Peace be with you all. I greet you all from Medjugorje. Again, let us before we continue look at last month's message. In August Our Lady invited us to a new relationship with the word of God. She asked us to carry the word of God in our hearts, in our thoughts, and to reflect and pray, then God would be born in our hearts. She also repeated her wish that we place the Bible in a visible place in our homes. She began her message with the word 'listen', a word that is to be found in the Bible some one thousand four hundred times. So, she wants us to listen and that we then carry what we hear in our hearts, in our thoughts and then to reflect and to pray. This is precisely what she had done, and she wishes for us to do the same. We must also remember that listening has its conditions. A heart only hears when it is free, when it loves, when it lives in peace and in humility. Lack of freedom, lack of love, lack of peace and pride all hinder the heart from listening. So, again I wish to invite you that through prayer, through fasting, through confessing and attending Holy Mass we can then ask that all our hearts may become like Mary's. This so that we are able to hear the word of God, able then to reflect upon it so that in this way God can be born in our hearts, so that we then can live according to Him, so that henceforth our words will be conceived, born and spoken in freedom and in love. Only then will our words become similar to God's words. May it become this way.
The apparitions continue daily for four visionaries -- Marija, Jacov, Ivan and Vicka. It is already 15 years and 3 months since the Mother of God began appearing here. We still do not know how much longer these apparitions will last, and right now only Vicka is at home. At the beginning of the month Jacov and Annalisa welcomed their second child -- a son by the name of David. They are still in Italy yet will return here at the end of the month. Marija and her family are in Italy, and she has promised us to come to Medjugorje for a few weeks in October. Ivan and his family are still in the US, and, remember, Our Lady comes to the visionaries wherever they find themselves.
At the moment we have many pilgrims in Medjugorje and the entire month of September was very busy. Right now we have a constant flow of Polish as well as Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians and occasionally even some Romanians. Many English-speaking and also French-speaking from all their different areas are here. Also Germans, Italians and a group each from Mexico, Brazil and Australia. Medjugorje is alive and its power of attraction is not receding, and we can only hope that this will continue. We celebrated the 'Elevation of the Cross' festively up on Križevac on September 15. It was Sunday and we estimated that about 15,000 people had come. First Holy Mass was only celebrated up on the mountain once -- a week after the birth of Mary -- but then we also organized another one at the end of the Youth Prayer Festival on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus. It is always very beautiful to pray up on the mountain, but especially so when we celebrate Masses up there.
We believe that the political situation is becoming ever more stable. The first elections are behind us and we hope that the process of peace will continue. But still, the inner wounds that have remained within so many people could very easily again seek causes to hate and then to revenge. Much prayer and much work must still be done by all sides for true peace to really find its way.
As she had promised us in January 1987, Mary again gave us a message on the 25th of the month. This message speaks to us about the cross and our relationship to it, and during this time there are two Feasts that remind us of Jesus' Cross -- the Elevation of the Cross and the Feast of the Mother Most Sorrowful. It is not the first time that Mary speaks of the Cross, and here I would like to remember one message in particular. Mary told us once to pray that we can, as her Son Jesus Christ did, carry our crosses with patience and with love. That message seemed to be very important to me because she really touched deeply upon our relationship with God. If we have a cross or a suffering, then we, quite naturally, pray that God remove it from us. But, Mary does not say that we should pray so that He removes it from us, but rather that we may carry the cross like Her Son, Jesus. When we take this word really seriously and do this sincerely, only then will we come to understand what this really means. As Jesus Himself, Mary makes us no illusions. Jesus did not remove the cross and sufferings as the Jews had hoped He would, but rather Jesus showed us how the cross ought to be carried. Mary reminds us of this when she asks us to pray so that we become able to carry the cross and not necessarily so that it be removed. Mary is mother of the Savior who suffered. She herself suffered and therefore she is not afraid to speak to us about the cross, and to encourage us to accept it.
Everyone speaks a lot about suffering for this is most certainly the case with all people, in all generations, in all philosophies and in all views of life. They must all include the suffering in the world. Many philosophies have given man false hopes and these, needing false prophets, often promised a life without crosses and suffering. The true prophets, including Jesus Himself, never promised us that we will not experience sufferings but that all will turn out for the good. Man can neither be without the cross and nor can he circumvent suffering. Alone the fact that we are created is for us already a cross. The cross occurs there where we feel the wish to be loved and where we wish to love. There is no-one here on earth who is able to love us the way that we wish to be loved, and none of us can love anyone as much as he wishes to be loved. So all our yearnings and hopes for love and to be loved always overstep our own strengths. And THAT is where our first cross occurs. In practical life there are only two possibilities. The one possibility is that we, through the love that comes from God and that Jesus shows us, accept the cross and to suffer and that we, through the cross that we carry with love, then grow. The only other possibility is to attempt to conquer and dispose of all suffering in this life, and in doing this one begins to sin. Then through this sin one only again causes new suffering. St. Peter very simply said: 'It is better to love as a righteous person than it is as a sinner.' In other words, the one who loves must suffer; but his suffering turns out for the good, both for himself as well as those around him. Then again, hate causes suffering for us and for those around us, but even the suffering that we have caused through sin can turn itself to the good and in today's message Mary shows us how.
This is certainly not the promise that we will be spared crosses and suffering. But, it is also important that when we suddenly come to know that if we are suffering it is not vital whether it is because of love or hate, but that when we bring our suffering to Mary's cross, then it has purpose. When something has purpose, then it becomes much easier to bare and thereby it becomes a very different suffering. Precisely here she shows us how much of a true mother she is!
So, when a child hurts itself, is afraid or has problems, and then takes it to its mother and entrusts her with it, it will become different. Even when the physical suffering or wound stays the same, something different in the soul happens when it can entrust its mother with it. It is the same with Mary. She knows how to handle suffering. It is very important to know that when one is sick or suffers something else specific, that one can bring this, just like another prayer or fast, to her as our mother. And to know that one can help someone with our cross and suffering is very important. Because with our crosses and suffering, as St. Paul also says, we add something to the cross of Jesus that was not yet atoned for with the suffering of Jesus. Practically speaking, one can say that one should entrust Mary with every cross and every suffering every day. One should say: 'Even when I do not understand it, I believe that you, who as the mother of Jesus has the experience of the cross, can accomplish something with my suffering and crosses, and make something good from them.' But the cross and the suffering that Mary suffered along with her Son, transformed itself into the Light of the Resurrection. And that we, deep within our hearts, also believe that ours can turn out this way for us too is certainly her utmost intention. Mary also shows herself in this message as the intercessor. She wishes to help us and asks for the grace from God for every one of us. It is very important for us to know that we never remain alone and are never left alone because we all have such a wonderful mother! We all get her intercession before God, and it is certainly the greatest grace of Medjugorje that Mary prays for us every evening. This is how one can also understand why God gives so many graces here. Then she again asks us all to...
Here, for many of us, is the very core of everything. Can one really believe that when one gives God our sufferings that it can then develop into joy?! The answer to this from this message, as it is also from the entire Gospel, is very clear. Yes, my suffering and your suffering can develop into joy, but only when we give to God as a gift. This call to give God the gift of our crosses and sufferings first of all means that we may not blame God for them. God does not want us to suffer, but when we already do and then give it to Him, He will follow through with what He has promised us. Secondly, when we give them to Him as a gift, it means that we will not become bitter, distrustful or depressed because of them, but rather in this way our sufferings gain a purpose just like when we give someone a bouquet. Just as we can bring something beautiful to someone, Mary tells us that we can also bring sufferings to God. But then again Mary is also very practical and real. She says...
This is what all of us can and should do from now on. Only through prayer and through our encounter with God in prayer can we understand what all of this means. Let me give you an example. Recently a boy in Sr. Elvira's Community who had had bad experiences with drugs put it this way. "Today I can also thank God for the time that I spent being in drugs. It was in fact a terrible time of destruction of myself and of my family because with my drugs I pulled not only myself but also my family into deep, deep suffering. While still in this deep suffering I took upon myself the way to healing in this community and, in this same suffering, my parents also again found their way to God. For this reason I can thank God for my time in drugs." To this I must add that one need not go deep into drugs in order to bring ones' parents back to God, but one sees just what St. Paul meant when he said: 'There where sin was great', and, of course, along with sin also the suffering, 'there also the graces became great.' But we should not say: 'Brothers, let us sin so that the graces may become great.' Rather, Jesus told us that one may never say it is not worthwhile, for it is ALWAYS worthwhile to begin again because God can transform EVERYTHING to good. It is also our experience that many people behave as children do, meaning that when things are going all right for the child, then the mother can call a hundred times without it listening to the call, but when she has hurt the child it will come without being called. This is also the way with suffering -- it helps us to seek God. Of course, suffering can also take us away from God, BUT still, at the end of the path of suffering, God will always wait for us and our heart will then open itself to Him. And for this, we should also pray.
God, our Father, we thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who carried His suffering and cross for our healing to You as a gift. We also thank You for Mary, the mother of the suffering Savior, who also accepted the cross and suffering and then, as our intercessor, also brought it to You. We ask of You now, just as Your humble servant invited us, to give us the grace that we may come to understand that our suffering can transform itself into joy and that our cross can become the path to joy. Oh Father, hear our prayer, that we never, due to our cross and sufferings, begin to doubt in Your love and Your mercy. Forgive us for every time that we blamed either You or the others or when we experienced bitterness in our hearts. Forgive us and give us the experience that our cross and sufferings will also lead us to the light of the resurrection. Father, we ask You now for all parents for whom their children too have become a cross and suffering, that everything will be transformed into good. We ask You now for all men and women who for one another have become a cross and suffering, that they may be healed and that, through their cross and suffering, they may develop toward a deeper unity and love. We bring to You all crosses of the youth so that none may remain hopeless on the path, but rather through their suffering will find their way to You. We bring to You all suffering in this world, all the suffering of all the races in wars, so that these may then lead them to You, so that everything may then also be transformed to good and so that the scared may be transformed into trusting You. Give them the experience that love is after all possible. Give to those who find themselves caught by drugs and alcohol the experience that inner freedom is after all possible. Let them be healed so that their suffering may lead them to joy. Bless us all and give us all Your peace through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko , Medjugorje
September 28, '96
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