"Dear children! Also today, I bless you all with my Son Jesus in my arms and I carry Him, who is the King of Peace, to you, that He grant you His peace. I am with you and I love you all, little children. Thank you for having responded to my call." December 25, 2003
WHO IS MY WAY?
As seekers of God, we are glad that Saint Thomas had asked: Lord, we do not know where you are going and which is your way... It is as if Thomas had expressed aloud, and in the name of all of us, the reality of our lack of understanding of the plans of Christ, of his way, his goal... Where are you going? Jesus said to Thomas that he was the way, the truth and the life. (Cf. Jn 14,6) This is how Jesus presented himself.
If we want to arrive at any destination, we must know the way. A way is not just a road, a railway, an air corridor or similar. A way, it is also a possibility of an encounter. If we want to meet a person or a friend, we must cross a certain way – enter in touch, shake the hands, become friends. It is important to know the way, if not, we will get lost. How to find the way towards God, and how to walk on his ways - it is the fundamental question for all believers. To know the way that leads to the encounter with God is the capital duty not only of religious people but also of humanity in general. To meet our Creator, it is a must, to which each one must aim.
In a world without God, innumerable doctrines deny the existence of God and offer their own ways. Many succumb by ignorance. Stirred by this, the German theologian Hans Kueng said to an atheistic journalist: "You do not believe in God. Consequently, an endless and splendid world remains closed to you. You are like a deaf person who does not have access to the wonderful world of music". It is difficult to make something transparent to someone, as long as the person has not felt herself the beauty of the light. Thus, it is not so much important to prove the existence of God, but to help people to open the eyes of the heart and of the soul, so that they may see and understand for themselves. The Pope Paul VI said: "Let us not curse darkness, but light a candle!"
In Medjugorje, through Gospa, God has lit his lamp in the darkness of a world, which was at the time still communist. Thus the Apparition Hill became the city located on the mount, the light that shines in the night of so many hearts. This light, like the Morning Star in the night of Bethlehem, shows distinctly and illuminates the way that leads to Jesus. It is precisely here, on Apparition Hill, that our contemporaries repeat in front of Our Lady the question of Saint Thomas: Lord, where do you stay? Thus, Our Lady becomes the most beautiful indicator of the way, which leads out to Jesus. She does not want to be anything else. She does not lead people to herself, but towards the One who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. So, through Our Lady, the pilgrims of Medjugorje experience God and, with her, they find their own way. Thus, together with John the Baptist, Mary wants to tell us that our own experience of faith can become for others a pathway to Jesus.
Fr. Mario Knezovic
NUMBER OF COMMUNIONS AND NUMBER OF CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of November 2003, 33,000 communions were distributed and 1,149 priests from this country and abroad concelebrated Holy Mass in Medjugorje.
We noted the presence of groups from the USA, Malawi, Germany, Italy, Austria, Mexico, Canada, Korea, England, France, Malaysia, Brazil, Albania, Slovenia, Lebanon, Vietnam, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
MSGR. TARCISIO ZIYAYE, ARCHBISHOP OF BLANTYRE (MALAWI, AFRICA) IN MEDJUGORJE
Msgr. Tarcisio Ziyaye, Archbishop of Blantyre (Malawi, Africa), was in Medjugorje during the first week November 2003. He came with a group of 30 faithful from Malawi, including five priests and a religious sister, and with Mrs. Gabrielle Russel, who organized this journey with the help of numerous donors from all over the world: friends from Malawi, Medjugorje Center in Australia, Medjugorje-Mir office in Split, friends from Scotland, friends of the missionaries who work in Malawi… and Tony Smith from England, the benefactor who built the Medjugorje-Cross in Malawi.
This is what Msgr. Tarcisio Ziyaye told us:
“I am here for the first time. I came with a group with five priests and a religious sister and lay faithful. I am very happy to be here.
I have heard about Medjugorje in 1989, when one of us came here with my own bishop at that time. I am more involved now than before, because in the archdiocese of Blantyre, where I am now, we have built a replica of the cross that you have here on Cross Mountain.
I see that this is really a place of prayer. Indeed, we are very grateful to the visionaries who inspire us. One of them said that the idea of the coming to Medjugorje should not be to see them, but to pray and to deepen our spiritual life, to deepen our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I am also very grateful to the Parish. I think that they organize the programme very well. They really help people to pray, to come before God individually, to be free, to be in touch with one’s inner self. It is really good to be here!
We are taking home many, many rosaries! In Malawi, there are over 3 millions of Catholics out of about 11 millions of inhabitants. We want to share, because sharing is influencing our faith and the faith of others. I believe that if we put God first, if we fight against spiritual poverty, God will intervene for the material poverty. Sometimes we think that we can do it alone, but this is wrong. The spirit of sharing enriches everybody.
All of us – in Europe and in Africa – should preach without preaching. We should preach with our life.”
MEDJUGORJE’S KRIZEVAC ON MICHIRU MOUNTAIN IN MALAWI
Mrs. Gay Russel, who organized the Malawi pilgrimage, told us:
“In September 2000, I was planning a Jubilee year pilgrimage to Rome and Medjugorje. When I was preparing before the Blessed Sacrament, I was saying, “Why me, Lord? Why am I blessed to go again? What about all the Malawians who can never go?” At that time, Tony Smith phoned and proposed to me to find a mountain near Blantyre on the summit of which we could build the Krizevac cross and then place the Stations of the Cross on the mountain just like Krizevac…. it could become a Medjugorje for the Malawians. It was an answer to my prayers. In that split second the project was conceived and begun. Now we are building the Shrine.”
THE THIRD DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF FR. SLAVKO BARBARIC
The third death anniversary of Fr. Slavko Barbaric was commemorated in Medjugorje and in Citluk.
In Medjugorje, the faithful remembered Fr. Slavko through the prayer of the Way of the Cross on Cross Mountain, at the time and the place where he died on November 24, 2000, as well as in the evening Holy Mass. Fr. Mario Knezovic and Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic led the Way of the Cross according to Fr. Slavko’s texts; the solemn evening Mass was presided by Fr. Tomislav Pervan, who also gave a homily. In his homily, he recalled the first day of the apparitions in Medjugorje, the visionaries and the personalities who marked this place. According to his words, Fr. Slavko is undoubtedly one of those who marked the spirituality of Medjugorje, ad this is why he is taking a very special place in the history of Medjugorje and in the hearts of those who responded to Our Lady’s call.
Numerous pilgrims and parishioners prayed the Way of the Cross and assisted at Holy Mass, among whom the children and the collaborators of the Mother’s Village, that was founded by Fr. Slavko. During the whole day, numerous faithful were praying at Fr. Slavko’s tomb.
In Citluk, the pupils and the collaborators of the “Secondary School Dr. Fr. Slavko Barbaric” celebrated on November 24 the “Day of the School” that carries his name. A special program was organized in the Cinema Hall of the town. The Musical Group of the school, three best narrators and the Theatre Group took part in it. After this program, a match between two teams of pupils took place in the Sport Hall. The celebration ended with a lunch.
Each anniversary of Fr. Slavko’s death reminds us of all that this great man and priest has given for the spreading of Our Lady’s message of peace – he has given every drop of his strength, until his death. Each anniversary is a new invitation to open ourselves to the Spirit of God who can do wonders in the hearts of those who listen to Him.
MEDJUGORJE YOUTH IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ST. FRANCIS
Within the framework of the Parish Medjugorje is gathering also the Franciscan Youth Fraternity – FRAMA, which brings together young people who desire to follow Christ according to the example of St. Francis. On the Solemnity of Christ the King, on November 23, 2003, 42 young members of the Parish were received in the Fraternity, 18 made their first promises and 5 renewed their promises of living according to the example of St. Francis. The Eucharistic celebration was presided by Fr. Branko Radoš, the pastor of Medjugorje, and concelebrated by Fr. Frano Music, the spiritual assistant of the Medjugorje-FRAMA. Young FRAMA-members from several parishes from Herzegovina sung during Mass.
JIM CAVIEZEL WHO STARS IN MEL GIBSON’S “THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST” CAME TO MEDJUGORJE
Jim Caviezel, who stars in the most recent Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, has arranged a private presentation of the unfinished version of this movie at “The Mother’s Village” in Medjugorje, on Saturday, December 6th, 2003.
During the same weekend, the film was seen by members from the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the group that oversees Catholic doctrinal questions. All of them expressed unanimous appreciation and approval of the film.
IN the interview given to Fr. Mario Knezovic for Radio “Mir” Medjugorje, Jim and his wife Kerri spoke about the movie.
Here are some passages:
Jim Caviezel: I first heard about Medjugorje in 5th – 6th grade. They said that it was like the apparitions of Fatima, Guadeloupe, Lourdes, and they quickly said that the bishop said that it was false, so - as obedient catholic - I accepted what hey were saying. Many years later, I met my wife, we got married, and after a few years she went to Medjugorje. While she was there, I was filming “The Count of Monte Cristo” in Ireland. She called me to Ireland, I felt that there was a change in her voice, but I wrote it off very quickly, thinking: “That’s good for you, dear, who am I to take away from your spiritual experience?” She said that Ivan Dragicevic was coming to Ireland… I met with him a couple of times, and during an apparition, I felt a physical presence. Ivan told me two things that really hit me: “Jim, man always makes time for what he loves”, and “The reason man does not make time for God is that he does not love God”. Then, he talked to me about praying from the heart. That became like a beginning of a mission for me – to always pray from my heart.
Kerri Caviezel: I was in seventh grade and our priest showed us a film of the children during an apparition. We were told that it was true. We were from a mixed catholic community – mostly Croatians and Italians. My grandmother is a 100% Croatian. It didn’t seem hard to believe. I took me 15 years to come. When I came, I knew immediately - from what I was feeling in my heart - that it was real. I haven’t seen signs or anything, but - I have been a Catholic for my whole life and I had never felt in confession as I felt when I was here. It was a tremendous healing.
About the role of Jesus Christ, they said:
Jim Caviezel: The catharsis for me to play this role was through Medjugorje, through Gospa. In preparation, I used all that Medjugorje taught me. Mel Gibson and I were going every day for Mass together. Some days I couldn’t go for Mass, but I was receiving the Eucharist. Somewhere along the line, I heard that the Pope was going for confession every day, so I thought that I should go for confession as often as possible. I didn’t want the Lucifer to have any control over the performance. We have sins of commission, but also sons of commission. My sin of omission continuously is that I don’t love enough. So, the confession was the preparation for the Eucharist. Ivan Dragicevic and his wife Lorraine gave me a piece of the true cross. I kept this on me all the time. They made a special pocket in my clothes for it. I also had relics of Padre Pio, St. Anthony of Padoua, Ste Maria Goretti, and saint Denisius, the Patron saint of Actors. Another thing was fasting. I read many of the messages continuously. Every day everyone could see me with the rosary in my hands.
Kerri Caviezel: The first time I saw the cross on him, when he had all the make-up, he didn’t look like my husband, he looked like Christ. They have taken a picture of the Shroud of Turin, and they used the make-up to create that, exactly that face. It was so real, that people looked at him in the way that people must have reacted to Christ: some were full of reverence; some were indifferent, and some made fun of him. It struck both of us; we understand in a small way what it must have been like. It was personal in our lives; I think that he realized the weight of this role. There will never be a more important thing that he ever does.
CHRISTMAS AT MEDJUGORJE
The parishioners, the faithful from neighboring parishes and the pilgrims prepared themselves for Christmas by a novena. In addition to the evening prayer program in church, the Rosary was prayed on Apparition Hill.
During Advent, two fasting and prayer seminars were conducted at "Domus Pacis", the House of Prayer. About 100 pilgrims Croatian and Austrian pilgrims participated in these seminars, desiring through prayer and fasting to prepare for Christmas and to draw closer to the mystery of God born on earth.
During the Christmas holidays, peace prevailed in the shrine of the Queen of Peace with an atmosphere of prayer and unity among the faithful who arrived from all parts of the world. For Christmas itself, there were several hundreds of foreign pilgrims. On Christmas Eve, several thousands of pilgrims participated in evening Holy Mass. The Eucharistic celebration began at 10 p.m. with a prayer vigil that ended with Holy Mass at midnight. The feast of Christmas itself passed in the Christmas peace and joy of pilgrims and parishioners gathered around their Mother.
On December 21, the Children’s Choir from Dubrovnik “Little Singing Dubrovnik” and the small parish choir from Medjugorje “Little Doves of Peace” gave their Christmas Concert. The choirs so wished a Merry Christmas to the faithful and to Medjugorje pilgrims from all over the world.
Again, this year, the members of the “Cenacolo” community (former drug addicts) presented to the parishioners and the pilgrims a production of the Living Manger three times. Through a specific musical and scenic presentation, they showed to the faithful that they really live the motto of their community: “From darkness to light”, and that it is possible to find a way from the hell of drugs and addiction to life.
ANNUAL APPARITION TO JAKOV ON DECEMBER 25TH 2003
At the last daily apparition to Jakov Colo on September 12th, 1998, Our Lady told him that henceforth he would have one apparition a year, every December 25th, on Christmas Day. This is also how it was this year. The apparition began at 3:15 pm and lasted 8 minutes.
Our Lady gave the following message:
Dear children! Today, when in a special way, Jesus desires to give you His peace, I call you to pray for peace in your hearts. Children, without peace in your hearts you cannot feel the love and joy of the birth of Jesus. Therefore, little children, today in a special way, open your hearts and begin to pray. Only through prayer and complete surrender, will your heart be filled with the love and peace of Jesus. I bless you with my motherly blessing.
SEMINARS AT “DOMUS PACIS”
In 2003, 46 different seminars for 1600 faithful took place in the house of prayer “Domus Pacis”.
22 “Prayer and Fasting” seminars were held for 737 pilgrims from Austria (4), Germany (2), Poland (4), France (4), Ukraine (1), Russia (1), Slovakia (1), Italy (1), Canada (1), Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina (3). During 6 days, the faithful were deepening their faith in the Lord, while answering Our Lady’s call to prayer, fasting and inner silence. These seminars were held by Fr. Ljubo Kurtovic.
122 members of the Franciscan Youth Fraternity as well as the altar boys from Herzegovina gathered together for 4 spiritual recollections.
The Franciscan School sisters led 7 seminars for 239 young girls.
Different spiritual movements organized 13 other seminars for 630 participants.
THE 4TH INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR MARRIED COUPLES
The 4th International Meeting for Married Couples will take place in Medjugorje from February 11 to 14, 2004. The theme is, “The fruit of peace is love and the fruit of love is forgiveness.” (Message of January 25, 1996) Bring with you: a small FM radio with headphones (for simultaneous translation) and a Bible.
All the meetings will take place in the New Hall behind the church. Participation per couple: 30 €. You may make reservations by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at the Information Office personally, or by phone/fax: +387-36-651-988 (for Marija Dugandzic). The number of participants is limited because of the available space in the Hall, se we ask you to send your registration as soon as possible, latest by the end of January 2004. All the participants are invited to individually provide their accommodation in Medjugorje.
THE 11TH INTERNATIONAL MEETING FOR LEADERS OF PEACE CENTERS AND MEDJUGORJE PRAYER, PILGRIM AND CHARITY GROUPS
The 11th International Meeting for Leaders of Peace Centers and Medjugorje Prayer, Pilgrim and Charity groups will take place in the New Hall in Medjugorje from February 22 – 26, 2004. The theme of this meting will be, “Penance and Contemporary Men”.
The number of places is limited, and the number of participants is increasing from year to year. This is why we ask you kindly to make your registration as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of January 2004. You can send your registrations by Tel/fax + 387 36 651 988 (for Marija Dugandzic) or by e-mail: email@example.com, or personally in the Information Office.
Simultaneous translation is available for all language groups. This is why we ask you kindly to take with you a small FM radio with headphones.
The price of the seminar is 60 € per person. This includes all the fees for the organization and running of the seminar (lecturers, translations of texts, simultaneous translation and lunch the last day). When you register and pay at the beginning of the seminar, you will receive a badge, which will allow you to participate in the seminar. We ask you kindly to organize personally your accommodation in Medjugorje. We believe that this is not a problem for you, because you have come to Medjugorje for many years now and have friends and acquaintances here.
We are looking forward to your reservations and to welcoming you at this meeting!
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 12/29/2003