Jeanne came to town at the invitation of the Lovely Ms Lala and the ladies in charge of the fabulous Lent/Advent by Candlelight events here in Nashville. When discussing this year’s speaker, the Holy Spirit tapped Ms Lala on the shoulder and she had a suggestion. The next thing you know, Jeanne was headed to town, all the way from Ohio to talk about Medjugorje.
I tried to record her talk but we only got the first 11 minutes due to technical reasons. So I won’t be uploading the talk to my blog, as I was planning to do, but I will give you the highlights (just the facts, Ma’am) to the best of my ability, though lacking in the wonderfully easy and enchanting style of the woman herself.
Getting ready to go on her 13th trip in April, Jeanne has experienced many a miraculous moment on her years of pilgrimages. She has invited dentists, doctors, priests, mothers, daughters, grandchildren, and people she thought were really called to visit on several of these journeys. She told us that she first heard about Medjugorje back in 1989. By then the apparitions of Mary in a little town whose name means “Between Two Mountains” in Bosnia-Herzegovina (former Yugoslovia) had been going on for 9 years. The original 6 children who were blessed with the appearance of “Gospa” (the affectionate name they have for Mary, Mother of Jesus) are now down to three adults who still get regular “messages”/visions, the other three which only get a message once a year.
Pilgrims travel from all across the world to walk up “Cross Mountain” which is about a 3-4 mile hick up a very rocky climb, to the top where a giant concrete cross crests the horizon. Sometimes it has been seen at night to spin around which shocks onlookers, considering its vast size and weight.
Jeanne said when people ask her what you do when you go to Medjugorje, the answer is always the same. “Well, you pray. Then you pray, and after that, you pray.” Pilgrims group to mass where many priests line the altar and interpreters convert the prayers into many languages. The Rosary is said throughout the day, usually all four sets of mysteries; Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous.
Pilgrims also go to the three-story high brass statue of Jesus, which was a gift from Italy, and approach the statue with swabs of cotton and plastic bags, because even though an adult may not be tall enough to reach up to the statue’s knee, you can swipe the cotton across the leg where oils continual runs down and has been known to miraculously cure many. The source of the oil is unknown, but the miracles attributed to it are not few.
There is a beautiful statue of Our Lady out in front of St James Church where many masses celebrated by priests from all over the world (Jeanne said you may see 10 or more priests at any given time up on the altar, con-celebrating). Lines for confessions, which are almost always available, are lengthy and ongoing, at the urging of Our Lady’s message of repentance. Pilgrims decorate the fences with prayer intentions and flowers, all while absorbing the amazing grace that penetrates the air. “You don’t leave without a mission,” Jeanne said. “Everyone who goes to Medjugorje goes because SHE wants you there. She has a job for you.” She also asserts that people do not leave unchanged; every person’s spirit is touched in some way.
The messages received from Our Lady are posted on a regular basis in the village and on line, but mostly have the same underlying emphatic message; PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. Seek repentance, turn from sin, pray, pray and pray some more. These are not inconsistent with the messages of Fatima and Lourdes, although the Medjugorje message is not yet complete. The final part of the message, which is meant to contain a great revelation and a sign that can be “seen” but not touched, and will be unmistakable in its magnificence, has not yet been revealed. Although there is no given time for the arrival of the last message and the amazing “sign” that will accompany it, there can be no mistake as to the fact that it is coming. Some predict that it will be in May, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the message of Fatima (Our Lady of the Rosary), in which Our Lady reveals the same kind of messages of the need for prayer and repentance.
Jeanne told many personal stories about the conversion of many, call to vocations as a fruit of a pilgrimage, and her own special experience of revelation, the crux of which being that she (we all) as sinners, helped to nail Jesus onto the cross. It is for our sins that he came and suffered, and for the love of souls that he gave himself over to die a painful death, and bring redemption to those who seek it.
Lastly, everyone was given a rosary and a card from Medjugorje called “The Weapon”. On one side is a picture of Our Lady which states “If you knew how much I love you, you’d cry of joy.” On the other side are the five elements of “the weapon” we have in fighting evil:
In the hope of Christ, out of love for him, and in sorrow for sins, let us console him this Lent by turning away from the things that do not draw us closer to God, and pray, pray and pray some more.
For my own part, I am always working on making my prayer a living breathing organ in myself. Here are some small suggestions of ways I have tried to convert my every moment to God; (Some of these are “mine”, some I have gleaned from other amazing faithful people in my life);
- associate a short act of faith “Jesus, I believe in you” with an every day small motion (getting in the car, opening the frige, loading the washer)
- When something doesn’t go your way today, say “I thank you God for whatever it is you are doing in my life. You are all good. I love you.” or “I hope in you. Increase my trust, Lord”.
- You can offer a prayer for someone with every task you do; every dish you wash, every piece of clothing you fold, every dirty sock you pick up. “Jesus, I do this unto you, on behalf of ______” (anyone you know who needs a prayer right now). (In Matthew Kelly’s new amazing book, “Resisting Happiness” you will see a whole amazing section on practical ways to do this, and I will be doing a book review on this in an upcoming post!) http://dynamiccatholic.com/
- When sitting in traffic or delays, give thanks to God for whatever harm He may be saving you from.
- Open your bible with a prayer to the Holy Spirit, and ask the Lord what He wants you to learn today. (Last night, I opened to the book of Tobit, which I had never read before! I could hardly put it down!)
- When you drive down the street, pray over the houses you pass and ask the Lord to do a work and protect the family from any strife that may be preying upon the people who live there. Sometimes I do this when I walk my dog.
- Ask God to increase your productivity today in His name and for His glory.
- Give up having something your way with a prayer of offering trust that God will work out exactly what you are supposed to have, when and how. You don’t have to the be the boss of everything, as my kids used to say!
- If you are sick or are in a state of strife or cannot summon your spirit to pray as you would like, you can offer God the breath from your lungs or the beating of your heart as a prayer (many of our beautiful saints offered their physical, spiritual and emotion pain to join Christ’s sufferings for the redemption of souls). You can realize that sometimes not being able to pray is a great sacrifice than offering a prayer from your mouth where your heart cannot at the moment match.
- Just making the time for prayer, even if you can command your emotions, joy, spirit, or thoughts into what you would like. God will more than compensate for what we cannot do ourselves.
*I think this post must have some significance for some of you because it was one of the most difficult posts I have ever attempted. So much resistance and difficulty to getting it out over the past 10 days I have been attempting to publish only assures me it must mean something special to someone!
*Some photos contributed by my lovely sister, Mimi, see her blog for more. https://afaithsosimple.wordpress.com/