I was overjoyed to hear these incredible insights about Lent that Vicka shared with a pilgrim recently:
"Many times we see Lent as a time when we make sacrifices and practice self-denial by giving up coffee, alcohol, chocolate, cigarettes, TV, or whatever we are overly attached to. But we must renounce those things out of love for Jesus and Mary, and be careful not to do it for our own glory. Often we wait for the end of the forty days, only to drink again, to watch TV again, etc. This is not the right way to live Lent!
"Yes indeed, Our Lady asks us for sacrifices, but she does so all the time, not just during Lent. During Lent, we must offer to God all our desires, our crosses, our sickness and suffering, so that we may walk with Jesus, walk with Him toward Calvary. We should take to heart to help Him carry His Cross because He carries His cross for all of us, asking Him, 'Lord, how can I help you? What can I offer you?' I don't mean that He cannot carry His Cross but when we join with Him from the heart, then it becomes a very beautiful thing. I don't refer to Him when I need Him only, but I walk with Him when He most needs me, during His suffering for us.
"Many times, when we have a cross we could offer Him, we instead pray this way: 'Lord, please remove that cross from my shoulders, it's heavy, I can't take it. Why is this cross given to me and not to someone else?' No! This is not the right way to pray! Our Lady says we should rather tell Him: 'Lord, I thank you for this cross, I thank you for this great gift You are giving me!'
"Very few are the people who understand the great value of the cross and the great value of the gift of our crosses when they are offered to Jesus. We can learn so much through this gift of a cross! In this time of Lent, we must understand from the heart how much Jesus loves us all and we should walk by His side with great love. We should try to be united with Him in His passion. This is the sacrifice that is expected from us. Let's walk this way, and then when the day of Easter comes with the Resurrection, we won't look at the Resurrection from outside but we will also be resurrected with Jesus, because we will have become free inside of us, free from ourselves and all our attachments. Isn't this a beautiful thing? We will be able to live His love and His Resurrection inside of us!
"Every single cross has a reason. God never sends any cross without a motive, a meaning, and He knows when He will remove that cross from us. At times of suffering, let's thank Jesus for this gift and also tell Him, 'If you have another gift for me, I am ready. But right now I am begging for Your strength, in order to have the courage to carry my cross and go forward with you, Lord!'
"I remember how the Gospa spoke to me about suffering when she said: 'If you knew the great value of suffering!' This is really a very great thing! And then it all depends on us, afterwards, to be ready for this or not. It all depends on our Yes to Jesus. It takes our whole life to learn this and go forward. Each morning, when we wake up, we can start our day with God. Our Lady does not ask us to pray the whole day long but to put prayer at the first place, to put God at the first place and then perform our works and go ahead in all the aspects of our life, visiting sick people, etc.
"When we do a charitable work without prayer, it's not valuable. The same way, when we pray and do not act in a charitable way, it is not valuable either. Those two things, prayer and charity, work always together. And then, step by step, we go forward." (End of Vicka's words.)
Knowing how much Vicka has suffered, and how beautifully she ministers to the pilgrims who visit her in Medjugorje, her words take on special meaning. Vicka lives the way of the cross with Jesus, daily. And she knows the joy it brings. What good advice she has given us for this Lent! Her words reflect St. Faustina's: "Oh, if only the suffering soul knew how much God loves it, it would die of joy and excess of happiness! Some day we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer. The present moment is ours!" (963)
Dear Mother, we want to move forward this Lent, help us say Yes to Jesus with love!
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