Prequel to the Apparitions of Medjugorje: Preparation for the Apparitions
Preparation for the Apparitions
Our Lady would repeat often at Medjugorje: "There can be no true peace in man's world, only with God will we find true, lasting Peace" and again "Peace, Peace, Peace! Be reconciled! Only Peace. Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession." Our Lady prophecied that peace would be short-lived in Bosnia-Hercegovina if all did not pray and fast. True to her words a devastating civil war erupted late in 1991 and continues to this day. Only one place in all of the former Yugoslavia has remained free from the physical devastation of this war: Medjugorje. No wonder the Blessed Mother calls it her Oasis of Peace
Though Medjugorje has been a target, God has protected this special Oasis of Peace in many miraculous ways because Our Lady has promised it for fifteen years. In preparation for the apparitions in Medjugorje, we must go back over sixty years - back to 1933 when the villagers, mostly women, in order to commemorate nineteen hundred years after the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, defied the odds and lugged by hand and foot tons of rock up Mount Sipovac, the highest peak above the village. There, on top of this mountain which they renamed Mt. Krizcevac meaning "Way of the Cross" in Croatian, they erected a huge cross which has become the symbol and international image of Medjugorje today. God does not forget and for their perseverance and dedication, He rewarded them by sending His Mother on June 25, 1981 with the simple words: "I have come to tell you God exists, and that peace is necessary for the salvation of the world. In God is found true joy from which true peace flows."
The Arrival of the Apparitions
The Arrival of the Mother of God actually occurred the day before on Podrobo or Apparition Hill and fittingly on the feast of St. John the Baptist, who had announced the Arrival of the Messiah just as Our Lady does today nearly 2000 years later.
On June 26, 1981 Our Lady outlined the means to perfect peace: "Peace, Peace, Peace! Be reconciled! Only Peace. Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession."
It was, as Humphrey Bogart said in the classic movie Casablanca, "the beginning of a beautiful friendship." The main recipients of these messages were children, for God chooses children to convey His wisdom to adults who are not always as receptive to hear the Almighty. Just as Jesus said in Matthew 19:13, Mark 10: 14 and Luke 18:16, "Suffer the little children to come to Me, and forbid them not for of such is the Kingdom of God," so also did His Blessed Mother choose six children, albeit Croatian teenagers, to impart these words from Heaven.
In 1981 the six visionaries were of course, Ivanca Ivankovic who was 15, Mirjana Dragicevic, 16; Marija Pavlovic, 16; Ivan Dragicevic, 16; Vicka Ivankovic, 17; and Jakov Colo, 10. At first, much like the events at LaSalette, Lourdes and Fatima, their account of the Gospa’s appearance was dismissed as childish imagination but through perseverance and trust the apparitions were accepted by most.
A chain reaction followed, with the primary chain being the chain that will ultimately bind satan - the Rosary. This Our Lady promoted from the onset, asking that all fifteen decades be recited by her children which is done daily at St. James Church in Medjugorje. Through prayer, faith, the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and evangelization such stalwart Franciscans as Fr. Jozo Zovko, OFM; Father Zrinko, OFM; Fr. Tomislav Vlasic, OFM; Fr. Slavko Barbaric, OFM; Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic, OFM; Fr. Ljudevit Rupcic, OFM; Fr. Leonard Orec, OFM; Fr. Philip Pavic, OFM; Fr. Petar Ljubici, OFM and numerous other priests and bishops such as Archbishop Frane Franic, Bishop Paolo Hnilica, S.J.; Archbishop Philip Hannan; Bishop Nicholas D’Antonio; Bishop Sylvester Treinen; Fr. Rene Laurentin, the foremost Mariologist today; Fr. Ken Roberts, Fr. Stephen Barham, and countless other priests. have done all they can to fulfill Our Lady’s wishes. There have been numerous religious luminaries who have endorsed Medjugorje strongly, specifically Mother Teresa, Mother Angelica and Sr. Brige McKenna. Lay leaders and Marian Centers who have spearheaded the Medjugorje Message are too numerous to mention. Only God knows the fruits they have all reaped.
The majority of us first heard about the Medjugorje phenomenon either through the early pilgrims such as Stan Karminski and his homemade video which illustrated clearly why Medjugorje was worthy of belief, or Wayne Weible‘s famous newsletter on the Miracles of Medjugorje of which millions have been distributed as an instrument for millions of conversions, painting a beautiful portrait of a Loving Lady - the Gospa - in words. Who can gauge the effect the many conferences and news- letters that cropped up in the 90’s have had on bringing people closer to God?
Through one or many of the aforementioned principals or proselytizing vehicles, we came to know and love Medjugorje and felt in our hearts a special calling: a true call to peace! It was a calling to come, pray and reflect on our lives, and then to return home filled with the spirit, filled with the peace and joy of living the difficult messages Our Lady asks of us. The fire within burned bright as we were determined to spread her words to all as she requested in her August 16, 1984 message, "I beg you...to live my messages and relate them to whomever you meet."
Though not all have been open to the messages. Yet, from direct opposition by Bishop Paveo Zanic, the former Ordinary of the diocese of Mostar, to all-out war touching the very boundaries of Medjugorje over the decade of the nineties, the apparitions have continued and Our Lady will not stop appearing there until it is God’s time. When the bishop protested too much in demeaning Medjugorje to his fellow bishops throughout the world, many believe from a personal vendetta toward the beloved Franciscans, the Magisterium set up a separate commission to investigate the events going on in Medjugorje. Taking the jurisdiction for ruling on the reported apparitions in this "Oasis of Peace" was an unprecedented move by Church authorities. Even the Holy Father spoke favorably of Medjugorje, again unprecedented in Church History in regard to unapproved apparitions. Pope John Paul II even expressed a desire to go to Medjugorje last year, but the events and casualties of war in Bosnia made it unsafe for the Vicar of Christ to go to this Oasis of Peace. When will he? Only God knows, but what is vital is that he wants to…and that in his heart he truly believes! This conviction helps offset the detractors of Medjugorje who have thankfully become fewer and fewer due to the mounting evidence of its authenticity and the countless fruits. When the apparitions cease, there is more hope than ever that it will be officially approved by the Church as an Authentic Apparition worthy of belief. Then the dark tunnel of doubt will open bright into the daylight of enlightenment thru faith, hope and love.
Our Lady has confirmed to the visionaries that after she imparts the ten secrets to all the visionaries her apparitions will end at Medjugorje with a great sign - a sign similar to that prophesied at Garabandal and many other apparition sites. The visionaries have related that, "the time preceding the visible sign is a period of grace for conversion and a deepening of faith. After the visible sign, those still living will have little time for conversion. For that reason, Blessed Mother invites us to heartfelt reconciliation and conversion." Yes, the Warning is very, very near and we need to be ready. If one has fallen, it’s not too late to get back up and recommit to living the messages so that we may all be prepared to stand tall for Jesus during the impending times foretold in Sacred Scripture and by Our Lady in numerous apparitions and messages around the world. The visionaries today are no longer children. All but one - Vicka - are married with families. Will their children, will our children witness the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart? Many believe the answer is affirmative, but it is up to all of us to shoulder the Cross that will bring us to this point for there can be no Glory without the Cross.
When these signs do come and they will, Mirjana has reported that many people will be converted, including many who doubted the apparitions as well as unbelievers. Like a tornado, the Holy Spirit will swirl through their hearts in a spiritual twister of conversion. The first two secrets will be given as advance warnings and provide proof Medjugorje is truly of God. The third secret will be a visible sign. Fr. Petar is the priest who Mirjana has selected to release to the world the tenth secret when she is told by the Gospa to do so. The visionaries know three days before that this will happen and will prepare with strict fasting and prayer. Our Lady has also told the visionaries in November 1983 that when this happens, it will be the last time she will appear on this earth: "These are my last apparitions to mankind."
This is what we shall cover next week when we deal with: The Meaning of the Messages in part III of this special anthology on Medjugorje in commemoration of the upcoming 17th Anniversary.