M E D I T A T I O N
The Queen of Peace already for some years in a row is speaking in the parish of Medjugorje and it has become like something completely natural to us. Children who were born at the beginning of the apparitions have already little by little become adults and do not know what it is like when heaven is not speaking. We and they are simply living at a blessed time.
How we will behave at a time like this, of course, only depends on us. Our Lady calls us to long for good. She does not tell us to graduate from expensive schools or to accomplish something significant in life, but simply tells us to form our heart in such a way that good spreads out of it as from a clear mountain spring. Then both we and the world around us will change.
Today's world really does have to change. It has driven itself to the edge of the cliff. It is intoxicated with a consumer mentality and sees nothing else. For that reason it is consuming more than it is allowed. Earth's resources are therefore disappearing little by little and pollution of all kinds is piling up around us. What a price for progress!
Few of us have a chance personally to do something so things don't go this way still further. We can only consume less and nothing else. At least in that way we can ease the evil consequences.
Even if we cannot make important political and economic decisions, with Our Lady we can make some decisions of a different kind. They are far more meaningful than all the others. We can extend our hands to Jesus and from that act draw strength for everything else in our life. Then doing good will not be difficult for us nor will anything else be hard for us. After a decision like that do we really think that nothing will change? The ones destroying the earth are those who think there is nothing after this life and therefore today they have to grab as much as possible. Anyone thinking it over a little will see that they are wrong.
Those who believe make of this earth a beautiful habitat. They help God to bless it so that human existence on this earth will have a purpose. Having thought it over, many people have said that they want their existence to be blessed.
Fra Miljenko Stojic
N E W S
NUMBER OF HOLY COMMUNIONS AND CONCELEBRATIONS
During December in the shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje 48 000 Holy Communions were distributed 808 priests from home and abroad concelebrated at Holy Masses, that is 26 daily. For the entire year 1997 1 021 000 Holy Communions were distributed and 25762 priests concelebrated at Holy Masses that is 29,31% more than in 1996.
We shall enumerate some of the countries from which pilgrims visited Medjugorje during the month of December: Poland, Italy, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Korea, United States, France, Austria, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and of course, Croatia.
CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR IN MEDJUGORJE
In preparation for Christmas in addition to the evening prayer program in Church, the rosary was prayed on Apparition Hill during the novena. During Advent in the "Domus Pacis" house of prayer six fasting and prayer seminars were conducted. About 250 pilgrims from home and abroad participated in those seminars, wishing through fasting and prayer to prepare themselves for Christmas and draw nearer to the mystery of God born on earth.
In the shrine of the Queen of Peace during the Christmas and New Years holy days there reigned an atmosphere of peace, prayer, and community among the faithful who arrived from all parts of the world. Since Christmas is a family feast, there were about 1,000 foreign pilgrims in Medjugorje for the Christmas day itself. The most numerous were groups from France, Korea and Slovakia.
At the Christmas Vigil evening mass about 3,000 faithful participated. Children began the Eucharistic celebration with a musical presentation to wish a Christmas greetings to all the assembled faithful and the Medjugorje pilgrims from around the world. A prayer vigil began in the overflowing church at 10:00 PM and finished with midnight mass. Christmas day itself went by in a genuine atmosphere of peace and Christmas joy for the pilgrims gathered around their Mother.
THE NEW YEAR
As already for several years in a row so far, also this year a prayer vigil was held for the New Year. Prayer began at 10:00 PM and finished with a midnight mass. Several thousand faithful were present. Again on this occasion the most numerous were the young people who came from almost all European countries and the United States. Thus the parishioners and the pilgrims together watched the old year go out and started the New Year singing and praying for peace, so needed by today's people and the modern world. How profound the experience is of those who once welcome the New Year in prayer is shown by the fact that from year to year the number of pilgrims for that occasion is increasing. All those who come once, come back again. In this insecure and unpeaceful world at least young people are deciding to entrust their future to God.
This year also in the "Domus Pacis" house of prayer a prayer seminar was conducted for young people who wanted to start the New Year in the joy of prayer and community. About 60 students from Hercegovina participated in the seminar. The "Friends of the Talented" Fund organized the seminar conducted by Fr. Slavko Barbaric.
VISIT OF MEXICAN BISHOP
At the beginning of November 1997 together with a group of pilgrims from Mexico Bishop Lazaro Perez also visited Medjugorje. He is the bishop of the Mexican diocese of De Autlan Jalisco. In a short conversation with us he spoke about his experiences, first of all in his own country and of his impressions about Medjugorje. We here present his impressions about pilgrimage to Medjugorje:
"Medjugorje is very well known in Mexico. I heard of Medjugorje for the first time about fifteen years ago when Medjugorje first began to be spoken of a little. I have to be honest and say that when we bishops hear news about apparitions and similar phenomena we are cautious in our statements. Usually it happens that in the first instance we say that it is impossible, we want to immediately oppose it. We are always afraid to confirm news about apparitions immediately since we are afraid that this view of belief will be fragile and grow into fanaticism. That was my personal conviction at the very beginning. After that I went to Italy in 1985. I met with a married couple that had been on a visit to Medjugorje. From then on I began to be take more and more interest. Well, I usually said that it cannot be the truth. I held that after the apparitions in Guadalupe there could not be any more talk about other apparitions because Mary from Guadalupe was Queen of Mexico. But all the more and more they began to talk about Mary's mission here, about her talking through the children. I was concerned so that some kind of religious fanaticism would not be created. My great interest began from that moment when completely by accident I came across the book of theologian Rene Laurentin in which he writes about apparitions in the whole world. I read the book with great interest just from the fact that the author was a priest and my former professor in Rome where I heard his lectures on Mariology. I thought that he was indeed a serious and well known theologian and that it was not a matter of fanaticism. For that reason I continued reading with still greater interest. In that book I found a very touching sentence in which Fr. Laurentin says: '. . .we are passing through a period during which ecclesiastical gardens have been become infertile and it was time that Our Lady come to renew them and give them a new freshness. . .' I came to the conclusion that the problems that exist in the Church are not solved and perhaps the pastors in the Church are responsible for that. I felt that I was one of them. We need more holy priests and pastors who are disposed to live according to Jesus.
Christ the Good Shepherd and the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. All these events opened the doors to atheism, secularism, a consumer society, which together make a culture of values that are contrary to the teaching of the gospel. Reading the experiences of Fr. Laurentin I said: 'Certainly this is not some imagination, he is speaking the truth.' On one occasion I was conversing with a friend who was a theologian. He counseled me not to go to Medjugorje and said that he would not risk his theological honor. Fr. Laurentin told me that this type of theologian talks a lot about Mary, but does not genuinely love her. They use Mariology for teaching, but they do not have a felt relationship with Mary. All of this helped awaken in me a great interest in Our Lady although I feel that Our Lady held a significant place throughout my entire life . In the coat of arms of our diocese we have a star that represents Our Lady. I wanted that Our Lady's symbol by all means be put into the coat of arms of our diocese. After reading Laurentin's book my interest for these events grew all the more. In addition to that, I met with many pilgrims who had been to Medjugorje. Upon their return to Mexico they were religiously richer and more ready to live a life of doing good in the spirit of the gospel. All that shows the fruits of Medjugorje, even if the official Church still continues to look with caution at this phenomenon. I think that above all one has to pay great attention to the fruits of Medjugorje. At this moment I am here with 108 pilgrims from Mexico and already I can say that I have observed many good fruits.
I will invite my faithful to come to Medjugorje. Its too bad that it is so far away from Mexico. We have a well known religious culture, and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary holds a special place. As the Second Vatican Council says, I think that Mary both prays and intercedes together with Christ and that is what I have experienced here in Medjugorje. This morning we talked with a visionary, Vicka. She presented to us Our Lady's messages on conversion, fasting, prayer, forgiveness and holy confession, about all these values that are gradually being lost today. I personally believe the following: If Our Lady through Christ is endeavoring to quicken these values then that ought to be the fundamental duty of a priest, especially of us bishops. We have to tell our faithful that this world has a way of salvation because Christ is our way. Christ is our Savior and here we see that the Mother of Christ calls us to this: to enliven the values that lead to salvation. They are prayer, reconciliation, conversion, and fasting in such a way that we can be closer to the cross of Christ. In today's time as also then in the time of St. Paul, the cross becomes a sign of scandal and not only for unbelievers. Sad to say, the cross has become a scandal also for Christians. Everyone would like an easy life, people are afraid of trials, they try to remove the presence of the cross from sight. Therefore I think Our Lady wants to give us great advice: Renew all the removed Christian values, and especially prayer and you will experience conversion. All of us have to reconcile with God and the Church through the sacrament of holy confession so that if we sincerely reconcile with God we can more easily follow the way of Christ. To follow Christ not just in any way, but to be ready to take our cross and witness the faith of Christ.
THE PRAYER-EDUCATIONAL SEMINAR
The Prayer-Educational Seminar for leaders of Centers of Peace, leaders of prayer groups, and organizers of pilgrimages will be held also this year in Hotel "Sunce" in Neum from March 9 - 13, 1998. These seminars have shown themselves to be of great importance and utility both you who work out in the world to promote Our Lady's messages and for us who strive to serve here in the parish of Medjugorje. It is a chance to meet each other, to share experiences and mutually to give useful instructions for a still better and more fruitful life of the pilgrims themselves with whom we work together for the spread of the gospel. The Parish Office of Medjugorje is the organizer of this seminar, this year already for the fifth time. Since interest is increasing from year to year, we kindly ask you to make your reservation as soon as possible by fax number: 00387-88-651-444 or by way of e-mail: email@example.com
All who require a transfer from the Split airport to Hotel "Sunce" in Neum may refer to:
Association "Medjugorje - Mir" in Split at tel/fax number: 00385-21-361-354.
Published by: INFORMATIVNI CENTAR MIR - Svetiste Kraljice mira ( Information Center MIR - Shrine of the Queen of Peace), 88266 Medjugorje, BiH, fax number: +387-88-651-444.
Last Modified 01/14/98