"Miracle at Medjugorje"
VISIT TO MEDJUGORJE: A PHENOMENA BEYOND EXPLANATION
Published May 13, 1986
I ran into an old friend at the airport a couple of weeks ago, I was waiting to leave on a nine-day trip to Medjugorje, Yugoslavia. The usual light chatter ensued and in the course of that, I asked him where he was going. He told me he was heading for a few days in Cancun, Mexico, for a business meeting and some relaxation. Then, the inevitable: "Where are you going?"
"Uh, Yugoslavia," I said hesitatingly. "I'm going to Yugoslavia." The look on his face said it all, but he asked anyway. "Why in the world are you going to Yugoslavia?" After spending nearly two weeks there, I can understand why someone would question a trip to Yugoslavia. It's communist, mountainous and hard to get around in, and they don't exactly welcome visitors--especially Americans--with open arms and smiles.
But I didn't go there as a tourist. Anyone who has read this column regularly over the past six months knows why I went to Medjugorje.
For almost five years now, this small village has attracted world-wide attention as the place where the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is reportedly appearing daily to six young people in this remote mountain village. Despite government attempts to make visiting the site difficult, millions have been and continue to come from around the world to see for themselves what is happening.
It has become the number one tourist attraction in Yugoslavia. For this reason, while the government continues harassment of the locals and the visitors, they grudgingly "accommodate" the influx of people because of the economic gain. Guest houses are being built by the individual landowners, not large construction companies. Progress is slow. There are scattered vendors of food and souvenirs. But the ratio to the number of people there is minute. There are no bathroom facilities, nothing to make the visiting pilgrim's stay comfortable. Yet, thousands come weekly.
The believability of such an event in today's technical world is difficult. However, to go there and be there for an extended period of time leaves little doubt that something definitely beyond technical or scientific explanation is taking place.
The multitude of religious beliefs and cults in the world today, the generally apathetic attitude of church-goers, and the divided opinions even within the Catholic Church lends credence to the skepticism of this supernatural phenomena. Yet, my own involvement, and the circumstances that brought it about have me convinced that this is an authentic call for peace, and a return to the ways of God for the whole people of the world; and I am also convinced that the Mother of Jesus, Mary, is the messenger.
I believed this before I went to Medjugorje, I came home with no doubt at all.
I kept asking, why me? I'm a journalist and journalists demand hard, cold subtantiated facts and evidence. I'm not catholic and know very little about the Catholic Church's recurrence for the Virgin Mary. My own Lutheran beliefs virtually ignore Mary beyond her role as mother of our Lord.
My interest in learning more about the events at Medjugorje was simply curiosity; I thought it might make an interesting Christmas column. That "curiosity" turned into four very long columns during the entire month of December. Since that time, over 250 requests that required a self-addressed, stamped envelope have been received for back-copies of the article. They continue to come in.
That curiosity now has me wanting to spend the rest of my life spreading the message of Medjugorje to any and everyone who will listen. I intend to do just that.
What I saw and what I felt is not easily put into words. It will be difficult for others to accept it or believe it. Yet, I was there and I know what I saw and what I felt. I saw the sun dance and move and whirl and pale so that I could look directly at it with the naked eye. That is impossible, but I saw it. It was the same sun you and I see every day.
I also saw a huge, 14 ton cement cross mounted high on a mountain that stands behind the church at Medjugorje totally disappear on a cloudless, bright morning. This same cross was observed by me early in the black of morning to glow and shine as though it was covered with lights. That also is impossible. There is no electricity on that mountain, but I saw it.
There was more, but the point is, there is no explanation for these phenomena. They usually occur at the time the Blessed Virgin is appearing to the children. Some see them. some do not. Others saw them at times when I did not.
The most important phenomena at Medjugorje is not the supernatural occurrences, however. It is the almost unanimous commitment to the messages delivered by Mary to the villagers. This village is the closest thing there is to a perfect community of love and adherence to the ways of God.
This community, while simple, rural, backward and lacking in material gain, was in many ways no different than our own communities, prior to the beginning of the apparitions in June, 1981. They had their share of trouble with drunkenness, cheating, greed, fighting. They went to church, but not enough to fill the pews every Sunday.
Today, these ways are non-existent. The church is filled daily, not just on Sunday. Devotion to God is the main course of their lives. This is the real miracle, the real message of Medjugorje. That is what is stressed to the visiting pilgrims.
One of the young people who sees Mary daily has said that the highlight of her day is not the apparition of the Mother of Jesus, but rather the attending of church. This is what the Blessed Virgin wants of all of us.
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