"Dear children! Also in this peaceless time, I call you to prayer. Little children, pray for peace so that in the world every person would feel love towards peace. Only when the soul finds peace in God, it feels content and love will begin to flow in the world. And in a special way, little children, you are called to live and witness peace – peace in your hearts and families – and, through you, peace will also begin to flow in the world. Thank you for having responded to my call." September 25, 2002
ROSARY – THE POWER OF OUR LADY'S SCHOOL
We approach the month of October, the month consecrated to Our Lady and to the prayer of the Rosary.
In October 1978, on the thirteenth day after his election as a Pope, John Paul II called out prior to the prayer of the Angelus: “The Rosary is my preferred prayer. A beautiful, wonderful prayer. Beautiful in its simplicity! Beautiful in its deepness!” The Pope, a man of prayer and faithfully devoted to our Heavenly Mother, expressed not only his own deep personal truth, but also the truth of many others who see, in the Rosary, the expression of their prayer and of their spiritual state. The Rosary is certainly a simple prayer but, as such, it has conquered the hearts of Christians. It has - as the Pope says - its depth and its rich content. Many faithful have come to know precisely this depth and this content while praying the Rosary in Medjugorje.
With the rosary in hand, we can certainly become different creatures. Our Lady knows it, and this is why she invites us to practice this beautiful and sublime devotion. With the same motherly love, she invited us in Fatima, in Lourdes, in Medjugorje to pray the Rosary … The Rosary is an invitation for us to walk through Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem… It is always a new lesson at Our Lady’s school. Through the Rosary, we come to Jesus, we identify ourselves to the image of the Servant of the Lord and we enter into the space of the sacred. The Rosary is a powerful weapon in the hands of Christians. While saying the Hail Marys, while meditating on the mysteries, while pronouncing the prayer, we become people who can and who have the right to direct humanity towards the Creator of all.
Through the Rosary, a believer establishes a dialogue between heaven and earth. The Rosary is our best friend in loneliness, in illness, in sorrow, in anguish… Someone has once written: “Each one has means for its defence: for children, it is crying and shouting; for women, it is tenderness and tears; for men, it is strength and decision; and for us, Catholics, it is Christ and Mary, the Eucharist and the Rosary.”
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of August, 213,000 communions were distributed and 4,155 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
Pilgrims were here from Ireland, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Poland, Romania, Korea, Slovakia, Portugal, the USA, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Lebanon, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Great Britain, Belgium, the Ukraine, Spain, Malta, the Republic of South Africa, Croatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
A NEW INTERIOR LOOK FOR THE ADORATION CHAPEL
In July 2002, the Adoration Chapel received a new interior look. The space around the altar was modified, the orientation of the altar and of the tabernacle was changed, and the statue of the Holy Family was put up, as an invitation to families to find in Jesus the source of love and of unity.
Because of lack of other prayer spaces, the Adoration Chapel continues to serve as a place for Eucharistic celebrations in different languages for the pilgrims throughout the morning. In the afternoon, it is a place of adoration, of silent prayer and recollection.
A BISHOP FROM GABON IN VISIT TO MEDJUGORJE
Msgr. Jean-Vincent Ondo, Bishop of the Diocese of Oyem in Gabon, came on a private visit to Medjugorje during the International Youth Festival 2002. He told us about his impressions:
“When I came for the first time, when I was not a bishop yet, I came with a family. Today, I am here again with a family. It is a private visit. We came here because we want to pray and to live what Our Lady tells us. What is happening here happens in our dioceses: rosary, adoration prayer… What is especially beautiful is the great number of those who come here, while in our dioceses we have smaller groups.
Concerning the apparitions, the presence of Our Lady, I would say that it is difficult to give a precise opinion after only a few days that I have spent here. I did not have all the elements needed for discernment. What I can say is that something is happening here. I had the grace to meet the visionary Marija and to be present during her prayer. Something is happening that goes beyond my reasoning. An analytical intelligence always wants to explain everything, but I think that we simply have to admire all that is happening. Our Lady challenges us here. To those who doubt, She may shed some more light with time…
Our coming here is oriented towards the living of our faith and not towards seeking something unusual. I am enthusiastic to see Christians coming from all horizons and speaking one and the same language – the language of prayer.
The Holy Spirit is far beyond us. We are humans and have limited understanding. It is difficult to answer this question. It is like talking about a man who wants to empty the sea and put the water into a small hole.
This is not the first experience of this kind in the world. There were apparitions in Fatima and in Lourdes. Now everyone talks about Medjugorje. If these experiences existed in the past, they may exist in the present and in the future.
Here, Our Lady reveals herself as the Queen of Peace. God alone knows how many hearts are troubled. We seek that peace, which comes from God alone. I had the occasion to meet many pilgrims. I felt the distress of their hearts. They have come here to confide their sufferings to Mary in the hope of finding inner peace. I believe that those who come here are not tourists, but they come in the hope of finding rest in Mary.
There is nothing different here than what we can see and experience in our dioceses. What I can see is that young people in their parishes feel too much lukewarmness. When they come to these kinds of meetings, they discover a living, warm, awakened Church, and they are happy and joyful to be together. I believe that we have to be careful about how we receive these young people, these children, so that those who have experienced something here do not remain on the level of strong feelings. It should become a strong experience of faith, which will help them to continue to grow in faith when they leave Medjugorje.”
FR. STANKO DODIG: 25 YEARS OF PRIESTHOOD
On Sunday, August 18th, Fr. Stanko Dodig, a Franciscan Capuchin and parishioner of Medjugorje, celebrated 25 years of his priesthood in his native parish in a solemn Holy Mass. Fr. Stanko was born on July 10, 1949. He finished elementary school in Medjugorje and Citluk. In 1968, he went to the Franciscan classical middle school at Visoko. He received the Franciscan habit in Rijeka in 1974. He finished his theology studies in Zagreb, where he also made his solemn vows and was ordained a priest on June 26, 1977. His first solemn Mass as main celebrant was celebrated in Medjugorje on July 17, 1977, and the 25th Anniversary Mass in Rijeka (Croatia) on July 14th of this year. For 20 years now, he has lived in Rijeka where he fulfils different services: four times he was elected superior of his monastery, where he is still today superior today. He is also doyen of the cathedral, as well as an honourable citizen of Rijeka.
Fr. Stanko Dodig spends most of his holidays in Medjugorje at the service of parishioners and pilgrims.
JELENA VASILJ’S WEDDING
Jelena Vasilj from Medjugorje and Massimiliano Valente from Rome were married in Medjugorje on Saturday, August 24th 2002. in the presence of their numerous friends from the whole world, the solemn Eucharistic celebration was presided over and the marriage vows were blessed by Fr. Dragan Ruzic, a Franciscan from Herzegovina studying in Rome. Jelena finished her studies of Theology, Church History and oriental languages, first in the US and then in Rome, where she is living today.
Jelena Vasilj and Marijana Vasilj-Juricic are known to all the pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje as the two girls who had the gift of inner locutions.
A NEW STUDIO AND SET-UP FOR THE RADIO STATION “MIR” MEDJUGORJE
On Monday, August 26th, 2002, a new studio and set-up for the Radio Station “Mir” Medjugorje were blessed in the quarters of the Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje. The rite of benediction was presided by Fr. Slavko Soldo, Provincial of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, in the presence of Fr. Branko Rados, pastor of Medjugorje, Fr. Miljenko Stojic, former director of the radio, Franciscan brothers, religious sisters, collaborators and co-workers of the Radio Station. They rejoiced in the development of their radio, because this acquisition facilitates and updates the quality of the work and of the programme. Radio “Mir” Medjugorje thus becomes one of the best equipped with electronic media in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in Croatia. Fr. Mario Knezovic, Director of the Information Centre and Chief Redactor of Radio “Mir” Medjugorje, greeted the hosts.
THE “DAY OF THE RELIGIOUS” IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
The Conference of Higher Religious Superiors in Bosnia and Herzegovina organised the third “Day of the Religious” on August 30 and 31, 2002. The meeting, which gathered 160 religious men and women, took place at St. Anthony’s Franciscan monastery at Humac (Ljubuski) under the title, “The Response of the Religious to New Religious Movements in the Church”.
Fr. Mijo Dzolan, President of the Conference and Franciscan Provincial of Bosnia, greeted the participants, while thanking the Lord for the gift of such a large presence of religious on this year’s gathering. Msgr. Franjo Komarica, Bishop of Banja Luka, President of the Bishops Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Council for the Religious greeted the participants in the name of the Bishops Conference of B&H. He underlined the up-to-datedness of the theme, quoting the words of the Second Vatican Council: The Holy Spirit unites the Church in service, leads it through different hierarchical and charismatic gifts, and bestows on it its fruits.
Fr. Mario Knezovic, the Secretary of the Conference of Higher Religious Superiors, who also organised and led the programme of the “Day of the Religious”, read the greeting letters from Msgr. Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb (Croatia) and Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo (B&H).
The Franciscans of Medjugorje also participated at this meeting. The participants of the meeting had a dinner in Medjugorje itself.
FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS
On the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, celebrated in Medjugorje on first Sunday after the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, about 40,000 local and foreign pilgrims gathered in the Shrine of the Queen of Peace. As every year, rivers of pilgrims arrived at Medjugorje already during the night. Many of them travelled hundreds of kilometres, some of them barefoot.
As a visible sign of the eternal light shining from the Cross, ten days before the feast, the cross on Križevac was illuminated, reminding us of its significance, and preparing parishioners and pilgrims for this feast.
Sixty priests concelebrated the solemn Holy Mass on Križevac, presided by Fr. Jure Brkic.
For those who could not climb Križevac, there was a solemn Holy Mass celebrated in the parish church at 12 am. It was presided by Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic. The evening Holy Mass, celebrated at the outside altar and concelebrated by 55 priests, was presided by Fr. Ivan Dugandzic, superior of the Franciscan monastery at Zagreb and professor at the Catholic Faculty of Theology.
This is an occasion to familiarise you with the history of Cross Mountain [Krizevac] and the cross erected on it. About one kilometre from the church of Medjugorje, as the crow flies, Cross Mountain rises up as a continuation of Crnica Hill, forming an angle with it. On its peak (520 meters above sea level) the pastor and people of Medjugorje at that time, in 1934, erected an 8.56-meter high, reinforced concrete cross. In it, they engraved the words, “To Jesus Christ, Redeemer of the human race, as a sign of their faith, love and hope, the pastor Bernadine Smoljan and the parish of Medjugorje”. Relics received from Rome for the occasion are embedded in the cross bar itself. They are a piece of the cross venerated by Christians as the one on which Jesus Christ was crucified, the largest part of which is preserved in the Church of the Holy Cross of Jerusalem in Rome. The cross was completed on March 15, 1934. Later on, the custom was established of celebrating Holy Mass at the base of the cross on the first Sunday after Our Lady’s birthday in commemoration of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Climbing up that difficult, near impossible path to the Cross on the mountain, pilgrims pray the devotion of the Way of the Cross. That is why, along the path on Cross Mountain, fifteen bronze reliefs are placed and the image of Our Lady is in each one of them. Our Lady accompanies both Jesus and us on the way of the cross in our life.
“ENCOUNTERS AND EXPERIENCES IN MEDJUGORJE” II AND III – TWO BOOKS OF INTERVIEWS LED BY FR. SLAVKO BARBARIC
This year, the Information Centre “Mir” Medjugorje edited two books containing interviews led by Fr. Slavko Barbaric between 1993 and 2000, under the title, “Encounters and Experiences in Medjugorje” II and III. These two books contain witnesses of pilgrims from different continents who have experienced a conversion, who have found faith or who were physically healed in Medjugorje, through the intercession of the Queen of Peace, but also conversations with scientists, artists, priests, bishops… The common idea of all the witnesses could be: “In Medjugorje, I have found faith, here I feel at home”. These interviews help us to better understand the influence of Medjugorje on the spiritual transformation of men, of the Church and of humanity.
Translations in other languages are in preparation. You can find this book in the Souvenir shop of the Parish.
WINTER SCHEDULE OF THE PRAYER PROGRAMME AT THE SHRINE
On Monday, September 16th, 2002, the winter schedule of the prayer programme at the Shrine began. The prayer of the Rosary in the Parish church begins at 5pm, Holy Mass at 6pm, followed by the blessings and the third part of the rosary. Eucharistic adoration is on Thursday after the evening Mass and on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 9pm. The Veneration of the Cross is on Friday after the Evening Mass.
He Rosary on the Apparition Hill and the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain will begin at 2pm. The occasion for confessions is every evening during the evening prayer programme.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 09/26/2002