Six children in a tiny, obscure, Croatian village gave new meaning and new light to what it means to be a true pilgrim on life’s journey. Their journey began on June 24, 1981 when the Virgin Mary appeared to them. Her messages continue to stir millions of people of every race, nation and religion. The Virgin Mary has appeared before on earth, but never so often or to so many people over such a long period of time as at Medjugorje, as she said: I wish to continue giving you messages like never before in history since the beginning of time.
Before March 1984, Our Lady sent personal messages to the visionaries to strengthen them to carry the secrets she gave them. She relayed other messages to St. James Parish. After that, she directed the messages to the entire world. Her first messages to the children clearly indicated her concern for the parish of Medjugorje:
Pray for the unity of the parish because my Son and I have a special plan for this parish. I invite you to meditate on why I am with you for such a long time…I would like to invite you to live always out of love what God is expecting from you. Dear Children, I cannot help the world without you…to lead you on the road I began with you…so that everything that God has planned for this parish and for each individual can be realized. Become missionaries of my messages which I am giving here through this place that is dear to me. Live with love the messages I give and transmit them to the whole world. God has allowed me to stay this long with you…God sends me to you out of love that I may help you to comprehend that without Him there is no future of joy…there is no salvation.
In reality, our Blessed Mother’s messages are all contained in the Gospels. Her words are simple and direct, easily understood by all people, unlike the often lengthy, profound and complex words of theologians. For mothers react in simple terms. A needy child goes to its mother, and she gives it simple words and simple acts of love. Our Lady speaks as a caring mother and instructor, as she urges: Be carriers of peace, live the Gospel. You are not alone. You can do all things in Him who is calling you from the darkness into His wonderful light.
Our Lady identifies herself as the Queen of Peace, the Mother of God, and the Mother of People on Earth. She often begins her messages, Dear Children…and she ends them with, Thank you for having responded to my call. Her messages, grown in volume into a library since 1981, last from minutes to a half-hour. In each session, she prays with the visionaries, for the main theme of her messages is prayer--prayer for faith, fasting, forgiveness, conversion, and peace. Other of her many messages regarding prayer are:
Without prayer, there is no peace…in prayer you will come to know the greatest joy and the way out of every situation that has no way out…set a time during the day when you can pray in peace and in humility and meet with God the Creator. Prayer changes all life on earth and hereafter. The one who prays is not afraid of the future…open your heart to my son and let Him enter, then you may be filled with peace and love.
Our Lady always asks that we pray for peace for only when we find peace in God can we transmit it to others:
Dear Children, I love you and I desire to bring all of you to the peace that only God gives and that enriches every heart. I invite you to become witnesses and carriers of my peace to this unpeaceful world…do not speak about peace, but make peace…decide for God…I desire to draw you ever closer to Jesus and His wounded heart.
During the most intense times of the war as the danger to the village seemed close at hand, Our Lady spoke as a desperate mother pleading with her children as on April 25, 1992:
Dear Children…only by prayer and fasting can war be stopped…pray and by your life give witness that you are mine and that you belong to me, because Satan wants in these turbulent times to seduce as many souls as possible. I invite you to decide for God and He will protect you and show you what you should do and which path to take. I am with you and your suffering is mine.
Fr. Slavko Barbaric of St. James Church spoke of the crisis, "No war in the history of the world has been so surrounded by prayer, by sacrifice, by fasting as this war. Many people, many pilgrims, thanks to God, are praying with us."
Many people the world over wonder why the Blessed Mother came to the obscure little village and why she continues to appear. Fr. Svetozar Kralijevic, a priest of St. James, believes that she came to help keep the Church alive in Bosnia-Herzegovina and in the world. He feels that it is the blood of the martyrs of the Church and their years of imprisonment that brought her to Medjugorje.
As a first-time pilgrim to Medjugorje, I sensed that this was a place of deep faith by people who loved God and had a special attachment and devotion to his mother. In a Communist country besieged on all sides by atheists, this place seemed set apart. Often deprived of the simplest needs, all that these humble people possessed was faith, and this faith held them together in a firm commitment to God. They not only believed in God, they served God, exemplified by their placing the massive cross on Krizevac Mountain. (On August 30, 1984, Our Lady said, “Even the cross was part of God’s desire when you built it!”) Their building of an abnormally large church unsuited for their needs is seemingly another way that God prepared a place for the pilgrims.
In the early days of the apparitions, Our Lady promised the six visionaries ten “secrets” which contain the final chapters in the history of the world. When she has given each all of the secrets, she will stop appearing on earth for she relates there will be no need. These ten secrets, which will affect all of mankind, were written by a divine source on a parchment listing the day and the date on which each event will occur. Only Mirjana can read the parchment that she keeps in her home.
To date, three visionaries, Mirjana, Ivanka, and Jakov have received all ten messages, while Ivan, Marija and Vicka have received nine. Only the six visionaries know the secrets, and none has fully disclosed them except to announce that they include chastisements for the world and will unfold during the lifetimes of the visionaries. The seventh secret is a punishment for humanity but has been diminished because of the response to Our Lady’s requests for prayers, fasting and conversion.
One of the secrets will relate to a visible and permanent sign that is beautiful and indestructible (such as the spring that appeared in Lourdes after Our Lady’s appearance) that will be left on Apparition Mountain, the site of her first appearance. Our Lady says:
This sign will be given for the atheists. You faithful already have signs and you have become the sign for the atheists. You faithful must not wait for the sign before you convert: convert soon. This time is a time of grace for you. When the sign comes, it will be too late.
As a mother I caution you because I love you. The secrets exist. My children! Nothing is known of these now, but when they are known, it will be too late. Return to prayer, nothing is more important than this. I would like it if the Lord allowed me to reveal some of the secrets to you, but that which He is doing for you is already a Grace which is almost too much.
None of the visionaries has disclosed the other secrets, which include chastisements for the world but it is indicated that they, too, can be lessened with prayers. Ten days before each event, Mirjana will reveal the secret to Franciscan priest Father Petar Ljubicic of Medjugorje. He will fast and pray for six days. Then, three days before the event, Father Petar will reveal to the world what is to happen and where. This will be the pattern for the rest of the secrets. Mirjana says that after the events occur, those who are alive will have little time to convert. She insists that the painful events for humanity are very near, and that the important thing is to pray, to pray in the family, and to pray for the young who do not believe.
Note: Further information on the messages and secrets given to the six visionaries and on Medjugorje in general may be found on the many Medjugorje Web sites on the Internet. Bookstores also display a wide choice of books on the subject.
Or, see Medjugorje and learn first hand. It is a gathering place where the simplest of people of all faiths meet. Even those who do not consider themselves as overly religious or just plain “laggards” feel at ease and at peace here. It is not just a “Catholic thing.” Our Lady says:
All religions are dear to my son. It is you on earth who are divided. We are all children of God. The Moslems and the Orthodox for the same reason as Catholics are equal before my son and me. All religions are not equal. All men are equal before God. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved. It is necessary to respect and obey the commandants of God in following one’s conscience. Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God and destined ultimately to live in the house of God. Salvation is available to everyone without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned by their own choice.
|This photo of the Blessed Virgin Mary, according to the visionaries, is the “nearest thing on earth that shows her beauty.” It was taken from a statue in the village of Tihkalijina, about forty minutes from Medjugorje. The church ordered the statue from Italy several years before the Blessed Mother began to appear, while the country was still under Communist ruling, and the order for the statue was forbidden. When it arrived in Tihkalijina, the shipping crate was destroyed, but the statue was untouched.|