This book is the second of the four volumes of sermons and discourses given by Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Fr. Tomislav Vlasic during 1984 - 1987 in Medjugorje, and contains discourses given from January to June 1985.
30 Chapters of this book are now completed
As you see, when we listen to all the messages from the first to the last, they can all be summarised in those you have just heard: prayer, fasting, sacramental life, conversion and peace. But, what do these messages mean, the people really do not know. There are several reasons why people do not understand them.
The main reason comes from the very nature of the apparitions. The messages represent a whole pilgrimage with the people. Those, therefore, who are near and who have been following these messages have learnt the depth of prayer, have felt what the peace of which the Blessed Virgin speaks, really means, they have practised fasting. And along this path, they have carried in depth, the words spoken by Our Lady. The messages have thus explained the various aspects of prayer, of fasting and sacramental life ...
Briefly, the messages are: prayer, fasting, sacramental life, conversion and peace. These messages have, however, touched the very quick of men's lives. Ultimately, the Blessed Virgin wants to bring everybody to God.
A further reason is an interior one. Not everybody is ready to accept the level of the messages. In order to explain this better: Last Saturday Jacov and Ivanka wanted to join the prayer group started by the Blessed Virgin through Jelena, as up till now they had not been able to join because of their school commitments. They now wanted to take part in order to share a deeper interior communion with them. But the Blessed Virgin said: "No". She said: "You should now pray for a while with the Father, be well rooted in the way of spiritual life and afterwards you may join the group."
I am telling you this just to explain how sometimes we are not always ready to accept the spiritual level on which the Blessed Virgin speaks. I have noticed how we have, in fact, held back Our Lady's messages; the entire Church, the whole world, even those responsible.
This restraint is simply the heart that resists, that rejects or does not progress as fast as the Blessed Virgin would like. Several times Mary told us what she wanted and how she had various plans for us :
"But you are not yet ready to accept them."
These then are the two reasons why people cannot understand the depth of these messages.
I am only saying this because all of you should try to progress, to be prepared for the messages because the messages from Mary cannot be learnt from reading the newspapers but only by words on a spiritual level. It all depends on the opening of your hearts. And we are able to understand this at Easter time. Have you noticed three steps taken by the Apostles after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ:
the first step: they saw Him but did not believe, they heard Him and still did not believe, they touched Him and were amazed; they saw Him but did not understand with their heart.
the second step: is what we heard a week ago, when Jesus opened their minds, their hearts, so that they were able to understand all that the Messiah had said.
and now the third step follows: you will now remain in prayer and wait for the Holy Spirit.
And when the Apostles had taken these steps they reached a state of total opening: a force from heaven had come: the Holy Spirit had enlightened them and so everything within them became clear. And St. Peter went out to preach with great authority because inside him everything was clear. This is, then, the course that the Church should take; we should also set forth with the messages of the Blessed Virgin: and enter into depth.
The main distinction of the last messages given to us by the Blessed Virgin through Marija who brings the messages to the Parish, is precisely the call in this moment to pray with sincerity to the Holy Spirit to enlighten the world, so that the light from heaven may descend upon us. If we really want to live these messages we must follow what the Blessed Virgin tells us.
We Christians make a great mistake: we practise Lent more or less intensely we do something more by praying and fasting but many empty themselves completely on Easter Day when they should, in fact, continue for forty days to experience the Resurrection of Jesus Christ within themselves.
There was no need for Jesus to come on this earth in order to be resurrected; He did it for us so we could in turn experience our own resurrection. At Whitsuntide we can say that the Apostles were resurrected by the Holy Spirit, they underwent a change. These forty days should at least be as intense as those of Lent, full of joy, praise, and producing an interior flourishing of our spiritual lives. In the last message given to the Parish by the Blessed Virgin it was that of April 25 Mary said: "There, the way you cultivate your vines, the way you work your fields and prepare the earth, this is how you should prepare your souls and your hearts for the divine grace."
By this I can explain to you how the Blessed Virgin follows two threads when giving the messages; one is the liturgy this always follows the liturgical periods and the second thread meets us where we are and She usually uses images very near to the working person and explains: do this, look at that, you must be open, you should do this or that .....
Besides these two threads, there is a third that we cannot see, but that we can perceive by intuition through faith. The Blessed Virgin acts according to the mysterious events which are unknown to us but which await us, about which the visionaries speak in very guarded terms when they mention the secrets and the momentous happenings that await the world. These great events are close at hand and for this reason we are called to conversion, to a total abandonment to God; they call us and invite us to prayer so that we abandon ourselves to God.
Now, many ask the question: 'How can I pray ?' It is simple and at the same time complicated. When we live a complicated life then it is very complicated, but for those who live a simple life it is very easy. I will give you an example which actually happened to me a week ago: it was the same situation of the prodigal son. After morning prayers when I was feeling very near to God, I had a lot to do, I had to go and work in another little church which we are building, my day was full .... Problems regarding the little church came into my head and in the evening I went to pray, but was quite unable to. I needed a good half hour to settle down in order to pray. In the end I had to return home, as the prodigal son, in order to pray.
Then I understood the situation in which the world finds itself today: we are all burdened with various needs and various pursuits. Then I understood what Mary told us during Holy Week (Maundy Thursday) : "Try to rest in my heart. Do not stand beside me." God must not be next to us, nor the Blessed Virgin; but in our hearts.
But if we make little effort to pray deeply, God is not within us, he is beside us; perhaps even in a little corner of our homes, in a corner of our lives. Therefore, according to the messages of the Blessed Virgin, prayer means a great longing for God, a yearning towards God, an immense love of God .... As you all well know, when you have a good friend, then you can sit together for hours, one feels good, time passes ..... Now you see: it is also possible to be in prayer for four or five hours in such a friendly way that we feel good, really good .... Until we do reach this state of friendship with God, we go to pray out of duty and not out of interior necessity.
When the Blessed Virgin emphasises: "You cannot pray as a habit," every prayer should become something new even an Our Father; you should express your life, express everything that is within you. Whoever has a great desire for God, to reach God, to live a true life in God, this person prays.
Many come to Medjugorje to pray for something, but not for God; to seek something but not God. I want to live with God rather than be healthy, rather than be healed, rather than to solve this or that problem: I want to live with God, I want to live what is written in the Gospel. So, he who earnestly seeks God is one who prays.
For this, we must be well aware of something. Lately, I was reading about some advice given to married couples by a psychologist. He was giving the example of somebody in New York, in the States.
A surgeon who was very absorbed in his work, sent his wife to a psychiatrist because she had become nervous; he them also sent his mother and ultimately his mother in law. The psychiatrist then called the surgeon and said: 'You know, you dedicate too little time to your wife and that is the reason why she feels so frustrated. Every week you should take her to the cinema, be with her more and she will feel better.' So the surgeon did this and felt very content, but his wife on the other hand did not get much better. So the psychiatrist called him again: 'You have not understood me fully. I did not tell you: take your wife to the cinema every week, what I meant was: you must show love to your wife, you must find time for her, you must enter into her life and share it with her, only then will she be well again.' After this he said: 'At last I understood what life was about and began loving my wife, my mother and my mother in law. I then had no more need for a psychiatrist.'
But these circumstances do not only apply to our human relationships. They also apply to our relationship with God. There are very many Christians who do their duty like that surgeon, but they are unable to go into depth in their spiritual lives, in fact they cannot progress in their spiritual lives. And because of this we see the tragedy of us Christians: after ten years a Christian is always the same, they do not grow in their spiritual lives. But why ? They have not become aware of love, like that surgeon who afterwards understood what life was about, he dedicated himself to his wife and entered into her life.
Similarly, the Christian must enter into the life of Jesus Christ, to dedicate himself every day to Him and ask: what do you need, Jesus ? What must I do for you ? How can I promote your plans ? How can I live in such a way that you may be resurrected in me ? That you may be resurrected in my family ? In my parish ?
Now, if we put ourselves every day before Jesus with this desire, we will soon understand what we must do; if we dedicate ourselves at least a little more to our families, then we will see ourselves growing and will notice those around us rising again from a life, which we might say, is a life from the dead.
In my opinion this is the course which we should take if we want to make the messages of Jesus Christ become alive, otherwise, if we do not go beyond our duties we will not enter into the Kingdom of God. In the Gospel (Matt. 5): 'Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven.'
I would, therefore, like to tell you, from my own experience, this: Go beyond your duties, approach Jesus with love, and with love draw near to the Gospel, to prayer and continue going forward until Jesus becomes your need, and when this happens you will find happiness. You will likewise realise that you will be happier with only half of your material possessions rather than all you are presented with and not only this, but you will also find that your commitments will go more smoothly: as in the autumn of 1983, Our Lady said: "Your work will not go smoothly if you miss your morning prayer; therefore, pray every morning and pray every evening. You must understand that your work cannot be done well without prayer."
I believe that many Christians chosen by God resist His grace. When God wants to send us crosses, through difficulties, we do not see the light any more, but whoever wants to go to the depth of Christian life must carry these crosses. A sick person who has an internal ailment cannot be cured until the medicine he takes reaches the affected part. Spiritual progress is a treatment that God applies. I have often meditated on the conversion of the world and why God allows certain difficulties, certain crises, certain trails at Medjugorje: I came to the conclusion that it must be so and cannot be otherwise, because conversion is not a declaration but an act of healing of the organism of the Church, as in the case of treatment for an ulcer; it is necessary to open, to clean and to cure the organism. In general, and specially with those who want to progress in their faith, in their spiritual life, they very often resist their crosses and for this reason they cannot grow.
I also cannot forget the Easter greetings of Von Balthasar, received lately, who said: 'Do not forget that every divine work must be purified through crosses.' For this reason I am telling you that most people do not understand the graces and, in fact, show a resistance to them. I have also noticed along this journey of faith here in Medjugorje, that those who are not practising then stop as they do not go into depth, they do not discover the subtle meaning of the messages, whereas those who want to go deeply into spiritual life must ever improve. They, therefore, have to become capable of discovering precisely that subtlety of the grace; for if we want to build a house with walls of artistic workmanship, we have to look for experts, and it is the same in spiritual life.
You see that we all have to learn to pray because the messages have an educational role. If I say to people: 'increase your prayer,' nobody increases it. But when I say: 'let us say five Our Father's,' they all readily accept it. I believe that the means of prayer given to us by the Blessed Virgin are simply instructions to get people to start praying. To enter into prayer does not only mean reciting the Rosary. In the prayer group guided by the Blessed Virgin, we only said the Our Father for the entire half of Lent. For hours and hours we only recited the Our Father and it was precisely the Blessed Virgin who wanted to bring us into the depth of prayer by saying: "Better one Our Father than a hundred." Not in the sense of reducing the time for prayer, but in the sense of entering into communion with God through prayer. We must express ourselves and feel the presence of God: to truly reach this communion.
There are many forms and various methods: but they are unimportant. What is important is to enter into depth. But it is mistaken to think that we must pray only one Our Father and that this is sufficient. We are able to pray one Our Father only if we have first of all lived it.
In a message, after a group meeting, many members of the group asked, 'how is it that last time, last Thursday, when we practised the Our Father, we all felt a force, the presence of God, but when we got home and recited the Our Father, we did not feel like this ?' Blessed Mary replied: "I will explain it to you: on Thursday you all went to Mass, you stayed for the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, you were filled and for this reason you were able to live the Our Father."
So you see, to live the Our Father, it is not enough just to pronounce the words, but to really enter into the content every day, deeper and deeper, both the meaning of the Gospel and of the Our Father must every day take on a new dimension. I remember that one day, I needed to repeat: 'forgive us the wrongs we have done,' because I felt the many wrongs of the world towards God: 'lead us not into temptation,' because I felt as a child that could not wait walk any more and I needed a Father to carry me along, because life was so complicated; I really felt incapable of going on any more ...
I may say that we should express ourselves in every prayer and live the content of the prayer. Whatever form of prayer we follow is unimportant as these are only human usages as the Our Father is a usage of the Church, of the people gathered around Jesus. As you see, ultimately, to say the Our Father is to behave as a child before God.
Question: Is there any message to bring to the groups of Milan and Lecco ?
Reply: Yes. That they go forward in prayer. This is a very important message because we are all inclined this being a human weakness to come to a halt as the Israelites did on their way to the promised land. And groups are inclined to tire or not to see the light, the guideline necessary to go forward. Regarding this, it is extremely important to live a life of communion between groups and especially among those that are growing, to enable them to exchange experiences with each other; through this our eyes are opened and we are able always to go forward. It is dangerous to remain in a closed group. It is therefore necessary to live on this continual dynamic for the deepening of our prayer. But one must not expect anything exceptional of an exterior nature to happen, but only something that moves and develops within: that is, we open up ourselves more and more and are better able to understand the words of the Gospel. And in the manner in which our prayer moves, so also does the group move.
(Fr. Tomislav Vlasic 29th April, 1985)
Powered by www.medjugorje.ws