Visiting Vicka recently I was ushered into her house and mixed in with a small group of Italians who were listening intently to Vicka's words. She answered their questions and spoke to them from the heart, which gave me an opportunity to again witness her incredible wisdom. After all, that is her trademark (ask anyone from the village): wisdom grounded in solid common sense! When I came she was speaking to several Italian families who were deeply suffering in their family life. Naturally Vicka responded to their distress by expressing a few observations on family life today:
"My father, (Petar Ivankovic who died a year ago) spent 35 years of his life working on construction sites in Germany to be able to feed us. In our village it was necessary for many men to go abroad, to find work, to help their families. My father never thought of himself. He never thought about the sadness of not living with us, the solitude in his exile, or the hardship of his work. (He was one among many men whose living quarters, 'Algecos', were by the roadside, bitterly cold in winter and torrid in the summer). No, he saw all these things as his necessary responsibility to ensure the survival of his family! He loved us and he was courageous. He sacrificed everything for us.
Today, it's not like that. Families go through crisis because people think first of themselves before their families. Everything becomes more important than the family. They no longer take time to pray together because they think they have more important things to do. This is a big mistake! They no longer want to give of themselves or to freely give time to their family. Each person lives for himself, without taking the time to be together, talking, being interested in each other. Or, they watch television and there is no conversation, no dialogue. Then, with this selfishness come jealousy, hatred, and misunderstanding.
Satan is at work, he wants to divide and destroy the family. Each person is concerned with material things, trying to get the most advantage out of his situation. Material wellbeing becomes the most important thing. It's a disease! Hearts and souls do not receive any nourishment and become starved. The incessant quest for material wellbeing wears the family out and closes the members to each other. Each one suffers alone and, without prayer, it often gets to be unbearable. God does not hold the first place; the young ones do not receive enough love; sadness grows as well as discontent and anger; and families break up. They don't even see why they are breaking up and they say to God, "Why did you let my family break up?"
"But no! We should not behave this way! We are responsible! The most important thing is to protect family life and family unity! Unity of hearts comes with prayer, when God is given the first place and we give ourselves for our family. I am not saying that material things do not matter. They do, of course, but they can be very simple. For example, today many people want to buy designer clothes. The result is that people become as rigid as statues and cannot move, as they would like. They're worried that their designer's label won't be noticed! They are slaves of other peoples' look and they lose their freedom. Spending too much money to buy designers' clothes brings comparisons and conflicts. That's the illness; wanting more and more!
"For 26 years the Gospa has been asking us to take the time to pray as a family every day. She knows why! She wants to protect us from disaster! But many do not listen to her and then they cry in front of her saying, "Save us!" We have to make the right decisions now! We only need to decide, and God, who is good, will help us. But we should begin today and say, "Now, I am going to do what you say, I will do everything I can, and you, please, do the rest!"
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