"Dear children! Also today I am with you in prayer so that God gives you an even stronger faith. Little children, your faith is small and you are not even aware how much, despite this, you are not ready to seek the gift of faith from God. That is why I am with you, little children, to help you comprehend my messages and put them into life. Pray, pray, pray and only in faith and through prayer your soul will find peace and the world will find joy to be with God. Thank you for having responded to my call." August 25, 2002
CHRISTIAN CHALLENGE OF THE CROSS
When – in 1933 - the parishioners of Medjugorje made a vow, and when – in 1934 – they constructed the large cross on the hill above the village, which, for this reason, later received the name of Cross Mountain, they did not think that this place would became a meeting point of pilgrims from the whole world. Today a prayerful procession takes place on this mountain in which pilgrims meditate on the passion and death of Jesus. Climbing the hill to reach the cross, the faithful conform their life and their pain, their cross and their suffering to the Cross of Christ. Here, a believer can feel the nearness of the love of God and of His intervention in our lives. God Himself takes upon Himself the shame of the cross and dies, out of love, for our new birth.
It is inconceivable to speak about Christianity, about following Christ, without embracing the cross. The Cross stands in front of us as a choice and as a reality of Christian belonging. Jesus says clearly to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16,24). This is Jesus’ offer. Jesus offers to us the same as what His Father and our Heavenly Father offered Him. Jesus pushes us onwards, but with the weight of the cross. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid. The Cross is not a curse. The Cross is a blessing and the reality of the disciples of Jesus. On this way, we are neither alone nor abandoned. God knows our strength and our capacities, and this is why He repeats to us that His yoke is easy and His burden light.
Observing Medjugorje in the context of the Cross, we come to the conclusion that the Cross is at the very centre of Medjugorje, and that – at the same time - Medjugorje is a new cross. In Medjugorje, Our Lady offers us nothing alluring, and nothing passing. Our Lady, as God’s ambassador, calls us always to Christ. Hence, we have seen what Christ offers: the Cross, renouncement and the dying out of love for others. It is therefore not surprising that, precisely at the school of Mary, the Cross becomes, in Medjugorje, a light burden and an acceptable choice. In Medjugorje, people leave their addictions and enslavements, which are a meaningless suffering, and through sacraments, they purify their souls and choose the Cross, which is for Christians the tree of life, giving a reason to the meaning of earthly existence.
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of July, 85,000 communions were distributed and 4436 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
Pilgrims were here from Italy, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Lebanon, Belgium, the USA, the Republic of South Africa, England, Germany, Madagascar, Indonesia, Egypt, Latvia, Korea, Japan, Yugoslavia, Romania, Portugal, Honduras, Slovenia, Ireland, France, Hungary, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
THE IMPRESSION OF PERUVIAN BISHOPS
As we have written in the Bulletin No 176, two Peruvian bishops, Msgr. Julio Ojeda Pascual, OFM, Bishop of San Ramon/Peru, and Msgr. Gerard Anton Zerdin, OFM, a missionary and Bishop-coadjutor of the same diocese, came on private pilgrimage to Medjugorje from July 4 to 6, 2002.
Msgr. Julio Ojeda Pascual told us about his impressions:
“I am happy and touched for having had the occasion to come to this country. I heard about the apparitions for the first time from the newspapers that were given to us by Fr. Gerard and other Franciscan priests living in Peru. For me, it meant nothing more than other strange names and I was sceptical, but I have noticed conversions and this is what impressed me most of all. I have come here thanks to the Franciscans from Zagreb (Croatia) who invited me to visit them. There was an occasion to come to Medjugorje and I did it. I see so many people coming here; people who want to come closer to Jesus through Mary. Let us thank God for having given us Mary, whom we venerate as Mother of God, and who always leads us to Jesus.
Nature is so beautiful here, vegetation and mountains, there are so many rocks; it is an impulse for a spiritual experience. It is like the image of the man, the sinner, who is maybe as hard as a stone, and from whom vegetation can germinate with the help of the grace of God. I believe in the grace of prayer for the spiritual path of man towards God. These pilgrimages can obtain the grace of more workers in God’s harvest. The harvest is big but there are few labourers. Many people go to these places out of spiritual motives, others come out of curiosity. Instead of finding satisfaction for their curiosity, they find something else: they find an example. There are many conversions here, which can lead to spiritual vocations: a priestly vocation, a religious vocation, an active lay vocation…
When I come back home, I will tell what I have seen and experienced: People really come with the intention to make a pilgrimage. There is an atmosphere of pilgrimage, order and prayer. I do not see anything negative. I am positively impressed. We have seen people praying in deep recollection. The ambience is good.
May the Mother of God always be with us, and not only in exceptional days of pilgrimage. Let us be faithful in our daily life to all of that, faithful to what the Mother of God leads us.”
Msgr. Gerard Anton Zerdin Told Us:
“We read about the Medjugorje apparitions in newspapers, we received people who showed us some materials, and we were especially touched by the desire of people to come closer to God, to use every occasion to come closer to God. They have seen that a door towards God was open and they came closer, asking for grace, wanting to transform their lives. This is a great value. This is what we want: to always come closer to God through the sacraments, to be transformed, to become better, to be more Christian.
We have come to see, but even more to experience. Yesterday, we were at Holy Mass, today we went to the Apparition Hill to meditate on our vocation, on our missionary work; we went to ask God, to ask Our Lady to send us missionaries, labourers that we need, so that the Word of God may spread to the ends of the earth.
It is difficult to come from Peru, people have restricted possibilities for these kind of journeys. We have some shrines in Peru, especially pilgrimages to places where crosses are put up. The devotion to the Crucified Christ is very popular: on the picture, He is with Mary, and the Holy Trinity is present. The image itself is a matter for catechesis. People make large processions, which are occasions for us to preach the Word of God, to confess, to convert. Many popular folklore customs are also linked to these processions in Peru.
There is no tourism here. Through the pilgrimage, through prayer, people seek to come closer to God. The examples of others stimulate them to conversion.”
CELEBRATION OF THE FEAST OF ST. JAMES
The feast of St. James the Apostle, the patron saint of the parish, was solemnly celebrated on July 25th. The Eucharistic celebration began and ended singing the litany of All the Saints and a procession with the statue of the Patron Saint, which was carried this year by men from Podbrdo. After the traditional procession with the statue of the saint from the parish church to the wood near the church, followed Holy Mass, presided by Fr. Mate Dragicevic, OFM, Pastor of the parish of Cerin, a native of Medjugorje, along with 29 priests, among whom was the Herzegovinian provincial Fr. Slavko Soldo, himself also a native of Medjugorje. The parishioners and their friends, who come for this special occasion to celebrate the patron saint of the parish of Medjugorje, were joined by a large number of foreign pilgrims, who also venerate St. James, who is also patron saint of pilgrims. As a reminder, let us say that the parish of Medjugorje was founded in 1892, and St. James has been as its patron saint since then.
THE 13TH INTERNATIONAL YOUTH PRAYER MEETING
The 13th International Youth Prayer Meeting took place, again this year, from July 31st to August 6th in Medjugorje. About 15,000 young people from about 30 countries from all over the world gathered together. There were also about 250 priests, who accompanied their young parishioners to this meeting. The theme of the meeting was, “With Mary, Witness Peace and Joy”. During the evening prayer programme, numerous other pilgrims joined young people.
Lecturers and witnesses invited young people to live in peace and joy, so that – according to the invitation of the Holy Father – they may become, with their intelligence and their feelings, a sure foundation of the future of humanity.
This meeting was another exceptional spiritual experience for all young people who participated. This is why we invite them to come next year again to Medjugorje and to renew their fidelity to God, to the Holy Father and to the Church.
The meeting was simultaneously translated into 16 languages.
THE FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION OF MARY
Several thousands of local and foreign pilgrims came to Medjugorje for the feast of the Assumption of Mary. During the morning, Holy Masses were celebrated in several languages, and the solemn evening Mass, in concelebration with 60 priests, was presided by Fr. Stojan Zrno, a missionary in the Congo. This year again, already during the night, a large number of Croatian pilgrims came barefoot, after having walked many kilometres.
SEMINARS AT “DOMUS PACIS”
At the beginning of July, a seminar of contemplative prayer was held for 22 Franciscan sisters from Dubrovnik. The seminar was led by Sr. Franka Bagaric and Fr. Mladen Herceg.
A “Prayer and Fasting” seminar for a group of Croatian and Slovenian pilgrims was held at the end of July. Forty-three pilgrims spent 6 days in prayer, fasting and silence, desiring to deepen their faith and their abandonment to the Lord. The seminar was led by Sr. Ljilja Pehar and Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic.
Contact for “Prayer and Fasting” seminars: Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic, Zupni ured Medjugorje, Gospin trg 1, 88266 Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Fax: 00 387 36 651 444)
THE BOOK “MEDJUGORJE IN THE CHURCH”
The book “Medjugorje in the Church” was published last year in the Croatian language. Many pilgrims who come or intend to come to Medjugorje often ask themselves: Is the official Church for or against Medjugorje? This book is an attempt to respond to this question. It contains declarations of Church dignitaries who have visited Medjugorje and expressed their impressions of this occasion, as well as of those who gave their opinion about the events of Medjugorje in other circumstances. Their declarations are ordained hierarchically and chronologically. The sources for this book are the materials printed and published in Croatian language.
“In Church matters, the opinion of Bishops is of special importance, because they are teachers of the People of God in matters of faith and morality. In the past twenty years, several hundreds of bishops from all over the world came to Medjugorje. Each one of them made his opinion about the reality known under the name of Medjugorje based on his personal insight and experience. This book collects the declarations of responsible people in the Church, which were not yet published, so that each and every reader may make his own judgment about what they say and think about Medjugorje, with the remark that this is private opinion of the bishops. While giving this book to the public, we have given the (at this moment only possible) answer to the question that is so often asked: “What does the Church say about Medjugorje?” (From the Foreword written by Fr. Leonard Orec)
Without anticipating the official position of the Catholic Church, whatever can be found on these pages gives a sufficiently clear answer to the question: Why this book?
This year, the book was published in English and in Italian, and soon the German translation will also be published. The book can be found in the Souvenir shop of the Parish of Medjugorje.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 08/26/2002