I greet you all and let us immediately think back to January's message. There Mary called upon us to think about our future, that we are trying to build a new world without God, and that because we are doing so only with our own strengths that we therefore remain without joy. Certainly the best way to think about the future is to think about this moment and do the utmost with it, and, like Mary, always to be ready to cooperate with God. Mary also told us also not to forget that these times are Her times, and therefore there is no reason to think about the future in an apocalyptic way, but rather to consider that fact that these times are times of grace. I hope that we have more union with God and that our hearts and our yearning for God has already taken space and room in our hearts. The message also really wished to prepare us for Lent, because Lent is the time when we again open ourselves entirely to God. I moreover hope that the joy about which Mary spoke has also space in our hearts, and that the blessing that Our Lady gave us in the last message has come upon us, on our families and on all the world.
Of the visionaries, Vicka, Jacov, Mirjana and Ivanka are in Medjugorje, Marija is in Italy while Ivan is on a longer trip in Australia. In the meantime, Vicka and I took a longer trip to South Africa where we visited Zimbabwe and Malawi. Everywhere we went there were many people who came to our prayer programs, and daily we met with groups of Priests and Sisters and then every evening we had the whole program as we here in Medjugorje. All the while Vicka had her daily meetings with Our Lady at the regular time before the Mass, and Mary always gave some advice such as our needing to pray for the youth, for the Church, for the Pope, for the families, but most especially for the realization of one of her plans. I can say that in these countries in Africa the message of Medjugorje is really being lived and passed on. We were also permitted to experience special graces, and here I relate just one such occurrence:
At the age of 14 yrs. old I had started getting headaches. After consulting doctors and many X-rays they came to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with me. Three years later, at the age of 17, I started having seizures. The doctor thought it may by epilepsy and so he sent me for an EEG which showed nothing. He then concluded that I may suffer from migraines or anxiety attacks and left it at that.
Five years later, the seizures became quite severe and I was sent to a neurologist who did another EEG and a CAT scan. The outcome was still that I was healthy. However, due to the seizures he decided to put me on medication for epilepsy. Having read the side effects I decided not to take the medication.
The decision not to take the medication was obviously a message sent from God as two years later, at the age of 24, I had a "grand mal" seizure and due to this, it was finally detected that I had a brain tumor. The tumor was removed on the 27th of November 1996 and was found to be malignant. During surgery the surgeon had to touch my optic nerve in order to remove the tumor.
Due to this, I was unable to open my eye for about five weeks. After about seven to eight weeks, it had opened completely, however, my eye was totally out of focus and the iris was pushed to one side of my eye, thus, I saw double of everything and I could only read with one eye.
On the 6th of February 1996, I attended a Holy Mass at which Our Lady, Queen of Peace, appeared to Vicka Ivankovic. During her apparition I went down on my knees and prayed to Her as follows with all my faith:
"Dear Mother Mary, please make me better and remove all cancer from my head. I pray that I may make a full and complete recovery. I know that you have many more important things to do in the world, but please ask Jesus to heal me."
During my prayer I had the most excruciating pain in my head that I thought I may not be able to last through Mass. However, while Our Lady was still present, I picked up a piece of paper and to my surprise, I could read it with both eyes. I looked around me and I no longer saw double. Our Lady left and the pain in my head gradually faded, at the same time my eye became straight and is no longer pushed to one side.
Thank you Mother Mary and Jesus for always listening and never leaving me.
Johannesburg South Africa February 1997
Many people there have accepted the message and we also met with five different Bishops. In Capetown Bishop Reginald Cawcutt celebrated the Mass with us, the next evening Auxiliary Bishop Lawrence Patrick Henry, and then in Durban Bishop Wilfrid Napier also came and celebrated Holy Mass. Again I can say that there is no part of the world that has not heard about Medjugorje, and I continue to hope that it will take hold in the hearts and bring about good fruits.
Right now Medjugorje is rather quiet, yet we do have a large group of English-speaking pilgrims, also some French, Italians and Germans. At the moment a Teaching Seminar, with the theme of 'The Family', is being held in Neum for 150 people, and for this also René Laurentin, Paul Zulehner, Ljudevit Rupcic and others came. It is certainly something good and we had representatives there from the USA, Ireland, Germany, England, Brazil, Italy, France, Belgium, Slovakia, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic and about 30 Croatians. The program is running from February 24 to 28 and, once done in Neum, the group is coming here to finish with the Podbrdo, Križevac and the evening program.
This is the theme that Mary has often repeated in the messages, and this means that God should be in the first place in our lives. This is why we must be open, for when we are not open then God cannot enter our hearts as truth, as light, as peace, and as joy. I believe that Mary has given us two reasons to call us to this. First of all it is Lent. Lent is the time when in a special way, through prayer, fasting, Confession and penance, through meditating on Jesus' sufferings, we again work on our opening ourselves before God. It is simply very important that we become aware that all our lives depend on our union and our openness with God. When we close ourselves toward God, then we will die spiritually. God is God the Creator, He created us and He created the whole world, and He preserves the world and is therein active. And Mary also wishes for us to...
Whoever opens himself to the Creator, this then also means that he cooperates with, becomes active with God. This activity, an inner one, is the first activity, where we should become active in hearing the word, active in starting to fight our bad habits and sins, and that we through our passivity, inertia or laziness do not make even more room for bad habits and sins. Then we should not only become active in fighting sin, but also become active in attending to the virtues, so that faith, hope, joy, peace can all grow within us. Also we should attend to all the other messages that Mary has given us over the years, such as becoming active in prayer, organizing prayer within the family, organizing prayer groups, becoming more active when it concerns Holy Mass, and so forth. Here I would especially recommend more reading of the Bible so that we can satisfy and then deepen our hunger for the word of God. But Mary also wants us...
She wants us TO SEE who has need for either of those. The one who sees is not the one who sees merely the physical, but the one whose heart is clean, open and loving. Jesus, in many of His parables, spoke of those who look but do not see, and those who with their own eyes have become blind. Through prayer, fasting and Confession we become SEEING people, people who see and recognize others and their needs. Exactly in this is where Jesus exists and in the final judgment it is here on which things are going to depend. Whoever saw and recognized Jesus is the one who will enter Heaven, and the one who did not see and did not recognize Him will not be able to enter Heaven. Seeing is a very important activity, but to be able to we must also fight against an inner blindness that can come about due to egoism, pride and dependencies in this world. Blind for the family are those family fathers who drink and thereby destroy themselves and their own families through alcohol, those who take drugs, or those who with hate, destroy others and themselves. Blind are those who only think of themselves and their own material conditions, and thereby become blind toward the others around them. This ability to see is therefore a criterion for Our Lady's school. Those who can see will certainly also be able to love and to carry peace to others. We should recognize both the spiritual as well as the material needs of others. Those who only recognize the material are certainly also doing something good, but that alone is insufficient. Our spiritual help can include being a good example for others, or that we pray or fast for them, or that we offer of ourselves for them. Materially speaking, as Jesus also says, we will always have poor people around us, so all of us in Mary's school should really open our eyes to see what we really need as well as what we really have. We are always in danger of only seeing what we do not have rather than that which we do, and then the material help remains very small. Here I must think of all those Medjugorje pilgrims who, since the war began, became so very involved in this regard. There are many, many families who on a monthly basis have attended to our orphans, or who have helped the refugees, or who have helped restore the Churches and schools. For this we are eternally grateful to all those who from their own material or funds helped us in so many ways. I promise them again that we will pray for them and never forget them in our prayers. Then Mary continues with...
Therefore in our seeing and recognizing others' material and spiritual needs...
YOU WILL BE THE EXTENDED HANDS OF GOD
And it is exactly these hands of God for...
How often we have heard and read that God, who no longer has hands, now needs our helping hands, our feet, our eyes and so forth? One speaks of a Cross that only has a Jesus' torso with no feet or hands. And under Jesus is written, "I no longer have hands, so your hands, rather than mine, should do good. I no longer have legs but I need your legs to bring peace and goodness to others." In any case, when we love, when we forgive and when we do what is good, then it is God for whom we are witnesses.
We are not alone. Our good deeds are not isolated because they are done with God and for the other people. But, may really everything that we do occur out of love for people and God! If we do it out of egoism, out of pride, out of the wish to be seen or reciprocated, then we certainly diminish this power of being witnesses. When we do it out of love for God and the others, then Mary tells us we will...
It is Mary who is speaking to us, and it was She who conceived the word of God, carried it and then bore it. In so doing She also offered God's love to the world in a special way. Therefore, of course, She also wants us to accept and then carry this word to others. Exactly this is what today's humanity needs so very desperately! For a word of God and the love of God through our hands and feet is what the children, the youth and the families of today are so urgently seeking. Also the ill and the refugees yearn for these and, in truth, ALL PEOPLE do. So, during this time of Lent that still has about another a month to go, let us really think about opening more and working more diligently at seeing and thereby become better carries of the word and of love. And when we do we will also come to a better understanding of Our Lady's last words in nearly every message that She has given us to date...
Let us pray...
God, Our Father, we thank You that You have sent us Your Son, Jesus Christ, as our Savior who carried the Cross and died on it for us. We thank You that You were active in Him and offered Salvation to us through Him. We thank You that You are calling us to be open to You, and we ask You please open our hearts and cleanse us of all that closes us to You, O Father! Take from all of us any inertia, laziness or distrust and the rest that might hinder us from becoming active. Open our eyes, O Lord, so that we can see and recognize You in the others and then will want to help them materially as well as spiritually. Give us the grace that our hands become Your hands, that our legs become Your legs, and that our hearts become like Your Heart, so that in this time we can grow closer to Your Image. Lord, give us the grace that we come to understand that we are called to give witness to You, that we become joyful carriers of Your word and of Your love. Bless all those, O Lord, who at the moment are still closed to You, all those who are fearful of cooperating with You, and bless all those who are still closed toward the poor. Give all people new hearts so that all the hands that You created may become Your extended hands. Bless all humanity and send all those who are sick or suffering Your extended hands. Lord, like the prophet I would like to pray, "Lord, I am ready send me." With Mary I wish to repeat the words, "Lord, Thy will be done. I am Your servant." Bless all pilgrims, all prayer groups and the whole Church and nourish us in these times. Amen.
Fra Slavko , Medjugorje
February 28, 1997
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