M E D I T A T I O N
One right exists that no one can take away from anyone else: freedom. Truth can take us prisoner bodily, but our spirit always remains free if we want that. Therefore, Our Lady is presupposing our freedom when she invites us to go out into nature. It is time to leave behind us the words I have to' and I must.' In nature one experiences that God has created us and that he sustains us. We don't have to' or need to' do anything except to love God (if that is a having to' and needing to').
Neither is going out into nature any kind of ecological fad or agreement with New Age tenets. It is something at the heart of Christianity. We only have to recall St. Francis. Experiencing the freedom of the child of God, he liberated himself also in his relationship toward every created thing. He understood that he was passing through this earth as his friend on the way to his heavenly homeland. He reveled in freedom and freedom reveled in him.
A BELGIAN BISHOP ON MEDJUGORJE
Medjugorje pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje recently held a meeting for prayer in the Belgian city of Beauraing. On that occasion Bishop Leonard of Namur presided at the celebration of the Eucharist. Among other things he also said this during his sermon:
"The Church has still not expressed its official position regarding the Medjugorje apparitions. With confidence and prayer we are yet waiting for it. I have visited Medjugorje. I came and I am convinced of the authenticity of what is taking place there. Every Marian apparition is an opening of Heaven toward earth which is thereby enabled to smile with the love bestowed from Heaven. The perseverance with which Mary is speaking to us in these times of ours made a very strong impression on me. Sometimes someone will say to me, "How are such long lasting apparitions possible?" or "Mary talks so much!" I personally do not have any preconceived plans either about how or how much Mary should talk. I tell myself that perhaps Mary is knocking on our doors with such unusual persistence just because there are such great and urgent needs in our times. I interpret Mary's persistence as a stimulus to our conversion. The Medjugorje fruits are blessed fruits. Frequently people confide in me relating their experiences for which I can testify that they are rich with fruits of conversion, discovery of prayer, love, peace, penance, fasting and returning to sacramental life and the Eucharist.
In order to achieve peace in the world, peace in families and in our hearts, I want to invite both you and myself to accept all those unceasing invitations into our life and in a special way to accept the call to prayer and fasting."
NEW CONGREGATION FOUNDED IN NIGERIA
This year in Nigeria a new congregation of sisters was founded with the mission to live and carry the Medjugorje message of peace to others. Its founder is Msgr. John Bosco Akam, rector of Memorial Seminary in Enug, Nigeria. Since 1990 he has been spreading the Medjugorje messages in Nigeria. After being named chaplain to the President of the State, he organized a visit to Medjugorje for the President and members of the government, as also for Bishop Gabriel Gonsum Ganaka who this year for the third time visited this shrine. We described his experience in Press Bulletin #8. Msgr. John Bosco Akam, a man who enjoys the reputation of being a great intellectual, wrote the following after his first visit to Medjugorje:
"I am a priest working in the education of seminarians and theology students in Nigeria. We are a young church, existing just 100 years and my people are hungry and thirsty for God. My pilgrimage to Medjugorje was an extraordinary grace. It was the most beautiful experience I had in Europe. I must say that the devotion with which those people pray made a profound impression on me. It filled me with hope for a fallen world where devotion to the rosary has been almost completely forgotten. The war in Nigeria ended without any kind of logical, diplomatic or political reason. Only praying of the rosary brought peace to our land. Therefore, we really believe in the power of that humble and effective prayer."
FROM THE MISSIONARY TRAVELS OF FR. SLAVKO BARBARIC
At the invitation of Medjugorje pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje Fr. Slavko Barbaric visited Ireland at the end of October. Exactly ten years ago in the city of Ballinasloe the first major prayer meeting in the world in connection with the Medjugorje events was held. This year's meeting was in fact the tenth anniversary celebration of the gathering of the faithful of that city in prayer, inspired by Our Lady's messages.
The Irish people are one of those countries that were among the first to answer the call Our Lady of Medjugorje directed to the world. They were among the first that began to come to Medjugorje and that felt the importance and necessity of the message of peace for mankind today. Even during this 1995 year of war a plane load of pilgrims landed every Sunday in the Split airport to spend a week in Medjugorje.
Upon his return from Ireland Fr. Slavko said, "I had the happiness of cooperating in the first meeting ten years ago and of experiencing the total readiness of the faithful seriously to answer Our Lady's call. I personally was not able to imagine how all that would develop further on, but undoubtedly it all developed according to Our Lady's wish. The seed sown has grown and continues to grow. In general the same priests spoke at the meeting that spoke ten years ago. Fr. Paddy Devine, spiritualdirector of the whole Medjugorje movement, especially stands out among them. He is a professor at Black Rock College in Dublin and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Among other things he also emphasized that in Medjugorje not only conversion to God takes place but also conversion to the whole church. Especially touching and powerful were the personal testimonies of individuals about the healing of soul and body and the testimonies of priests who again discovered in Medjugorje a sense of their priestly vocation. The first night Bishop John Kirby of Clonfert celebrated the mass with 30 priests concelebrating. In his homily he proclaimed that Marian devotion is Christocentric, modern and sensitive to the suffering of neighbors. The most beautiful surprise were the young priests Martin Carley and Oliver Divine who in 1985 participated as young men at the first meeting and after that came to Medjugorje where they decided on a vocation to the priesthood. Now they are already working as assistant pastors and are grateful to Our Lady for the gift of their vocation."
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
*** We are requesting all the organizers of pilgrimage groups to inform us of their arrival in Medjugorje for the sake of a more efficient organization of pastoral care at the shrine (Holy masses in different languages, the organization of meetings with the local Franciscans, etc) as well as to provide evidence on the number of pilgrims you are bringing and the country from which you are coming. We ask you, please, to do this by fax to the information center at +387-88-642-339.
*** All announcements pertaining to the program of prayer at the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, as well as other announcements pertaining to the organization of your pilgrimage are available at the Information Booth of the Shrine at +387-88-650-400 from 10 A.M. till 2 P.M. except Sundays. Hereby we also request all organizers of pilgrimage groups on arrival in Medjugorje to inform their pilgrims about the possibility of obtaining all necessary information at the Information Booth that is located opposite the parish rectory and not to ask at the parish office.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice Mira (Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje.
Last Modified 11/25/2002