"Miracle at Medjugorje"
PART 3: INTERVIEWS WITH THE SEERS
Published Dec. 18, 1985
It hardly seems possible that three weeks have passed since I began running this very special series of columns concerning reports of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, appearing to a group of young people in Yugoslavia.
While it is by far one of the most difficult subjects I have attempted to write about, it is also the most satisfying from the standpoint of having done something worthwhile. Professionally, I want readers to see it as objective and informational; personally, I want it to inspire everyone who reads it to strengthen their relationship with God and fellow man. That is the purpose of running it during the celebration of Christmas.
This week, interviews with two of the young people are featured. The answers given were taken straight from a tape recording of the conversations with them. Parts of the interviews were excluded at my discretion so that I could run as much of them as possible.
(Excerpts taken from: "The apparitions of Our Lady at Medjugorje", by Svetozar Kraljevic, O.F.M.)
Interview with Mirjana Dragicevic, By Fr. Tomislav Vlasic
Medjugorje, January 10, 1983
T: Mirjana, we have not seen each other for some time, and I would like you to tell me about the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and especially with the events that are connected to you.
M: I have seen the Blessed Virgin Mary for eighteen months now, and feel I know Her very well. I feel she loves me with Her Motherly love, and so I have been able to ask Her about anything I would like to know. I've asked her to explain some things about Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell that were not clear to me. For example, I asked Her how God can be so unmerciful as to throw people into Hell, to suffer forever. I thought: If a person commits a crime and goes to jail, he stays there for a while and then is forgiven - but to Hell, forever? She told me that souls who go to Hell have ceased thinking favorably of God - have cursed Him, more and more. So they've already become a part of Hell, and choose not to be delivered from it.
Then she told me that there are levels in Purgatory: Levels close to Hell and higher and higher toward Heaven. Most people, she said, think many souls are released from Purgatory into Heaven on All Saints' Day, but most souls are taken into Heaven on Christmas Day.
T: Did you ask why God allows Hell?
M: No, I did not. But afterward I had a discussion with my aunt, who told me how merciful God is. So I said I would ask the Madonna how God could......
T: According to what you've said, then; It's simple as this: People who oppose God on earth just continue their existence after death, and oppose God in Hell?
M: Really, I thought if a person goes to Hell....Don't people pray for their salvation? Could God be so unmerciful as not to hear their prayers? Then the Madonna explained it to me. People in Hell do not pray at all; instead, they blame God for everything. In effect, they become one with Hell and they get used to it. They rage against God, and they suffer, but they always refuse to pray to God.
T: To ask Him for salvation?
M: In Hell, they hate Him even more.
T: As for Purgatory, you say that souls who pray frequently are sometimes allowed to communicate, at least by messages, with people on earth, and that they receive the benefits of prayers said on earth?
M: Yes. Prayers that are said on earth for souls who have not prayed for their salvation are applied to souls in purgatory who pray for their salvation.
T: Did the Madonna tell you whether many people go to Hell today?
M: I asked her about that recently, and She said that, today, most people go to purgatory, the next greatest number go to Hell, and only a few go directly to Heaven.
T: Only a few go to Heaven?
M: Yes only a few - the least number - go to Heaven.
T: Did you ask about the conditions for a person to enter Heaven?
M: No I didn't; but, we can probably say what they are. God is not looking for great believers but simply for those who respect their faith and live peacefully, without malice, meanness, falsehood.
T: This is your interpretation, your understanding?
M: Yes. After I talked to the Madonna, I came to that conclusion; No one has to do great miracles or do great penance; merely live a simple, peaceful life.
T: Well, besides Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, is there anything else new recently?
M: The Madonna told me that I should tell the people that many in our time judge their faith by their priests. If a priest is not holy, they conclude that there is no God. She said: "You do not go to church to judge the priest, to examine his personal life. You go to church to pray and to hear the word of God from the priest." This must be explained to the people, because many turn away from the faith because of priests.
Today, as it was a long time ago, the Virgin told me God and the devil conversed, and the devil said that people believe in God only when life is good for them. When things turn bad, they cease to believe in God. Then people blame God, or act as if he does not exist. God, therefore, allowed the devil one century in which to exercise an extended power over the world, and the devil chose the twentieth century. Today, as we can see all around us, everyone is dissatisfied; they cannot abide each other. Examples are the number of divorces and abortions. All this, the Madonna said, is the work of the devil.
T: This behavior of people - they're under the influence of the devil. But the devil does not have to be in them?
M: No, no. The devil is not in them, but they're under the influence of the devil, although he enters into some of them.
To prevent this, at least to some extent, the Madonna said we need communal prayer, family prayer. She stressed the need for family prayer most of all. Also, every family should have at least one sacred object in the house, and houses should be blessed regularly.
She also emphasized the failings of religious people, especially in small villages - for example, here in Medjugorje, where there is separation from Serbians (i.e., Serbian Orthodox) and Moslems. This separation is not good. The Madonna always stresses that there is but one God, and that people have enforced unnatural separation. One cannot truly believe, be a true Christian, if he does not respect other religions as well. You do not really believe in God if you make fun of other religions.
T: What, then, is the role of Jesus Christ, if the Moslem religion is a good religion?
M: We did not discuss that. She merely explained, and deplored, the lack of religious unity, "especially in the villages." She said that everybody's religion should be respected, and, of course, one's own.
T: Tell me where the devil is especially active today. Did she tell you anything about this? Through whom or what does he manifest himself the most?
M: Most of all through people of weak character, who are divided within themselves. Such people are everywhere, and they are the easiest for the devil to enter. But he also enters the lives of strong believers - sisters, for example. He would rather "convert" real believers than nonbelievers. How can I explain this? You saw what happened to me. He tries to bring as many believers as possible to himself.
T: Can we suppose, then, that one of you might say that three secrets would be revealed before the great sign appears; then the rest of the secrets will be revealed, one by one? Is there anything to that?
M: Nothing like that, but something like this. First, some secrets will be revealed - just a few. Then the people will be convinced that the Madonna was here. They will understand the sign. When Jakov said that the mayor will be the first one to run to the hill, he meant that generally people of the highest social class will understand the sign as a place of occasion to convert. They will run to the hill and pray, and they will be forgiven. When I asked the Madonna about unbelievers, She said: "They should be prayed for, and they should pray." But when I asked again, recently, She said: "Let them convert while there is still time." She did not say they should be prayer for.
T: You can say nothing specifically until the moment the Madonna says you can?
T: What does the Madonna say? Can we prepare ourselves for what will happen?
M: Yes, prepare! The Madonna said people should prepare themselves spiritually, be ready, and not panic; be reconciled in their souls. They should be ready for the worst, to die tomorrow. They should accept God now so that they will not be afraid. They should accept God, and everything else. No one accepts death easily, but they can be at peace in their souls if they are believers. If they are committed to God, He will accept them.
T: This means total conversion and surrender to God?
T: After these ten secrets, after these eighteen months of apparitions, what do you tell the people they should do? What do you say to priests, to the Pope and Bishops, without revealing the secrets? What does the Madonna want us to do?
M: First, I would like to tell you how it was for me at the end, and the.....
T: All right.
M: Two days before Christmas, the Madonna told me Christmas day would be the last time she would appear to me. (I didn't quite believe this.) On Christmas Day, she stayed with me for forty-five minutes and we talked about many things. We summarized everything that had been said between us. On behalf of many people, I asked what they should do. Then She gave me a very precious gift. She said She would appear to me on my birthday every year for the rest of my life. Also, independently of the sign - and anything else - She said She will appear to me when something very difficult happens - not some everyday difficulty, but something quite grievous. Then, She will come to help me. But now, I have to live without Her physical presence, without Her daily personal visits. I say to all people: Convert! - the same as She said. "Convert while there is time!" Do not abandon God and your faith. Abandon everything else, but not that!
T: What is the greatest danger to mankind? What does it come from?
M: From godlessness. Nobody believes - hardly anybody. For example, the Madonna told me that the faith in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria is very weak. The people in those countries model themselves on their priests, and if the priests are not good examples, the people fall away and believe there is no God. When I was in Askona I heard of a priest to whom a rich man had left money to build a home for old people, but instead, the priest built a hotel. Now all the people in that city have turned their backs on the faith, because how could a priest not fulfill the last wish of a dying man and, instead, build a hotel and make money for himself? Nevertheless, people must understand that they shouldn't scrutinize a priest's private life, but listen to what he says through God - God's word.
T: Before we finish this interview, is there anything you would like to add?
M: She said some things that are for me personally. She advised me on various matters. Then She said: "Go in God's peace!"
T: Did She talk to you about the other visionaries and further apparitions?
M: She told me I am - well, more mature than the others and therefore I must help them, spend time with them and talk with them. This will make things easier for them and for me. We are to understand each other and stay together - united.
T: She did not mention further developments or apparitions, either individually or to all of you as a group?
M: I think that when each individual learns the tenth secret, she will cease appearing to that person.
Interview with Ivanka Ivankovic, By Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic
S: Ivanka, you and Mirjana were taking a walk together that day. Why were you walking together?
I: We regularly walked together in that area. We had been at my house; then we decided to take our walk.
S: Who was with you besides Mirjana?
I: At first, just Mirjana and myself. When we returned to my house, Milka, Marija's sister, asked us to go with her to get the sheep and bring them home.
S: So the two of you went with Milka to get the sheep?
I: The first time, Mirjana and I were walking alone, and as we were returning to the village I happened to look toward the hill - and I saw a figure of the Madonna, bright and shining. I said to Mirjana: "Look, the Madonna!" Mirjana dismissed what I said with a wave of her hand, as if I'd been joking, and she said: "It's not very likely that the Madonna would appear to us." So we continued to walk toward the village. Mirjana did not even look where I pointed to the hill. When we got to Milka's house, Milka said: "Help me get the sheep and bring them home." So we turned around and started walking back to the fields. This time, all three of us saw the Madonna. We knelt down and prayed; then we got the sheep and chased them home. Later, Vicka and Ivan and the other Ivan joined us.
S: On that first day, you saw the Madonna twice?
I: Yes. The first time when Mirjana and I were walking back to the village, and the second time when we went with Milka to get the sheep.
S: Who saw the Madonna first?
I: I did.
S: What did you say when you saw her?
I: I said: "Look, Mirjana, the Madonna!"
S: Then what did you do? Where did you go?
I: We went to Milka's. We stopped in front of her house and she asked us to help her get the sheep. Then the three of us went to get the sheep to bring them home. When we passed the hill, I saw the Madonna again, this time holding the Baby Jesus in her hands. Mirjana and Milka also looked, and they too saw the Madonna.
S: What did seeing the Madonna mean to you?
I: It meant everything in the world!
S: When you talk with the Madonna in your visions, we cannot hear you speak.
I: We speak out loud, the same as now.
S: Let me put it this way. Do you speak with the Madonna mentally - that is She understands what you think - or do you speak to her in a low voice, a whisper, so we cannot hear you? Or is your conversation miraculous - beyond our power to hear and understand?
I: I speak with Her normally, the same as I'm speaking now. Also, I hear Her voice and words in the normal way, as well as what the others say.
S: In your visions, have you ever asked favors for anybody?
I: I have, in the beginning, I asked a favor for little Daniel.
S: What did the Madonna say?
I: She says the same thing She always says: Strong faith and prayer will help.
S: What do you mean, "strong faith and prayer"? For what?
I: To believe and pray for a healing.
S: Did you ever ask for anybody in your family who had passed away?
I: Yes, I asked for my father not long ago, and she said the same thing.
S: What did Our Lady say?
I: She said my mother is with her, and that I should obey and not worry.
S: You were saddened by your mother's death, and because of that the Madonna came to comfort you.
I: I don't know; but I don't think so. We asked her why, of all people, She appeared to us. She said She does not always seek out the best people.
S: To whom are the Madonna's messages sent?
I: To the whole world.
S: What are the messages?
I: Peace, Conversion, Fasting, Penance, Prayer.
S: Which is the most important?
S: Why peace?
I: When everyone in the world is at peace, everything is possible.
S: You mentioned prayer. Tell me honestly, how do you pray?
I: When I get up in the morning, I pray seven Our Fathers and the Credo. At noon, I pray the Angelus. In the evening, I pray seven Our Fathers and the Credo, and sometimes the rosary. When we are all home together, we pray an evening prayer.
S: It is known that the Madonna recommended that all of you enter a convent.
I: She told us it is Her wish that we enter a convent - but only those who have such a wish. She does not want anyone to disgrace the faith and the Church.
S: I believe that everyone is free to choose, and you are free as well. Have you decided what to do in this connection?
I: To tell you the truth, as I feel right now, I do not want to enter the convent. I can live a Christian life, the same as a nun, raising.......
S: Bearing in mind what you know about the future, tell me if the Madonna of Medjugorje will reconcile the world even more.
I: I think She will.
S: Will the "Great Sign" help in achieving this?
I: Yes, when the time comes. More believers will come to church.
S: Will the sign appear very soon, or later?
I: It will appear at the proper time.
S: Ivanka, are you in any way fearful of being able to do what the Madonna expects of you in this life?
I: Why should I be afraid when God is with me? God gives me whatever strength I need.
S: You speak to the people of the Madonna's messages, but some do not believe you. In that case what do you do?
I: I pray for them, that God will enlighten them.
S: Can you do anything else?
I: I will go on trying to persuade them. They will be convinced, once they ...
S: I believe that, but in the meantime people become nervous. It is difficult to wait for that day. What should people do?
I: Pray that God will give us the strength to endure.
S: There are those who are opposed to the Madonna. What would you tell them?
I: I'd tell them: Convert! There is a God. That is it!
S: Can those who oppose the Madonna frustrate Her plans in the world?
I: You mean the great sign
I: No. All their armaments and explosives could not destroy it.
S: Can they do harm to the souls of the people and to the Madonna's plans for the people?
S: Does that mean that the Madonna is stronger than they?
I: Normally She is. It is Jesus who decides - God. Not the Madonna.
S: Tell me about this.
I: I think that God has sent Her here. When we asked Her for a sign, I think She asked Jesus and He gave Her a sign. Then She promised to give us a sign.
S: That means She can not act independently on Her own. She must do the will of God, as she always has.
I: I believe so.
S: It is important that people of good faith, regardless of denomination, not be turned against each other. But tell me more about this. What did the Madonna say about this?
I: The Madonna said that religions are separated in the earth, but the people of all religions are accepted by Her Son.
S: Does that mean that all people go to Heaven?
I: It depends on what they deserve.
S: Yes, but many have never heard about Jesus.
I: Jesus knows all about that; I don't. The Madonna said, basically, religions are similar; but many people have separated themselves, because of religion, and become enemies of each other.
S: I thank you, Ivanka, for this conversation and testimony!
Next Section - Part 4: Interviews With Local Residents Who Have Been to Medjugorje