M E D I T A T I O N
WHEN DOES EASTER BEGIN?
Not only during the days of Holy Week and the Easter season but also throughout the church year the questions arise for us about Jesus Christ, his mission and his meaning. Some of them remain unanswered. And then when it seems that we are close to an answer, something again gets in the way. Thus we are constantly exposed to the demands of his life and his word on one hand and to obscurities on the other hand. We are not in a position to answer everything with our human means. We are never really happy about that. Neither were the disciples and contemporaries of Jesus. So, for example, when speaking about belief in his resurrection, the path of the apostles and disciples to acceptance of his resurrection is very interesting. Belief in his resurrection was established in their hearts gradually. And that is by a certain order and time of its own. Everything was not finished that Easter morning. We recall the empty tomb, the doubts that someone had stolen his dead body, then Thomas, Emmaus, Jesus' coming to the disciples while they were preparing breakfast on the lake shore. Along with this also the accusation against the apostles that they stole his body while the grave was being guarded. A little more time will pass till the moment when Peter openly reveals his belief that Jesus is alive, that he is risen.
The path to belief that the disciples had to traverse is also not shortened for us and we have to traverse it. It is not like just crossing a river but it continues and we have to know that it does not happen in an instant, and that we will encounter new questions and answers.
The unanimous celebration of Easter by the entire Church is a great testimony and encouragement. Once a year the Church assembles in a special way around the Risen One, and, although each time assembled in sacraments and in prayer, it is gathered in His presence. Therefore, our celebration of the Risen One does not commence and does not finish with the Easter calendar. Nor is it finished with the completion of the Easter season at Pentecost. From a well prepared and faithfully celebrated Easter Day there is drawn the strength and the answers to many questions of life and faith.
Our Lady is in the midst of the apostolic assembly that reflects on the mystery and the meaning of Jesus' resurrection. She is there also today. She reflects on it with us and gives us valuable directives and counsels. With her our path of faith is more simple. Her sojourning with the Church and with each individual is a precious grace.
Fr. Ivan Landeka
N E W S
EASTER IN MEDJUGORJE
During Holy Week and for Easter itself there were new groups of pilgrims constantly arriving that wanted to prepare here and together celebrate the greatest Christian feast of Easter. About 10,000 pilgrims celebrated in the shrine of Medjugorje. Due to this kind of great number of the faithful the liturgy of Holy Thursday, the rites of Good Friday and Holy Saturday were organized for nine languages - in a special way for each language group. Among foreign pilgrims the most numerous groups were from: Austria, Germany, Italy, United States, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, Hungary, Romania, Mexico, Holland, Australia, Lebanon, Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Slovenia, and Slovakia. During these days also an exceptionally large number of pilgrims were from all parts of Croatia, as well as from surrounding parishes that came to Medjugorje for Easter confession. The fact that about twenty priests on average heard confessions each night for three hours during the evening prayer program speaks as to how many pilgrims visited Medjugorje for the days of Easter.
On Easter day the provincial of the Hercegovina Franciscans, Fr. Tomislav Pervan, blessed a "Resurrection" statue. It is the work and gift of the Slovenian sculptor Andrew Ajdic. The statue of bronze is six meters and is temporarily erected behind the parish church. A space for prayer will soon be arranged around the "Resurrection" statue so that this valuable work of art might be an incentive to prayer and the spiritual life. A miniature of the "Resurrection" was given to Our Holy Father the Pope on the occasion of his pastoral visit to Slovenia.
VISIT OF TWO BISHOPS
Before Easter two bishops visited Medjugorje. There were Bishop John Dew from New Zealand and Bishop Donald Montrose from the United States. Here is what they said on the occasion about their impressions:
"I heard about Medjugorje for the first time from my parishioners. Those who went to Medjugorje came back with good fruits: the spirit of prayer, fasting, returning to the life of the sacraments and becoming active members of the parish community. Numerous prayer groups were established. I came with a group of pilgrims that also visited the Holy Land. These events in Medjugorje made a profound impression on me. Everything seemed natural and normal to me. I do not see any kind of oddities. People talk about the apparitions in a simple way and a large number of the faithful try to live Our Lady's messages. The experience of prayer and fasting are to me especially useful. I will try in a special way to find time for prayer before Holy Mass. I will try also to propose all that to the parishes of my diocese. And you here in the parish of Medjugorje, pray and fast and be apostles of love in everyday life. This is the preparation of all of us for the Great Jubilee" - said Bishop John Dew, auxiliary bishop of Wellington, New Zealand.
"I came to Medjugorje the first time before becoming an auxiliary bishop. Now I have come by the invitation of a group of pilgrims. Here I feel the special presence of Our Lady. I see that a great number of the faithful who have visited Medjugorje return with a renewed faith, a renewed experience of prayer, fasting, confession, Holy mass and adoration. The people that are faithful to Our Lady are also faithful to the Church. Devotion to Mary is very important. My message to you in the parish of Medjugorje is: Live the messages, love Our Lady, love the Eucharist, do not neglect confession, find time for prayer, pray at least one part of the rosary every day. I promise my prayer and blessing to all of you. I especially want to pray for the Franciscans, because what is happening here is great and the Franciscans have a great responsibility. I know about all your troubles and difficulties, but persevere in good" - said Bishop Donald Montrose of Stockton, California in the United States.
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 04/22/98