We have some beautiful recollections of the early days of the apparitions!! Kathleen Martin has been visiting with us in South Bend (Notre Dame, Indiana, USA). She lived with Marija for years and is a first hand witness to the peace brought through the prayer group that Our Lady began and led in Medjugorje. She shares: I remember that at the outbreak of the Balkan war in 1991 a group of pilgrims had come despite the war. Fr. Slavko had opened up a building that belonged to the parish called Domus Pacis, and he invited them to consider spending their time in Medjugorje doing a week of prayer and fasting together - five or six days of fasting and prayer. He would expose the Blessed Sacrament - they would live in the house - and have bread and water or hot tea - bread in any quantity they wanted to eat. But they would go to the Blessed Sacrament. They would go to Jesus and ask Him to give peace. It was a very informal week. They had the Blessed Sacrament exposed. People could just go and ask Him to give us peace. They weren't "religious" who prayed day and night.... They were people who were married, pilgrims that had just come that were looking for their conversion... but with their good will. They decided they would get together a couple of times a day. Father would come and talk a little bit about the messages and they'd be free to go before Jesus and talk to Him about it and ask Him for peace. It was a very natural setting, nothing spectacular. And they decided to have bread and water. They even talked about how difficult it was or how easy it was for some to fast. And the more they prayed the more they saw it was easy to live those six days together. On the last day, Marija was in Medjugorje and Fr. Salvko went to her and said: Marija, today instead of having the apparition at home would you mind coming with this group. You know, they gave up their week in Medjugorje. They've been together, they've been fasting, they've been praying for peace. Would you like to come with us and have the apparition with us? And so she did. And when she came out of the apparition she said that Our Lady gave a message: "My most beloved ones, oh how easy it would be for me to stop this war if I could find more people who pray the way you pray now!" This was at the very beginning of the war, and we know the war lasted maybe 5 more years!
...And so today a lot of fear is growing in the world and this fear isn't wanted by the Lord. This agitation for war isn't wanted by God. He wants us to have a time of peace and so I would like to invite all the ones who have been to Medjugorje to begin fasting and prayer. That doesn't mean to go off in a group for 6 days. It doesn't mean fasting on bread and water (bread and water is the best fast).... but maybe one morning I can say, Mother, instead of having my eggs and toast or my cereal (or things like that), I'm just going to have a piece of bread and maybe my cup of tea... and offer it up for peace! And I'm going to make sure that I'm going to show love everywhere. I'm not going to sin today. I'm going to try to be with Jesus more often today. I'm going to do things in a spirit of prayer. I think if everyone did that according to his own possibility, then very soon all these rumors of war and fears of war would diminish. I remember in the prayer group Our Lady would ask for a week of sacrifices for the success of a particular intention - a particular plan of God... and one person would give up their first cup of coffee in the morning... Marija gave up eating any candy that week... someone else gave up their first cigarette in the day.... and at the end of the week Our Lady would thank us and be overjoyed... saying that it had worked! That particular plan had been fulfilled! (One of the precious little crumbs Kathleen picked up that fell from the table of the Prayer Group was that only one thing is of importance to God - love!)
...A few days after the apparitions started, Ivan, Marija, Vicka's sisters and others (about 16 in all) who were all good friends, were talking about this gift God had given them. To be a chosen village! And among them to have 3 or 4 be seeing Our Lady! And be able to share this in their families and all together because some of them were cousins and some were just friends! They all lived together in a tiny little neighborhood. And they said, hey why don't we tell God we're happy about it, why don't we go up the mountain twice a week and we'll bring our guitars and we'll sing a few songs to the Lord and we'll say a rosary just to thank Him that He chose us. And that's what they did. So, they went up the mountain, just young teenagers, and they sat up there and they sang songs- even national songs- it wasn't just religious songs. They sang some songs to the Lord to thank him. They said the rosary together. They chatted up there sitting on the hill. And I don't know if it was the third or the fourth time that they gathered like this, but Marija and Ivan were there and during the moment of prayer, Our Lady reappeared (she had already appeared at 6:40 PM earlier that day). She said the Heavenly Father was so moved by their gratitude that He was going to allow her to appear to that little group twice a week from then on! So that's how the apparitions at night to the prayer group got started. It got started because of the understanding, that wink of love between the souls of those young people and their Father in heaven. ...
...In the early years, Kathleen tells us, the church would be packed and the people - with great zeal - would always sing the "Ave" at the end of Mass. Marija said that very often Our Lady would reappear and she'd go above the people back and forth in the church, and she would be weeping. Marija once asked her why she wept. Our Lady said, "Because I didn't know so many people loved me!" (Kathleen's observation: She cried for joy because she didn't expect to be loved - which means she's not used to being loved by us
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