From Saturday 24 till Saturday 31 August 2019 I have had the grace of going on pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Who did not hear about this special place? But what is really special about Medjugorje? To put it mildly, why is Medjugorje so unique for our times?
Whether we admit it or not, and whether we like it or not, ours are difficult and turbulent times. Sure that there has been times of great turmoil in the past. Yet, in our times, there are too many things going on, not just on the international arena but also, and perhaps even more dangerously so, interpersonally. Our world is crying for special places wherein mother earth experiences that urgently needed redemption which is brought about by the heavenly bliss. Medjugorje is certainly one of these much craved for sites.
The message of Medjugorje is primarily one of conversion, in other words, an immediate return to God. In her apparitions Mary, our Heavenly Mother, provides us with five principal messages, or, as they have been termed, stones or weapons which we can make use of to defeat the power and evil influence of sin in our daily lives. Through Medjugorje Mary is leading us slowly but surely in the journey of holiness. She does this thanks to the hundreds of messages that she relays to us via the visionaries whom she chose to appear.
Prayer is the hub of Mary’s plan for us, sinful humanity. In fact, the subject of prayer surfaces so much in her messages to us. For instance, in her message of April 25 1987 the Mother of God instructs: Today also I am calling you to prayer. You know, dear children, that God grants special graces in prayer… I call you, dear children, to prayer with the heart. In another message, which bears the date of 25 February 1989, Our Lady teaches us: You know that I love you and am coming here out of love, so I could show you the path of peace and salvation for your souls. I want you to listen to me and not permit Satan to seduce you. Dear children, Satan is strong enough! Therefore, I ask you to dedicate your prayers so that those who are under his influence may be saved. Give witness by your life, sacrifice your lives for the salvation of the world… Therefore, little children, do not be afraid. If you pray, Satan cannot injure you, not even a little, because you are God’s children and He is watching over you. Pray, and let the Rosary always be in your hands as a sign to Satan that you belong to me.
In view of these messages Our Lady recommends praying the Rosary, if possible the twenty decades that are related to the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.
The second weapon against evil which Mary is suggesting to us is fasting. In the Gospel according to Mark Jesus openly says that certain devils can be cast out in no other way except by prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). Perfectly aware of the great power that resides in fasting Mary resolutely tells us on June 25 1982: Persevere in … fasting. On July 21 1982 Our Lady explains that the best fast is on bread and water. Through fasting and prayer one can stop wars, one can suspend the natural laws of nature. Works of charity cannot replace fasting… Everyone except the sick, has to fast. From these messages it is becoming apparently clear that when one enters fasting one has entered a true healing mode both for himself and herself as well as for the entire world.
If fasting means offering to God our whole being in sacrificial love so as to purify ourselves and the world we are inhabiting in our battle against the evil forces which continually assail us, the daily reading of the Bible is of great aid in this powerful war we are engaged in. Thus, the Mother of God tells us on October 18 1984: Dear children, today I call you to read the Bible everyday in your homes and let it be in a visible place so as always to encourage you to read it and pray. Whereas on February 14 1985 Mary stressed that we must read the Bible. Every family must pray family prayers and read the Bible.
If we want to prevail against the evil forces that are attacking us all the time our souls certainly need to be cleansed from evil, which is obstructing them from growing and being strengthened spiritually. A pivotal help towards this direction is surely the sacramental confession. In her message of June 26 1981 Our Lady said: Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession. Moreover, on July 2 2007 Our Heavenly Mother affirmed: In the great love of God, I come to you today to lead you on the way of humility and meekness. The first station on that way, my children, is confession. Reject your arrogance and kneel down before my Son. Comprehend, my children, that you have nothing and you can do nothing. The only thing that is yours and what you possess is sin. Be cleansed and accept meekness and humility. My Son could have won with strength, but He chose meekness, humility and love. Follow my Son and give me your hands so that, together, we may climb the mountain and win.
The last spiritual weapon which Mary is giving us into our hands to combat evil and conquer it absolutely is the Mass. In her messages she suggests Sunday Mass and, when it is possible, daily Mass too. In her message of May 2 2016 she calls our filial attention to the fact that in the Eucharist Jesus is always with us: Do not forget that in the Eucharist, which is the heart of faith, my Son is always with you. He comes to you and breaks the bread with you; because, my children, for your sake He died, He resurrected and is coming anew. These words of mine are familiar to you because they are the truth, and the truth does not change. Her messages reveal the beauty of the Eucharistic sacrifice such as this message given in April 3, 1986, when she said: There are many of you who have sensed the beauty of the Holy Mass… Jesus gives you His graces in the Mass. Whereas in April 25 1988 Our Lady tells us: Let the Holy Mass be your life.
Perhaps that is why Medjugorje is such a particular place in our world, namely because it is a school of life. A life in, with and through Christ at the school of Mary, Our beloved Mother. Her maternal care, as shown in the messages she continually gives us in Medjugorje, is so great that one cannot but following her practical advices. At Medjugorje Mary emerges as the teacher of our way of discipleship. Her earthly attitude of complete trust, openness and spiritual outlook on life are so persuasive in the messages she gives to us that they are inviting you and me to pay her a visit at Medjugorje which will undoubtedly transform our lives.
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap