Reflection on the Message of October 25, 1999
"Dear Children! Do not forget: This is a time of grace; that is why, pray, pray, pray! Thank you for having responded to my call."
I greet whole-heartedly all of you who are following Mary's messages, and again I invite you to first remember what she told us in the message of September 25. In that message, there were three major points about which we should reflect. She called us to become carriers of peace, to feel God's closeness to us, and to renew prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture in the family so that one can experience the joy of being close to God who loves his creations eternally. The call to become carriers of peace became valid for all of us from the very beginning of the apparitions, and specifically on the third day when Mary first expressed the call to peace. Many times since she has repeated this invitation. To become carriers of peace is the most beautiful assignment one can possibly have. This is because all people want peace and only God offers peace, and for that all one needs is good carriers of this truth. Those who have said 'yes' to Mary and who have decided for her must bring about the conditions for peace. The carrier of peace must in his heart be humble, loving, forgiving and patient; but all of us are in danger of wanting peace from the others while not yet having decided for peace ourselves. Although God offers us peace and every human heart yearns for peace, peace does not come so easily because in order to become carriers of peace, to carry humility, love, forgiveness and patience in one's heart, one must fight against one's own pride, selfishness, jealousy and all other bad habits. Because this fight lasts as long as we are alive, it is difficult. Then, the temptation also arises that we expect from the others that they carry peace, but the choice remains: either we fight against ourselves and create conditions for peace or we fight against the others and in this way peace will never come about. Much is being said today about a new time and about the third millennium, but we must be careful not to be tempted like the Jews were back then when they imagined a Messiah and His time when there would be no more suffering. But when Jesus went up on the cross they were all disappointed and angry because they wanted him there and it happened that way. Peace will only come by way of the human heart, our decision for peace and by way of our fight against ourselves. As long as there exists only one proud, selfish, jealous, impatient or non-forgiving person on earth, peace will remain unattainable for all people. That is why we must again decide very consciously to become carriers of peace so that we can go along the path with Mary. God has decided, through the intercession of Mary, the Queen of Peace, to give us all peace and all that is being waited for is our own decision. Secondly, we must always feel God's closeness to us and never say that God is far from us. Whether we are doing well or whether we are doing badly, we are always in danger of forgetting God or blaming Him for being far from us when we are suffering. God is close to us. The entire biblical message can be expressed with one word: Emmanuel -- God with us, God in all situations, God for all people, God with us to such a degree that He took the bread and said: "This is my body for you." This is how close He is to us, and that is why it is so important for us to know that God is never far from us. Only we can become far from Him in that we open our hearts to the other paths and to the other gods. And conversion is the way for us all to feel His closeness to us more and more, just like St. Francis and like all the saints did. So in going along this path with Mary, we will all become Eucharistic people who can feel the eucharistic presence of Jesus. Mary's call for prayer and for reading Sacred Scripture in the families so that we may experience joy is just as important, and what we are left with here is to pray that the parents may take the time, find the place and create the conditions for prayer with their children and then to pray with them. It is the decision that is most important, everything else will then happen. There is enough time, there is always enough time, even today when so much is being offered to us on TV and everywhere else. Only the decision for it must occur. So let us just continue praying that the families may take this message seriously.
Regarding the visionaries, at the moment Vicka is here at home and has since a few weeks again been speaking to the pilgrims, something that she had not been doing due to health problems. This week Marija and her children are also here, while Jacov is in Italy. Mirjana and Ivanka are here at home and Ivan is in the USA. What we may believe is that the three, Marija, Ivan and Vicka, are still having their daily apparitions while the other three, Ivanka, Jacov and Mirjana, just as Mary also promised them, will continue having their yearly apparitions. Mirjana also has her monthly encounter with Mary where they pray for all those who have yet to experience God's love, and she tells us that she does not know for how much longer this will be happening.
All of the month of October has been very, very well visited by pilgrims from all over the world. At the moment, for instance, we have 14 buses from Hungary, a group from Romania, many groups from Austria and from Poland. We also have pilgrims from Beirut, Lebanon, England and America, also from Mexico and Italy, and from Korea. Medjugorje is really moving ahead. This month we also had numerous Bishops visit us and here I will only mention their names: Emilio Bataclan from Mindano, in the Philippines; Jose de Jesus Nunez from Venezuela; Christopher Kakooza and Joseph Mugenyi from Uganda and Mgr. Stanislas Lukumwena from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
This month Mary gave us a very short message. In October 1991, a time that was terrible for Croatia in that the war was becoming worse and worse, the message was even shorter. Then Mary only repeated 'pray' three times and also without the customary "Thank you for having responded to my call". Still, in this message we have three expressions upon which we should reflect and that should give us useful impulses for our lives. A) Mary says...
DO NOT FORGET:
..and let us just remain here without including what follows this. These words "do not forget" really remind us of a very important element between us and God, between us among one another. Often it says in the Bible, do not forget the miracles and all the rest that God has done for you. God, from His side, promises all people that He will not forget them, and so it also says that "even when a mother can forget her child, I cannot forget you". (Is 49, 15) God never forgets us because He created us out of His love for us, and He guides and cares for us with great love. All psalms and prayer texts in the Bible are full of the memories and the calls not to forget what God has done for us. When someone does not forget God's miracles, then one can speak of this person's faith, love, trust and peace. Faith can only be built upon this idea of not forgetting. This is the same for trust, for love and for peace. This means that when I think of my life's past and can in this past recognize God's actions, then I am also able, regardless of what they are like to me, to trust and to believe because I will know that God never forgets me and that He is with me. The one who only forgets can neither believe nor trust, because he has no roots for this to happen. For this to become even clearer for us, all we must do is look at Mary's prayer. When Elizabeth greeted her, Mary said that her soul rejoices in the Lord and that her spirit finds joy in God because He had looked upon His servant, so upon Mary herself, because He, at that moment, had given her so many graces that she knew exactly that even the future generations would call her blessed. Then comes the memory, this not having forgotten. Mary knows that God is on the side of the poor because one day the rich will remain with empty hands, and she knows that God is on the side of the week because one day the mighty and proud will lose everything. This is because God is loyal to His word. Had Mary forgotten any of this, then she would have been unable to say "Lord, Thy will be done". We also know of Mary that she was never a forgetful listener of the word. St. Luke then says that Mary had in her heart kept all of Son's words. This word "keeping" does not mean conserving or closing in, but rather this was an active meditation. This meditation consisted of, among other things, comparing. Mary, as mother, had experiences with Jesus and in all that she saw in Him and heard from Him she compared this to all that was being said about the Messiah. We can say the same thing about all the prophets and Saints. Now, when we come to ourselves, we should really pay attention never to forget what God has done for us.
Right now I am thinking about the life story of a woman who had lost her mother when she was only 14. At the time she had asked God that her mother stay alive, but because her mother died this woman could no longer believe in and trust in God, she was very, so to say, angry at God, and never again wanted to pray or to have anything at all to do with the Church. It took more than 20 years but just the other day something happened where she suddenly realized that God had been with her all this time, and she felt very guilty and therefore came to Medjugorje in order to free herself from these feelings of guilt, as well as to thank God. In the meantime she had married outside the Church and did not wish to baptize her children, and so had been very consequent about her negative experiences. It is we who can learn something from this case. All of us are in danger of forgetting God's goodness in our lives and thus only concentrating on what was not according to our own wishes, and thereby building our relationship with Him in this way. When the negative, the wounds and the unfulfilled wishes take over our lives and stand in the forefront of our lives, then we lose faith, hope, peace, trust, love and therefore simply EVERYTHING. Mary wants us to keep reflecting on God's good in our lives so that we may not be uprooted, because the one does not see his life's story in God and in the Church has no roots and therefore can be blown back and forth by many different winds. This is why there are so many people today who are uprooted and thereby no longer think in terms of a healing story, but rather in terms of being led astray by other stories and situations. To be able to grow in love, in faith, in trust and in peace, one must first really pray for this and then, at the same time, very consciously work on it all the time in order to be able to discover God's graces and His love for us. We can keep going and regarding this call also not forget our relationships with the others. Also when no-one in the family forgets -- with the husband never forgetting what the wife does for him, the wife never forgetting what the husband does for her, the children never forgetting what both parents do for them, the parents never forgetting what both children do for them, and when all this goodness is remembered, and always worked upon, then the family can continue, can survive, can love, can trust and have faith. But the beginning of every divorce and every conflict between husband and wife, and between parents and children starts exactly because things have been forgotten, and in order to improve our relationship with one another, we must very consciously and always very freshly remain grateful for all that God and the others have done for us. So, it is good and healing not to forget the goodness that has come to us from people and from God. Then, it is also just as dangerous never to forget the bad as it is to forget the good. When we do not forget what was bad, then we are also unable to forgive and when we do not forgive then we do badly and those around us as well, and we do not have a good relationship with God. We are always in danger that we very easily forget many, many deeds of love and graces, while also remembering and keeping in mind only that which has been negative. Against this we must really consciously fight and when we, for instance, have a conflict with someone whom we are unable to forgive, then it would be good to sit down and make lists of both what is good about them and what is not and to simply compare these lists. We will always come to see that there is enough good there so that we can begin the process of reconciliation. In respect to the phenomenon of Medjugorje, which now has been happening for 18 years and 4 months, we may also say the same thing. Those who have not forgotten that Mary has been coming here from the very first day because God has permitted her to do so, will never become too tired to keep praying and fasting and to really keep accompanying Mary. All those who have forgotten are also no longer praying and fasting and no longer participate in this wonderful occurrence. Especially this Parish and those who live close by are at the greatest risk of this, and this is why I invite all of you to especially pray for the visionaries and for the people of this Parish so that we may not forget what God has done for us by sending Mary here. B) In this short message Mary uses the expression...
THIS IS A TIME OF GRACE;
Mary has given us this expression several times over these years, but we must really remain very conscious that this expression may not be turned so that people may come to think that any time has more or fewer graces than any other time. God is the fulfillment of goodness, of love, of mercy and of all graces, and with all our prayers and fasts we are still unable to make God be more grace-giving. If our God can be more complete today than He was yesterday or tomorrow more complete than today, then He is not the God in whom we believe. So, from the very beginning when God gave us time, it is really all been a time of grace. Here it only concerns us. It is WE who can experience these times differently, for instance, when we think of Christmas or Easter or different Feasts, then we all know that many people have a much easier time to come to Holy Mass, to Confession and to prayer, and then again forget for a while. But it is all a time of grace. All those who know of and follow the phenomenon Medjugorje know that from the very first day until today, every day can be understood as a time of grace. How much joy have people had since they found out that Mary is really appearing here? How much peace and how many renewed decisions to pray and to fast have been made since Mary began appearing here? How many decisions have people made to love one another and to reconcile especially at Confession and with one another since Mary began appearing here? All this is a time of grace. And if we may really speak quite radically, one can also say that we ought not pray, "Lord, have mercy on us!", but rather "Lord, give us the grace that we may accept what You are constantly offering to us!" Just as it says in the prayer that Mary dictated to Jelena, "Give me the grace that I may become merciful to You", we should really become more conscious of the fact that we should also be merciful toward God and to also pray for this.
Let us think of a possible experience in a family: When the parents have prepared some presents and the children already know of it but for some reason do not come or when they do come they are not happy with what they see or even when they reject it all, then we could say: "Children, be merciful toward your parents and accept their love that they really showed toward you by way of these gifts!" So, in this message it is really important for us to become grateful for this time of grace in which we really must pray even more that we may make use of and live this time so that we may again start from the very beginning. Here I wish to make us all aware of something. Much is today being spoken about the Jubilee Year 2000 and many people have somehow started to hope that starting in January everything will in some way be different. This is a wrong Messianism, such as what the Jews imagined 2000 years ago. It is really important for all of us to know that what will or will not happen at a later date only depends on every one of us. God gives us the grace, God has always offered us the time of grace and, I would say, especially like St. Paul said "the fulfillment of time when God sent us His Son", we are called upon to make use very consciously of this time of grace. C) Then Mary calls us...
THAT IS WHY, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY !
In almost every message prayer is requested of us and in different ones, like now, she has called us to do so three times. Every mother and every teacher knows the situation when they must call the children to do something more than only once in order to touch their hearts very deeply with what they are trying to tell them. From this three-fold call to pray, pray, pray we should not imagine anything particularly urgent, but only that we may make the decision more easily to pray and perhaps even to pray more. Our prayer should be an encounter with God and in September Mary told us to encounter God in prayer with joy, the God who loves us infinitely. And thank God a new spirit of prayer has come about and remained in the souls of many pilgrims, in many prayer-groups and in many families. And also today we want to decide very consciously to pray along with Mary and to especially carry her plans in our intentions. So let us now pray and ask for God's blessing...
God, our Heavenly Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus and with Mary, the Queen of Peace, we ask You to give us the grace that we may never forget that You created us, that You love us, that You are merciful and that You are the God of peace. Give us the grace that we may not forget that in Jesus Christ You offered us salvation, reconciliation, freedom from sin and all that is bad. Give us the grace that we may open our hearts to all that You are offering us. We ask You to bless all those who have lost hope, so that they may never forget that You are our God of hope. Bless all those who do not have peace, so that they may never forget that You are the God of peace. Bless all those who hate, so that they may never forget that You are the God of love. Bless all those who have lost the purpose of life, so that they may never forget that You are the way, the truth and the light. Bless all those who are sick, so that they may never forget that You are the God who wishes to heal. Bless all people and all families, the entire Church and the whole world, so that we may never forget that You are our God and our Father; and that we may go along the path of peace with You. Forgive us, O Father, that we can forget so easily that You are with us, and forgive us that it is so difficult for us to forget what has been bad, so that we may serve You with clean hearts. For this we ask You in the name of Christ and along with Mary. Bless us and give us peace! Amen.
Fra Slavko Barbaric
Last Modified 10/31/99