92
June 03, 1998

PRESS BULLETIN





M E D I T A T I O N

MAN - THE IMAGE OF GOD

From the beginning man has asked himself the question as to who he actually is. Up to the present day, this question has been asked again and again at various times and under different circumstances. Various considerations and changing circumstances have again forced man to respond to this question essential for his existence.

In searching for possible answers, the question of the usefulness of human life played an important role. However, the past and present have shown us that man, who is limited by his adequacy and inadequacy, is very easily underestimated and this unavoidably brings about abuses in all areas of life.

As Christians we are searching for the answer to the question: who is man? In this search, the Bible remains for us, of course, the most reliable source: "God created man in His image, in the divine image He created him; male and female He created them." (Gn 1, 27). Man is the image of God because of his Creator and that he is a man or a woman is not an accident but he is also the image of God through this design. Our search for the answer to the question as to who we are is not being facilitated by the fundamentals of the Bible and our experiences of faith. In his search to clarify the question of the reason for our existence, St. Augustine expressed the hardship of this search in one sentence: "I became a mystery to myself".

There is another question, which is no less important: what should man really be? Today, the answer to this question is more topical than ever since public opinion submits itself more and more to the influence of 'gene manipulators'. Looking back on the historical development, it is very probable that man will soon become genetic material. The craving for power and profit will create new habits, which one will then try to make into legal standards. Profit is the only goal and one will try to reach this goal the shortest possible way, legally or illegally.

The task of Christians is not an easy one. It will only be possible to withstand this likely development if we return to the conception and image of man, as it is essentially described in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the image of God and man is the image of Christ.

The words of the Mother of God, who wants to lead us to Her Son, call us to return to Jesus Christ. Her words also contain the instructions as to where one can find and get to know the original concept of man and his realization. Our observance of these words of the Mother of God will protect us from our self-willed concept of God and will enable us to withstand the abuses of human existence, which are motivated by a desire for power. In addition, Our Lady also shows us how we can put into practice Jesus' way of life of prayer, fasting, reconciliation, love for others and peace.

Father Ivan Landeka


N E W S

THE NUMBER OF HOLY COMMUNIONS AND OF CONCELEBRANTS

During the month of May 107,000 holy Communions were distributed in the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje and 3248 priests from Croatia and abroad celebrated holy Mass, that is 104 priests daily.

Listed below are some of the countries from which pilgrims visited Medjugorje during the past month: Poland, Costa Rica, Mexico, Austria, Germany, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Brazil, Italy, France, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Rumania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Chile, Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Lebanon, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, United States and, of course, Croatia.


MISSIONARY TRIP OF FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC

Father Slavko BarbariŠ visited Brazil from May 5 to 12, following an invitation of Brazilian pilgrims and friends of Medjugorje. Several prayer meetings were organized and during the customary "Medjugorje Prayer Program", Father Slavko spoke about the Medjugorje messages of peace. Several thousand faithful attended these meetings, some of which were broadcast by the local radio stations. After his return from Brazil, Father Slavko BarbariŠ gave his impressions:

"Although this country seems so far away and is unknown to us, Brazil has not remained untouched by the events of Medjugorje. This time I saw again how widely the message of Medjugorje has spread and how many fruits it has brought forth in this country, which is full of contradictions and which has more than 150 million inhabitants. One part is very rich, while the larger part makes up the so-called middle class; but one also meets very poor people and even more so destitute people, who live in the so-called Favelas. But there are also many, who in the name of Jesus Christ fight against spiritual and material poverty, who help in various ways and so make the Church present. Many poor and needy people see the Church as a sign of hope. Still, all efforts of the good and faithful people often only remain a drop of goodness and love, which can hardly be recognized in the lives of those, who live in spiritual and material poverty.

The first destination of my trip was Quixada, a town which is approximately 200 km from Fortalezze and is located on the northwest coast of Brazil. In this town, the friends of Medjugorje are organizing their Second Marian Conference under the title "The Holy Spirit Will Descend Upon You" - Mary, the model of hope in the newly-formed Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Sertao. During my visit, I had the opportunity to meet the founder of this marian shrine, Msgr. Adelio Giuseppe Tomasin, the Bishop of Quixada, who told me among other things how this shrine came into being: 'I had the great wish to build a shrine but, because of the situation I was in, I was not even able to think about building a small church much less a large one or even a shrine. But then something happened to me, which influenced the course of the events connected with this Shrine.'

'I think it was on the feastday of Our Lady of Carmel. I was celebrating Mass in the cathedral. There were many people present and I prayed the Creed, as usual. After Holy Communion, I wiped the chalice and suddenly bent my brow over the altar. Then I sat down. Suddenly - and I really don't know how to explain this - the following words came into my mind: "Why did you not think about building a house for my Mother?" And I saw a shrine between the rocks at the place, which rises above Sertao. I did not know how I should react to these words. The reason for this was simple: I did not know if this was an inspiration or a fruit of my imagination. Knowing myself well, I was more inclined to think that it was a fruit of my imagination. And when I should have said: "Go in peace and may God be with you", the following words came to me: "Please, sit down for a moment!" Those present were somewhat surprised. Surely they thought: Now comes another speech or some other remark!'

'Loudly and clearly I told them what I had just experienced while sitting. Now I was eagerly waiting for the reaction of the people. I was surprised. They all got up and welcomed my experience with a warm and long applause. So the idea of a shrine was born. From the beginning, I was looking for an order that was willing to take over the responsibility for the shrine. This troubled me more than the actual building of the shrine. In my search, I heard about Father Gianni and the "Oasis of Peace". I called him immediately. I told him that I was looking for an order for the shrine that would be pastorally active there and pray. He answered: 'Good. Give me two or three days for prayer and I will give you the answer.' And, in fact, on the third day, he agreed. The community "Oasis of Peace" now directs the newly-built Shrine of Our Lady of Sertao.' (The marian community "Oasis of Peace" came about because of an inspiration, which Father Gianni Sgreva, passionist and professor of Patrologie, had on January 1, 1985. On this day, he heard in his heart a voice: 'Do you want to surrender to me completely?' Surprised by this experience and not sure what it meant, he returned to Verona, where he was working as a professor and teacher. Then many young people began to come to him. After talks with Cardinal Ratzinger and the Holy Father, he was given permission and began with the noviciate.)

Msgr. Tomasin had also visited Medjugorje and described his experience there as follows: 'The first time I was in Medjugorje was in 1984. A friend, who told me that he had received a great spiritual grace there, suggested that I make the trip. We arrived with our own car. I can still well recall the Communist militia. We arrived at Mostar where we also stayed overnight. One day later, we finally came to Medjugorje. I was very impressed by the landscape. We first went into the church where there were not many people. This is why I was very surprised when, before the beginning of the evening prayer, the church was filling up to the last seat. I saw mainly young people. I felt a deep faith which had nothing to do with fanaticism. I saw many people going to confession. This fact particularly caught my attention. During Mass, I could not understand anything but I saw that there was very deep faith. While many were praying the rosary in church, I was invited to pray the rosary with the visionaries. I was present during an apparition. I was very impressed by the simplicity. The following morning, I got up early and went up Apparition Hill. I prayed for myself, my community and the whole church. In the meantime, many faithful were climbing up Apparition Hill, praying really devoutly. I went to church and remained there praying almost the entire day. This is how I spent my time during my stay in Medjugorje. I did not speak with any of the Franciscans and also not with the visionaries. When I returned home, I felt completely renewed spiritually. Now I understood Mary better and accepted her better as my mother. Now I understood that the Church is being renewed through Her.'

'When I was again named General of the Order, I returned to Medjugore. I travelled via Ancona, accompanied by the local bishop, Msgr. ZaniŠ, who took the opportunity to tell me all about his difficulties. I listened to him attentively. I knew the situation, I knew about the commission and the different opinions. And I also had the same spiritual experiences this time. I returned home and was deeply convinced that many things are happening here, which cannot be explained philosophically or psychologically. The faith and the apparitions are two realities. Nobody can question the fruits of faith in Medjugorje. The presence of God and His grace are obvious and, after sending His grace through the Fathers of the Church, He is now sending it through the Mother of Grace, the Mother of the Sinners, who stood at the cross. For me, this is without a doubt believeable. As far as the apparitions are concerned, aside from the conversions and the many other good fruits of faith, there must be still something else. And here we have to wait.'


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.
Director: fra Miljenko Stojic.
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