Monday thru Friday on the
CATHOLIC-INTERNET NETWORK at
See why so many consider the
Daily CATHOLIC as the
"USA Today for CATHOLICS!"
June 24, 1998
SECTION ONE   vol 9, no. 122
To print out entire text of Today's issue, print this section as well as SECTION TWO
SEVENTEEN YEARS OF GRACE!
Though officially the 17th Anniversary of the Medjugorje Apparitions are tomorrow, today, the feast of the birth of Saint John the Baptist, is the 17th Anniversary when the Blessed Mother first appeared to the children on Podrbo - now known as "Apparition Hill." The reason for her coming has been made apparent over the years, resulting in the fruits of countless conversions of heart. Her timing coincided with her Divine Son's cousin's feast day to show the world that Mary has come to prepare the way of Jesus as we explain in the final part of this month-long special segment on Medjugorje entitled: Medjugorje: "Prepare the Way of the Lord". For the fourth part of this four parter, click on THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS.
The Apparitions of Medjugorje - "Prepare the Way of the Lord"
Today, on the actual Seventeen year anniversary when Our Lady first appeared to the visionaries in Medjugorje on the Feast of Saint John the Baptist, we examine the Church's stance on Medjugorje and her consent to allow the millions of pilgrims to flock to Mary's special Oasis of Peace despite all the negative propaganda that twists the truth and persuades people to avoid this opportunity for grace and conversion.
What does the Vatican really say about Medjugorje?
There has been much said both pro and con about the purported on-going apparitions in Medjugorje where the Blessed Mother is reported to have been appearing daily for the past fifteen years in a mountain village in lower Bosnia-Herzegovina. Medjugorje has had its share of peaks and valleys over these last fifteen years, attracting unprecedented world-wide attention especially in the United States. There have been many who have embraced all that the Mother of God professes; but likewise there have been many - albeit too many - who have denied Medjugorje and mounted a campaign to discredit it, to discourage others to come to this Oasis of Peace and cleverly used certain Vatican sources to "imply" that pilgrims should not believe or go to Medjugorje. Such is the case of articles over the years by prejudice journalists and one a few years ago by John Thavis of the Catholic News Service which was plastered in Diocesan papers nationwide. It conveyed a very negative undertone and the confusion surrounding that article needs to be clarified.
The controversy first began back in 1984 when then Ordinary of the diocese of Mostar, Bishop Pavao Zanic openly demeaned Medjugorje because of resentment stemming from the centuries-old feud between the Diocesan clergy and Franciscans in that region which is documented. The bishop’s scathing condemnation was plastered all over Catholic papers throughout the world, but calmer minds prevailed and on May 2, 1986 in an unprecedented move by Church authorities, jurisdiction for ruling on reported apparitions in Medjugorje was taken out of the hands of the local ordinary, Msgr. Pavao Zanic. The intervention of higher Church authorities with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the head, discarded the conclusions of the Zanic Commission, and removed the right to pass judgment as to the authenticity of the events at Medjugorje from Zanic, appointing the Bishops’ Conference of Yugoslavia to study the matter, while withholding the right to pass judgment on the matter to itself. In 1987 the Vatican officially proclaimed Medjugorje a "shrine of worship" and authorized the Franciscans there to minister to the spiritual needs of the pilgrims going there as well as entrusting to spiritual directors accompanying pilgrims that these traveling priests serve the sacramental obligations of the faithful in a pastoral way when away from their own home parish.
Yugoslav Commission of Bishops Openly Favorable to Medjugorje
On April 29, 1990 the National Catholic Register quoted Pope John Paul II as having told Bishop Murilo Krieger of Santa Caterina, Brazil: "Medjugorje is a great center of spirituality." Shortly after that reporter John Thavis for the Catholic News Service wrote a scathing article playing up the report of the Yugoslavian Bishops that they could not confirm that supernatural apparitions were occurring at Medjugorje. Diocesan papers across the country plastered their front pages with huge headlines proclaiming: "Medjugorje Apparitions not supernatural" Like the secular media, the false prophets of today, the Catholic press also fell into the trap of instant assumption. That article harmed many and discouraged many who might otherwise have followed their heart. Yet, on December 23, 1990 Cardinal Kuharic, the highest prelate of the Yugoslav Commission stated implicitly that "the Bishops’ Conference was taking a positive stance towards the events in Medjugorje.", The President of the Yugoslav Bishops’ Commission, Archbishop Frane Franic told this writer personally in an interview in September 1991, citing Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-22 , that "It is the duty of the Church Authority as St. Paul says not to suffocate the spirit in the Church of Love but to discern the spirits. Unfortunately, too often many bishops and priests put it aside. They should examine it for whatever is good and coming from the Holy Spirit, like Medjugorje, they should cooperate so they are all together in respect to authority for the main law of the Church is to love. The Church of Authority and Love, which is the Holy Spirit, should walk together. Too bad they do not always. As I said, the media, through wrong input, misinforms."
Always, when the Vatican has been asked about the Church’s stance on Medjugorje, the Holy See has maintained the standard modus operandi of Holy Mother Church regarding all private revelation in taking a cautious, but open approach in the spirit of Paul’s words. The Church does not encourage Church-sponsored pilgrimages to Medjugorje now because she cannot, but she does not discourage lay-sponsored pilgrimages to Medjugorje and, as mentioned earlier, has encouraged that these pilgrimages be accompanied by a spiritual director so that their spiritual needs are ministered to as well as encouraging the Franciscans at St. James parish in Medjugorje to minister to the needs of all who go there.
"Authorize everything that concerns Medjugorje."Pope John Paul II
Even though the Holy Father is on record for saying the above, sadly, some journalists, including Mr. Thavis, released confusing, negative articles, one such one on the heels of the Fifteenth Anniversary celebration of the Apparitions on June 25, 1996. Unfortunately, it was misinterpreted and spread like wild-fire, taking front page space in every diocesan paper and reissuing doubt in so many. It has definitely had a negative impact on the Marian movement which has seen the ranks of the faithful diminish in the face of apathy and doubt caused by half-truths. Again, the facts are that the first pronouncement in 1986 and followed up in 1990 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, constituted proper protocol for Holy Mother Church. Since the Church has not passed judgments on the purported apparitions in Medjugorje, the Church cannot promote said apparitions. This is standard in any private revelation. There is nothing sensational or condemning in that. Yet, Mr. Thavis made it sound like the Church was condemning Medjugorje and cautioned every pastor to keep people away from Medjugorje, thus doing much harm and saddening Our Lord and Our Lady who have been asking for seventeen years that we listen to the messages.
In late June 1996 Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated exactly what Cardinal Ratzinger said but, again, it was taken out of context. It basically said the Church cannot promote or organize pilgrimages. That is standard operating procedure for any purported apparition still under investigation as Medjugorje is. It did not say we cannot go and the Holy Father John Paul II himself has often said to those who have asked him, "Yes, go to Medjugorje. But go there to pray." Just a few years ago he stated: "Authorize everything that concerns Medjugorje." Archbishop Franic, in a personal exclusive in-depth interview with this editor a few years back, confirmed the Pope’s belief, "Actually he has publicly recognized that the Blessed Mother is appearing there, that she is there and is speaking and talking there. His Holiness personally told me, `I pray for a good solution of Medjugorje.’" The Holy Father also conveyed to Bishop Paolo Hnilica, SJ, who consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart from deep within the bowels of the Kremlin in 1984 at the same time the Pope was doing likewise in St. Peter’s Basilica, "If I wasn’t Pope I would be in Medjugorje already."
Yet Thavis' article quoted current Mostar Ordinary Bishop Ratko Peric, the successor to Bishop Paveo Zanic, as saying "the alleged apparitions have stirred confusion and division in the local church ." Sorry, Bishop Peric and John Thavis, but Medjugorje has not caused confusion and division. Rather it is those who constantly fight the possibility that Medjugorje is indeed part of God's Heavenly Plan...those who don't believe in private revelation...those who fear what Our Lady is saying is true and they don't want to change their lives, don't want to face the fact that we all need to pray and fast in order to not only save our own souls but the countless souls who refuse to believe - before it is too late, who truly cause the confusion.
"By their fruits you will know them." Matthew 7: 16
Our Lady said in November 1983, "These are my last apparitions to mankind." Those are pretty powerful words when you consider the Blessed Mother has been appearing on earth to mankind since the first century at Zaragoza in Spain and has increased her appearances and communication to unprecedented numbers in these last two decades throughout the world, especially here in the United States. Does that tell us something? The Holy Father realizes this for his papacy is dedicated to Mary and in our heart we know Our Lady is communicating to him in Heavenly ways for he is truly a saint for our times. If Medjugorje and the messages imparted were not so important, would the Pope privately encourage people to go and even express strong desires to go there himself? Certainly not. If he absolutely did not believe he would either speak against it or ignore it. As we all know, John Paul II has not and is not ignoring Medjugorje and neither should we. Jesus said in Matthew 7: 16, "By their fruits you will know them...A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit...Therefore, by their fruits you will know them."
Therein lies the proof of Medjugorje. Could millions of good fruits from conversion of heart through Medjugorje have come from a bad tree? We think not. Syllogistically then, it follows that Medjugorje must be a good tree. That being the case Medjugorje, and we the believers, must weather the storms that batter her limbs. Father Francis Zachman, OMI, a wise priest who played a major role in this writer’s formation said often, "A tree needs lots of wind and storms to make it grow strong, straight and tall." With the storms pummeling Medjugorje from attacks within the Church to outside the Church in the form of political unrest and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, Medjugorje will indeed weather the storms of controversy and go on to grow stronger, straighter and taller for after all, she is rooted in the greatest soil possible - the Word of God.
For more on Medjugorje and the events there, go to the official Medjugorje site on the web to explore the sources available. We encourage you to pray for those who do not believe rather than confronting them or arguing with them. The best rebuttal is to show them by example. Remember, by their fruits you shall know them. In time they too will bear good fruit. If we press the issue we could bruise the fruit. We must wait for it to ripen in God's time. After all, God has been waiting for seventeen years, not to mention nearly 2000 years of patience with His children. Remember, it is not our time...but rather God's Time!
The familiar voice of one crying in the Wilderness
Today is the solemnity of the birth of Saint John the Baptist, born six months before his cousin Jesus. John is the precursor, the one who goes before the Lord - the "set-up" man, if you will, to prepare the people for the Savior. So little is known of the childhood of Jesus and John but, being cousins, they had to have had a great relationship playing together and growing to adulthood. We can see the bond then from infancy to the pubic ministry and see the Almighty hand in this work of art He created through John's holy parents Elizabeth and Zachariah.
For the liturgy, readings, and meditations today and tomorrow's Twelfth Thursday in Ordinary Time, click on LITURGY FOR THE DAY.
Wednesday, June 24, 1998
First Reading: Isaiah 49: 1-6
Psalms: Psalm 139: 1-3, 13-15
Second Reading: Acts 13: 22-26
Gospel Reading: Luke 1: 57-66, 80
SOLEMNITY OF THE BIRTH OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST
As the account of Luke 1: 5-80 relates, Saint John the Baptist was the son of Elizabeth and Zachariah. Elizabeth of course was the cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary who came to help her cousin while both were pregnant. John, while in Elizabeth's womb, recognized the Divinity of the child in Mary's womb as "he leapt for joy". During this time his father Zachariah had been struck dumb because he doubted while in the temple where he beheld a vision from the Archangel Gabriel foretelling of John's role as preparing the way for the Savior. Still without voice at John's birth, the relatives and highpriests were arguing among themselves as to what this child's name should be when God gave voice back to Zachariah after he had written on a tablet for all to see: "John is his name." Indeed, as we all know, John went on to be "the voice of
one crying in the wilderness. Make straight the way of the Lord." He became known as "the Baptist" or "Baptizer" because he baptized countless people, exhorting them to do penance and to amend their ways. Just as he was the precursor to Christ, his agenda was also the precursor for the Sacrament of Reconciliation which he proclaimed when he beheld Jesus at the shore of the River Jordan, "Behold the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1: 29) John was the bridge between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In Sirach 48: 1-10 we see that he is the new Elijah. John was born in the summer when the days begin to get shorter while Jesus was born in the winter when the days begin to grow longer. This symbolism was pointed out by Saint Augustine in his writings. Because of his role in salvation, the beloved St. John the Baptist is given two feast days in the Liturgical Calendar - today and August 29th when his martyrdom by beheading is commemorated.
Thursday, June 25, 1998
First Reading: 2 Kings 24: 8-17
Psalms: Psalm 79: 1-5, 8-9
Gospel Reading: Matthew 7: 21-29
Sometimes our plans
fail in order that God's plans for us might succeed.
That is the essence of the column by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. today on "Annointed Faith . part two" in which he points out that there is no such thing as unanswered prayer. From our finite view we can't always see the logic or reasoning behind God's plan for us, but we need to have faith that His Will is best and subject our wills to His completely. For Father's forty-fifth installment of "Faith: Key to the Heart of God," click on KEYS TO LIVING GOD'S WILL
Forty-Fifth Installment: Anointed Faith part two
The first step of faith is asking God what His will is and praying," Thy
will be done." First, we must pray to be shown God's will, and only then
can we believe He will do it.
There was a woman named Mrs. Horton who had faith, not as deep as it could have been,
but a devout lady nonetheless. Her husband died without having provided
for her livelihood, leaving her almost destitute. She prayed with what she
thought was faith that some miracle might happen whereby she could keep the
house she was so sentimentally attached to after all the years of having
lived there. Financially, she had to sell that house to survive, or so she
thought. She prayed that God would cause something to happen that she
would not have to sell. In praying for this, she didn't ask for God's will
or faith to know God's will. She simply prayed that she wouldn't have to
sell the house.
Nothing happened and a few months later she had to sell. Cleaning out the
attic in preparation for the sale, she found an old, old stamp collection
that had been in her husband's family for many years. She almost threw it
on a pile of rubbish, but finally she put it aside to save.
A year later when she moved into a smaller apartment, she was still bitter
because God hadn't answered her prayer. She had loved that home.
One day she happened to see a newspaper listing of the value of certain
stamps. She remembered that stamp collection she had saved, found it and
took it to the stamp dealer. She walked out of that store with a check for
$11,000. Then she realized that that old house had been too big for her
anyway. God had taken away the burden of having to care for it; and she
now had enough money to pay her expenses. What had appeared to be her
unanswered prayer turned out to be an answered prayer. Sometimes our plans
fail in order that God's plans for us might succeed.
Including death. We pray for healing and God gives us death instead, the
ultimate healing. Pray for faith that believes basic truths like Romans
8:28: "To those who love God, all things work together for good." Such
faith is much deeper than that which says, "Lord, I know you're going to
heal me." It is the faith that can say," Lord, if you don't heal me,
whatever is going to happen is going to be for the best. If you do heal
me, then that's for the best."
In the next installment, I will begin a short
series on "Success Through Faith."
PRAYERS & DEVOTION
June is the month of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts. For the Consecration to the Two Hearts click on Consecration
CONSECRATION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS
Jesus, we know that You are merciful and that You have offered Your Heart
for us. It is crowned with thorns and with our sins. We know that You
implore us constantly so that we do not go astray. Jesus, remember us when
we are in sin. By means of your Heart make all men love one another. Make
hate disappear from amongst men. Show us Your love. We all love You and
want You to protect us with Your Shepherd's Heart and free us from every
sin. Jesus, enter into every heart! Be patient and never desist. We are
still closed because we have not understood Your Love. Knock continuously,
O Good Jesus, make us open our hearts to You at least in the moment we
remember Your Passion suffered for us. Amen.
(Dictated by Our Lady to Jelena Vasilij on November 18, 1983)
CONSECRATION TO THE IMMACULTE HEART OF MARY
O Immaculate Heart of Mary, ardent with goodness, show Your Love towards
us. May the flame of Your Heart, O Mary, descend on all mankind. We love
You so. Impress true love in our hearts so that we have a continuous
desire for You. O Mary, humble and meek of heart, remember us when we are
in sin. You know that all men sin. Give us, by means of Your Immaculate
Heart, spiritual health. Let us always see the goodness of Your maternal
Heart and may we all be converted by means of the flame of Your Heart Amen.
(Dictated by Our Lady to Jelena Vasilij on November 28, 1983)
May 25th Medjugorje Monthly Message
Dear children! Today I call you, through prayer and sacrifice, to prepare
yourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Little children, this is a time of grace and so, again, I call
you to decide for God the Creator. Allow Him to transform and change you. May your heart be
prepared to listen to, and live, everything which the Holy Spirit has in His plan for each of you. Little
children, allow the Holy Spirit to lead you on the way of truth and salvation towards eternal life. Thank you for having responded to my call.
For more on Medjugorje, click on MEDJUGORJE
Events Today in Church History
For events throughout the centuries that are memorable in Church history today, click on TIME CAPSULES: ALL ROADS LEAD TO ROME
Historical Events in Church Annals for June 24:
Birth of Saint John the Baptist, son of Elizabeth and Zachary and cousin of Jesus Who would not be born for another six months. John, who spent most of his adult life preaching in the desert, would be the one to baptize Our Lord during his first year of public ministry.
Pope Innocent III launches a crusade against the Albigensians and their heresy in southern France after a papal legate had been murdered a year earlier.
Founders of the Society of Jesus - Saint Ignatius Loyola and Saint Francis Xavier, along with fellow seminarians Nicholas Bobadilla, Peter Favre, Diego Laynez, Simon Rodriguez, and Alfonso Salmeron are ordained in Venice.
Birth of Juan de Yepes y Alvarez, son of a silk weaver in Spain. The young man would go on to become a Carmelite priest and be appointed spiritual director to Saint Teresa of Avila. He would join her in a massive reform movement of the Carmelite order as well as write the book "Dark Night of the Soul." He was, of course, Saint John of the Cross.
A dark day in England for Catholics as Queen Elizabeth I outlaws all Catholic services in Britain, allowing Anglicanism - the Church of England - to take a firm hold with no opposition from Rome to the detriment of loyal Catholics.
Pope Leo XIII issues the encyclical to Ireland Saepe Nos directed to the Irish bishops regarding the boycotting prevalent in the emerald isle.
Pope Paul VI issues the meaningful encyclical on celibacy and the priesthood for the world Sacerdotalis caelibatus.
The Blessed Virgin Mary appears in a vision on Podrbo - a rocky hillside in Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia. She did not speak on this day, but did so the next to the six visionaries present, thus making the anniversary the 25th of the month, rather than the feast of Saint John the Baptist which has significance in Our Lady choosing this date to first appear to the children as one making ready the way of the Lord - her Divine Son.
PROVERB OF THE DAY
"He sins who despises the hungry; but happy is he who is kind to the poor!."
Proverbs 14: 21
Click here to go to SECTION TWO or click here to return to the graphics front page of this issue.
June 24, 1998 volume 9, no. 122 DAILY CATHOLIC