Fr. Faricy is Professor of Theology at the Pontifical
University. Rome, Italy. An American Jesuit, he is a graduate of the United
States Naval Academy and a native of Minnesota.
On June 24th 1981, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to two young girls,
Mirjana Ddragicevic and Ivanka Ivankovic, as they were walking along the
outskirts of the village of Medjugorje in central Yugoslavia. Ivanka,
noticing first, said to Mirjana, "Look whats up there on the hill!" They
saw a brilliant light and in it a shining figure. Ivanka said "Mirjana,
could it be the Blessed Mother?"
Mirjana waved her hand and said,"Come on! You think
she would appear to
us?" And frightened, they ran away.
The next day the two girls returned with several of their
the shining figure appeared, and began speaking. This time, in addition to
the two girls, three other teenagers and a little boy saw her and heard her.
She identified herself as the Blessed Mother, and returned to them the
following day. To four of the six visionaries, as they came to be called,
she has continued to appear every day.
Since in 1981 Yugoslavia was under oppressive Communist rule
officially atheistic, the government was furious. People were put in
prison, including the first Pastor, Fr. Jozo Zovko, O.F.M., because of their
loyalty to the apparitions of the Blessed Mother. The six young people were
threatened, verbally and physically, by the local police, and the government
did many terrible things. Nevertheless, right from the beginning, those who
go to Medjugorje apparitions experience the power of Gods love coming
through the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Nine years later, the Blessed Virgin Mary is still appearing,
longer daily to all six. Ivanka now in her twenties, is married and a
mother. The Blessed Virgin appears to her once or twice a year. Mirjana, who
has graduated from the university of Sarajevo and is now married, is visited
by the Blessed Mother on the second day of each month, and annually on her
birthday. But the other four visionaries continue to see her daily. One of
them, Vicka, was quite sick for several years. The Blessed Virgin Mary
promised she would be healed on September 25th, 1988, and she was. Jacov, who
was ten years old at the time of the first apparition, now works in a parish
bookstore. The other boy Ivan, has been in the army, doing his military
service. Since his discharge, he has visited the U.S.A. and other places,
before returning to Medjurgorje.
Marija has also been to the U.S.A.. In December of 1988, at the
of Alabama hospital, she donated a kidney to her brother who was mortily
ill. On the twenty fifth day of every month Marija receives a special
message from the Blessed Virgin Mary for the parish of Medjegorje and for
the whole world . What is the attitude of the Church towards Medjugorje?
The attitude of the pastor of the parish and the priests there, as well as
that of the sisters, has always been positive. All of the theologians whom I
know who have any expertise in this area believe authenticity of these
apparitions. We believe Mary is actually appearing and speaking.
In Rome and elsewhere, it is general knowledge that the Pope
towards the apparitions at Medjugorje. In 1988 he told Bishop Murilo Krieger
of Santa Caterina, Brazil; "Medjugorje is a great center of spirituality",
and he encourages people to go there. When they return home, he urges all,
including Bishops, to practice what ever they have learned at Medjugorje. He
has certainly convinced a commission of Yugoslavian Bishops to investigate
the authenticity of the apparitions of Medjugorje- the first time a Pontiff
has ever done so.
Numerous phenomena associated with the apparitions at Medjugorje
reported. The sick are being healed. People are seeing extraordinary effects
in the sun. The metal parts of rosaries are turning gold. We theologians
have a certain amount of trouble with such phenomena. Yet I have seen
rosaries which have changed color, and I have looked directly into the sun
in Medjugorje and have seen it spin and turn different colors. It would be
easier to report that it is just hysteria-except that I then would have to
accuse myself of being hysterical, which I was not. As for the healings,
they are numerous, medically documented, and currently under investigation
. What have these phenomena to do with faith? They are wonders
God signs his handy work, but they are not central to the apparitions. God
has sent Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to call us to repent and turn to him,
and to receive the Lord’s love in our life. That is at the center. Never in
the history of Christianity has the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to so many
people over so long a period of time with such regularity. Moreover, it
seems that the apparitions at Medjugorje have ushered a new Marian age. There
are reports of her appearing everywhere-in Africa ,in Equador, in Arizona, in
the Ukraine, in Southern Italy, in Argentina......and a number of these
reports appear to be authentic; their messages are remarkably similar to the
messages being received at Medjugorje. Yet one must remain cautious, for
there are also hundreds of false apparitions.
What is the Blessed Virgin Mary saying? First, she is calling
conversion. She is calling us to turn from sin-from sinful
relationships, habits, behavor,from gossip, backbiting, laziness, whatever our
sins are-and turn to God. We are to make Him, not ourselves, the center of
our life . The second point of faith. We are called to turn to God with
faith-not faith that simply believes that Jesus is Savior or a loving
powerful Lord; faith that holds on to him and has a personal relationship
with him in prayer . That is the third point; Prayer. As part of her
message, Mary frequently urges us to"pray, pray, pray!" she is calling us to
prayer, especially the rosary-to contemplative prayer, silent prayer, making
visits to churches, being silent before the Lord. She is calling us to
frequent Mass, and to frequent confession, which is a sacramental prayer, as
He is also calling us to penance, especially
to fasting. We must do it
according to our health, the kind of work we do, and our age, but we are all
called to fast. Nore is the fasting limited to special days. In Medjugorje she
has called for fasting on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays, the
traditional days of fast. But we are all called to fast sometime-from food,
from smoking, from coffee, from something. It might be from some other form
of indulgence, or perhaps an attitude -if you pray, you will know what God
is calling you to set aside.
The result of your efforts is peace. If we converted
to a closer union
with God in faith, if we live out our faith, especially in prayerful
relationship with the Lord, and if we do penance, especially fasting, then
we will have peace in our hearts. We will have peace in our communities, and
there will be more peace in the world.
There is a great urgency underlying these messages from Medjugorje.
Blessed Virgin Mary is calling us to conversion now-for she knows what
awaits us. She has told the visionaries that she will impart to them secrets
concerning the future of the world. The two girls who no longer see her
daily, Ivanka and Mirjana, have already received all ten. The others have
been given nine. When they receive the tenth secret, it is probable that
they, too, will no longer see Mary on a daily basis.
Of the secrets, we know that they consist, in part at least,
predictions of very serious things that are going to happen in the world.
The first two things are warnings. The third secret is some kind of
permanent sign that Mary is going to leave on the hill of Podbrdo
(Apparition Hill), where she first appeared to Ivanka and Mirjana.
Mirjana was asked,"If you knew the forthcoming sequence of events
no faith, how would you live through this waiting period?"
"I would go crazy," she replied.
"But you have your faith."
"Yes , I am serene,"
It would appear that hard times are coming to the world,
and they are
coming in the form of divine retribution for the sins of mankind. If
however, we have responded to the messages of the Blessed Virgin Mary at
Medjugorje,we don’t have to worry. We will be in Gods hands, and nothing can
Sometimes I find people worried about the coming chastisement.
much like that word, but that’s the word the Visionaries have used. The
Croation word for chastisement can also be translated as "punishment" or
"retribution." It is important to be aware that God is not a harsh, vengeful,
angry Father. But there is no question that mankind has strayed from his
protection. Has the world indeed bought this upon itself? All we have to do
is read the papers. The Church is also having troubles. At no time in
history has there been so many Christians dying for their faith. Martyrs are
the story of the church, and they come only when there is serious trouble.
One does not have to hear about Medjugorje to know that people are starving
to death, that there is corruption in high places, that abortion is a
problem. Apparently things are going to get worse.
So , what should we do? Put yourself in the Lords hands.
Take all this
as a call to be converted and be closer to God. Pray that whatever disasters
are coming might be mitigated, and that there might be some measure of peace
in the world.
I think the main message of Medjugorje is the fact the Blessed
is appearing so frequently-and not just for the parish or the young people,
but for all the people in the world.
What does it all mean? At this time in history, through
the providence of
God, Mary is the mother of us all. She is my Mother, She is your Mother.
Jesus ratified that, when He said from the Cross to John:"son (children),
behold your Mother," And to Mary: "Mother behold your child." St John the
evangelist was standing in for each one of us-for me and for you.
Jesus first came to us through Mary, His Mother. Now God
has sent Jesus'
Mother to warn all the people of the earth to turn back to Him. Mary, His
Mother and ours, is telling us to be Gods beloved, protected, and redeemed
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