An ironic concept, I am 6500 miles from home in a country emerging from 50 years of communism and the heaviest fighting on European soil since WWII, and I am filled with the most peace and love I have ever experienced. Why is this?
I sit and absorb the spirituality in this beautiful church of St. James in Medjugorje. Its simple, good people, torn apart through generations of violence and brutality, seek consolation and closeness to the only enduring entity in their lives, God. Perhaps they pray that they may forgive their enemies, or that they themselves can seek a start on the road to peace in their country.
In this Shrine of Peace, I am a pilgrim among thousands of pilgrims. Am I any different? No, but I am uniquely myself, a child of the Heavenly Father, and I can speak to Him through my heart, and He will listen. I can talk of and to the Blessed Mother and know that she will pray for me. I can clearly sense her presence here in this faith-filled little village where she continues to appear with her messages of love and concern.
I glance around at all the people as they sit or stand ever so still, so quietly, seemingly lost in prayer or self-atonement. At any time of the day or night, pilgrims here in the village remain in prayer or meditation, in the church, courtyard, confessional, on Apparition Hill or Cross Mountain, somewhere in this holy place they are attuned to God. And I am one of them, sharing a special and spiritual time in my life. I am so blessed to be here. If only people understood what is here. If only they could come. If only I could tell them.
Has Medjugorje changed me? Perhaps it instead intensified me. It deepened my faith, expanded my thoughts, sharpened my awareness, and enabled me to sense the important things in my life. This tiny village of faith gave me these precious memories to cherish:
* The beautiful intermingling of all the many languages in response to the prayers of the rosary
* The uplifting refrains of Ave Maria and Alleluia between the decades of the rosary
* The ceasing of prayers and the silence for a moment during the rosary when the parishioners drop to their knees at exactly 6:40 in the evening, when Our Lady appears to the visionaries
* The lessening of the chatter and movement of birds near the rafters of the church at this time
* The many priests in the courtyard and on the benches sitting with their open books in recitation of prayers
* The lovely, giving quality and the gentle smiles of these humble village people
* The rapture in the face of Vicka
* The maternal compassion of the Blessed Mother
* The surge of sentiments, my rush of tears, at moving moments
All these impressions of Medjugorje, and more, I will carry in the vest-pocket of my heart, removing and relishing them at will, to bolster and replenish my faith. For God has overwhelmed me with His grace in Medjugorje. I know that He is a living God who has called to us with the tenderness of His Mother, the Queen of Peace.
…and so, dear reader, if you are still with me, we have taken a side trip on our journey of life. I have sought to give you a glimpse of Medjugorje with its sights and sounds and spirituality to take with you as you continue on your journey. If you looked behind the scenes you saw a little of myself also and know that I wish each of you true peace and joy and love always.
May the Spirit of Peace and the love of God be with you,