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
Welcome. I wish to thank all those who pray for Medjugorje and for Our Lady's intentions, very much.
I can only say a few words to you as you will hear all the news in Medjugorje. Father Slavko follows the visionaries and the events. I sometimes go to steal a word or two for myself. I shall try to express some reflections about what Our Lady says and from what we have experienced.
I was pleased when I heard that this group has come on a penance pilgrimage, as Lent is about to begin. This morning I shall take advantage of what is happening to speak about today's liturgical texts; for, if we understand the texts, we can understand Lent. The texts are simple. God places life and goodness in front of us, or, if we wish, wickedness and death.
We must choose: living Lent intensely means making a profound choice, a continuous choice. Penance is of use to us in order to return to God, to return to life, to live profoundly, to possess life. Not only do we at once think of life after death (that too), but we begin to live happily here when we are with Our Father, with Our God.
My wish is that we begin Lent, not as a time that will come to an end, but as a stage on our journey, so that after Lent we may be closer to God and we may go all the more swiftly towards God. And in this way, all the events here in Medjugorje will serve us to go swiftly towards God.
I would also like to take the opportunity to say to this group of penance pilgrims that those who want to follow Medjugorje must struggle. We can no longer follow Medjugorje out of curiosity or because of superficial enthusiasm.
Lent shows us that those who want to live Lent must follow it and really live it. Those who want to live Easter must enter the garden of olives. I do not know if any of you have sweated blood. We are called, to enter into this event in life, really, struggle. I tell you this because of our experiences here in Medjugorje. We have realised that this is the time of struggle. People are aware of the struggle. They read about events in the newspapers. There is a deeper interior struggle which we must understand when we read the newspapers where Medjugorje is attacked. While seeing the enemies in the papers we should also become aware of their existence within us; the resistance we meet in the Church and in Christianity is our resistance. Instead of fighting the papers, we should fight in our inner selves. Some people are enraged when they read a newspaper or an article on Medjugorje: in this way the battle is lost. Here is an opportunity to fight, to join in; and this is an opportunity for us all to live reality. We can proceed and deepen our lives. We are called to struggle to the end. We must meditate on this struggle. It is a struggle to the death, to Calvary, as in today's Gospel: 'he who wants to follow Jesus must renounce everything, he must go through the passion. He will be thrown out also by the High Priests.'
We must be ready to die, but not to die just anyhow, but to die loving. Before dying Jesus forgave everyone. During His life there was no bitterness. Throughout His walk towards Calvary it was always Resurrection. Life in Jesus' heart was never extinguished. When Judas kissed Him, Jesus did not condemn him, but called him 'friend'. He called him friend.
Jesus gave Himself up to the others. He did not allow a human struggle. He told Peter not to take the sword.
Afterwards a beautiful thing happened: the Apostles ran away, but these men full of fear, have been chosen as the foundation of the Church. St. Peter denied Jesus, but Jesus placed him at the head of the Church.
These are wonderful things whereas we are ready to cast aside and disregard those who offend us. Jesus avails Himself of weak men and on his way to Calvary consoles others.
In his life, in the most difficult situations, there was Resurrection. Jesus' life is not death; He entered death like an underground river to reemerge. This is the meaning of the Resurrection. We must be ready to die for God, always walking forwards, always increasing our love.
In this struggle against satan which has been pointed out to us by Our Lady in these last few months, Our Lady has given us very precise weapons.
In Medjugorje we have had several struggles with satan and have seen the different means he uses to attack people. Tepid people become indifferent, active people become lethargic and lack their sense of responsibility. So, in this case, he is acting with great cunning.
We have experienced the attacks of satan when he attacks people during Communion by bringing horrid fantasies into their minds and causing them to want to spit on the Host, to blaspheme. we felt a pressure on the congregation as we prayed, like a force pulling us away from prayer.
We have also experienced physical attacks on people, and threats. A lady told us that while she was reciting the Rosary she heard a voice saying: 'Enough of this prayer, throw away your rosary.' She continued praying 'with an interior sweetness' and this unpleasant voice kept on repeating: 'Enough of this prayer!' While she was holding her rosary tightly she felt a hand that was trying to tear it away from her. She held on to it even more tightly and finally the other hand managed to remove the Crucifix and destroy it, but she continued to pray with sweetness feeling an even stronger strength.
I am telling you this so that you know whoever wants to go forward in prayer, in the struggle, will also be tempted in this way. We are lucky because Our Lady always warned us of satan's attacks and told us how to overcome him. She gave us three strong weapons :
HUMILITY, FERVENT PRAYER AND LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER
HUMILITY. Do not count on human strength in any way, do not count on man, not even on Christian ideology, not even on the best men in the Church. Be always humble in front of God.
Our Lady wants us to be ever humble before God and to rely on His strength because human strength fails; in this way, Divine Grace will strengthen us in our trials.
FERVENT PRAYER. Several times She has said: "Only with prayer can you defeat him."
AND LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. Where the enemies or opponents of Medjugorje are concerned, Our Lady always tells us to treat them lovingly and with a smile, so that when they see our faces full of love and joy they will be disarmed. This is the method which Our Lady
tells us to follow: "when you are humble, when you pray fervently and when you love all those around you, satan cannot even draw close to you."
Do not forget this: when you are humble, when you pray fervently, when you love everybody, satan cannot even draw near you. This is important !
On one occasion Our Lady gave a group a task: every member had to act with love and willingness accepting everything, even difficulties. During the day everyone started out to accept all their difficulties with love, with a smile, and at the end of the day when Our Lady appeared, She said, with a smile: "My dear children, if only you knew how satan fled today."
So as you see, the struggle against satan is a prevention when the body has resistance it will not fall ill.
In the same way, satan cannot approach a person who is humble, who loves and prays fervently. This is the road we must follow. The trials will be harder, but through these trials Our Lady wants to purify us and She has told us: "Through these trials you will be closer to God." I want to tell you that you and all the pilgrims must accept these trials, otherwise all the events will come to an end and will not reap the fruits for us desired by Our Lady.
We are entering a phase of purification of the world. The world cannot be purified if it contains in its lethargy and if it does not place itself at God's disposal, with fervent prayer. It will, however, be tempted in an active way by satan.
Remember what happened to St. Anthony the Abbot. A monk saw satan, in a vision, stretched out on the walls of Alexandria, in Egypt, observing the city. Around St Anthony's cell there were many demons. So the monk said to one of them: 'You ought to be ashamed of yourselves, there are so many of you around this cell and there is only one of you lying out on the walls of the city.' And the demon replied: 'It is easier for him then all of us around this saint.'
Temptations increase as life progresses, both in people and in the Church. People become stronger. St. Anthony did not fear even a thousand demons, for he was stronger.
On the other hand, one sleeping demon alone was enough on the walls of the city which lived on its sleepiness and in darkness of faith.
And in this way our present times can be understood.
I would like all pilgrims to be able to accept the stage of Lent as a prolonged journey so that Our Lady's messages may be fulfilled. I have spoken a little about the aspect of the struggle do not worry. Fighting satan is wonderful. It is only necessary to safeguard the peace Our Lady spoke about: humility, love and prayer.... It is as exciting as when young people discover new horizons.
And we must not worry because Our Lady sees all and will show us what to do. I wish to relate two episodes.
When it was snowing and it was very cold Our Lady told the visionaries during the apparition: "Wear something on your knees tomorrow otherwise you will catch cold." This is a wonderful thought, for it shows how Our Lady cares also about the little things, about our wellbeing. It is important.
Another touching moment was the day before yesterday. When the prayer group got together, Our Lady said: "This evening we will not say our prayers as you must go and enjoy yourselves with the others. Tomorrow we will begin our penance."
You can see how Our Lady observes every moment of our lives, She follows us and helps us along our path.
It is extremely important to follow Our Lady with faith and to do all She tells us.
When you go to Medjugorje to pray today you will receive a great deal of interior strength. I would like these days, right up to Saturday, to be, for you, the beginning of a new stage to climb up higher, so that when you return home you may be able to tell other pilgrims that they must start on a new journey and not to be discouraged. But we must all know that when satan gets cross we must be strong and not to be frightened. We must rejoice and continue along our path. If we meet any difficulties we must move on in peace, in joy and in prayer.
At this point I would like to stress something important which we ought to learn: active obedience in the Church.
It is extremely dangerous to look on certain instructions passively. As members of the Church we must be actively obedient through prayer and we must be on the alert all the time to do what God wants us to at every particular moment. We must not give up in times of difficulty. We have to spread the truth everywhere and not simply wait for an answer (for example from the official Church), we must spread the light within us. At different times in history, when apparitions took place in the Church, the people believed in the event. They obeyed passively.....
We are called to pray fervently so that through our prayers and love we may spread the truth. We must speak with love and prayer.
I would be a liar if I denied that I have lived through an experience, or that I have seen you this morning.
Passive obedience could also be a lie. We must speak with love and pray and we must be not forget that truth and love are bound together. We must love, be patient, avoid criticism and yet never give up. Many people are disappointed and this passive obedience is the worst thing that can befall them.
(Fr. Tomislav Vlasic 22nd February, 1985)
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