M E D I T A T I O N
I think it is really not all that hard to make a decision. What is a whole lot harder is to stay faithful to one's own decision. We sometimes feel like that piece of paper that sundry winds are struggling to rip off. Pressured by different opinions we reconsider our decision, if not out loud, then at least silently and quietly.
Those who wish to go on the way that the Queen of Peace has indicated to us by her very coming must be honorable and faithful people. If one allows himself to turn away from that path, he will have to be satisfied with a walk on other less secure ways.
Our Lady never stops anyone from reexamining himself and his own decision. Indeed that is even desirable, but in the sense that the reexamination be a return from the evil ways into which we have carelessly turned. The reexamination which is not that way is only useless spinning in a circle around the question 'Did we really have to make this decision?'
Even if sometimes it seems different to us, God is always faithful to us to the very end of our entire life on earth. He is constantly watching over us, helping us to preserve our soul from harm. If our fidelity blooms on the basis of his fidelity, nothing will be able to break us.
Fr. Miljenko Stojic
N E W S
CELEBRATION OF OUR LADY'S ASSUMPTION
For the celebration of Our Lady's Assumption August 15th there was a really large number of pilgrims. It is practically impossible to enumerate all the countries from which they came. We can only say that there were tens of thousands from all continents. The Medjugorje church, though large, hardly looked that way during those days. Due to the diversity of language groups holy masses were celebrated in about eight languages. It is by all means necessary to mention the stream of barefooted pilgrims that from the early morning hours began to arrive in Medjugorje from all parts of Herceg-Bosna and southern Croatia. How many pilgrims were in Medjugorje August 15th can be illustrated by the fact that a group of thirty priests heard confessions almost all day long. In the afternoon at 4 pm the rosary of peace was prayed on the Hill of Apparition. The festive evening mass together with 55 concelebrants was presided at by Don Dr. Jozo Muzic, theology professor at the Faculty in Split.
PRESIDENT OF THE BISHOPS' CONFERENCE OF JAPAN VISITS MEDJUGORJE
At the invitation of Cardinal Dr. Franjo Kuharic the President of the Bishops' Conference of Japan, Archbishop Stephen Fumio Hamao, visited the Republic of Croatia. In the course of his visit to Croatia on August 16 he also visited Medjugorje in the company of Mr. Andjelko Simic, the Croatian ambassador to Japan. After walking around the shrine the Japanese archbishop also visited and conversed about the Medjugorje events with the Medjugorje pastor and the other Franciscans who are currently working in Medjugorje. Archbishop Hamao was particularly interested in the arrival of pilgrims from Japan and other regions of southern Asia to this world renowned shrine. The Medjugorje pastor, Fr. Ivan Landeka, presented the honored guest with a gift copy of the Photomonograph of Medjugorje and of a rosary, and Fr. Miljenko Stojic, the director of the Information Center, presented the Japanese archbishop with data on the Medjugorje events during these 16 years.
VISIT OF A BISHOP FROM INDIA
At the beginning of August 1997 Indian Bishop Dr. P. Arokiaswamy visited Medjugorje and stayed for a week. He presided at one evening celebration and gave the sermon for the assembled faithful. We here present the sermon of Bishop Arokiaswamy in full.
"I am a bishop from India. I became a bishop 21 years ago and a priest 51 years ago. It is my desire to visit all the Marian shrines, all the places where our most holy Mother has appeared. Four or five times I have visited Lourdes, which is the best known of these shrines. I have also visited the chapel of the Miraculous Medal. Last year I also visited Montichiari in northern Italy where Our Lady appeared as Rosa Mystica. The year before I visited Fatima in Portugal and Garabandal in Spain.
This year I have the honor of visiting this shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje, thanks to my friend from Germany, Mr. Benedict Meier whom I met last November in Montichiari. I am happy that I could spend some days here in prayer. Here one feels the atmosphere of faith, of prayer and of profound devotion to the most holy Mother, Gospa, as you call her here.
The Medjugorje message is the same as in other places: prayer, penance and conversion. The large number of people who are confessing and returning to God is a great sign of hope for the future of the Church.
In the past and in previous centuries rationalism flooded the world. People began to say that such things do not exist that belong to the field of the supernatural or the miraculous and that what is thought to be a miracle can be explained by natural causes and science. In one such context Our Lady appeared in Lourdes and worked many miracles. When scientists began to explain some of them by natural causes, Our Lady still worked miracles and still greater miracles, as if she were inviting them: "Now, what do you say to this. . . and to this???" In the end scientists had to acknowledge that they could not explain those amazing events by natural causes and had to acknowledge them as being supernatural and of a supernatural origin. God wanted man to come back from his total self-sufficiency to Him alone.
The same thing is happening also today. Progress in technology has taken man to the moon and to Mars. Man is proud of his technology and thinks he has no need of God. He tries to find satisfaction in dissolute pleasure. But he finds emptiness in himself. Material goods and longing for pleasure do not fulfill him. He finds out that only God can fill this emptiness and give him true happiness and spiritual peace.
God sends His own Mother at different times in different places for her to lead men to Him alone. Everywhere the message is the same: prayer, coming back to Him in trust, penance and conversion. These are the gospel values. We cannot find others. That is why all the basic messages in all the Marian apparitions are the same.
In Medjugorje numerous miracles are ascribed to the intercession of the most holy Mother, Our Lady: physical healings, conversions from a sinful life to a profound Christian life. The fact that pilgrims are constantly coming here and in ever greater numbers is a proof that miraculous gifts are being distributed here. Were that otherwise, the influx of pilgrims would have stopped long ago.
I think Chesterton was the one who said: "Some people you can deceive all the time, all the people you can deceive some time, but you cannot deceive all the people all the time."
People are constantly coming here in ever greater numbers and returning with peace in their hearts.
Personally I am convinced that the events here are of a miraculous origin. But, we must wait for the "official" judgment of the Church, which could last for years. For the official judgment of the Church in the case of Lourdes they waited a very long time - nearly 50 years. The Medjugorje events are only 16 years old. The Church is slow, but has not forbidden pilgrimages.
What saddens me the most is the negative position of the local bishop, both of the current bishop as well as his predecessor. Let us pray that this negative position changes. The Pope privately proposes pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Privately he approves them. That is enough for us for now.
We take fervent recourse to the Most Holy Mother of God that she form us according to the image of her own Son Jesus so that we might live according to the gospel values of love, forgiveness, and solidarity and be Jesus' witnesses among the people with whom we live.
Today is the feast of St. Lawrence, the renowned deacon and martyr of the early Church. Since today is Sunday his feast is not celebrated. I assisted at the Eucharist of Pope Sixtus II (whose feast we celebrated three days ago). The material goods of the Church and care for the poor were also entrusted to him.
It was conveyed to the emperor of Rome that the Church had great wealth. The emperor wanted to confiscate the church's goods. He sent one of his servants to tell him: "Lawrence, I heard that the Church possesses great wealth and goods. Can you show them to me?" Lawrence said to him that he would show them to him after three days. The servant was very happy. The fourth day Lawrence gathered all the poor of Rome, the crippled, the maimed, the blind and people like them in the district of Rome and showed them to the Roman servant saying: "This is the treasury of the Church." The servant was furious that Lawrence had made a fool of him and he ordered him to be tortured on an iron grate with fire below. The story goes that at one moment Lawrence said to his tormentors: "One side is officially baked, turn over the other side and eat." He died as a renowned martyr.
Let us look out for the poor, let us see Christ in them and help them, as though we were helping Christ. Jesus said: "Whatever you did to one of these least ones, you have done unto me." That is what Mother Theresa is doing to the slums of Calcutta. Let us recognize Jesus in the poor who are suffering and help them as much as we can.
The Church prays in its own official prayers that we be protected from passion and corruption, just as Lawrence was protected from fire. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may the Lord free us from the fire of passion and help us to lead good Christian lives."
BY BICYCLE TO MEDJUGORJE
For the feast of Assumption in Medjugorje a group of forty young men from northern Italy arrived on bicycles covering the entire Adriatic coast. After Medjugorje they started on the way toward Dubrovnik and Zagreb. The bicyclists, among whom were six Salesian theology students, were lead on that long journey by the Salesian Provincial, Don Francesco Cereda.
The fund Friends of the Talented, the foundation with its center in Medjugorje that helps young students, organized a students' day on August 17th. The meeting began at 4 pm with prayer of the rosary on the Hill of Apparition. After the rosary the youth assembled in the church for a community confession and the regular evening prayer program. After the evening mass a concert of spiritual music followed. Performing at the concert were students of the Music Academy, stipendiaries of the Fund and youth from the community "Cenacolo", former drug addicts. About 150 students participated in the meeting. Opening on that occasion was an exhibition of paintings of the students who have visited the artists' colony which the Fund has so far organized three times and which is conducted by the renowned Italian academic artist, Carmelo Puzzolo.
A N N O U N C E M E N T S
The Prayer-Educational Seminar for leaders of prayer groups, charitable groups and pilgrim groups related to Medjugorje will be held from March 9 - 13, 1998 at Hotel "Sunce" in Neum on the theme: "The Medjugorje Spiritual Movement".
The rest of the announcements (the program, registration etc.) will be published later on.
Published by : INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice mira
(Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace),
88266 Medjugorje, BiH, fax number: 00387 88 651 444.
Director: fra Miljenko Stojic.
You can receive the latest issue of the Press Bulletin at any time on your own fax machine in the tone
mode by dialing the Robofax in our Information Center at +387-88-65-15-55.
Published every other Wednesday.
Last Modified 08/30/97