting and prayer our soul will achieve a freedom in which peace, love, faith and trust can then grow. When we pray and fast we will also become stronger mentally. It is equally important also to keep aware that Jesus said: "With prayer and fasting one can make certain evil spirits flee." Mary knows what is good for us. And so, even when it is not necessarily comfortable, we ought to decide to listen to her. When we pray and fast we will also overcome our will and thereby discover God's Will, and God's Will is what is good for us. But so often we are afraid and distrustful of God, and the reason for our fear and distrust comes only from our egotism, our selfishness and our pride. So, how often have we been fearful and distrustful of God -- not that there was reason for it in Him, but only because our egotism created our criteria. In the same way we have so often spoken of other people simply out of our own selfishness and pride. Often when we say 'that one is good' or 'that one is bad', it really does not concern how that person really is, but rather it is only due to the criteria that we have established by our own selfishness and egotism. We should really be careful with this, and ask God that He free us from our selfishness and pride, and that we can freely recognize His will, and His will is that we may all be in peace, that we have good relationships toward ourselves, toward the others, toward nature, and toward Him. Only this way will man then be able to live in peace. Our own will so often leads us to becoming imbalanced. God wants us to live in this world in real peace. If we accept the will of God, then we will become apostles of love, and so I hope that we during this time, from Easter until Pentecost, may really pray that we can overcome our own will, and that we, in all things, may cooperate with God's will.
The visionaries, Vicka, Ivan, Mirjana and Ivanka, are here at home right now, and Jacov and Marija are in Italy. At the moment Vicka has a period of 45 days in which she will experience no apparitions of our Lady. This is not the first time that Vicka has had such an intermission in her visions. Vicka could not give us the reason for this pause, except that she says that Mary seems to want this of her. So let us simply take this news in the same way.
Mary's message for us this month is once again mainly a call for us to open ourselves to God. And immediately she tells us how, ...
TODAY I CALL YOU, THROUGH PRAYER, TO OPEN YOURSELVES TO GOD
...through prayer. Then Mary uses a metaphor out of nature.
AS A FLOWER OPENS ITSELF TO THE RAYS OF THE MORNING SUN
Prayer is the way that one opens oneself to God. How often was the following question posed? -- What do I have to do to open myself to God? Here we once again have the answer, and it certainly also means that we first must decide to do so. It is not a judgment, but for the most part Catholic Christians pray very little. A prayer that is short and quick is certainly not a way for the heart to open itself to the Lord. So, for the type of prayer that Mary wants of us we must first decide on it, then take the time and pray personally from the heart, but then also in the families, and in prayer-groups. The more we are in stress and the more hectic our lives are, the more we need peace and quiet. Here I wish to emphasize that we should go far more often to Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Just being in the church and before the Holiest of Holies in silence, to be in front of God, THAT is the purpose of prayer. Not that we do something in a hurry and for only a short period of time, or that we only do what is perceived as being our duty, but that through prayer we may really be in front of and with God. One of the most beautiful definitions of prayer is: "A loving passing of time in front of God." So, when Mary calls us to open ourselves to God in prayer, then we should again ask ourselves what it may be that closes us from God, or what it is that distracts us from doing so. Certainly every one of us can find many answers, and it will never happen to any of us that we are so far along in prayer that we will no longer have anything that can distract us. But we just have to seek the opportunity for it more and to concentrate on going to Mass, on reading Holy Scripture, on going to Adoration, on praying the Rosary, and simply to take time here and there to be with God. So the prayer that Mary speaks of here is like a flower that stands out in the sun. It is enough for the flower and the sun to come in contact with one another. Everything else in this contact will then happen on its own. Then growth will become possible. It is also like this with our prayer, and between us and God. Clearly, today many hearts are closed. Many people today live in fear, distrust, and more and more people complain that they can find no purpose for life. These are all consequences of our superficial relationship with God. Mary tells us...
LITTLE CHILDREN, DO NOT BE AFRAID
Around Easter and at Easter we so often hear Jesus saying to his Apostles, "Be not afraid." Someone counted that this expression, that we need not be afraid, is used in the Bible 365 times. Mary is our mother and the only new message of Meğugorje is that she tells us...
I AM WITH YOU
When we really believe this, and understand this with the heart, then we will no longer be afraid. Even when we have worries and, seen humanly, also fear something, if we know that Mary is with us, then our hearts will react to her presence and to her voice, and thereby be freed from all fear. And especially in these modern times, it is so important to overcome this fear, this fear for our lives, this fear for the family, this fear for the Church, and this fear for the whole world. It is sad that many who are involved in Marian movements are also wounded by this fear. Many Catholic Christians today spread an apocalyptic atmosphere and in so doing spread only more fear. Here in Meğugorje we have never heard anything in the messages of which we are meant to be afraid, but exactly the opposite -- that we need not be afraid, because in the end God is the Lord and the Ruler, and He will turn everything to the good. That is why I want all of us, and especially those who live in fear, to hear these words very clearly -- BE NOT AFRAID. This is Mary here who is speaking, and when she says that she is with us, she now again tells us that...
I INTERCEDE BEFORE GOD FOR EACH OF YOU
Mary is our intercessor. She knows everyone of us, and God will hear her prayer. We hope so, but we may also hope that every one of us will hear it when she tells us to pray, when she tells us to open ourselves to God, or when she says we should love. Here we may not behave like very little children who expect mother to do everything for them, and that when mother wants them to do something for themselves that they then stop helping her. To do so we really must overcome our selfishness and self-centered-ness, and then work along with Mary. She prays for us and intercedes for us before God, but we must, from our side, also do everything we can to help our hearts become open for the graces. Now we come upon a phrase that concerns conversion. Conversion is a gift, conversion is a grace. Mary prays...
SO THAT YOUR HEART RECEIVES THE GIFT OF CONVERSION
But we must have an open heart in order to be able to receive this gift. Conversion means to fight against sin in us and around us, and in this fight to turn away from this world and to convert toward God. Sadly it is also this that can turn people away. People can often be toward the world and toward others in such a way that they can be afraid of conversion. The worst thing that a person can do to himself is to refuse to want to accept the grace of conversion, and this is to be so enslaved by the world in such a way that he can never experience the freedom of the children of God. Therefore we can also understand why in many messages and especially in the early ones Mary asked us to pray that the people who were going to come to Meğugorje would convert. First she told the Parish to convert, because then the others will also be able to convert. We have seen and we know that it here concerns a process. It concerns a growth. It is not for us to judge who has experienced conversion and who has not, but only to pray that our heart may be ready open to itself to receive this great grace, and that the others are also ready. But often people only convert when they have realized that alone, with only their own strengths, they are unable to continue. So really our problems, our sufferings, our conflicts and our inabilities can in fact be helpful to us to understand that we, by ourselves, cannot achieve anything. In this we can again find new hope for us all and this then would be the resurrection for us all. We may never become without hope, even when we have no successes, but rather that we every day begin anew to have trust in God and begin anew with small steps. That is why it is important to know that Mary is with us. Then at the end of this message she makes us aware that...
ONLY IN THIS WAY ... WILL YOU COMPREHEND THE IMPORTANCE OF GRACE IN THESE TIMES
So, grace -- grace that God wishes to give us -- is important. And again, people can also be closed to this grace or to block it. It is so sad that people often do not understand this. In one message Mary said that we are building a world without God, and this means that man is again in danger of building himself, his family and his world another Tower of Babel, without God, in that it depends solely on its own strength, its own knowledge, and its own technology. It is certainly important that man works, and God has given so very many possibilities to the material. All technological possibilities are in fact already contained in the material. Man only discovers them and should only partake of them with love and humility. Here man has committed a great mistake when he, because of his technological possibilities, is being distracted from God. He wants to make himself independent of God. This is why we are in danger of no longer understanding how important grace really is. But we certainly also will pray for this, and then...
GOD WILL BECOME NEARER TO YOU
...Mary says at the end of the message. God is always close to man, but man can be closed to God, can be distracted away from God, and can be far from God, but when we accept the grace of conversion, we have at the very same time also gone onto the path that brings us closer to Him. God is close to us with His word, in the Eucharist, in all of nature, but most especially He is close to us in other people. When it concerns God's proximity, we are often like those who when they have their eyes shut complain that there is no light and no colors. So we should just come out from inside ourselves, overcome ourselves and finally jump over our own walls. Then we will experience God everywhere, because He IS everywhere! The most beautiful thing that can happen to a person is that he can constantly be in God's presence and God in his -- when he is working, when he is resting, when he is alone or with friends, and God still always remains in his heart. May every one of us have Him, His light and His love there, in all that we decide, all that we say, and all that we do. And for that let us now pray...
God, our Father, we thank You that You are sending us Mary -- Mary who wishes to lead us to You. Along with her we ask You, give us the grace that our heart may open itself to You in prayer. Give us the grace that our prayer may become a loving passing of time in front of You, that our heart and our soul may come to like being in front of You as a flower likes being in the sunshine. Father, send the warmth and love of Your Spirit into our heart and the hearts of everyone else, so that the ice can melt and its coldness disperse, and that Your love and warmth may come into us, to all the others and then from us all back to You. Free us, Oh Father, of every fear and distrust so that we may be ready to accept the grace of conversion. Forgive us that we have not recognized the importance of grace in these times, and that we often experienced you as a distant God. Open our eyes and our hearts so that we may recognize You in Your word and in the Eucharist, that we may recognize You in nature and in a special way in all the others whom we meet. Especially, open our hearts for the small, for the poor, and for the sick, because You are to be met there the most easily. Bless our families and the whole Church. Send Your Spirit, with the intercession of Mary, and renew and refresh the whole world. We thank You that You are our Father, that You wish to grant us the grace in this time to be loyal to You, so that we may become witnesses of Your love, through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
fra Slavko Barbaric
Last Modified 04/30/98