I greet all those who are hearing and trying to follow Mary's messages. As usual I want to remind us of what Our Lady told us in September 2000. Mary called us to open ourselves to prayer until prayer becomes a joy. If one asks oneself how does one open oneself to prayer and how prayer can become a joy, then the answer is very simple. One has to pray for the love and for the experience of God's love for us as Mary prayers with Mirjana every 2nd of the month. This is because only love can open the heart and it is love that makes every encounter a joyful encounter. It is this way here among us people but it should still be this far more often when it comes to an encounter with God because He after all loves us infinitely. When we have love for God in our hearts, then all possible problems with prayer simply vanish and no longer exist. Then Mary called us to renew prayer within the family, thanking, I would think, all parents who by way of Medjugorje got the strength, the courage as well as the will to decide for prayer and to bring it into their families. Mary repeats this message often and in several messages calls upon the families to pray together and this means that she does not accept our excuses, and instead wishes of us all to really take these messages seriously and to find the time for prayer in the families. So we should also pray that our families may really decide for prayer. Mary also called us to form prayer groups, this having been her wish from the very beginning so that they may become like a chain around the world and in that way may help her to put into reality the plans with which God entrusted her. The first group which included some of the visionaries and their friends was formed on July 4, 1982 and is still meeting today. Then after this many other prayer groups came into being around the whole world who also loyally follow Mary's messages. Prayer groups help their members to experience togetherness and its accompanying joy, just as it also helps its members to remain in God's will and thereby to become joyful witnesses to God's love for us. Was one to ask oneself how one forms a prayer-group, then the answer is equally simple. Once someone has decided for prayer, then he has already put the primary condition into reality because the one who decides for prayer will certainly also find someone else who will be willing to prayer a Rosary, read some Holy Scripture or just ponder the word of God once a week and to ask for God's blessing. This then becomes the content of a prayer-meeting. The time for this should last between an hour and an hour and a half, and Jesus said wherever two or three meet in His name, there He will also be among them. So, already with two people who are praying the prayer-group has already begun. Then Mary again told us that she is with us, and this is in fact the only new message that is given us here in Medjugorje. Mary's special presence here is the only way that one can explain Medjugorje, because there simply is no other way to explain it. And we surely know how many people tried to explain Medjugorje in other ways, but without Mary's special presence here the other attempts of explanation simply make no sense. Then Mary gave us a very loving expression, that being that she carries each of us in her heart - the same heart that carried and loved Jesus - and we are all at home in this heart. So all of us should work at helping Mary and thereby allowing her to carry each of us in her heart. This happens when we accept her programs and follow her messages. She then gave us her motherly blessing, and this means that Mary, simply the way she is, is a blessing for us and thereby also wishes us to become a blessing for all others. In the hope that we really follow this message, we ought to pray for one another so that all of us can, through the experience of God's love for us, stay loyally on the Mary's path.
In these last few weeks Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti is again here in Medjugorje with her children. Vicka is also here at home. Ivanka, Mirjana and Jacov are living their normal lives with their families, are speaking with the pilgrims, and, as already mentioned, Ivanka has again begun to speak with pilgrims after many years of remaining rather secluded. Ivan is in the USA with his family and is participating at several conferences and is giving his testimony there.
In the entire last month we have really had very many pilgrims from all over the world. At the moment we have many groups here from Italy, Austria, France, America, England and Ireland, and also some from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and also from Lebanon and Korea. We also have many Priests here and lately we have also had 6 Bishops here as pilgrims. Bishops Cirilo Almario, Nestor Carino and Leo Drona from the Philippines, Bishop Joseph Das from India, Bishop Nicodemus Kirima from Kenya and Bishop Florencio Olvera from Mexico. Medjugorje is alive, and its message is being carried along in many hearts and this is confirmed for us by the great number of pilgrims.
Here I want to announce that next February 8 through 11 we are organizing the 1st International Conference for Christian Couples, and this will have the name: COUPLES IN THE SCHOOL OF THE HOLY FAMILY. The idea is very simple. We wish to help all families to understand and also to live Mary's messages. We all know how important the family is and when the parents deepen their faith in view of the Holy Family, then they will also more easily be able to help their children to do the same. We already know that the PRIESTS' MEETING is held in the first week of July and just finished 5 years already; the INTERNATIONAL YOUTH PRAYER FESTIVAL is held in the first week of August, and so we decided that something should also be offered to the family. This is only the first announcement and so we will be watching how things move along. The number of participants will be limited due to the space available to about 500 couples, and every couple that wishes to attend will take care of their own housing but should still contact the Parish Office. And I invite all of us to pray for this intention, so that many families respond and that they will all be heavily blessed through their participation at the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR CHRISTIAN COUPLES.
First we may ask ourselves what this may mean. The answer, I believe, is quite clear. When a mother says this to her children, this then means that she is expressing everything that she has in her heart and then hopes that it will be understood and become a help for the children. This is certainly also a simple expression of love and of trust of the mother toward her children, and so this is also a way of understanding Mary's words.
In these 19 years and 4 months Mary has tried to place different intentions in our hearts, and first of all the intention of peace. How often did she tell us to pray for peace in our hearts, in our families, in the Parishes, in the Church and then also in the whole world? Her intention is also the conversion of all people which then means a return to God. She called us to pray and to fast; and we especially ought to remember her intention when she, along with Mirjana, on the 2nd of each month prays for all the non-believers which means for all those who have yet to experience God's love, so that they may all experience it and through this experience may all find their way back to Him. It is her intention that we receive her motherly blessing and thereby can also become a blessing for all others. This, in very brief, means that we ought to build new relationships with ourselves, with the others as well as with nature and also with God. And in this balance of these good relationships a person can come to live in true peace. Mary also spoke of her heart in September's message. The motherly heart in which she carries us all is the loving, trusting and loyal heart that also carried, loved and taught Jesus, and I am entirely certain that these words of Mary's will spur us on again to do everything possible in order to help her. She often said: "Dear children, I need you, without you I can do nothing." These words can help us to understand that we are the Church, that we all members of Christ's body and therefore are in fact responsible for and also need one another as St. Paul teaches us.
In these words we should, I believe, recognize two really important things. First she wants us to become renewed in prayer and therefore that we simply pray. She after all called us to pray until our lives become a prayer, and that we constantly pray without ceasing. This constant prayer without ceasing is possible because everything can become a prayer and here we mean that everything can turn to become an encounter with God. When we out of love for God and for the others serve the others with the gifts that God gave us, then this is truly also a prayer. And when we ourselves become renewed in prayer, then Mary can renew the prayer within us. Everyone who personally has begun to pray will certainly also renew prayer in his family. Sometimes things move very slowly and with great difficulties in certain families, but it is already enough that only one has been renewed in prayer so that the whole family will eventually also be renewed in prayer. All those who have already formed prayer-groups are doing exactly that which Mary is asking for in this message. Prayer has been renewed in and through these prayer-groups in the Parishes, in the Communities and in all of the Church. So here we have been given a special assignment -- not only that we ourselves pray but also that through our prayer others can again come to prayer and thereby have the prayer in all the Church become renewed. Gratefully we are able to say that through the Medjugorje pilgrims many families have again begun to pray, and many prayer-groups have been formed who then in their Parishes hold Prayer Meetings and Retreats. Parishes also exist where Medjugorje pilgrims have organized perpetual Adoration, and all this is exactly what Mary wants.
…and in this message she very clearly also tells us…
We must all be very careful how we understand these words "A NEW TIME - A TIME OF SPRING". Often one hears a new time being talked about in terms of a "New Age" which in no manner of speaking signifies the same thing as is meant here in Mary's message. The NEW TIME about which Mary is speaking here only comes about by way of our prayers and fasting, and was someone to overlook prayer and fasting and only speak about a NEW AGE, then this can become an entirely wrong way of thinking. This NEW TIME does not come about the way it is generally spoken of and expected in esoteric circles. According to the NEW AGE theory this NEW AGE will just come about due to a certain constellation of the stars. Mary, on the other hand, speaks of the NEW TIME which can only come about due to the conversion of souls which then open themselves to God and as soon as God enters a heart and takes the first place in it, there a NEW TIME has already begun. So all this may certainly not only be seen externally because Jesus after all says that it is first of all inside you, and so inside every person, when he has decided for love, for mercy and for goodness, and for all those new relationships in the family or in the community, then this NEW TIME already exists. This NEW TIME really already started with Christ's Coming and then His Resurrection, and so it is already alive and is being realized in many hearts. This I wish to emphasize here with a small example… The other day a pilgrim told me that it had paid off to come here to Medjugorje and when I asked her what she meant by this, she then answered that during the Healing Prayer she suddenly became aware that all the disputes within her family did not only originate from her husband and from her children, but that they also originated from her. Until then she had accused her husband and children for all their disputes, but now she understood that she too was responsible for much of it. When she goes home she will now apologize to all of them, and will also promise that she never again wishes to argue and cause disputes with them. If she can follow through with this promise to her family, then one can already speak about a NEW TIME in her family. If many people decide on a NEW TIME in this manner, then this time has already come. So we may not think in the terms of a dramatic way for this NEW TIME to arrive and everyone who speaks about this in the way that Mary does here should first pray and fast very much. If this does not happen then we will somewhere start running in a wrong direction. One could say a lot of things regarding fasting, and a few of these I wish to repeat here. Fasting is a Biblical practice as well as a Biblical message in both the Old and the New Testament and it has been practiced and taught during all of Church History. But we also know that fasting -- not only the practice of fasting but also the sense for it -- was almost lost in recent times and especially in the 40 years since Vatican II. This means that when someone starts to fast he will bump into much resistance and many misunderstandings. Mary called for prayer and fasting from the very beginning and she connected this with the primary message of peace when she told us that with prayer and fasting wars and natural catastrophes can be averted. Jesus Himself practiced and spoke much about fasting. The Pope calls for and speaks about fasting in His Encyclical THE GOSPEL OF LIFE when he speaks about the culture of life and the culture of death, and he says that the culture of death has far more things and that it is working everywhere, but that the culture of life can be stronger because we after all have the strongest things possible in prayer and in fasting. And as Jesus told us one can also send away evil spirits with prayer and fasting that one can in no other way send away. The Pope says that with prayer and fasting evil can be recognized and fought far more easily than without them. So fasting serves the health of the body and the soul of the whole person and is therefore good for the physical body as well as the mind and soul. So when we renew our decision for prayer and for fasting and then make a gift of them for Mary to offer to Jesus for this NEW TIME, then really only she knows exactly what this means. For us remains to work hard, to listen to and then to live her messages.
When we hear this we must thank and praise God for all the open hearts that this Jubilee Year has brought about. It was the Pope's wish for this Jubilee Year that every Christian prepare himself anew to encounter the Trinity -- the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - in the Holy Eucharist. Many people responded and have again renewed their prayer-life and have again begun to pray, fast, go to Confession, and to attend Mass more often and also to attend Adoration. Hearing what Mary says here is a true joy because the purpose of this great Jubilee Year was exactly that hearts were meant to move anew, and all preparations for this year had the same purpose. If we now think back over these last three years, we can remember the years of the Spirit, the Son, the Father and this year as the Year of the Holy Eucharist, then we know how the Pope wished of us to prepare for thus Jubilee Year and certainly many hearts again opened themselves and this, of course, is only the result of God's grace. Then Mary says…
Here we must be clear that every one of us is a member of the Church and therefore as much as we are renewed so is the whole Church renewed.
Here it is certainly appropriate to say that Mary already a long time ago called us to pray to the Holy Spirit every evening before Holy Mass, and this we will also continue to do. I can only recommend to every prayer-group as well as every individual pray-er that they constantly pray to the Holy Spirit so that this renewal may also continue and bring forth many good fruits; and also to thank God because the gifts conversion, of the renewal of the Church, of these apparitions and of Mary's special presence here in these times are really big. But the last line of Mary's message tells us clearly that we may not yet even think of a triumph.
Prayer is always an encounter with God that should really always be joyful because when we meet a loving person then our heart will always feel joy. So all we are left with is to give one another the trust and say to one another "decide for prayer, take the time, it is Mary's intention and wish", and her wish is really our need - our need to meet God in prayer. When her wish is peace then it is our need to overcome all distress and wars, and instead to have and to live in true peace. And so that it may also become this way, let us pray…
God, our loving Heavenly Father, in the name of Your Son Jesus whom You sent us to save us and who opened His heart to us on the Cross, we ask you along with Mary who opens our hearts, give us the grace that we love You and out of this love can pray and then carry all Mary's intentions in our prayers. Renew in us the spirit of prayer, and renew prayer in our families, our prayer-groups, and in all the Church. Give us the grace of prayer and fasting so that we begin to do it with love and that Mary can then offer it to Jesus for this new time. God, our Father, speak one word and free each of us, our families, our communities, the Church and the whole world from all that which hinders or could hinder the coming of this new time. Free us of all of Satan’s kingdom of lies, of violence, of death, and of all that is evil, so that Your Kingdom of love, goodness, mercy and justice may come. Father, in this Jubilee Year, may you with Your love touch all human hearts so that we can enter the New Millennium ready and able to live in this world as Your children. Renew the Church in Your Spirit and make her the witness of love and of peace in this world, and bless the Pope, all Bishops and Priests, all Communities, all those baptized, all Christian denominations so that we may through the love of the Holy Spirit become one to announce You in the world as being our Father. Give us the spirit of joy and gratitude so that we may recognize these gifts and thereby become grateful for them. And with Mary we ask You to bless us all and give all of us peace, so that we may become carriers of peace and then serve every life with Your love, and may it be this way. Amen.
Fra Slavko , Medjugorje
October 28, 2000
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