I greet you all whole-heartedly and wish that the last days of Lent and of Holy Week may serve us all as a good preparation for Easter, and that we really experience peace that Jesus gave to the Apostles after His resurrection. Let us again remember February's message in which Mary called us to open ourselves to the Creator, called us to become active, to see who needs our help and thereby to become the outstretched hands of God - the hands that today expect humanity. Lent, the time in which we find ourselves, is a time during which we, through prayer and fasting and a good Confession, open ourselves to God so that He may forgive our sins, free us of our bad habits, and that He thereby creates more space for peace in us. It is also very important that we do not forget that we have been called to become active -- active in the fight for what is good and against all that is evil. It is love that makes us active, for when we love then we are active. When we love then we see who needs our help and when we love and, through love, can see, then certainly we will do everything we can to help those around us spiritually and materially, as Our Lady invited us to do. When a Christian does not know what he is supposed to do, then it is sure sign for the lack of love of that Christian. That is because it is love that makes us active. On the other hand hate also makes us active and when we hate we are active in the destruction of ourselves, our families, the others around us and thereby the whole world. Here we ought again think that through love we should not only become active but stay active, and therefore through love conquer all tiredness. If we become tired inside then it is a sign for a lack of love and today many people have become tired. Tired are the families who let themselves get divorced, tired are the families who do not accept unborn life and therefore so many abortions happen. Tired are also all those who through drugs and alcohol acquire a form of peace. When we become tired we cease working with Mary who for herself said 'yes' so that she is untiring, but she also said that Satan is untiring in that he works against healing and against peace. In ourselves becoming tired we begin working with Satan and all his plans for destruction. That is why it is so important that we every day, constantly pray for the grace of love, because love is the key to peace. Love is the key to prayer, fasting, to Mass and a good Confession. Without love we can also not experience regret, and without love we cannot ask for forgiveness. So I wish that we all during this Easter-time become active and work untiringly with Mary for peace. We should also become active in that we organize family prayer, prayer-groups and active help for all those who need it.
Regarding the visionaries, Vicka is here, Jacov and his family are also here, and he is again working in the Parish Office. Marija should be arriving here on Holy Thursday. Ivan has returned from Australia and is momentarily in Boston with his family for Easter. Then after several conferences he will again be returning here. Mirjana and Ivanka and their families are all here in Medjugorje.
On March 18, Mirjana had her wonderful encounter with Mary. There was a large gathering of prayer in the green tents behind the church. At 1:00 p.m. we started with the Rosary and at 1:50 Our Lady appeared and stayed with Mirjana for six minutes. Mirjana then told us that Mary had appeared as usual, but when she gave her the message Mary became sad. Our Lady also blessed all those present and prayed over all religious objects there. She also prayed with Mirjana for all the non-believers. And the message is as follows:
"Dear Children! As a mother I ask that you do not go on the path that you have been on, that is the path without love towards neighbor and towards my Son. On this path you will find only hardness and emptiness of heart, and not peace which you all long for. True peace will have only that one, who in his neighbor sees and loves my Son. In the heart of the one where only my Son reigns, that one knows what peace and tranquility is. Thank you for having responded to my call."
This message goes in the same direction as that on the 2nd of the month where Mary invites us to love. She wishes us to leave the path that lacks love toward the others and toward Jesus, and that we should turn onto the new path. On the path without love we will only discover the hardness and emptiness of our hearts, and we will not find peace, says Mary. From the rest of the text one sees exactly that love is the key to peace. Whoever loves the others and whoever gives Jesus the first place in his heart will know what true peace is. So this message calls us to prepare ourselves well for Easter, to thereby have inner peace and to become witnesses of peace in this world.
On Saturday, March 15, Medjugorje had an important visit in that the President of Croatia, Dr. Franjo Tudjman, came here after an official visit in Mostar. Many locals welcomed him, as he did them, and then he came into the Parish Office where he spoke with the Priests. Present were also the Provincial, Fra Tomislav Pervan, and the Bishop of Mostar, Mons. Ratko Peric. The President emphasized that the Holy Father had told him twice that he wishes to come to Medjugorje when he comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is certainly very important for us all to know this and not to forget it.
Medjugorje is truly alive and there are really pilgrims here from all over the world. But especially Croatians are abundant now in these days before Easter, and there are 30 Franciscans who are hearing Confessions. Medjugorje is alive as a town of prayer, and as a town where many people rediscover Confession. We are also preparing for the Pope's visit, yet there are problems and resistance from the Moslem side. Still, the preparations continue. Let me here ask of all of you to take this visit into your prayers and that we all pray that his visit may serve peace and reconciliation among the three races.
This month's message addresses the time in which we live, in that it is both a Lental as well as of Easterly message.
We all know that Mary had the courage to stand near the Cross of her Son. She carried the cross and the suffering of Jesus with love and with faith, and in so doing she experienced her own death. Certainly at the moment that Jesus prayed for His enemies, her heart was also praying along with Him. As He forgave, so did her heart forgive. She knows how important the cross is for us, and therefore she called us in several messages to pray before the cross. She told us that many graces come from the cross, that we should mediate upon Jesus' suffering and to pray that we can carry our crosses as He carried his with love and patience. Jesus' suffering and His death on the cross are the best proof for how much He loves us. He was in love with us and therefore He was ready to die on the cross for us. Someone once said that only in crucified love can one trust and believe. Out of the wounds of Jesus one can come to understand how much He loved us and loves us. We also know that Jesus, in showing His wounds to Thomas, removed his doubts and when that happened Thomas threw himself onto his knees and said: "My Lord, my God." So I hope that we too will do the same, and take the cross in our hands to discover His love for us. Here I would like to point out something. Sometimes when we hear something, no matter whether it is wonderful or devastating, we can become mute and not know how to react. We are in danger when the good no longer affects us and the evil no longer shocks us. We should especially in this time rediscover Jesus' love in His wounds which then again should touch us and call us to again love more than before. When we have discovered Jesus' love then we will be able to make the next step.
This is the first time that Mary calls to ask Jesus directly for healing. The wounds in us are caused by sins, but not only ours but also those of our parents. This sentence could easily lead us into a psycho-analysis, but that alone would not help us. Even if we know what our sins are, what the sins of our parents are, and even when we recognize our wounds, this does not yet mean the healing of those wounds. For instance, someone who has broken his leg and knows where the break is still needs to go see the doctor. It is not imperative that we enter into analysis, but rather that we really pray for the healing of those wounds. It is clear to us all that we were not loved as much as we wished for, and the lack of our parents' love certainly left wounds in our hearts. These wounds then also caused our sins. These words of Mary's do not wish to announce us as sinners, but rather call upon us sinners to pray for healing and this is critical for us. How often do we hear from people who were not loved by either their mother or father? Or whose parents were divorced or whose father was an alcoholic, or who had no time for the children because he worked all the time? Or who was too strict, and so forth. Any of these created deep wounds in our hearts, and it is here that we all must be very careful not to create a similar image of God. Many people have become atheists or have stopped praying because they created a picture of God according to their parents and their behavior. The healing of these wounds will make us capable of building the image of our parents according the image of God. Therefore it is an important assignment for us to pray for the healing of relationships in our families. It is certain that we often sin against one another out of weakness, but also out of malice. We do not need to judge one another, but to pray for one another.
The world desperately needs a healing of faith. One of the first messages that Mary gave the visionaries was that she had come to tell us that God exists, and that she had come to help us. Everything can be traced back to faith or the lack of faith. The one who believes will also be able to love, and the one who can love can also pray, forgive, and have peace. The one who does not believe or whose faith is wounded will not be able to do so. As we all know, pride reigns in the world today. Many people behave as though they had created themselves, the others and the entire world. Especially the advances of technology can mislead people that they then begin to think that he has created all this. But the truth is something completely different. God created everything and gave man the understanding to discover this. All the discoveries in technology are merely discoveries for what God has already placed in nature and the material. Therefore humanity really has no reason for pride or to make himself big, but rather humanity has a reason only to be thankful for all that God the Creator has given to it. And when God the Creator has taken the first place in our lives we may say that our faith was healed. Then too the world will be healed.
These next words are then exactly the words for Easter. By taking the Apostles as an example we will come to understand it better. On Good Friday all of them except John - John whom Jesus loved especially - went away and hid themselves, thereby abandoning Jesus out of fear. After they had withstood the tragedy of Good Friday in fear Easter morning arrives. Jesus comes to them and His first words are: "Have no fear. Peace be with you. It is I." This was the beginning of healing of the Apostles' faith. Then after they had prayed with Mary for nine days and the Holy Spirit had come upon them, they experienced the fullness of the gifts and thereby became real Apostles who gave all their lives for Jesus, and who were ready to do everything for the Good News. This is what Mary wishes for every one of us and we will be able to do so when we meditate on the Passion and Death of Jesus, when we respond to Jesus' love with our love, and when we really begin to pray. Through prayer our faith is healed and we will then become real Apostles of our faith. Only in this way will the faith in the world be healed. When we, then our families, our communities, our parishes and the whole Church have our faith healed, then the others whose faith is wounded will also be able to be healed. Mary then says...
Simplicity is certainly a virtue, and the one who loves will simply be able to live his faith. Love is simple, and simplicity comes from love. The one who can love does not complicate the relationships among people. We all know so well that when someone loves he understands immediately. He does not need to use many words. The one who loves, sees and does not need to be called often and with many words so that he comes to help. The one who loves immediately sees where he can become involved and begin to help and then do so. It is not difficult to experience that when we do not love someone then everything becomes complicated, including our conversation with him, our feelings concerning him. Also the way in which we wish to help this person becomes very complicated. Prayer is certainly also a key word, for the one who prays encounters God, and the one who encounters Him will believe in Him and love Him, and also understand that this faith is a gift. The one who arrives at love through a healed faith will also become an Apostle, and true Apostles are badly needed today by our families, communities and parishes. The programs that the Holy Father has suggested to us over these next three years seek true Apostles. This year which has been consecrated to the Son needs those who believe in Jesus as the Resurrected Lord, and those who are in love with Jesus and who do everything so that the others can also get to know Him. Then with a love for Jesus we will also be able to celebrate the years of the Holy Spirit and the Father well. So now we are left with going further on the path with Mary, and she wishes for us to do everything for Jesus. This is not something theoretical, for the one who loves and does everything for Jesus is the one who loves and forgives the others, and is ready to offer himself for the others. As Mary tells us in Mirjana's message, only the one who sees Jesus in the others will have peace. That is the path of peace, and that is Jesus' path. Mary wishes to show us and then lead us on this path, and I wish for us all that we, during this Easter, receive new courage to go on the path with Jesus. Now let us pray...
God, our Father, we thank You that You sent us Your only Son, that He out of love took the cross upon Himself and suffered death on the cross. We thank You that He prayed for His enemies on the cross and that He forgave them. We take the cross of Your Son in our hands and we ask You that in His wounds we may discover your wonderful love. We now bring our wounds to You through which our fears, bad feelings and habits, our sins, our pride and our jealousy come about. We also bring to You all the wounded relationships among our parents and siblings, the wounded relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, and also all those in our communities, in the church and in the whole world. Father, you also see our wounds and we ask You, through the wounds of Your Son, Jesus, to heal us, that You heal our faith, love and hope and that You give us Your peace. With Mary, the Immaculate Mother who had no wounds in her heart because, due to being excluded of any original sin by You, she had no personal sin, we ask You heal all wounds that have stayed in us due to our sins and those of our parents. We ask You to heal the world of all effects of original sin, and that we all can come onto the path to You. Father, heal the world and heal the wounds in all those baptized, in all those who call themselves Christians, and in all those who, due to wounds, have lost their faith in You. Heal the faith in the world so that all Christian Churches may come to unity among them. Heal the world's faith in Your Son, Jesus Christ, the Resurrected Lord, so that we all, through His Passion and Resurrection, may also be resurrected. Father, give us true prayer so that through prayer we may encounter You and that all may then through prayer become true Apostles for the faith. Give us simplicity that comes from love, love that gets strengthened through prayer, love and hope. Father, open our hearts so that we may hear Your Easterly greeting, "Peace be with you. Have no fear. It is I." Make the faith of the young who have lost the purpose of life come alive. Heal the faith of those who have fallen into drugs, alcohol and other dependencies. Heal the faith of all those who at this moment are being tempted by hate, by self-destruction or by other violent acts. Father, heal the faith in all those who are either physically or mentally ill, so that they may be healed through their faith. Father, we ask You through Jesus Christ, your Son who was resurrected from the dead, heal this world which You love and which You created. We ask You, in the name of Your resurrected Son, with Mary whose love, faith and love were not broken through the suffering and death of her Son, but rather in temptation showed her strength. We thank You, and we come to You through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.
Fra Slavko , Medjugorje March 28, 1997
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