Sunday, January 26, 2014

Medjugorje Message: Pray For Our Priests

Mirjana Soldo and Miki Musa (translator) speaking to American pilgrims in June'2013.  

If you have been visiting my blog of late, then you probably have read some and hopefully all of the core messages Our Lady has given us with Her "little stones," in Medjugorje. In addition to these core messages, Our Lady also speaks about many other things, one of which is the need for the laity to pray for our priests.

So, what does Our Lady Queen of Peace say about praying for priests? The Medjugorje visionary, Mirjana Soldo (formerly Dragicevic) shares this and other messages, consistently in her talks to pilgrims. You can view Mirjana and listen to her on this specific message as well as the "little stones," and other messages from my blog's sidebar Vimeo video. Again, Mirjana states this very important message in all her talks, so it wouldn't be difficult to find this information from any video search on Google. For your immediate reference, I will quote Mirjana from Medjugorje.com's article, Transform My Messages Into Life" - Mirjana speaks 10-17-07where Mirjana stated:
But if we can still talk about the privileged ones when we look at Our Lady’s messages, the way I understood, then we would be talking about priests. Because Our Lady never said what they should do, but She always repeats what we should do for them. She says that they don’t need you to judge or criticize them, but they need your prayers and your love. And Our Lady says, “Dear children, God will judge them the way they were as priests. But God will judge you the way you treated your priests.” For if you lose respect for your priests, you will lose it for the Church, and in the end for your God as well...
Unfortunately, many do not follow Our Lady's messages from Medjugorje and therefore, do not understand what the proper approach should be from a lay perspective toward our clergy. Quoting Mirjana further from the above mentioned article, Mirjana elaborated on Our Lady's message for priests: 
And in Her latest messages on the second of the month, She has been constantly emphasizing the importance of the priests. For example, when She is giving us Her blessing during the apparition, She always says, “I am giving you my motherly blessing, but the greatest blessing that you can receive on earth is the blessing you receive from your priests because when they bless, it is my Son Himself blessing.” Then She says, “Do not forget to pray for your shepherds. Their priestly hands are blessed by my Son.” That is why I am always asking from the pilgrims, when you go back to your parishes, show to other people that you were in Our Lady’s school, show that by the way you are treating your priests. If your priest is doing the way in which you think he shouldn’t be doing, do not judge or criticize, because in that way it would just cause bad (fruit) for yourself and for those who are listening to you. You better take the Rosary and pray to Dear God for him, fast for him, because that is the way to help him. Not through judging. Only God is allowed to judge. He does it in a different way than us, because we can see in this world we have a lot of judging and criticizing of the people and very little love and peace. That is what Our Lady desires from us.
The message from Our Lady is crystal clear, with any concerns you have for your priests, take up your daily Rosary and pray for them if you really want to help them because that is the best way to help them. Avoid all criticism and gossiping because this does harm to them and potentially further harms one's faith and the Church as a whole. Unfortunately, there are some who do not know and understand how to live Our Lady's message. I hope this blog post will begin to change that for many. Reading or hearing Our Lady's messages will not suffice. In order to live Our Lady's messages, we need to pray for the grace of acceptance and understanding. Quoting from Medjugorje.org's Core Messages, under the subheading of The Bible, Our Lady states in Her August 25, 1993, message, "...Only by prayer can you understand and accept my messages and practice them in your life..."

The temptation to gossip about priests is probably greater for those who are actively involved in the Church. Whether you are a volunteer or hired to provide some service, involved in a lay ministry or apostolate, design and maintain the parish web site, perform administrative tasks, manage the on line social networks or what ever your involvement may be, such individuals tend to know more about the local parish than the typical Sunday Mass attendee. What ever concerns that may arise from one's involvement with the Church, it should never lead to gossiping. For any concerns that we may have, we should follow Our Lady's message and pray the Rosary for our priests! To talk about the clergy and complain about this and that is gossiping and a sin. Gossiping about anyone is a sin. Gossiping is a sin against the 8th Commandment, "Thou shall not bear false witness against your neighbour."  

For those who are not in full communion with the Church, who rarely attend Mass and hardly ever pray, such individuals can also be tempted to gossip about priests simply as a matter of their indifference to the priesthood and the Church as a whole. Others may have had a bad experience with a priest or did not like the advice and guidance given and subsequently left the Church, condemning the entire priesthood in the process. For others, a personal tragedy such as losing a loved one resulted in anger towards God and perhaps even led them to join another Christian community or abandon Christianity all together. Such individuals who have rebounded from difficult and sometimes painful experiences, may have acted out their frustrations, hurt or anger on the priesthood with gossiping. This too constitutes a sin.

Sometimes gossiping is masqueraded as an article at an on line news website, where unsubstantiated claims are made, that accuse the Church or any of the clergy of this or that. The Church has a protocol for dealing with interior matters and issues and does not require overzealous reporting that fails to satisfy the burden of proof and subsequently publish false statements. To make false claims of potential scandals in the Church, is in itself scandalous and a sin. It is an inappropriate use of social communications. Such irresponsible reporting is tantamount to on line gossiping.

I hope that today's post adequately spot lights how wrong it is to gossip about priests, the harm it causes them, the fact that it contaminates recipients, its divisive nature and the disunity and the overall scandal it causes for the Universal Catholic Church. Let us pray to not fall into the temptation to gossip, but instead follow Our Lady's message to pray for our priests. Let us endeavour to better our Church in a spirit of brotherly love and unity.


  
Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Our Lady's Little Stone: The Holy Bible

The statue of Our Lady at Apparition Hill, which commemorates Her first apparition to the visionaries. 

Today's post on the "Holy Bible" is the last in a series of posts I have been publishing on Our Lady's "little stones," the spiritual weapons that she has given us for our earthly pilgrimage.

The analogy of the "little stones" is in reference to the battle of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17) in which God gave little stones to David to hurl at and defeat Goliath. Our Lady has also given us Her "little stones" in our battle to hurl at our enemy, Satan.

If we want to be successful in our battle and defeat the Evil One, we must employ the spiritual weapons that Our Lady had recommended.

If this is the first time you have read anything on Medjugorje and Our Lady's "little stones," the subject matter refers to the Marian apparitions in Medjugorje, Herzegovina (officially Bosnia and Herzegovina) that began on June 24, 1981. Our Lady appeared to six children who have become the six visionaries of Medjugorje. All six are alive, in their mid 40's and continue to receive apparitions from Our Lady.

Today, Medjugorje has become the spiritual center of world where so many fruits are harvested at this spiritual orchard: vocations to the priesthood and religious life, spiritual, emotional, physical and psychological healing, conversions, answers found to life questions, miracles of all types, where confessions are heard daily, where there are daily recitations of the entire Rosary, several daily Mass celebrations and a host of ministries, all of which spot light how God and Our Lady's love and graces are overflowing in Medjugorje.

If you are new to the Medjugorje apparitions, you might also be wondering why Our Lady has been appearing for all these years. The answer is simple.  Our Lady Queen of Peace, as she introduced herself to the children, loves us (all her children) and wants to help us. Here is an excerpt from one of Medjugorje.com's articles in which Ivan Dragicevic (one of the visionaries) in his August 31, 2009, talk to pilgrims, expressed the following: 
The second thing that I would like to tell you is, Mother is coming to us as the Mother of the Church, and She comes here in order to help us. She comes to us because She wants to console us, and to encourage us. She is coming here because She wants to give us that divine medicine, She wants to cure all our pains. She comes to us, because She wants to take our hands, and She wants to bring us towards peace, towards Her Son. Only in Her Son is our peace. Our Lady says, “Dear children, today, more than ever,” as you know, today’s world, mankind goes through a great crisis, and maybe the largest crisis in today’s world is that crisis of believing in God, having faith in God.
So what exactly is Our Lady telling us about the Holy Bible? Our Lady is asking us for the Bible to be included in our families. This is what has been communicated to the six visionaries. Today's post also quotes Mirjana Soldo who stated that when Our Lady had given her the message about the Bible, Our Lady did not explain it. Like everyone one of us, Mirjana has to pray about the messages to understand them. Specifically with respect to the message of the Bible, Mirjana expressed her understanding as follows:
...You see, when Our Lady gives me the message, She doesn’t explain the message to me. It is the same like every single one of you, I also have to pray in order to understand through my prayer what God desires to tell me through that message. So when Our Lady talks about the Bible, I think that we all have a Bible in our homes, but Our Lady has a desire for us to open it, to read a few sentences every day, it doesn’t matter how much, but that the Bible is really present, and not to have it as a souvenir that we never touched. Our Lady says all the answers to your questions are in the Bible...
Our Lady's "little stone" of the Holy Bible, is a message that is clear and simple to follow. The only question that remains is, are we going to live Our Lady's messages and welcome the teachings of Christ in our families?  If we say "yes" to that question, we will by our life example, show that we belong to Our Lady and follow Christ in our daily lives.

Much in the same way that the other four "little stones," demand our time and effort for their daily employment, so too must we do likewise with the daily reading of the Bible. Even if it is for a few minutes, the reading will have significance in our lives and help us on our faith journey. Below are a few messages from Our Lady on the importance of reading the BIble each day:


  • October 18, 1984: "Dear children! Today I call on you to read the Bible every day in your homes and let it be in a visible place so as always to encourage you to read it and to pray. Thank you for having responded to my call." 
  • June 25,1991: "Dear children! Today on this great day which you have given to me, I desire to bless all of you and to say: these days while I am with you are days of grace. I desire to teach you and help you to walk the way of holiness. There are many people who do not desire to understand my messages and to accept with seriousness what I am saying. But you I therefore call and ask that by your lives and by your daily living you witness my presence. If you pray, God will help you to discover the true reason for my coming. Therefore, little children, pray and read the Sacred Scriptures so that through my coming you discover the message in Sacred Scripture for you. Thank you for having responded to my call." 
  • August 25, 1993: "Dear children! I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I want to help you and call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you understand and accept my messages and practice them in your life. Read Sacred Scripture, live it, and pray to understand the signs of the times. This is a special time, therefore, I am with you to draw you close to my heart and the heart of my Son, Jesus. Dear little children, I want you to be children of the light and not of the darkness. Therefore, live what I am telling you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
  • September 25, 1999: "Dear children! Today again I call you to become carriers of my peace. In a special way, now when it is being said that God is far away, He has truly never been nearer to you. I call you to renew prayer in your families by reading the Sacred Scripture and to experience joy in meeting with God who infinitely loves His creatures. Thank you for having responded to my call."
  • April 25, 2005: "Dear children! Also today, I call you to renew prayer in your families. By prayer and the reading of Sacred Scripture, may the Holy Spirit, who will renew you, enter into your families. In this way, you will become teachers of the faith in your family. By prayer and your love, the world will set out on a better way and love will begin to rule in the world. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Let us not neglect to include the Bible in our personal and family life. Spending quiet time dedicated to reading scripture brings us to an encounter with God. Our Bible reading will become a time where answers to questions are given and new lessons are learned. With each reading of the Bible, we will be further rooted in Christ's teachings, and thus, better understand how to live our lives as individuals, within our families and with those who we communicate and come into contact with.


Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.




Thursday, January 9, 2014

Our Lady's Little Stone: The Eucharist

The large number of priests who concelebrate and attend Mass in Medjugorje, at the Evening Prayer Program at the back
altar of Saint Jame's Church

Our Lady's "little stone" of the "Eucharist" is a continuation on a series of posts on the spiritual weapons Our Lady has given us in Medjugorje. If you are relatively new to the apparitions at Medjugorje, Our Lady first appeared to six children in the summer of 1981, giving them messages for the world. These children became the six visionaries of Medjugorje: Mirjana Soldo, Ivanka Elez, Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic, Vicka Mijatovic, and Marija Lunetti.

In the early days, the apparitions and messages were given on a daily basis, which continued until 1984, when Our Lady began to appear and give messages once a week on Thursday. In 1987, Our Lady began to give messages on the 25th of each month to Marija, which still continues to this day. Our Lady also gives messages on the second of each month to Mirjana, and asks for prayers for "unbelievers," those who have yet to know and receive God's love. Of the six, only three continue to receive daily appearances: Ivan, Marija and Vicka. Mirjana, Ivanka and Jakov no longer see Our Lady everyday, but at specific times of the year.

Our Lady's messages are so important and have received so much international attention, that today over 40 million pilgrims have gone to and become spiritually adopted by Medjugorje. The photo above captures just some of those pilgrims, the international youth at the Medjugorje Youth Festival.

There is so much peace and hope emanating from Medjugorje that it has clearly become the spiritual center of the world: where confessions are heard daily, where the entire Rosary is recited daily, where pilgrims arrive daily, where people find the answers to life questions, where conversions occur, where faith and hope is restored, where there are vocations to the priesthood and religious life, where there are all types of healing, where miracles occur everyday, all of which are just some of the fruits harvested in this spiritual orchard we affectionately refer to as Medjugorje.  

Perhaps one of the biggest attractions for pilgrims is to be present at Our Lady's apparition at the Blue Cross on the second of each month. The visionary who receives Our Lady is Mirjana Soldo, who not only needs a personal team of body guards to escort her to the Blue Cross, but is provided with a fenced-off pathway to allow her, and others granted permission to be near her at the Blue Cross, to ascend and wait for Our Lady.

Pilgrims typically prepare for Our Lady's arrival with songs and prayers, but all eyes are on Mirjana, and upon Our Lady's arrival when Mirjana becomes obviously engaged in the apparition, the entire area becomes immediately silent. After the apparition, Mirjana collects herself and dictates Our Lady's message to her friend and Miki, who then reads it to the pilgrims and later sends Her message to be translated and published for the international community. 

There are hundreds of messages that have been given over the years, but here is the core message that is of particular importance, the message regarding Our Lady's Little Stones:
Dear children, I invite you for your individual conversion. This time is for you! Without you God's plan cannot be realized. Dear children grow day by day closer to God through prayer. I give you the weapon against your Goliath. Here are your little stones:
  • Pray The Rosary With Your Heart - A daily recitation of the entire Rosary, that is, the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries. 
  • Eucharist - Receive the Eucharist on Sunday and when possible, go to daily Mass.
  • Holy Bible - Read the Bible everyday 
  • Fasting - The best fast recommended by Our Lady is, "bread and water" and to be done on Wednesdays and Fridays, from midnight to midnight (the entire day) 
  • Monthly Confession 
When Our Lady's refers to "your Goliath" she is referring to Satan. The reference of "Goliath" is an analogy from the First Testament account of David's fight against Goliath (1 Samuel 17), when God gave David little stones to hurl at Goliath. David used the stones and was victorious over a much stronger and larger opponent. We are to do likewise with the little stones Our Lady has given us, against our opponent, Satan.

The general message of the Eucharist that Our Lady has given us, is that we are to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist every Sunday, and when possible on a daily basis. Our Lady has emphasized how important Mass is with Her communication to the visionaries, when Our Lady instructed them that, if they had a choice between seeing Her or going to Mass, they must choose Mass. Our Lady has reinforced the importance of the Mass by stating that the "Mass is the greatest prayer of God..." (1983)

The remainder of this post lists some of the specific messages from Our Lady regarding the Holy Mass:

  • Prepare and Give Thanks For Mass (October 1984): When you go to Mass, your trip from home to church should be a time of preparation for Mass. You should also receive Holy Communion with an open and pure heart, with purity of heart, and with openness. Do not leave the church without an appropriate act of thanksgiving.
  • Prepare For Mass (1985): You do not celebrate the Eucharist, as you should. If you would know what grace, and what gifts you receive, you would prepare yourselves for it each day, for an hour at least. You should go to confession once a month.  You should consecrate three days to reconciliation, each month: the first Friday of the month, followed by Saturday and Sunday.
  • Let Holy Mass Be Your Life (April 25, 1988): Dear Children! God wants to make you holy. Therefore, through me He is inviting you to complete surrender. Let holy mass be your life. Understand that the church is God's palace, the place in which I gather you and want to show you the way to God. Come and pray. Neither look at others nor slander them, but rather, let your life be a testimony on the way of holiness. Churches deserve respect and are set apart as holy because God, who became man, dwells in them day and night. Therefore, little children, believe and pray that the Father increase your faith, and then ask for whatever your need. I am with you and I rejoice because of your conversion and I am protecting you with my motherly mantle.
  • Live The Holy Mass (April 3, 1986): Dear children, I wish to call you to a living of the Holy Mass. There are many of you who have sensed the beauty of the Holy Mass, but there are also those who come unwillingly. I have chosen you, dear children, but Jesus gives you His graces in the Mass. Therefore, consciously live the Holy Mass and let your coming to it be a joyful one. Come to it with love and make the Mass your own.
  • Be Reverent At Mass (February 19, 1982): Listen attentively at Holy Mass. Be well mannered. Do not chat during Holy Mass.
  • Pray To The Holy Spirit Beforehand: The Blessed Virgin tells Jelena that the Mass should always be accompanied by prayers to the Holy Spirit. Before Mass it is necessary to pray to the Holy Spirit.
  • Don't Make Holy Mass A Habit (January 25, 1998): May Holy Mass, little children, not be a habit for you, but life. By living Holy Mass each day, you will feel the need for holiness and you will grow in holiness. I am close to you and intercede before God for each of you, so that He may give you strength to change your heart.
  • Don't Hurry To Leave The Church (February 4, 1984): There are...some persons...as soon as Mass had ended, they are in a hurry to leave the church. That is not good. That way they will never be able to give themselves completely (to me). It is not good for them to linger about the church. One must be pious and set a good example for others.
  • Unceasingly Adore The Most Blessed Sacrament Of The Altar (March 15, 1984):  Unceasingly adore the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. I am always present when the faithful are adoring. Special graces are then being received.
  • Spend Time In Prayer And Adoration: Dear children!  I call you to work on your personal conversion. You are still far from meeting God in your heart. Therefore, spend all the more time in prayer and Adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, for Him to change you and to put into your hearts a living faith and a desire for eternal life. Everything is passing, little children, only God is not passing. I am with you and I encourage you.

Let us embrace Our Lady's Eucharistic messages and allow the Mass to become the summit of our Catholic worship. In so doing, we not only become witnesses that we belong to Our Lady by living her messages, but by praying in front of the Eucharist (personal or group adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament), we encounter the true presence of Christ.

This is Christ's gift to humanity, and an opportunity to make daily contact with the well spring of grace. (Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 25).


Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.






Monday, January 6, 2014

Closing Out The Triumph Toronto Screenings

Closing out the Triumph Toronto Screenings at the Fox Theatre

On Saturday, January 4, I had the pleasure of joining the Triumph Team to help close out the last Toronto screening of The Triumph at the Fox Theatre in the Beaches area.

It was a truly wonderful experience welcoming movie goers to the theatre and seeing so many joyful and enthusiastic individuals. Although I had previously viewed the documentary at two other screenings, the anticipation of seeing it all over again was built up with the arrival of each individual.

It was especially nice to see families in attendance, children, young people, and the elderly, all age groups were well represented at Saturday's screening. My best guess is that attendance reached approximately 75% of the theatre's seating capacity. It was a great turn out. At the end of the film, many patrons were moved, expressed their joy and extended their gratitude to us for presenting this film. It was all the evidence we needed to conclude Saturday's screening was a great success.

If you are somewhat new to The Triumph film, it is a documentary of the Marian apparitions at Medjugorje that began on June 24th, 1981, and continue to this day. The film reveals much about Medjugorje primarily through the narrative of a young American man's life, "Ben," who struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. Ben's arrival at Medjugorje was his reaching out to God and Our Lady for help.

Many people are drawn to Medjugorje seeking the answers to life's questions. Once there they open themselves up to God and Our Lady's love, which pours down from heaven in abundance upon each individual. This is what happened to Ben and it was through Ben's journey that we too experienced God and Our Lady's love.

It was obvious that Ben's life was changing, that he was going through a conversion. It was a conversion that needed to be finalized in Belgium with one more relapse into heavy drinking, that brought Ben back to Medjugorje for good where he entered into the Cenacolo Community. The Cenacolo Community is a community for young men recovering from drug and alcohol abuse, who work, live and journey together in the Catholic faith.

As of the release of this documentary, Ben has been in the Cenacolo Community for a year, continuing to make progress with his brothers in Christ. The Cenacolo Community is a wonderful Catholic ministry, just one of the many beautiful aspects of Medjugorje.

In addition to Ben's journey, the documentary took the audience on a tour of the many daily life scenarios and scenic views in Medjugorje: people praying at Apparition Hill; hiking up the rocky paths to Cross Mountain; the many outdoor confessionals where pilgrims received daily confession; brief interviews with many young pilgrims from the International Youth Festival and scenes from the festival itself; the beautiful architecture of Saint James Catholic Church; and the panoramic views of the vineyards and mountain landscapes.

It all spot lighted the great amount of peace, hope and joy emanating from Medjugorje, a place where many fruits are harvested at this spiritual orchard. Ben's conversion is just one of those fruits.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.