"Dear children! I call you anew to consecrate yourselves to my heart and the heart of my Son Jesus. I desire, little children, to lead you all on the way of conversion and holiness. Only in this way, through you, we can lead all the more souls on the way of salvation. Do not delay, little children, but say with all your heart: “I want to help Jesus and Mary that all the more brothers and sisters may come to know the way of holiness.” In this way, you will feel the contentment of being friends of Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call." October 25, 2003
THE GREATNESS OF SMALLNESS AND THE POWER OF WEAKNESS
In October 2003, the Church had the joy of celebrating the 25 years of the pontificate of the pope Jean-Paul II and the beatification of Mother Teresa.
Many common points link these two characters.
First of all, it is their devotion to Christ and the Church, their love towards each human being, their discrete presence, their humble service, their courage and audacity in witnessing Christian love... The Pope and Mother Teresa became thus a challenge for the whole world. They showed, in fact, the only manner of conquering the world. Their choice is not the weapons; the love is the force with which they carry out the struggle for Christ and for the small ones of this world. Independently of human options, of national or religious leanings, nobody can remain indifferent in front of these two characters. They are a spiritual provocation to the proud, to the selfish ones, to the licentious, to the greedy... They touch and they bring into movement. They love humanity and they always seek Christ in the human person. They are a continual sermon. They are a flame that burns in the darkest recesses of the earth and of the broken hearts. Hand in the hand, they are the kind of the disciples of Christ who were ready to leave everything to gain Christ and to show Christ by their own life.
The Pope and Mother Teresa are the way for the contemporary Church and they show it the way. They pave the road to reach Christ. They teach us - at our time when everyone is in a hurry - how to stop next to the concrete person, how to bring hope where despair seems to be only reality, how to carry love where hatred knocks on the door, how to believe when it seems to us that there are other easier ways to reach the meaning and obtain earthly success. Paul exclaimed: For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain! It is the message that these two beloved of Jesus send to the world through their life. By all their being, they announce the culture of life and the civilization of love. For them, death is not the end but the beginning. For them, illness is not a punishment but a chance, a gift. They can conceive and live their life in this manner because they do not live for themselves - Christ lives in them.
The Pope, who still resist the illness in this heartless world, and Mother Teresa, who takes care of us in heaven, are the power that would need precisely those who consider themselves as the strongest. They are a symbol of smallness that should acquire those who seem to be the greatest. They are the powerful ones of the Spirit, whom should invoke the powerful ones and those who are attached to the flesh. They lived and they live the echo of the words of the Blessed Virgin: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord!” Their availability to enter into the adventure of the Spirit shows that it is necessary to leave all that the world promises to us and to sail on the waves.
They tell us today the most beautiful of all the stories: the story of Jesus and the merciful Samaritan.
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of September 2003, 160,000 communions were distributed and 3,384 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
Pilgrims were here from: Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Ireland, Austria, the USA, Slovakia, Malta, Malaysia, Poland, Spain, France, Scotland, Hungary, England, Romania, Argentina, Belgium, the Czech Republic, new Zealand, Denmark, Portugal, Slovenia, Philippines, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Korea, Mexico, Canada, Norway, Vietnam, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
AN IRISH BISHOP IN MEDJUGORJE
Msgr. Donal Mc Keown, auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor (Ireland) came on private visit to Medjugorje in the beginning of September 2003. Msgr. McKeown has been a priest for 26 years and was ordained a bishop in 2001. For ten years he was director of his diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes, and to the Irish Marian shrine at Knock.
He told us:
“The Gospel constantly speaks about healing of soul and body. Though there are many different forms of spirituality within the Church, God may always bring healing to us in different ways and contexts. Now, as throughout the history of the Church, God's grace works in strange and unimagined ways.
Everywhere in the Church there are such manifestations of God's surprising grace. However, many of them can be difficult to understand and the Church is always cautious how it responds to them. There is always a need for discernment by the whole Church family.
One of the striking features of the groups of Irish pilgrims, is that there are numerous men, younger and older, and that this is precisely the population that the Church in Ireland finds difficulty in bringing to Church. Many of them tell of taking drugs, alcohol, or being addicted to gambling, or having been away from the Church for long periods of time. Through God's grace they are convinced that they have been healed here from these vices. Sometimes one has to leave his home and his homeland to receive a special grace.
In some countries, the Church seems to be becoming smaller in our times and the temptation of the priests is sometimes only to look after the “small flock”, after those who remain. The Gospel, however, calls us to reach out to those who are at the edges and outside. That outreach has grown in very striking ways around Medjugorje. Such outreach seems to be very much in tune with the spirit of the New Testament. The offer of forgiveness and new beginnings in Jesus is a core part of the Good news. Furthermore, those who know forgiveness and healing will be best able to forgive and offer healing in God's name.
However, conversions such as those that happen in Medjugorje are only the first step after which the faithful must receive catechesis and support when they return home to everyday life. The challenge of the local church is to incorporate the experiences lived here back into the local context.”
BISHOP OF SAO TOME AND PRINCIPE IN MEDJUGORJE
Msgr. Abilio Ribas, Bishop of the islands Sao Tome and Principe in Africa, came for the first time to Medjugorje in September 2003. On the Solemnity of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, he concelebrated Mass on Cross Mountain.
Msgr. Ribas is Portuguese, and has been missionary in Africa for 45 years already. For 27 years, he was a missionary in Angola, a former Portuguese colony. He has been on the islands Sao Tome and Principe for almost 19 years now, as the third bishop of this young diocese.
He told us:
“I came to know Medjugorje mostly through books written by Fr. Joaquim Milheiro who came here with me. From the very beginning, I followed these events with much interest. I always wanted to come here, and I was waiting for favourable circumstances.
I do not want to discuss the question of the authenticity of the apparitions. I have my idea about it, but what I see, what impresses me, are people who come and pray. You can really feel that they have been touched by the Spirit. They pray a lot, everywhere, all the time, and this is excellent. This is really interesting, this is what attracts people and change their behaviour. I heard many witnesses from different people. Speaking about Medjugorje, they say: “We have really changed!”
I know that the local bishop is reserved towards the apparitions and I do not want to contradict my colleague. I do not ask myself this question. I see what is happening, what is done, for me this is a sign, a big sign, but I do not want to discuss the positions of my colleague from this diocese.
I can see that people here make big sacrifices. I have experienced it as a pilgrim. If these apparitions had taken place in a rich country, I am sure that there would already be a stairway to the place of the apparitions, in order to facilitate climbing! I see that you leave places as they have been originally and I implore you to leave it this way: let the mountains in themselves be an occasion for a big sacrifice. I have seen people climbing barefoot and this is exceptional.
Here, people share the same ides and make sacrifices for the Church. Such behaviour can help the Church a lot to walk in the spirit of self-giving, and the consequence may be the unity of the world. I admit that personally I feel richer and stronger in my faith.
At out times, there are more apparitions then in the past. I think that this is a sign, a sign given by a Mother seeking her children. The apparitions are a sign that people went astray from God’s path. This is why the Mother comes with love and warns us, she tells us that we really have to turn to God.”
37th DAY OF THE MEDIA
On Wednesday, September 24, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna (Sarajevo), President of the Counsel for the Means of Social Communication of the Bishops Conference of Bosnia and Herzegovina, organised a reception for the representatives of the media in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The reception was organised at the occasion of the 37th Day of the Means of Social Communication, which is celebrated this year in Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday, September 28.
While greeting about 50 representatives of the media groups in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cardinal Puljic articulated, on behalf of the Catholic Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the respect for all those who work at the service of information and formation of the public opinion. He especially encouraged them to be at the service of truth and to support the respect of human beings in all their rights and liberties. He invited them to walk on the path that Holy Father is indicating in his message: media at the service of truth, justice, liberty and life.
At this occasion, the Cardinal received a Thanksgiving letter fro, Radio “Mir” Medjugorje for his untiring spreading of truth and of the culture of peace, as well as for his announcing of the Word of God through the waves of this same radio. In his short address for the listeners of Radio “Mir” Medjugorje, the Cardinal thanked to all those who struggle for the spreading of Christian values in this country and accepted joyfully this sign of gratitude.
LITURGY OF THE PASSING AWAY OF ST. FRANCIS
On October 3rd, the vigil of the feast of St. Francis, the Franciscan family all over the world celebrates the moment of their founder's passing away of from this world into eternity – the “Transitus”. In Medjugorje, this rite was celebrated immediately after the Evening Holy Mass. The Medjugorje Friars, the Franciscan sisters, the Franciscan Youth Fraternity (FRAMA) and the members of the Franciscan Third Order took part in this celebration.
In this liturgy, the Franciscans and the faithful remember the last moments of the earthly life of St. Francis, in love with God and the whole creation, who considered even death as his sister, and thanked it, because it leads him to his Creator.
The evening Mass and the liturgy of the “Transitus” were presided by Fr. Branko Rados and Fr. Frano Music.
EXPOSITION OF PAINTINGS OF FR. PERICA VIDIC
An exposition of paintings of the academic painter Fr. Perica Vidic, OFM, organised by the parish Medjugorje, was opened on October 4.
Fr. Branko Rados opened it and Vojislav Vujanovic spoke about the paintings.
14TH INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF SPANISH SPEAKING CENTRES OF PEACE
The 14th meeting of Centres of Peace of Latin American countries took place from October 6 to 10, 2003, in Medjugorje. These centres have arisen in all of Latin America as the places for the gathering of all those who have felt the importance of the Our Lady’s call in Medjugorje. Their activity is focused mainly on spreading the messages and organizing prayer groups and pilgrimages. As we have said, it was the 14th meeting, and for the sixth time it was held in Medjugorje. The 206 participants spent the five days in prayer and meditation, exchanging the experiences of their year’s long work in the spreading of Our Lady’s message of peace among the faithful of the Spanish-speaking world. Particularly stressed was the importance of spiritual growth for each individual in living Our Lady’s messages, as well as the spreading of the messages to others and the establishment and guidance of prayer groups. This is an incentive and a good example for everyone of how it is possible to work together in the spreading of the message of peace.
After the program ended, some of the participants, mainly leaders of prayer groups and Centres of Peace, continued their pilgrimage stay with a three-day spiritual retreat in Medjugorje.
SEMINARS IN "DOMUS PACIS"
In the last period, there were six "Prayer and Fasting" seminars for pilgrims from Germany, Poland, France, Slovakia and Canada. The Franciscan sisters held two seminars for girls and FR. Bozo Milic held spiritual recollection for the Franciscan Youth Fraternity from Herzegovina.
For "Prayer and Fasting" seminars, contact Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic, Zupni ured Medjugorje, Gospin trg 1, 88266 Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Fax: 00 387 36 651 444)
WINTER SCHEDULE OF THE PRAYER PROGRAMME AT THE SHRINE
On Monday, September 15th, 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.
The 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 10/27/2003