Again I greet all of you who are following Mary's messages and those who are with joy waiting for them. But again let us first remember what Mary said to us in last month's message. She called us to come closer to her in prayer, she again told us that she is our mother and that she loves us, and expressed the wish that each of us may be saved so that we may be in Heaven with her. And she called us three times to pray so that prayer then becomes our life. It is always very important to realize that Mary loves us and that is why she wants us to be in Heaven with her. Whoever loves us wants to be with us forever and whomever we love we also want to be with them forever. Mary loves us and therefore wants us to be with her in Heaven, so our assignment should be to respond to this love with our love in that we yearn with love and joy for eternal life. St. Paul said: "I want to die to be able to be with Jesus, but if I am supposed keep living and offering myself up, then I am willing." All of us believe in the eternal life but one can also believe in that one knows that eternal life exists. But this is not enough. We should begin to love eternal life. Eternal life is not something up behind those clouds, something unclear, but rather a real community of those who love. We can with love and joyful expectation wait for eternal life in the same way that we can with love and joyful expectation wait to go back home. In Heaven there is a real community with Mary, with the Saints, with the Angels, with Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with God the Father, and so there are plenty of reasons that we really ought to come to love this eternal life and therefore come to yearn for it. When we have this love in our hearts, then we will also arrange all the goals in our life according to this eternal life. If we start with this then it will mean that we have earnestly begun to convert. Our life should become prayer, says Mary. This does not only mean that we give a short time of each day to prayer but rather that our whole life becomes prayer. Therefore we have to rethink what prayer really means. Prayer means a meeting with God, and meetings happen on different levels and in different ways. That which we express in words in our prayers, and this has happened in so many languages, is that we really only make requests for things to happen. So, when I need something, then I ask for it, and then I seek it. But this remains only a tiny dimension of what prayer really means. We may ask and we may seek, but we may not get stuck with doing only that. Prayer is meeting with God in all that we do. The Rosary is not merely 50 Hail Marys, but rather a meeting with Jesus and Mary in joy, in sorrow and in glory. Confession is a meeting with God who forgives us and then heals us. Reading the Bible is a meeting with God who is speaking with us. When we work and with love live and make use of our abilities, then we are meeting with God the Creator. The only real enemy of these various types of meetings with God is our own pride, as when we ascribe what we are doing to ourselves. That is why it is so important that we really start working on, as St. Paul puts it, that everything we do starts being for the glory of God.
Since September 12, there are only three visionaries left who have daily apparitions -- Vicka, Marija and Ivan. For the second time already this year Vicka experienced a break in the apparitions from July 20 until September 6 and since then she again has had her daily apparitions.
On September 12 Jacov had his last daily apparition: While on his journey in America, Jakov reported the following text to us from Miami.
"On Friday September 11th, during the regular apparition, Our Lady told me to prepare myself especially by prayer for tomorrow's apparition because She will confide the 10th secret to me. On Saturday Sept. 12th, Our Lady came at 11:15 (local time). When She came she greeted me as always with 'Praised be Jesus'. While She was confiding the 10th secret to me She was sad.
Then with a gentle smile she said to me: Dear child, I am your mother and I love you unconditionally. From today, I will not be appearing to you every day, but only on Christmas, the birthday of my Son. Do not be sad, because as a mother I will always be with you and like every true mother, I will never leave you. And you continue further to follow the way of my Son, the way of peace and love and try to persevere in the mission that I have confided to you. Be an example of that man who has known God and God's love. Let people always see in you an example of how God acts on people and how God acts through them. I bless you with my motherly blessing and I thank you for having responded to my call. The apparition ended at 11:45."
I have spoken with Jacov. He is sad and has wept much, but naturally, just like Mirjana and Ivanka, he must also accept this new reality. So now we have three visionaries who have their apparitions once a year -- Mirjana on March 18, Ivanka on the Anniversary and Jacov on December 25 of every year. And because of this, when we say that the daily apparitions cease then the apparitions still do not cease, they only occur less frequently. Because of this we have no real idea of what else will be happening in Medjugorje. Yet that is not our concern. The most important thing Mary has already told us and that is that we should do what she has been telling us for so long now, and if we listen to her then it is certain that much more will be happening here in the coming years.
We have many people in Medjugorje and in fact the numbers seem to be growing consistently. At the moment we have between 4 and 5,000 pilgrims here and the Masses right now are being celebrated in some 14 different languages. Today, on September 25, a group of about 400 Spanish speaking South Americans from 15 different countries began with a week-long conference. For the ninth time they are being organized by Luis Siman and Francisco Verar and the many Spanish speaking Latin American Peace Centers. It is a good example for everyone, in one way or another, that we can grow in helping one another in the Spirit of Our Lady.
In this message Mary has not called us to prayer and it is one of the very few in which she has not. But instead this is a message in which she calls us to conversion. First she says...
In the situation in which we today find ourselves in this modern world, we can without any exaggeration say that the faith for which our fathers both lived as well as suffered has disappeared in the hearts of many. Many Christians are no longer ready to witness to their faith, and many Christian parents are no longer living their faith in their families. For instance, they no longer make an example of communal prayer within the family, and when the faith is no longer lived and no longer passed on by way of the family, then it becomes very difficult later on to teach them their lost faith. So, the family becomes irreplaceable when it concerns the continuation of faith. Through this message at least the parents should be able to understand what it means to live the faith and to witness for it as their fathers had. Today it is certainly not easy to live the evangelizing values, but all those who have in their families had received a religious evangelizing education will also stay with their faith and will continue living it. In this message we are in fact hearing somewhat of a complaint. She tells us that...
Here she is saying that we do not see the daily sign of God's love for us. Jesus also said that those who seek signs are not the ones to whom the signs are given. This is being said now because we have become blind to the daily wonders that abound around us. Every new day is what Mary calls a new call to conversion, and conversion means to turn oneself toward God, to turn away from the world, and, as with each new sunrise, the darkness of night disappears, so too should our daily decision be to turn ourselves toward God, and...
When we are called to take the way of truth and salvation, it means, regarding conversion, to turn away from the way of the lie and destruction, and to take the new way. Jesus is the Absolute Truth, He is the Way, He is the Light and Life, and He is Salvation. That is why returning to the way and the truth in fact means to return to Jesus. So here we see the two dimensions of conversion -- for one we have to turn away from sin and other bad habits, and then we have to turn toward God. When we turn toward God, we grow in truth and then we are healed. Then we hear another complaint in this message.
In one message Mary said that we should work with on hearts as we work on our fields and on our acreage. Anyone who has ever worked in the fields and acreage will immediately understand what that means. If we wish to have good fruits, then we must first prepare the ground well. But when someone works on the ground only superficially, then he can leave behind some of the dangerous roots of plants that could later suffocate the good plants. One has to go down to the very bottom to pull out what may become dangerous in us, so that only the good in us may then grow strong. St. Paul would say: "You have not resisted evil and sin all the way to the blood." Of course, one needs to speak about conversion, yet it is still more important to work on conversion than it is to speak about it. Moreover one needs to work on it every day. And this conversion, when we think about July's message, means that everything that we think, plan, say and do must always be in the light of our eternal goal. Then in this light of our eternal goal we will then easily be able to recognize our poor ways, our poor decisions, our sins and our poor habits. It is not easy to fight against sin and to constantly be working on our own conversion, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit it becomes possible. Mary then repeats the same thought in another way when she says.
She is speaking to us in the name of God. She says the words of God to us, and so when we begin to live what she is telling us, then we will become witnesses of God. She tells us to convert, pray and fast, believe and love. She has also quite specifically told us what we ought to pray -- daily the whole Rosary, Mass as often as possible, monthly Confession, reading Holy Scripture, and through all these to grow in love and in holiness. That is what it specifically means for us when she says...
We know that we are weak and therefore she says...
We know that we need this strength. When we pray and fast, then we will grow in love and in faith. Then it will become possible for God, through His Holy Spirit, to give us this strength to decide for the true conversion of the heart. When we hear the words "true conversion", then we may also think that there is such a thing as an untrue conversion. Jesus spoke to us using several different parables concerning seeds, sowing, and the growth of the seeds. He says that there is such a thing as a seed that falls next to the path into the bushes, and that such as a seed has no chance to be able to grow. It starts to grow but then it does not last for long. It is the same with conversion. We all perhaps run the risk of saying too easily that we have experienced conversion. This also entails those who have come to Medjugorje. A true conversion of the heart can really only happen on a daily basis. There is no such thing as a true conversion of the heart that happens all at once, because sin, what is evil and Satan do not all give in so easily. So a true conversion of the heart means a daily conversion, and for that to continue and to show good fruits we really need strength because we easily become tired. How many people decided to pray daily and only after a short time they begin to leave it behind? How many good decisions were made to fight against sin and all other bad habits, how easily have we become tired, how easily do we decide, for instance, for the prayer group or for attending Mass regularly, and how easily do we forget and find ourselves good excuses and do not do so? The true conversion of the heart happens only where there is regular prayer and fasting, where one goes to Mass and to Confession, and where the means that God gave to Mary to recommend to us are well accepted and then also followed. So, conversion means a deep returning to God, and a constant search for God's love, and out of this love our peace, our joy and our trust will then be able to grow. May it also be this way.
Let us pray...
God, our Father, we thank You that You, through Mary, Your humble servant, are speaking to us in these times. With her we ask You, give us the grace that we may live the faith of our fathers and can witness to it. Forgive us for when we have been looking for signs and messages and in so doing have become blind for the great miracles in everyday life, and open our eyes for these miracles that You give us each day. Open our ears so that we may hear the messages that You are also giving us each day so that we may triumph over each lie and be open to and then take the way of the truth and salvation. Give us, O Father, we ask of You with Mary, the grace that we may untiringly work on our own conversion, and forgive us for we have spoken to You only with our lips, when we only spoke of conversion, and give us a deep and true conversion of the heart. Free our hearts of everything that can hinder us on this path of conversion. For all those who are at the moment living in deep sin, bad habits and dependencies, we ask You through the strength of Your Holy Spirit, give them the renewed strength that they may decide for You. Bless all the youth so that they may remain on the path of truth. Bless all parents so that they may be able to pass the faith of their fathers on to their children. Bless all our sick and suffering, and give us peace through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko , Medjugorje
September 26, 1998
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