M E D I T A T I O N
FOR WHOM IS THE TALK ABOUT CONVERSION AND RENEWAL?
Passages of Sacred Scripture that we read in Lent impel toward renewal and conversion. And in the same way also sections of the Bible that are read throughout the rest of the church year. The messages of the Queen of Peace also speak to us about the same theme and call us to decide completely for God. The messages of the Queen of Peace, then, proclaim the same thing and lead us toward that goal which is Jesus Christ.
That constant repetition of the same thing begins to bother us a little. It especially bothers us if we rarely meditate on our mission as believers in the world in which we live. The less we exert effort in trying to make our life like the life of Jesus, all the more does the proclamation of the need for renewal begin to bother us.
We ask ourselves, are we really bad and evil people? Do we deserve again and again to be spoken of us as immature and insufficiently adult people? Are we perhaps not being too strictly compared to the standard of preachers and teachers of the spiritual life? The discomfort we feel listening to those who talk to us about faith gives us the right to conclude that there is some exaggeration. Sometimes we have the impression that even Jesus is exaggerating. The disciples and apostles were, then, in a similar situation.
The apostles were not bad and wicked people. They can be spoken of as orderly people also before the encounter with Jesus and accepting his call to follow him. For they did it as soon as the immediate encounter with Jesus opened their eyes to what they did not know about themselves and about God's plans.
Nor for St. Francis would we be able to say that before his conversion he was an evil doer or unbeliever. But St. Francis still became what he is from his encounter with Jesus who sends him to repair the Church. We could also say the same thing for many great women and men in church history. All, then, who deal with spirituality do not omit speaking about renewal and conversion. Why?
If just one important seasoning is missing from a meal, it is not a meal that we eat with satisfaction. Just one apparently small moment in the preparation changes the taste and makes the meal less tasty, and also even distasteful.
It is the same with our life of faith and our witnessing of faith. Just one little thing can become an obstacle to others in their Christian grown to maturity. A trifle can do that to us. For others it is not a little thing. There are people who are bothered both by the little and the bigger things. But it is not allowed for that to be the reason for eliminating those little things so they would not be a nuisance for others.
Just this fact alone is a sufficient reason for accepting the exhortations to conversion. Similarly the second important reason is - for my very own sake to make my life from day to day like the life of the Master.
That is exactly what Our Lady also wants by constantly directing us to what Jesus spoke.
Fr. Ivan Landeka
N E W S
VISIT OF AN AUSTRALIAN BISHOP
At the end of February 1998 Msgr. Patrick Power, the auxiliary bishop of Canberra, Australia, visited Medjugorje. This is what he said on that occasion:
"I am priest already for thirty three years and a bishop for twelve years. My mother was really a wonderful woman and very devoted to the Virgin Mary. My father had a special devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. I was born February 11, right on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. I myself have been in Lourdes but I have experienced something special here. In January 1993, I participated in a prayer program in Canberra in which Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Ivan the visionary also took part. I was deeply touched by what I heard and saw. The message that Ivan spoke and the manner in which he did it impressed me very much. He spoke about peace, prayer, conversion, penance, fasting and deep faith. Those are messages that I have heard so many times and I also have spoken about them before, but the simplicity in which it was all expressed was for me exceptionally important. I remember how my mother experienced all that. It was for her an indescribable experience. In May 1993 I was in Rome. After that I came to Dubrovnik with Bishop Zelimir Puljic, the bishop of Dubrovnik, since I had three days free. We are friends already since 1972 when we met during our studies in Rome (1972-1975). So then in May 1993 I took advantage of the opportunity and came to Medjugorje "incognito". There was still war. There were not many pilgrims. However, many things impressed me. I was already a bishop then, but I did not come here as a bishop. I remained a private person. I celebrated mass. This is the second time that I come to Medjugorje. This time I came with a group from Australia and with my sister and her three children. I have not come with any special expectations, but this really is a time of great grace. I want to be sincere. This time I came because of my family. When I came back home after my first visit I also wrote an article about my experiences. It was very good. Even though I am here for the sake of my family, I have to admit that Our Lady has prepared many graces also for me. I have found a profound peace, especially after I heard Vicka's testimony. I felt that same peace that I felt in 1993 when I heard about the messages the first time. This all helps me again to decide for my vocation as a priest and for my ministry as a bishop. Medjugorje is PEACE. I have felt internal peace and I have witnessed about it to everyone in the group that I came with. When I see what is happening in our group, how people are returning to faith, prayer, confession, then I have to recommend many to come here. The experience of confession is exceptionally important and the evening prayer program and the meetings with the visionaries. Not only I, but also Bishop Kennedy who has been here several times, recommend to the faithful to come to Medjugorje. I wish to say: Thank you. Thanks to the faithful and the priests who work here. Your testimony of faith, love, prayer and hospitality for us pilgrims is very important."
The Prayer-Educational Seminar for leaders of prayer groups, pilgrim groups, and Centers of Peace throughout the world was held from March 9- 13 in Neum. About 150 leaders from seventeen countries took part in the work of the seminar on the theme "The Medjugorje Spiritual Movement". The aim of these seminars, which have already been held for five years in a row, is better acquaintance and the exchange of experiences of those who work with pilgrims in Medjugorje and in their own centers.
At the end of the seminar a common Declaration was drafted.
In community of prayer and fellowship the 150 leaders of prayer groups from seventeen countries listened to lectures on spiritual movements in general (Marianne Tigges from Bonn), on the Medjugorje spiritual movement in the Church today (Dirk Grothues from Munich) and on the contribution of Medjugorje to the new evangelization (Ivan Dugandzic from Zagreb).
In group discussion according to languages and in conversation with the lecturers we drew up the following conclusions:
1. We are grateful to God that in our time he is giving the Church new impulses of the Holy Spirit which sometimes mature into genuine spiritual movements. We are happy that Medjugorje can be characterized as a spiritual movement in today's Church.
2. We consider it our duty to preserve the originality of the Medjugorje spiritual movement and to offer testimony of authentic Christian life based on Our Lady's messages which express the marrow of the Gospel, so we might make our contribution to the renewal of the Church.
3. In order that the spiritual movement, which has originated from Our Lady's messages, obtain a still greater significance, the need was proclaimed for extending a path of peace in the world and in the local Church to which the parish of Medjugorje belongs.
MIRJANA'S ANNUAL APPARITION
The visionary Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo had her regular annual apparition on March18, 1998. Our Lady stopped the daily apparitions to Mirjana December 25, 1982. At that time Our Lady, after confiding the last of ten secrets to her, promised that she will have an apparition on her birthday, March 18, for the course of her entire life. And it was that way also this year.
The apparition lasted between four and five minutes. Our Lady spoke to her about the secrets, blessed all those present, and gave the following message:
"Dear children! I call you to be my light, in order to enlighten all those who still live in darkness, to fill their hearts with Peace, my Son. Thank you for having responded to my call!"
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 03/25/98