The Medjugorje Story
The Call and Invitation of Our Lady
In Medjugorje, a tiny village in the former Yugoslavia, six people claim the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing to them for over the past twenty one years. Her messages are an invitation for all people to return to God. She says the times we are living in are a time of grace which has been granted by God. She brings us messages which call us to prayer with the heart, peace, faith, conversion and fasting. Our Blessed Mother's messages are for the entire world, not for any particular country, race, or religion. Through her messages she wishes to guide us to salvation. She is truly a mother and a mother that loves all of her children.
The First Apparitions
It began in Bijakovici, a part of the parish of Medjugorje, on a hill behind the village called Mount Podbrdo. On the Feast of St. John the Baptist, June 24, 1981, six children saw a woman with a radiant light around her hovering above the ground, holding a little child in her arms. The woman motioned for the children to come closer, but they did not because they were frightened. Scared, one of the children, Vicka, ran for home. On her way home she ran into Ivan and his friend Ivan. Upon hearing her story they thought she was crazy, but on seeing her insistence and sincerity they decided to have her take them to the place where she was. When they got there they saw the woman too. Present at this first apparition was Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Milka Pavlovic, Ivan Dragicevic and his friend, Ivan Ivankovic.
The second day, four of the children whom had seen the woman the first day and Marija Pavlovic, Milka's sister, and Jakov Colo, decided to return to the same spot where she had appeared. When they arrived they saw a flash of light followed by the appearance of the same woman. They described her as beautiful beyond any human description. She was joyful and invited the children to come closer. Those who watched the children run up the hill toward the woman testify that they were amazed at the speed at which the children were running and could not keep up with them. It was as if something had lifted and pulled them through the air, above the thorny bushes and sharp stones. On this occasion she spoke with the children and prayed with them. The six children present at this apparition were the ones whom continued to see her from this point forward. They were Ivanka Ivankovic, Mirjana Dragicevic, Vicka Ivankovic, Marija Pavlovic, Ivan Dragicevic and Jakov Colo.
On the third day, one of the children, Mirjiana, asked her name and she replied "I am the Blessed Virgin Mary." Another one of the children, Vicka, sprinkled holy water on her and said, "If you are our Blessed Mother, please stay, and if you are not, go away from us." Our Lady smiled lovingly at them, which the children understood as indicating her pleasure at having secured their faith in her presence. Thus began the longest known apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and they continue to this day.
The Early Years
In 1981, Yugoslavia was under oppressive Communist rule and officially atheistic. Fearing a political uprising, the Communist regime had the children examined and questioned extensively trying to discredit them. They were taken to a nearby city after which they were proclaimed healthy. The statement of the head doctor was: "The children are not crazy, the person who brought them here must be though." Despite tactics of intimidation, fear and humiliation the children never waivered.
Even the local Catholic priests needed to be sure, and they subjected the children to intensive questioning. Father Jozo Zovko, the pastor of St. James Church in Medjugorje, interviewed the children separately and tape recorded their account. He was skeptical that this was happening in his parish and he sought to discourage the thousands of people that came from neighboring villages to witness the apparitions. However, something was about to happen that would change his life forever.
One Sunday, Father Jozo was alone in the church praying, feeling a great responsibility in front of God as pastor. While in prayer, he heard an acoustic voice say "go outside and protect the children." He opened the door of the church and the six children were running toward him, barefoot and out of breath. They were trying to escape from the Communist police who had been brought in by the government to put a stop to the events. Fearful and crying, they asked him for his protection. He took them to the parish house and hid them. The armed police, in pursuit of the children, asked Father Jozo, "Did you see the children?" He answered, "yes, I saw them" and they continued running past. Soon after, the Blessed Mother came to the children, reassured them with her motherly love, and prayed with them in the parish house. The pastor's experience was a decisive turning point from skeptic to ardent defender. For this he was later put on trial and convicted of fostering a rebellion. He was imprisoned for a year and a half and tortured. To this day, he remains a faithful witness to Our Lady's messages.
The Monthly Message
Our Lady continues to appear daily to three of the visionaries, Marija, Ivan and Vicka. She appears everyday to them at 6:40pm wherever they happen to be at the time. On the 25th of every month Our Lady gives a message intended for the whole world. This message is given to Marija, who then gives it to the priests of St. James, whom then have it translated and sent out.
The other three visionaries, Ivanka, Mirjana and Jakov only see Our Lady once a year now. Their daily apparitions ceased once Mary had confided all ten secrets to them. Mirjana sees Our Lady on her birthday, March 18th, Jakov sees Our Lady on Christmas Day, and Ivanka has her yearly apparition on the anniversary date, June 25th. Since June 25th was the first day Our Lady spoke to the children, this is the day that was chosen for the anniversary of the apparitions.
The ten secrets Our Lady has confided to three of the visionaries have to do with future events that will occur in the world. Three of the visionaries have received all ten secrets while Marija, Ivan and Vicka have each received nine. The third secret has to do with a permanent sign which will be left at the site of the first apparition for the whole world to see. However, Our Lady warns us not to wait for the permanent sign as it will be too late for many. The time for conversion is now! Nowhere does God promise us tomorrow. All we have is today and she invites us to come back to God while there is time. We do not wish to discuss the secrets at length as the visionaries speak little about them and Our Lady always invites us to prayer and tells us not to fear, but brings us messages of peace and hope.
Our Lady has given us five weapons to defeat our adversary, Satan. Father Jozo, former pastor of St.James parish in Medjugorje, says these are our weapons against our goliath. These little stones are:
These are our shield and armor with which we can defeat all the arrows of our adversary. Let us keep ourselves well armed and always ready!
Description of an Apparition
Ivan Dragicevic, one of the visionaries, stated it is difficult to describe the beauty of an apparition in mere human words. He said Our Lady comes proceeded by a light and out of the light comes Our Lady. During the apparition he only sees her and nothing else around him. At the end of the apparition she disappears in a light in the form of a cross.
She usually comes wearing a gray dress and white veil. She has very blue eyes, rosy checks, black hair, floats on a cloud and has a crown of 12 stars. She appears to be about 19 years old.
He once asked her, Why are you so beautiful? She responded, "I am beautiful because I love." When we love, we will be more beautiful too.
Let us open our heart to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary who bring us peace, hope and love. May we respond to the call and the messages of Our Lady and return to God so we can become the extended arms of Our Lord and Lady!
Fruits of Medjugorje
As many as 4,000 priests have concelebrated Holy mass, and 200,000 Holy communions have been given in one month alone in this simple, remote village! Well over 20 million people from all over the world have come to Medjugorje. The appearances of the Mother of God have been accompanied by many miracles and physical healings that are being documented. The greatest miracles, however, are the countless deep spiritual conversions of the heart.
Queen of Peace
Our Lady calls herself the Queen of Peace and she comes to take us along the path of peace. She calls us to pray for the gift of peace. Blessed Mother says if there is no peace in the heart, there cannot peace in the world. Do not talk about peace, but begin to live peace. Do not speak about prayer, but begin to live prayer. She is teaching us, raising us up. She does not come to bring fear, to criticize or speak of gloom and darkness. She wishes to tell us Jesus is with you, I am with you, come closer so we can be united. She comes to us as a Mother of Hope to today's tired world because our world is lost and without a sense of hope.
Her messages tell each one of us God wants to renew our hearts and fill them with his Spirit of Love to change the world, one heart at a time. Our Lady loves and knows each one of us for she is our mother in heaven. She carries each of us in her heart and says, "If you knew how much I loved you, you would cry for joy." Her appearances and messages give us all great hope in this time of grace.
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