M E D I T A T I O N
THE LONGING FOR GOD
Today a person could easily become confused by thinking and concluding that God has become more or less unimportant to people in today's world. God is not talked about very much in public life. There are no longer lively debates about whether or not God exists. A kind of silence has developed about a theme which had previously set souls afire throughout the centuries. God is now only being discussed silently and those who speak about God loudly seem to spoil any good sentiment towards Him. Likewise, with their lack of restraint and their superficiality they make God even less interesting and less understandable.
However, this reality is deceiving, although man lives more and more as if the spiritual did not exist and the visible were the only measure of all things. Modern-day man suffers from lack of spiritual values and it is for this very reason that many people go astray and search for a meaning of life. This search, which does not accept the need for God and the Spiritual, can only end in darkness and disappointment.
This concealment leads a person to enslavement at the hands of other mere human beings or even illusionary spiritual movements, which most often end up in a deep abyss. In this world, there is a real lack of places and people to whom one can reveal one's longing for God and for His closeness.
Medjugorje is a place where people who are searching for God do not hide or disguise their desire for God. They feel that here they may reveal their problems and difficulties and that hey will be taken seriously by both God and the Church. This is the greatness and strength of Our Lady's words and messages, which want to lead us to God.
Pater Ivan Landeka
N E W S
THE NUMBER OF HOLY COMMUNIONS AND CONCELEBRANTS
During the month of June 145.000 holy communions were distributed at the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje. Holy mass was concelebrated by 3.689 priests from Croatia and many foreign countries, which is an average of 122 priests daily.
These are some of the countries, from which pilgrims came to Medjugorje during the month of June: Poland, Costa Rica, Mexico, Austria, Germany, Italy, France, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Romania, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Chile, Netherlands, Sweden, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Spain, Portugal, Canada, England, Ireland, Belgium, the United States and, of course Croatia.
SEMINAR FOR PRIESTS
The Second International Seminar for Priests was held at the Shrine of the Queen of Peace from June 30 to July 6, 1998. About 160 priests from England, Germany France, Italy, Romania, Poland, America, Spain and Croatia took part. The theme of the seminar was "Priests in the School of Mary". The largest group of about 50 priests came from Poland. During the seven days the priests listened to lectures, contemplated, prayed, celebrated the Eucharist together and climbed the Hill of Apparitions and Krievac. The seminar was organized by Father Slavko Barbari and the lecturers included Don Cosimo Cavaluzzo, an Italian priest who especially deals with preaching and helping to organize seminars, the German priest Jörg Müller and Father Jozo Zovko.
PILGRIMAGE OF THE MILITARY
Recently the military undertook a pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Queen of Peace in Medjugorje. Hundreds of Croatian soldiers, together with several thousand pilgrims, took part in a large evening procession and carried lit candles through the Shrine to the statue of Our Lady.
At the beginning of the pilgrimage, the soldiers gathered in front of St. James Church. Then in a large procession they walked to the Hill of Apparitions, where they prayed the rosary for peace. Father Slavko Barbari led the rosary from the Church to the Hill of Apparitions. A large number of priests heard the confessions of the soldiers upon their return from the Hill of Apparitions. The parish priest of Medjugorje, Father Ivan Landeka, greeted everyone present before the celebration of Holy Mass began. Father Branimir Musa celebrated the Eucharist with about 100 concelebrant priests from Croatia and other countries. After Holy Mass, there was a procession with lit candles, which concluded with a blessing in front of the church.
"DEFENSE OF LOVE"
"Defense of Love" ("Bedem ljubavi"), a peace movement of mothers, organizes a prayer novena on every last Saturday of the month from April through December. The fifth such meeting took place on June 27, 1998, and the mothers, wives, sisters and friends of those killed during the war gathered in prayer in the church of St. James in Medjugorje. All those who were killed or disappeared in the recent war, including all those Croatians accused in Den Haag, were prayed for in a special way.
The sacrament of penance was followed by the celebration of the Eucharist, after which the children of those accused in Den Haag lit candles at the cross and then walked to the Hill of Apparitions, praying the rosary.
We take this opportunity to once again thank the large number of foreign pilgrims, who joined with the mothers and wives in prayer for those who defended Croatia. With the help of pilgrims from all parts of the world, the defenders of Croatia do not remain unknown. Instead, the pilgrims of Medjugorje have become great friends of the Croatian people and wonderful benefactors during the recent war. They experienced our hardships and our needs as they would their own. Many people in the world heard about our small country through the pilgrims of Medjugorje and they made a wonderful contribution to the suffering people of our country in the most difficult of times.
The parishioners of Medjugorje, the mothers and wives with whom the pilgrims prayed as well as everyone who felt the love, concern and care of the pilgrims, constantly pray for them and ask God to bless them.
STATEMENT OF THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE
We 150 priests from 15 countries have participated in the Second International Meeting of Priests, "Priests in the School of Mary", which was held from June 30 to July 6, 1998, in Medjugorje.
At the conclusion of our meeting, we are pleased to announce what we have experienced during these days:
With prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, the climbing of Podbrdo and Krievac, lectures arranged for this meeting, we gathered around Mary, the mother of our priesthood, the Queen of Peace, and renewed our priestly vocation and the consciousness of our ministry in the context of preparation for the third millennium.
Deeply thankful to God for everything we have experienced through the Queen of Peace, we announce:
- We remain obedient to the Holy Father and to the entire Church with respect to their position regarding the events of Medjugorje and we await the final judgement of the Church.
- In Medjugorje, we have understood more deeply the sense and meaning of the presence of Mary, our mother, teacher and pilgrim, who in these times participates in pilgrimages with the pilgrim church, just as the Pope speaks about Her in his documents.
- We have received a real incentive regarding our personal prayer, fasting and the celebration of Holy Mass and a special encouragement regarding to the sacrament of penance and have discovered our priestly duty and power in the battle against evil.
- We return to our parish communities with a great desire to pass on to our faithful our experiences in Medjugorje and with these experiences to more faithfully go on the path of evangelization at the beginning of the new millennium, just as the Holy Father has invited and encouraged us to do.
- We greet all of you with brotherly love and we promise that with our prayer and devoted work we will demonstrate that we are faithful sons of the Holy Church and faithful workers in building Christ's kingdom in the spirit of Mary, the Queen of Peace.
Medjugorje, July 6, 1998
NEWS OF MEDJUGORJE
CONGREGATIO PRO DOCTRINA FIDEI
Citta del Vaticano, Palazzo del S. Uffizio
In your letter of January 1, 1998, you submitted to this Dicastery several questions about the position of the Holy See and of the Bishop of Mostar in regard to the so called apparitions of Medjugorje, private pilgrimages and the pastoral care of the faithful who go there.
In regard to this matter, I think it is impossible to reply to each of the questions posed by Your Excellency. The main thing I would like to point out is that the Holy See does not ordinarily take a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena as a court of first instance. As for the credibility of the "apparitions" in question, this Dicastery respects what was decided by the bishops of the former Yugoslavia in the Declaration of Zadar, April 10, 1991: "On the basis of the investigations so far, it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations." Since the division of Yugoslavia into different independent nations it would now pertain to the members of the Episcopal Conference of Bosnia-Hercegovina to eventually reopen the examination of this case, and to make any new pronouncements that might be called for.
What Bishop Peric said in his letter to the Secretary General of "Famille Chretienne", declaring: "My conviction and my position is not only 'non constat de supernaturalitate,' but likewise, 'constat de non supernaturalitate' of the apparitions or revelations in Medjugorje", should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion.
Finally, as regards pilgrimages to Medjugorje, which are conducted privately, this Congregation points out that they are permitted on condition that they are not regarded as an authentification of events still taking place and which still call for an examination by the Church.
I hope that I have replied satisfactorily at least to the principal questions that you have presented to this Dicastery and I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my devoted sentiments.
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone
This is the summary of the letter:
1. The declarations of the Bishop of Mostar only reflect his personal opinion. Consequently, they are not an official and definitive judgement from the Church.
2. One is directed to the declaration of Zadar, which leaves the door open to future investigations. In the meanwhile private pilgrimages with pastoral accompaniment for the faithful are permitted.
3. A new commission could eventually be named.
4. In the meanwhile, all Catholics may go as pilgrims to Medjugorje.
We can' t but be thankful for this long awaited explanation.
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 07/15/98