I greet you all wholeheartedly and just quickly wish to remind us all of January's message. Mary called upon us to decide for peace, and this decision for peace brings with it the decision to pray for peace because only God gives true peace. The decision for peace also includes the decision for love -- a love out of which reconciliation comes or is kept. All this must start in the family so that peace then can be given to all others and it was with that message that we began Lent. In the hope that during this month we experienced something of this true peace, and that love then bore reconciliation, I would now like to think about this month's message with you. This month's message is a real message for Lent.
I invite you to conversion. This is the most important message
Let us again think that the main Marian goal is peace. Peace is the grace that God can and wants to give us, but only if we open ourselves to this grace. One opens oneself to this grace when one prays, fasts, believes and lets oneself be led by God; and when one wants to take the path to God or with Mary to God, then one can always describe this path as the path of conversion. This message is an impulse for us all again to think about conversion, about the meaning of conversion and about the different dimensions of conversion, but even more so that we pray for the grace of conversion and that we then live our conversion.
The reason for our conversion is God's love and mercy. When we are called upon by God to convert, it only means that God gives us the chance to depart from our wrong paths and to turn upon new ones. Was God to lose patience with us, then we would not have the opportunity to convert. So let us very consciously thank God that He again is giving us this opportunity!
From our side conversion first of all means that we leave behind the wrong paths, that we free ourselves from the negative, from sin and from all that is evil, and especially from all dependencies through which we destroy ourselves. This dimension of conversion, that we very consciously fight against all sins in our lives, is very important. In order for us to free ourselves from all sin and all that is evil, we must begin to pray and to fast so that we gain the inner strength to free ourselves from it.
The other dimension of conversion, a very important factor is our spiritual path. Is the positive growth in that we develop the gifts in us that God gave us or the gifts that God gave us to create the conditions for growth. There are, thank God, many people who in taking Mary's path to God, have distanced themselves from sin and all that is evil, and who therefore find themselves on the path to peace. These people sometimes encounter the difficulty of not knowing what they should confess when they feel that they are no longer sinning and no longer doing anything negative. Still it is always very important that conversion not only means turning away sin but, that it also entails an inner growth. This growth knows no boundaries! So even when we know of no sin that we are carrying, we are still called upon to convert. The growth in inner peace, in love, in trust, in mercy, in truth is also included in the description of conversion. We should give more attention to this inner peace and growth, then we should to the fight against the evil. When we, through the Gospel of the first Sunday in Lent, wish to explain the structure of conversion, then it is very clear that Jesus prays and fasts and then in prayer and fasting is tempted. Because Jesus was hungry, the evil one suggests to Him that He make bread out of the rocks, then to throw Himself from the tower and to pray to the evil one so that He could then have the kingdom. Jesus resists all the temptations and then says: "Not only from bread does man live but from every word that comes out of God's mouth." Man may not tempt God but rather pray to God. So not only turning away from sin, but growth in the positive should be our path. The condition for peace that Mary is teaching us here is love for life. Only when we grow positively in this love for life will we then also see exactly what opportunities have been given to us to become active in the good. Conversion is a dynamic situation in our hearts, and when we convert we should ask ourselves whether we are really working on our hearts as Mary once called upon us to "work on your hearts as you work in your fields." The best seed cannot bring fruit in an unprepared soil. Again we must very clearly emphasize that it can happen that we pray, perhaps even fast, go to Mass, but still that we do not wish to convert. Our prayer and fasting should come from as well as lead to the dynamic of conversion, otherwise it can really happen that Christians do small things all their lives but still do not change their lives.
I wish that each of you become a carrier of my message
In several messages, Our Lady has called us to become carriers of her messages. In the true meaning of this, someone can become a carrier of the messages if he himself is living the messages, so when someone truly converts, meaning that he is dynamically working on freeing himself from sin and all evil and on growing in love, peace, trust and faith, he must become active. Love is always active. Love gives people courage as well as wisdom, peace and the inner strength to do something. So when we convert, we fight both within us as well as around against all that is evil. So one can ask oneself how a Christian, or for that matter, all Christians can so easily live along with evil, with sin, with bad habits or with false Christian mentalities? How can we explain that there is so much destruction -- starting with abortion and then drugs and alcohol -- in Christian families or, even more so, in Christian nations? It is said that many have simply pulled back, and that they seek out their "quiet corners" and have lost the courage to fight against all that is evil. At one point, St. Paul says: "You have not yet with your blood, resisted against all that is evil." The message to become carriers of peace therefore means to love and, as Jesus says, even our persecutors, and to offer peace to those who are without peace, it also means to become missionaries in occasionally going out onto the streets and there to offer life to the people. Mary wishes to guide many people to start fighting for life and against death, because so many have decided for death and thus becoming very active missionaries of death and destruction. Yet again, one can say, thank God, that through Mary's presence and intercession many people are carrying her message to individuals, to the families and into the communities. Only in this way can we understand that this message has already arrived in all the corners of the world. For this Parish, it is important, especially in these days of renewal, to become conscious that this message must be alive here, and then also that the whole Parish becomes a carrier of this message -- a carrier who then offers it to others. In this sense Mary often said that she needs us, that without us she cannot do anything. If we say "yes" to the message and live it, then we, in every situation, will find the opportunity to pass along the message. St Paul teaches us that love is also inventive and thus finds it's way. Love gives courage and opens eyes. So let us, as Mary does, all untiringly live and carry the message. When we think of St. Francis we also discover the possible dynamic of conversion that gives space to our growth in love. In this way we can then also understand the sentence that St. Francis spoke shortly before his death: “Brothers, we should again start anew, for we have until now done nothing.” He did much, but certainly he was also thinking that had he loved at the beginning of his conversion as he did at the end of his life, then he would have been able to do so much more for the Kingdom of God. Only in that we grow positively, in that our love grows, will we also discover all the rest that we could have done. This message is the same as that of the Gospel and when she says "Live my message", it means to live the Gospel -- to open oneself to peace, to convert, to believe, to fast and to pray. She also called us to holiness, to gratitude, to inner joy, to become active, to form prayer groups and to pray in the families. This is what she wants from us. The Church also calls upon us, and Mary is Mother of the Church, She wants nothing else but to help us be the Church, and to obey the Church. We are after all the Church! Every one of us is a member of the Body of Christ. Every one of us should become very aware how we are responsible for the entire Church, Conversion and being a member of the Church means fighting against sin, deciding for the good and making more room within us for the virtues and the conditions for growth. Without our deciding for this, nothing can happen. Then we always stay in sin, in darkness and in death. So, in this message Mary calls upon us even twice...
To live my messages that I have given you
Her messages of prayer, fasting and faith are the same as those of the Church, and most strongly as in this time of Lent in which, as Mary tells us,...
Especially now, when the Church also is calling you to prayer and conversion
Now in Lent we should again very consciously decide for Mary's path. This means that we pray the entire Rosary every day. The Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries and that we leave away all excuses or temptations and that we decide very seriously for prayer. Also in prayer one can live conversion, and that on two levels. If we begin to pray today as we in this moment can, then this is already conversion to prayer, but we should also pray in prayer that we convert. This means that we progressively place ourselves deeper and deeper under the will of God. It can happen that all our prayers become an attempt and even a fight to change the will of God, but when we convert in prayer, we will become ever more willing to accept the will of God and to place our will under His. We should also convert in fasting, and this means that we begin to fast and then progressively do so with the heart, with love. The goal of conversion in prayer and fasting is to free our hearts for the grace that God wishes to give us.
This time is a time of grace
If we do what Mary tells us, then this time will truly become a time of grace. We may not forget that for God the time of grace is always possible because He is always merciful. So it depends upon us and our actions every day to what degree this time becomes a time of grace. Faith, our own believing and then become active, is also a very important message and grace. It means to give one's own heart to the Lord, to entrust oneself to Him and, like a child, to permit oneself to be led by Him. Every word of God must have value in our lives and, as Mary has earlier called upon us, we should pray before the Cross, because from the Cross many graces come to us. She wants us also to adore the Eucharistic Jesus, that we read the Bible, that we form prayer groups and that we very earnestly decide for the path to holiness. So, Lent has just begun and Mary concludes by saying...
I also...invite you to live my messages that I have given you during the time since I appeared here
So let these calls of Mary find an echo in our hearts and may our will be healed so that we without fear and with courage can go along this path with her -- this path through suffering but also the path to the Resurrection, the path to life, the path from hopelessness to hope, from uselessness to finding a purpose and from Godlessness to God. Let us also pray that our path continues along with Jesus and with Mary who accompanies Him.
God, our Father, we thank You for Your love and mercy that make our conversion possible. We thank You for Your patience with us and for Your will for us to again renew our decision to start anew with You. We beseech You, send into our hearts the Holy Spirit so that we will decide for You, so that we, in Your name, can, as Your Son, Jesus Christ did, resist and turn away all sin: that we can also wish not only to live by bread but also by every word that comes out of Your mouth: that we never tempt You but that we always serve You and adore You as the only True God. Cleanse our hearts and our souls so that we can grow in love toward each other, and in this time especially also grow in love toward the poor, Father, we beseech You, bless the Pope, all Bishops and Priests, and all those who spread Your word so that they in this time can experience conversion in their lives, and then can also spread the message of conversion to Your people. Mary, along with you and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, we ask the Father that your path with us may continue, so that we can have peace. We ask along with you that we, our families, the Communities, the Parishes, the entire Church and thus the whole world may become carriers of your messages. We thank you Mary, that you make us aware that you, as Mother of the Church, also want us to go on our path with the Church. Protect us on this path O Mary! And through your intercession may the Lord bless the entire Church and the entire world. God, Our Father, for this we pray in the name of Jesus, Your Son and Our Lord. Amen.
Fr. Slavko , Medjugorje
February 27, 1996
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