FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS
The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross has already been celebrated solemnly in the parish of Medjugorje for decades. The cross, raised above Medjugorje in 1933 for the anniversary of Redemption by Our Lord, once a year gathered a large number of parishioners and a smaller number of pilgrims. But since 1981 the Holy Mass on Cross Mountain gathers tens of thousands of pilgrims from the whole world and a large number of parishioners and pilgrims from Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia. According to the testimony of the visionaries, Our Lady once appeared to them with a cross. That apparition became one of the most impressive and most important.
To better understand the meaning of the cross we have to remember that the Risen One showed himself to His disciples with the wounds He had on the cross. And, the disciples did not understand them as wounds that cause fear, but rather wounds that liberate. True there was initial fear, but just as everything about the risen Jesus was liberating, so also were the wounds of His cross liberating. Therefore, we Christians at this time are not allowed to look at the cross in any different way, or consider the cross unpleasant and difficult. The cross is something much more and if we would not see much more in the cross than that, then we are in danger of becoming enemies of the Lord's cross. How shall we announce the greatness of the cross, if we ourselves experience it and interpret it incorrectly?
Fr. Ivan Landeka
N E W S
CELEBRATING THE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE CROSS
The feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was also celebrated solemnly this year September 12th on Cross Mountain. In the presence of tens of thousands of pilgrims the Holy Mass was celebrated with 80 concelebrants by Fr. Stanko Dodig, Guardian of the Capuchin monastery in the parish of Our Lady of Lourdes in Rijeka. Just as every year a river of pilgrims streamed into Medjugorje already during the night. Many of them came on foot for hundreds of kilometers, some also bare footed.
The feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was solemnly celebrated September 8th - the Birth of Mary. Since already then a large number of the faithful were gathered in Medjugorje, many of them stayed on in Medjugorje for the celebration of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross.
MEDJUGORJE PILGRIMAGE IMPRESSIONS OF BISHOP TADEUSZ WERNO
More and more bishops from various parts of the world are coming to visit Medjugorje. One of them is Msgr. Tadeusz Werno, Bishop of Koszalina, Poland. We gave a short notice about his visit in Press Bulletin #124. After spending some days in Medjugorje, he said this, among other things, about his impressions.
"This year I am celebrating 25 years as a bishop. It is my silver jubilee. I am here for the first time by persuasion of the pastor of Podstrzela in Northern Poland, who is profoundly moved by the spirit of Medjugorje. Once when we were talking, he convinced me that I must come to Medjugorje and that gave me the idea to be disposed. That is how I came.
The experience of the people coming to Medjugorje affirms that this place is a place of special grace. Many convert and return to the path of truth. I admit that I personally pray the rosary, but I get tired already after the first part. Here perhaps I was able for the first time to pray all three parts of the rosary. People pray it in different languages but that doesn't tire me at all. It is even nice to listen to. I saw that many go to confession, return to Holy Mass, to Holy Communion, to union with God who is here amongst us. I am really happy to see that here in Medjugorje the Franciscans, our brothers, lead people to Jesus through Our Lady. I am very grateful to them. I especially like the devotion of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain. It was something very beautiful. I also met one of the visionaries and we conversed with her. I was also at the community of Sister Elvira, who is helping young men with the problem of addiction. That is really a wonderful fruit of the Medjugorje events. In addition to that, yesterday I was observing the people during Holy Mass. Young men, young ladies, adult men, children - are all praying, kneeling for hours and going to confession. That is what we need the most. I believe in Jesus and I do not need the apparitions in Lourdes or in Fatima or in Medjugorje, but I do need the food to which the apparitions are inviting us and to which they lead us. Here the Holy Mass is proclaimed as the center of life. What Jesus Christ said has to be told, "Receive the Spirit of God, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit of love, be my witnesses in all parts of the world, in the family, on the street, in the school, everywhere. Have the courage to make the sign of the cross, rejoice and be glad."
And finally, I want you Franciscans to persevere in this magnificent task, to continue being instruments in the hands of God. I am confident that the present Pope blesses your service in Medjugorje, that he thinks of you in his heart because he loves Our Lady so much. May God through Mary's intercession bless you all together with all the pilgrims. You must persevere. This is magnificent."
MISSIONARY TRAVEL OF FR. SLAVKO BARBARIC
At the invitation of Medjugorje pilgrims, from August 28th till September 3rd Fr. Slavko Barbaric visited England. He also gave his impressions for the Press Bulletin which we convey here in full.
"The fire of the spirit of prayer and love for Our Lady Queen of Peace, which she herself has ignited in so many hearts is being conveyed and continues to burn, to illumine and to warm the hearts of pilgrims even when they return home. Therefore already now it can be said that centers of prayer are shining and giving warmth throughout the whole world and that the Church is being enlivened. Individuals, families and prayer groups are tirelessly continuing to live and to spread Our Lady's messages. Pilgrims are endeavoring to keep in touch with Medjugorje and for that purpose organize pilgrimages and come back again bringing new pilgrims, but likewise with the same zeal maintain interpersonal contacts and organize days of prayer, also even on the national level.
It is that way in England but also in other places. The idea that formed in the heart of Bernard Ellis, a convert from Judaism, a great friend of Medjugorje, and of the Croatian people during the war, continues to be alive and to grow. That is, eight years ago at the height of the war he suggested that a day of prayer be organized in England for all the pilgrims and the Medjugorje Network accepted. Everyone agreed that the best day for that is the "bank holiday" which is observed on the last Monday of August. They decided accordingly and they were proven to be right. Last year it was in Wintershall, and this year in Walsingham, one of the oldest shrines of Our Lady in England. In addition to that principal celebration, smaller meetings are also organized. This year the program looked like this:
On Saturday August 28th there was an evening program in the parish of St. Margaret in London. The young pastor Fr. Alexander Sherbrooke has been to Medjugorje ten times. He made his first pilgrimage while he was still a seminarian, and it made a deep impression on him and helped him in his further development toward the priesthood. Taking over a parish community he imbued it with the spirit of prayer that he caught in Medjugorje. Among other things he organized daily adoration in the parish from 11:00 AM till 10:00 PM. He also has more than a hundred people committed to come for an hour of adoration once a week. Many others come from time to time. The number of adorers is growing. The pastor also testifies to the great spiritual fruits in the parish. About 500 faithful came to the evening program that lasted four hours, everything just as in Medjugorje. After the program followed meetings with acquaintances and groups. All gladly witnessed about their experiences in Medjugorje and through Medjugorje.
On Sunday August 29th I participated in the meeting of "Youth 2000" as it is called. For a full five days about 1000 were together. In the area around the shrine in Walsingham they set up tents. Food was organized for everyone. There were lectures, prayers, and continuous adoration. The idea was born in Medjugorje and already for years is realized in connection with the Medjugorje pilgrims' prayer day. I met many familiar faces beaming with happiness and peace. Before noon that day Sister Elvira also spoke. As always she enthused everyone with her testimony. Again the same evening program with an hour of adoration as in Medjugorje.
On Monday August 30th, "bank holiday": already before noon a multitude of pilgrims from all over England began to stream in. Again everything was as in Medjugorje. At 1:00 PM we began with the rosary, followed by a talk, Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration. The shrine director, Fr. Alan Williams himself a Medjugorje pilgrim, wholeheartedly opened up the entire area of the shrine. He briefly spoke about the meaning of Walsingham and expressed the wish that the spirit of prayer that Our Lady stirred up in Medjugorje be conveyed again also to this shrine and he invited everyone to come again also next year. Thirty priests concelebrated at the celebration of Mass and zealously heard confessions all afternoon. For the youth who participated in the five-day meeting, this was the final program. They especially enhanced the celebration of mass and adoration with their singing. In this shrine, which has its own bloody history already from the 16th century due to the conflict between Catholics and Anglicans, there is also an Anglican chapel to which Anglican pilgrims come. After the solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament the pilgrims went back to their cities and their homes. Many said, "See you in Medjugorje and here again next year!" After the program I moved on toward the north.
On Tuesday August 31st, I conducted a one day renewal for priests in the vicinity of Birmingham at Merryvale Institute, familiar to Cardinal Newman. Thirty priests were gathered. Among them were some Anglican pastors and one who with his family has entered the Catholic church and is now working as a catechist in a school. The meeting was very interesting. After I listened to their experiences with Medjugorje and the prayer groups in their parishes, I tried to tell them what an important role the priest has in this prayer movement. Both individuals and prayer groups must have sure spiritual guidance. And only a priest can secure that. All the priests confirmed that they understood Medjugorje the best from hearing the confessions of pilgrims. They are prepared to continue and to support all positive experiences. Listening to the experiences of the Anglican pastors it was interesting to find out that some of them with their faithful who have made pilgrimage to Medjugorje have also started prayer groups. That evening I had a program at St. Catherine Church in Birmingham. The church was overflowing. Everything was again as in Medjugorje. The pastor admitted that this kind of prayer atmosphere is created only when those come who have been to Medjugorje.
On Wednesday September 1st, I was in Manchester. In the early afternoon I met with the pastor and some priests from surrounding parishes. Each one of them sees in Medjugorje a new opportunity for the renewal of his own parish community. That evening there was the prayer program in a full church. Again the same atmosphere. In Manchester there is a Medjugorje Center already for thirteen years led by Tony Hickey. He often organizes pilgrimages and is very active. Right up to this meeting his pastor never wanted nor permitted anything to be organized in his parish. Then came a change of pastors. The new pastor had been the personal secretary for the bishop for 18 years. As soon as he took over the parish he threw the doors wide open to Medjugorje pilgrims. As secretary he got to know many fruits of Medjugorje and does not wish his parish community be left on the sidelines. Before the evening program the pastor wanted me to meet one of his 70-year old lady parishioners who is a fierce fan of Manchester United. When I greeted her she immediately began to tell how Croatia is coming September 14th and that it will be tough for them because her boys are the best. With a nice smile she promised that she will also root a little for Croatia because since she got acquainted with Medjugorje she likes all Croats.
On Thursday September 2nd, I started out early for Cardiff, the main city in Wales on the western coast. We drove steadily four hours in order to arrive by noon to take part live in a BBC program. The conversation about the Medjugorje events lasted about a half hour and will be broadcast again. Here also the position of the bishop has changed and therefore this kind of program was organized in this part of England for the first time. In the early afternoon there was a talk in the parish hall at which about 200 faithful were present. Since this was the first time, quite a few priests came and again some Anglican pastors among them. That evening a program was held in St. Peter Church. There was a beautiful atmosphere of prayer. Many expressed the desire to come as pilgrims to Medjugorje.
On Friday, September 3rd, I went early to London on the train. About 10:30 the Anglican Pastor Rodney, who had spent three months of his annual holiday in Medjugorje, met me at the station. He also started a prayer group in his parish community. He says that he will come again and try to organize a pilgrimage from his parish and thinks that the prayer day in Walsingham has to become ecumenical and next year he will organize his parish and invite others to be included. We spent some pleasant hours in a male Anglican monastic community that was founded in 1938. They live a life of strict observance, of much prayer and work. They all know about Medjugorje and follow the messages but they cannot come because the community is a strict cloistered type.
Full of impressions from the different meetings which are becoming more and more ecumenical, I went to the airport and traveled back to Medjugorje."
SCHEDULE CHANGE FOR THE EVENING PROGRAM
We announce to all pilgrim groups and individuals who come on pilgrimage to Medjugorje that, beginning Monday September 13th, the daily evening program in the church begins at 5 PM till 8 PM (5 PM rosary, 6 PM Holy Mass, blessing prayers and third part of the rosary).
Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on Wednesday and Saturday is from 9 PM - 10 PM and on Thursday immediately after the evening mass. Adoration and prayer before the Crucifix is every Friday in the church after the evening mass. Every Sunday at 3 PM the Peace Rosary is prayed on Apparition Hill and the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain at the same time each Friday. Confessions are heard every evening at least one hour before the prayer program starts.
All masses for different language groups take in the morning on the basis of previous reservation.
All announcements in connection with the prayer program in the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje as well as other announcements can be obtained from the information office at 00387-88-651-988 from 8 AM till 5 PM. We request all organizers of pilgrim groups upon their arrival in Medjugorje to inform their pilgrims about the possibility of obtaining needed information at the Information Office that is located in front of the parish house and not at the parish office.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje, BiH, fax number: +387-88-651-444.
Last Modified 09/22/99