The State of Virginity

The State of Virginity
I should like you to be free of all worries. The unmarried man is busy with the Lord's affairs, concerned with pleasing the Lord; but the married man is busy with this world's demands and occupied with pleasing his wife. This means he is divided. The virgin - indeed, any unmarried woman - is concerned with things of the Lord, in pursuit of holiness in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has the cares of this world to absorb her and concerned with pleasing her husband. I am going into this with you for your own good. I have no desire to place restrictions on you, but I do want to promote what is good, what will help you to devote yourselves entirely to the Lord. 1 Corinthians 7:32-35

Monday, November 30, 2009

TO THE MOTHER AND QUEEN OF PEACE


We come to you Dear Mother
From all parts of the world;
We bring you our problems
And with them our desires

Look on us, console us,
Lay your hands upon us;
Intercede for us with your Son.
Mother of peace, pray for us.

The whole church looks to you,
The last star of salvation;
Purify us, embrace us,
With all our hearts we pray to you.

Your little Bijakovo
And all Medjugorje
Together spread your glory
And exalt your name

For all the love dear Mother
You have poured out to us here,
We promise you in the future
To be better than we were.

Father Stanko Vasilj

Taken from the book entitled "Medjugorje" by Informativni Centar Medjugorje (The most colourful book of Medjugorje)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

MEDJUGORJE IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

This is one of my favourite books. Bringing home this book with me is like bringing home Medjugorje with me. It is the most colourful book in Medjugorje with lots and lots of beautiful pictures. This book provides a fantastic overview and is a great resource for everything about Medjugorje. The chapters in this book include A short history about the first days in Medjugorje, Discussion of the messages of Medjugorje, The visionaries, Scientific testing done on the visionaries, Pilgrim activities in Medjugorje and much, much more. Tonight I would like to share excerpts from this wonderful book.

With this book, through pictures and words we wish to present this parish, in order to save from oblivion the events that have taken place before our eyes in the last twenty years - enabling people to pass their own judgement. At the same time, regardless of whether the judgement is positive or negative, the last twenty years invite us to remember times past with gratitude, to live the present time fervently and to be completely open to the future, which is what we have also been invited to do by the Pope in his previously-mentioned Apostolic Letter. (Medjugorje in the New Millennium, Father Ivan Sesar.)

It is our desire that the book you are holding in your hands may present to you, in pictures and in words, the twenty years of the walk of the faithful with Our Lady. May it also be an encouragement for more cognizant and Christian way of life. (Twenty Years of Medjugorje, Father Branko Rados.)

Our Lady knows very well the weaknesses of the parishioners and pilgrims She wants to work with in the salvation of the world. She is aware that supernatural strength is needed to achieve this goal. That is why with Her messages She directs and leads them toward the sources of that power. Prayer is in the first place. She recommends prayer fervently in almost all her messages. (Brief History of Our Lady's Apparitions in Medjugorje, Father Ljudevit Rupcic.)

We must truly give thanks to God for these years of abounding grace with a deep respect for Our Lady's striving here in Medjugorje to prepare us for the new milennium. Pope John Paul II, inspired with the same spirit, has called for the preparation of the whole Church for the third millennium of Christianity. (Go Out and Protect the Children, Father Jozo Zovko.)

The Bible is full of reports about visions and apparitions, and so is history of mysticism in the Church. Messages conveyed by the visionaries must be in accordance with the Biblical message. If we recall the main Medjugorje messages: peace, conversion, prayer, fasting and faith and on the pastoral level: prayer of the Rosary, reading of the Holy Bible, attending Holy Mass, confession and doing good works, we find that they do. (Phenomenology of the Medjugorje Apparitions, Father Slavko Barbaric.)

The effects of Our Lady's apparitions in today's world are difficult to evaluate. However, one thing is certain: what the shepherds of the Church often do not dare to mention, the Holy Spirit does through Mary's apparitions and Her messages to the world. The world of the little ones understands and accepts Mary's words. The faith and the experience of the Sacred Scripture again become present and alive. It is through Mary that God executes the renewal of the Church and the world. (The Pilgrim Movement in Medjugorje, Father Leonard Orec.)

To speak about Medjugorje today means to speak about God's act of renewing the world and the Church through the renewal of individuals who have become aware of their Christianity and their mission in the world. Through Mary's apparitions, prayers and many conversions, nations are healed. Our Croatian nation and also other local Churches are managing to arise from their lethargy, the apathy that ruled during communism, to once again consciously become a factor in history. Mary has appeared in Medjugorje as a sign that restores the whole fatigued Croatian people. Before the eyes of the world, She has restored to the Croatian people their authentic human and Catholic dignity. Mary, as protector of the inheritance, is an original sign of the authentic inculturation of the Gospel. (Medjugorje - An Encouragement for the Renewal of the Church and Society, Father Tomislav Pervan.)

Despite everything, a river of pilgrims to Medjugorje from all over the world does not cease. From day to day and from year to year it is growing. They feel as if Our Lady speaks directly to each of them in this place. They remain focused in prayer. Eucharistic celebrations, prayers and invocations, songs and information can be heard in several languages. In the Medjugorje Church the Rosary is prayed and Holy Mass is celebrated everyday. God's people approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Numerous Christians leave Medjugorje born anew, more peaceful, more satisfied and happier. Is this not a sign of God's presence and Mary's service in the history of salvation? (Jesus' Mother in the Service of the Work of Salvation, Father Petar Lubina.)

Places of prayer in Medjugorje in a mystical way become an 'altar' of the world upon which God wants to transform man into the body of His Church, into His living presence in the world. On a pilgrimage, through the Sacraments, the Word of God becomes the body of the Church. (From a Small Parish to a World Renowned Sanctuary, Father Svetozar Kraljevic.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

IN MEMORY OF FATHER DR. SLAVKO BARBARIC


It is now approximately 10.30 pm Malaysian time and 3.30 pm Bosnian time. I have just lighted some candles for Father Slavko. Nine years ago, on this day and around this time, Medjugorje was in shock because of the death of Father Slavko Barbaric. At 2.00 pm on that day, Father Slavko led about 70 parishioners on the "Way of the Cross" up Mount Krizevac. Upon reaching the summit of the mountain, the rain stopped and the sun shone. A beautiful rainbow could be seen at a distance near the church. After the "Way of the Cross", they started to descend and when they reached "The Resurrection" station, Father Slavko slipped and fell. He had a heart attack and died instantly.

Mount Krizevac symbolically means the gate into Heaven. On it, there is an eight meter tall white concrete cross which contains a relic from Christ's original Calvary Cross. This cross was built in 1933 in memory of the 1900th anniversary of Jesus' death. Today Krizevac has become the Calvary of Medjugorje. Father Slavko loved Mount Krizevac and he used to climb this mountain every morning at sunrise to pray. God had thus given Father Slavko the honour of dying at the gate of Heaven and entering into Paradise from there.

No doubt Father Slavko's death was premature. Why did he die at such a young age? He is the kind of man who knew no fatigue. For him, there was no rest. He never went to bed before midnight and he never saw the rising sun in his room. He always prayed. He got up at dawn and went out to pray. He used to say that the only time he had for himself as a priest was that time in the morning when, on awaking, he would go the mountains to pray. He had no time to think about himself, about his own health and sickness. He never complained about anything. He did not know how to take some time out for himself. The motto of his life was "not to have anything, to give everything away. He finally carried his cross to Mount Krizevac and left it beneath the Lord's cross that it may be glorified.

If the Lord were to tell Father Slavko this, "Listen, Father Slavko, you will die tomorrow", these words would not have any effects on his daily life. Why? Because his aim in life is to glorify God and to serve Him. He would not take any time out to think of his own life. He would still go on climbing Krizevac Mountain and Podbrdo Hill. He will still go on praying. He will still carry out his duties as a priest. He would just continue doing what he was doing. That was why the thought of death couldn't scare him. "As the Father has loved me, so I also love you. No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends." Father Slavko laid down his life for everyone. In doing so, he forgot himself. That was why he died a premature death.

Father Slavko had truly lived the life of Christ and travelled the path He had travelled. What a great blessing it is to have a priest like Father Slavko who has devoted himself completely and wholeheartedly to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God. Truly he is a wonderful gift from God. But on the contrary, we also have priests who only think of themselves and keep pestering the pope to allow them to get married. Sometimes I do wonder what would have been the fate of Christianity if Jesus were to say these words to His Father, "Father, I don't want to die on the cross. I want to get married. I want to enjoy a wonderful sex life. I want to see my children grow up. Dying on the cross is no fun." If these were His words, then Christianity wouldn't have existed at all. Our Lord Jesus Christ, we really need more priests like Father Slavko for the salvation of the Catholic Church. Can you please send many, many priests like Father Slavko to us?

Born on 11 March 1946, Father Slavko spent his childhood in extreme poverty. However, he was a very intelligent man - perhaps the most brilliant scholar of his time. It was a great disappointment to his government when the young Slavko joined the Franciscan order after completing his two years of service in the Yugoslav army. During his twenties, he was the kind of priest who spent more time in libraries than in sacristies. A polyglot intellectual, he had by the age of thirty earned an assortment of degrees from several European universities. He was a priest with a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Freiburg in Switzerland. One finds it hard to believe that one man could have it all - knowledge of languages, education, simplicity, inexhaustible energy, diligence, piety, humility and charity. Yes, Father Slavko really has it all. His life is a life of great sacrifice and this is what makes him perfect in the eyes of the Lord. And he will be fondly remembered for generations to come.

Father Slavko was officially sent to Medjugorje in 1983. He did not forget his childhood conditions though and was the founder of the orphanage "Mother's Village". Mother's Village was built during and after the war although it had lived for a long time in the heart of Father Slavko. It has always been his desire to provide care for those who had been abandoned and rejected by their own family members and forgotten by the social welfare system. Mother's Village is a specialized institution that provides accommodation, care and education for abandoned and unprotected children and orphans from birth until the age of eighteen, for handicapped children, for young mothers and for the elderly. Many girls who due to their pregnancy were rejected and isolated by their own families and society have found shelter and hope in Mother's Village. Thanks to this village many children's lives were saved and they were born into an environment of love and acceptance.

Father Slavko used to say, "Everything is to be for the education and the benefit of the children" and this was what created St. Francis's Garden. The aim of the garden is to bring people back to nature so that they may be able to find peace and relaxation. In this forested area there is a zoo, two ponds and an area for prayer and recreation with developmental aids: toboggans, merry-go-rounds, swings and a children's train. There are also three little ponies for hypo-therapy and therapeutical riding for handicapped children. Hypo-therapy is especially beneficial for acquiring balance and equilibrium in the body, particularly for children with motor disabilities. (For a more detailed biography of Father Slavko, please refer to my article entitled "Father Slavko Barbaric - The Saint of Medjugorje" which I wrote last month.)

Father Slavko was here, in the world, but at the same time so much out of the world. In his presence, the words of Jesus became a reality: "They are not of the world, any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them by means of truth - Your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world; I consecrate myself for their sakes now, that they may be consecrated in truth." (John 17: 16-19)

Everyone who has given up home, brothers or sisters, father or mother, wife or children or property for my sake will receive many times as much and inherit everlasting life. Mathew: 19:29.

Father Slavko has given up all his time and everything he had including his life to serve God and to serve us. Let us all remember what he has done for us, for the Church and for this world. May he receive many times as much and inherit everlasting life. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Tonight, I would say the Croatian rosary with Father Slavko. Dear Father Slavko, do you know how much I adore, respect and honour you? You will always have a special place in my heart.

Monday, November 23, 2009

FATHER JOZO ZOVKO - A GOOD PRIEST

Jozo in Croatian means Joseph and Father Jozo Zovko was born on that great saint's feast day on 19 March 1941 in the village of Uzari in the parish of Siroki Brijeg. He was the eighth of ten children. Times were tough during World War II but he survived. He finished his primary grade school first in Uzari, and then in Siroki Brijeg before he realized he had a vocation for the priesthood. He entered the seminary in Bol on the island of Brac directly south of Split in the Adriatic Sea. He was later transferred to the major seminary in Sarajevo and enrolled at Ljubljana University where he studied Theology. He was ordained in Sarajevo on 6 August 1967 and was assigned to the Gratz University in Austria to continue his studies. After graduation, he returned to his homeland and was frowned upon by the communists because of his deep faith. Because of his devotion to God, the bishop had to transfer him often. It should be noted that during those days the bishops were selected by the approval of the communist authorities in Belgrade.

Father Jozo Zovko is a true apostle of Jesus - a good priest. Ever since he was a child, he had always wanted to be a Franciscan friar. He is certainly not the kind of priest who would say these shameful words, "Geez, I had better switch to Anglicanism and be an Anglican priest and then snag me a hot wife before I jump back to the Catholic Church so that I can enjoy the best of all worlds as a married priest." Marriage has never crossed his mind as he continues to live a celibate life all these years. He has laid down his whole life serving the Kingdom of God with undivided attention. He has given himself completely to God and to men. He has devoted himself wholeheartedly to the sacred ministry. He lives according to his vows of poverty, obedience and chastity, just exactly the kind of life that a good priest will live. Those who can take the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity freely are hard to find nowadays and as such Father Jozo Zovko is really a rare gift from God. He is always busy with the Lord's affairs and concerned only with pleasing the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32). As one of the best known priests in the world, he doesn't have much time for himself because the pilgrims come to see him in hundreds every day and he has to tend to his flock.

Father Jozo was the parish priest of Medjugorje when the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary began on the 24th of June 1981. He is an authentic witness to the apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje. Initially he did not believe in the apparitions. He even chastised the visionaries for fabricating the apparitions. Talking about the apparitions was dangerous in an area of communist oppression. However, it wasn't long before he was convinced that the six visionaries were telling the truth. One morning after mass, he was still in the church, on his knees at the altar when he suddenly heard a voice telling him, "Come out and protect the children." He obeyed and the moment he opened the door, he saw the girls running toward him, out of breath with the police chasing them from behind. He took the children to the rectory and locked them in an unoccupied room.

Father Jozo had certainly paid the price when he refused to deny the apparitions as ordered by the communists. Because he refused to deny the apparitions and to close St.James, he was arrested on 17 August 1981 and convicted on charges of subversion against the communist state. He was given a three-year prison sentence with hard, dangerous labour by a kangaroo court. In the prison he was tortured horrendously but in spite of his sufferings his faith only grew stronger. The prison guards were also infuriated by the fact that they found Father Jozo's cell door unlocked every morning and the inmates testified seeing some kind of strange supernatural light appearing repeatedly in his cell. After 18 months, Father Jozo was released on the condition that he would never return to St. James as pastor. In the spring of 1983, Father Jozo was transferred to St. Elijah in Tihaljina.

Father Jozo was the central figure during the early days of the apparitions and has remained so today. Many pilgrims flocked to Medjugorje and later on to Tihaljina and then to Siroki Brijeg to see him and listen to his inspiring words. He was chosen as the president of the "International Godparenthood for the Herceg-Bosnian Children Association" which was established on the 20th of December 1992 in Siroki Brijeg. It was actually Father Jozo's idea that children, who had one or both parents killed in the war, could be helped spiritually and financially by people all over the world. During the devastating war, more than 280000 people were slaughtered and countless homes and churches throughout Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina were destroyed. Today over 4000 children are cared for spiritually and financially in Siroki Brijeg through this organization. Father Jozo has also traveled all over the world to spread the message of Our Lady of Medjugorje and the vital importance of the Eucharist. He is also connected with many miraculous healings.

Father Jozo has been persecuted, imprisoned, denigrated and accused of unspeakable sins from graft to child abuse. Just how true are these accusations? We all know that Father Jozo is a good priest and we see with our own eyes what he has done for the world. Surely his good deeds are more overwhelming than any of those unfounded accusations against him!

To those who are unsure of Father Jozo Zovko's status, please read the letter written by Father Slavko Soldo, OFM, Provincial of the Herzegovinian Franciscan Province of the Assumption of the BVM. According to Father Slavko Soldo: Father Jozo Zovko is a member of our community in good standing. He was the pastor at Medjugorje when the apparition of the Blessed Mother started in 1981. It was the time of the communist regime in our country. As pastor of Medjugorje, Father Jozo was put in prison by the communist court. After he was released from the prison, he continued to spread the message of the blessed Mother Queen of peace.

In our community Father Jozo Zovko is known as a charismatic priest who suffered for his faith and continues suffering. He spends long hours in prayer, counselling and preaching. Most of the time he is in the church; often for 10 hours a day.

Those who oppose the apparitions of the Blessed Mother at Medjugorje are constantly after Father Jozo trying to stop his mission, but those who accept Medjugorje, consider him a dedicated priest and are inviting him to lead retreats for them and pray for them in their needs. Among those who are inviting him are many priests and bishops. Father Jozo is tireless in that service. (Mostar, 14 November 2002, Father Slavko Soldo, Provincial)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

JUSTICE FOR FATHER JOZO ZOVKO

It has been raining the whole day today and I thought of going to bed early tonight. I suddenly thought of Father Jozo Zovko. Instead of sleeping early I went to the web to get the latest updates on him. When I googled Father Jozo Zovko, the first three articles that came out were 1. The 'Saint' Jozo Zovko And His Many Sex-Affairs, 2. The Newsletter of Discernment, and 3. Father Jozo Zovko: A Brief Biography. I read through all these three articles. After reading these articles, I felt that I must write something for Father Jozo Zovko.

According to the first article: Father Jozo Zovko has been suspended twice, the first time by Bishop Zanic on 23 August 1989 and a second time by Bishop Peric on June 14 1994. Why has Jozo been suspended in 1989 by bishop Zanic? Officially it was not mentioned, but insiders do know. In 1986 already a dutch business-man who lived in Yugoslavia said to Mark Waterinckx "that Jozo had a special interest for beautiful ladies."

At that time Mark was shocked and scandalized by "such a slander". But later more and more such rumours came to his ears. In the summer of 1989 an American girl came to see him and told him with all details how Jozo sexually asaulted her. Next day Mark went to Tihaljina to confront Jozo with this story. Jozo denied everything but was pale and in a terrible state. He trembled and accused his good friend Mark (since 1984 he was Mark's confessor) of bringing him in such a situation while the church was full of pilgrims waiting for his service.

Meanwhile the American girl had told her nightmare to her confessor, the American Fr. Filip Pavic. This Franciscan contacted Mark and told him that he had already heard different similar accusations against Jozo earlier. Also Pavic was really puzzled and told about Jozo's sex-problem to Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic, who immediately shouted 2 times: "He did it AGAIN!"

According to the second article: The list of priests at Medugorje who have sexual problems is growing everyday. Back before the claimed apparitions ever started they had problems with both Father Jozo Zovko and Tomislav Vlasic conducting sensitivity training with little boys. To this day they continue having affairs with both men and women.

According to the Franciscan Provincial in Mostar, Fr. Slavko Soldo, Fr. Jozo's superior, "It's not true that Fr. Jozo was suspended by his Franciscan general. He is not suspended! He is a priest in good standing with his community! And regarding the charges against him, it's interesting that not one of those women has ever sent any of those letters to me. And I'm the first person who should know. Fr. Jozo is responsible to me as far as discipline goes. I find it interesting that neither has the bishop ever sent me a copy of any of those supposed letters. Let me repeat: never have such charges - anything like them - ever been brought to my attention - and there are none in my office preceeding my time as Provincial! Of course now they can be invented and sent to me afterwards."

Who is the real Father Jozo Zovko anyway? He is the kind of man who can be found innumerable hours a day praying in front of the tabernacle. Because of his deep faith and his devotion to God he has gained tremendous influence in the parishes where he was assigned. Many pilgrims flocked to Medjugorje and since 1992 to the monastery in Siroki Brijeg just to be touched by him and to listen to his inspiring words. If he were really a sex maniac as what the first two articles described him, do you think the pilgrims would still take the trouble to go and see him?

The first article described him as the 'saint' with many sex affairs. Has Father Jozo Zovko ever called himself a saint? And how many sex affairs were there? Any evidence? Who were these ladies who were supposed to have been molested by him? We don't even know if these allegations were true.

Have we ever asked ourselves the question, "What has Father Jozo been doing all these years?" Did he get married or elope with a blonde and is now enjoying a wonderful sex life with his wife? Did he ever pester the Pope to allow him to get married? No, he didn't. All these years, he has been carrying out his duties as a priest faithfully and with undivided attention. Isn't that enough? This is what we all see with our eyes. But have we ever seen any of his sexual affairs with our eyes? Father Jozo never left the priesthood to get married and as we can see, he continues to live a celibate life. After all those accusations against him, he probably dare not go near a woman again! To me, he is more respectable than those men who can only become priests on the condition that they are allowed to get married.

Even if those allegations against him were true (though many would doubt the authenticity of these allegations) , they have already faded into the past. How long ago was that? Is it fair to dig into someone's past? What is more important is the present. In the present, Father Jozo is a good priest and he is well respected and loved by many of the faithful throughout the world.

Let those who are sinless cast the first stone. And who is sinless? Who has the right to punish someone for the one sin that he has committed many years ago again and again when God has already forgiven him? Or has he really committed any of those alleged sins? What if he did not?These two articles aforementioned would always be there to haunt Father Jozo. Is it fair?

Lastly, regarding the allegation that "the list of priests at Medjugorje who have sexual problems is growing everyday" this is certainly an exaggeration. It is like punishing the whole class when one or two students of that class created mischief!

Friday, November 13, 2009

THE MIRACLES OF MEDJUGORJE

Very soon after the apparitions in Medjugorje, many people witnessed miraculous healings. An old man, Jozo Vasilj, was blind for many years. After washing his eyes with the water in which he put some herbs from the place of the apparitions, he said, "I can see ..."

Then, there was the case of Daniel Setka who became seriously ill - "stiff and blue" when he was only four days old. He was diagnosed as suffering from a combination of spastic hemiparesis and epilepsy. At the age of two and a half, the child was unable to speak or walk and he couldn't even hold his head up. Even after making several pilgrimages to the various shrines in Yugoslavia, his condition remained serious. On the evening of June 28, 1981 (the fifth day of the apparitions) his father carried him up Podbrdo Hill toward the site of the apparition. It was Vicka who presented the boy to the Madonna during the apparition. Following the apparition, the first sign of a healing took place. When the family stopped at the cafe near the church in Medjugorje for dinner after the apparition, the boy suddenly slapped the table and said, "Give me a drink." These were the first words that he had ever spoken. His parents brought him to Podbrdo Hill the next day. Halfway up the hill, they put him down. Little Daniel began to climb over the rocks and standing atop one, he called out in a loud and clear voice, "Mama, look, I'm walking!" His healing was declared complete that day.

The most well-documented healing was probably that of an Italian woman named Diana Basile. She began to show the first symptoms of a profound multiple sclerosis in 1972 at the age of thirty-two. In spite of the expert help of the professors and doctors at the clinic in Milan, she was getting worse. Her right hand began to shake uncontrollably and there was complete blindness in her right eye. Her right knee became so rigid that she found it almost impossible to walk. By the summer of 1983, she became completely incontinent, was unable to lift her right arm and had great difficulty in walking. On 23rd May 1984, she made it to St. James's Church, Medjugorje, to observe that evening's apparition. At the end of the apparition, Basile found that she could walk normally. That night, she discovered that she was no longer incontinent. The next morning, she was able to see with her right eye again. That afternoon, she walked barefoot from Ljubuski to Medjugorje, a distance of six miles, to climb Podbrdo Hill. By the time she returned home, she was completely healed. Ever since then until today, she has remained well.

The most famous person to claim that she had been healed by Our Lady of Medjugorje was entertainer Lola Falana who was also suffering from multiple sclerosis. By 1989, she was confined to either the wheelchair or her bed. One day, she was watching a documentary about Medjugorje. According to her, "When the television showed the crowd of pilgrims which ascend the Hill of Apparitions, I experienced a desire to go there, to walk with them, but my legs were inert, dead. Then, with tears in my eyes, I prayed to the Blessed Mother to heal me, promising Her that if one day I would be able to walk again, I would go there." Within a month, all the symptoms of her illness had disappeared. As promised, she went to Medjugorje.

At least two of those who claimed miraculous healings were themselves medical doctors. One was a general practitioner from the Philippines whose breast cancer had already metastasized. She reported having a spiritual healing at the twelfth and thirteenth stations of the cross on Mount Krizevac. By the time she returned home, all traces of her cancer had disappeared. The other was an Italian pediatrician with an ulcerated colon that had abscessed into a life-threatening fistula. His family came to Medjugorje to pray for a cure. The doctor also prayed at home promising the Virgin Mary that he would go to Medjugorje in person if he were healed. Overnight, the man's fistula closed and he was cured.

Another case which is difficult to dismiss is Charlene Vance's case. In 1986 on Halloween, a tractor ran over her leg. The tibia and fibula were broken in two places and her ankle had been crushed to a pulp. Doctors told her that even if her leg bones could heal properly, she would walk with a severe limp for the rest of her life. Though not a Catholic, Vance joined a pilgrmage to Medjugorje. At the fourth station on Mount Krizevac, a monk in a white habit touched her forehead and leg with his rosary beads which he said had been placed on the stigma of Therese Newman's right hand. Vance spent the night on Krizevac praying. When she descended the mountain the next morning she found that the pain in her ankle was gone. X-rays showed that the bones in her ankle had been completely restored.

The most widely publicized healing is probably that of Rita Klaus of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA, a teacher and mother of three children. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at the age of 20, not long after her graduation. For 26 years, she suffered from multiple sclerosis. Neither doctors nor medicine were able to help her. By 1986, she had blurred vision and periodic incontinence and had to spend nearly all her waking hours in a wheelchair. As her leg muscles degenerated, her legs began to warp - inward at the knee, outward at the ankle. She could not even sit in her wheelchair without buckling her lower limbs into steel braces. She heard about Medjugorje in early 1986 an started praying to the Mother of God. On the evening of June 18 that year, while she was praying the rosary, she felt an electric jolt running through her entire body. The next morning, she could feel sensation in her legs again. That evening, she could walk without assistance. On the following day, she walked more than a mile to the house of her friend who told her about Medjugorje. And from then till today she is completely well. Her healing is complete and permanent.

Amongst Medjugorje's most famous healings is that of an Austrian nurse named Agnes Heupel. In 1974, at the age of 23, she had been stricken with a paralysis of the right side. The spinal lesions and pulmonary tumour that accompanied it were verified in examinations by four separate doctors. She was confined to a wheelchair most of the time and her memory was gradually eroded to the extent that she couldn't even recognize her old friends. In May 1986, she made the difficult journey to Medjugorje. After the apparition on May 12, she stood like everyone else and began to walk out of the room. Father Slavko came after her, holding her crutch and shouting, "You forgot something!" But she knew that she would never need it again. The following day, she climbed Podbrdo Hill without assistance.

What do these miracles tell us? We cannot deny the fact that something is really going on in Medjugorje. Supernatural events are occurring there. What is the real purpose of these miracles? To help us to believe and live by faith. Miracles do not belong to science but to theology and faith. For those who believe no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe no proof is enough!

Monday, November 9, 2009

FAST WITH THE HEART BY FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC

Father Slavko Barbaric has written many good books. His book "Fast with the Heart" is one of them. This is the last book written by Father Slavko. It is a key and an answer to the questions of what, why and how concerning fasting in our lives. Those who are ready to respond to Our Lady of Medjugorje's call to pray with the heart and to fast with the heart will find this book very useful.

In Medjugorje, the Madonna has asked for a return to fasting. In response to the question, "What is the best kind of fast?", the Virgin responded, "Bread and water, of course." We recognize that bread and water is not the only way to fast but it is the "best" way according to the Madonna. One has to grow into "bread and water" fasting.

Tonight, I would like to share an excerpt from Father Slavko's "Fast with the Heart" with the whole world. Very beautifully written, isn't it?

BREAD AND WATER - PILGRIM'S FOOD
In the first place, the call to a life with bread and water is a call of preparation for the meeting with Christ in the Eucharist. At the same time, this call wants to increase our awareness of our life's pilgrim journey on earth. Man's entire life and all his activity can be seen from the standpoint of a pilgrimage.

Through the history of man's thought, and especially in the past decades, frequent theories have proclaimed man to be a wanderer on this earth - as not knowing where he comes from or where he is going. The Christian standpoint pertaining to man is completely different. In his essence and according to his nature, man seeks God. In himself, he bears questions about eternal life, happiness and peace and the answer to these questions is God. Man does not wander about aimlessly. He journeys towards his fullness and the final truth about himself, which he can only realize in God. This is why man, in himself, is a pilgrim. A pilgrim in turn, is someone who leaves his daily life, work, security and joy and goes on a journey towards individuals and places where he can meet God more easily - where God has revealed Himself in a special way.

In the past there were no modern means facilitating quick and easy transport from one place to another. Pilgrimages lasted for weeks, months and even years. A pilgrim was only able to bring with him the basic necessities of life: bread and water; and this is what he did. Leaving behind his daily life and going on a journey with a bag on his shoulders containing bread and water, he freed himself of all burdens and every excess. Free in this way, he was able to go on to individuals and places where he sought to meet God. These places, however, were only points of passage from which he proceeded further or returned to his daily life. Even his return to everyday life did not stop portraying the characteristics of a pilgrimage because a person does not have a permanent residence in this world. He is on a pilgrimage towards the eternal homeland of complete peace, joy, eternal life and unity.

Today, by living on bread and water, man retains his freedom. He does not become a slave to material things or a victim of false promises. In his freedom, he is prepared to love, to forgive, to overcome conflicts and to live in peace. Whenever man forgets his pilgrim journey, he stops on the way and destroys himself in anxious concerns of this world.

God also gave man the Heavenly Bread. He gave His Son Who by His presence has become man's continuous companion on his pilgrimage. This is why, the Messiah's name is Emmanuel, meaning 'God with us'. God journeys with man as Bread, that is the life to the world. When a believer forgets that his God journeys with him in the form of Bread, he turns to the world where he can never feel well, without being turned towards God.

In this context, the final meaning of fasting is found. Fasting is not only a means of healing, calming and freeing. Together with prayer and charity, it is a fundamental means to a religious experience; namely, to an awareness of the truth about oneself and for opening oneself to God, Who has decided completely for man.

FASTING AND GOOD WORKS
Already in the Old Testament, it is emphasized that it is not sufficient to fast and pray. Instead, through fasting and prayer man, as a believer , must be made capable of good works. This is why fasting, prayer and good works always go together and are a condition of each other. The one who fasts and prays will become free to realize what he has, what he needs, and what he can give to others to do with as they will. The aim is not so much to place what one has and does not use for the use of the poor, as it is for man's demands to be reduced to their proper measure. If a person does not fast and pray, his needs will continuously increase and he will not be able to control them. The more we need, the less we have to give to others. We become agitated, violent, avaricious, miserly and unjust about many things that we are convinced we need but do not have. It can be said that others convinced us that we must have them. In order to be able to follow the rhythm of the world, man is forced to work more, to 'spend' his life, to neglect his spiritual values and family and even to destroy his own life.

Through fasting a person becomes capable of seeing more clearly so that his relationship with material things can change. In particular, the value of fasting and prayer is measured by a change in such a relationship and in an end to the race for material goods. Sensitivity to the situation of others and a readiness to help are the main criteria for fasting and prayer. If someone fasts and prays without his sense of responsibility growing and without being prepared to do something about it, the value of his fasting and prayer is brought into question. Someone who fasts and prays must become generous, merciful and sensitive to others. He must be able to recognize Christ in the poor, the misfortunate and the needy. He must do everything he can for others out of love for Christ, Who has identified Himself with each one of us, especially with the poor and the needy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC'S BOOK ON FASTING


Tonight I would like to share an excerpt from Father Slavko Barbaric's book on fasting. This is one of the books that I brought home with me from Medjugorje. It is a very interesting book. Every word in it is full of meaning. And it is certainly worth reading a thousand times.

THROUGH FASTING OUR HEART BECOMES PURE
It is now important to reflect upon another consequence of fasting. Through fasting, our hearts become more pure. We see reality in a better way. We find it easier to see what we have, what we need and what we don't need. We become free from the inner pressure of wanting and needing to have more and at the same time forgetting what we have already. Everything is relative in life. That means, things are not as important as we think sometimes. We live in a situation of believing that material things are very important. We forget the dimension of being pilgrims in this world. There are many people who would be happy if they had a roof over their heads and just a little bit of bread every day. And how much happier would they be if they had as much as we have. And yet, we often are unhappy and not content, although we have so much. The reason for the discontent lies in the fact that we don't see the essential anymore. We have become blind to the essential. Therefore, we are convinced that we need to have many things. With fasting, we find it easier to see the essential things of life. Therefore, fasting is so important. In making us interiorly free, fastng makes it easier for us to move towards God and towards people.

WHY FAST ON BREAD AND WATER?
In Medjugorje, the Madonna has asked to a return of fasting. In response to the question, "What is the best kind of fast?", the Virgin responded, "Bread and water, of course." We recognize that bread and water is not the only way to fast, but it is the "best" way, according to the Madonna. One has to grow into "bread and water" fasting. If one has never fasted at all, it may be very discouraging to begin to fast on bread and water only, unless one receives a call from the Lord. There are other ways of fasting which will accomplish the same objective in us and, at the same time, help us to move towards the best fast. For example, self denial from certain foods, eating foods without seasoning, eating foods we dislike, skipping desserts, and simply eating considerably less at each meal are just a few ways of fasting related to food. The important thing is that we begin to fast in some way - now. In Medjugorje, however, there is an emphasis on fasting on bread and water, and there is a profound meaning to it.

Bread is the food of the poor. To have or not to have bread is one of the essential questions of our existence.

The Bible often speaks of bread. God provided bread (manna) for His people during their journey across the desert (cf. Ex 16). In His teachings, Jesus speaks of the bread that has come down from Heaven. An angel brought bread and a jar of water to the prophet Elija when he was exhausted from fatigue (cf. 1 Kings 19), and after eating and drinking, Elija regained his strength and continued his journey.

Is it not remarkable, on the other hand, that according to the Gospel, the poor are closest to Jesus? They ate with Him and followed Him and listened to His words. After speaking to a crowd, hungry not only for His words but also for bodily nourishment, Jesus multiplied the loaves (cf. Mk 8:1-9; Mt 15:32-39). By multiplying earthly bread, Jesus prepared the people for the Bread from Heaven.

The willingness to live on water and bread for one day shows a willingness to be poor before God, well-disposed towards His will. It means following in the footsteps of the prophets and in the footsteps of those who have been put to the test in order to give testimony to their faith.

Bread is the basic food for His people and at the same time bread is the symbol of life. Water is also irreplaceable in our life. Water is also a sign of spiritual purification. In these two truths the message is expressed: come back to life and live. Come out of your impurities and be pure. We are invited to live on bread and water two days a week. As the Madonna said, bread and water are the ideal fasting. The person who lives in this way, two days a week, is certainly doing something good to his body, spirit and soul.

Friday, November 6, 2009

FATHER SLAVKO BARBARIC ON FASTING

The fact that Our Lady calls us to a two day fast, on Wednesdays and Fridays, in its own way attests to a preparation for a meeting with the Eucharistic Christ. Thursday has always been a day of the Eucharist and the Priesthood. This is why the Wednesday fast , from the Eucharistic standpoint, is in preparatin for Thursday, the day of the Eucharist. The Friday fast is in thanksgiving for the Eucharist and is a realization of the posibility of remaining with the Eucharistic Christ for an entire lifetime.

By worthily preparing for the meeting with the Eucharistic Christ at the Eucharistic feast, man prepares himself for the eternal feast in Heaven. In its own way, the Eucharist is a preparation and a foretaste of the eternal feast in the Kingdom of God.

POPE BENEDICT XVI AND FASTING

6 Nov 2009 - In the 'apparitions' the corporeal is emphasized (the sign of the Cross, blessed water, a call to fasting). To fast means to accept the essential viewpoint of a Christian life. It is also necessary to discover the corporeal aspect of faith: refraining from food is such an aspect. Sexuality and nutrition belong to the fundamental elements of human corporality: a decreasing understanding of chastity is taking place simultaneously with a decreased understanding of fasting. All of this comes from the same root: the current darkening of the eschatological tension. This means that the expectation of the eternal life, which is essential for Christian faith, is disappearing. Chastity and occasional renunciation of food witness that eternal life, which is already among us, awaits us because 'the world in its present form is passing away.' 1 Corinthians 7:31

Without chastity and without fasting the Church is no longer the Church because it becomes analogous to the world. One thing is clear: fasting, renunciation and other 'penitential practices' must continue to remain a personal responsibility of the individual. It is also important for us to return to the communal forms of ecclesiastical penance. Additionally, particularly in this world in which many people are dying from hunger, we must show with love, the visible communal witness of freely willed renunciation of food.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

POPE BENEDICT XVI (JOSEPH RATZINGER) - THE MOST ELIGIBLE BACHELOR IN THE WORLD

3rd November 2009 - I came across a piece of crap whilst I was browsing the web some time back. Guess what I found? In an article entitled 'Pope Benedict's Little Secret, Hold the Nasty Habit', a 33 year-old waiter named Rodolfo Casel revealed that he is Pope Benedict XVI's lover. According to Rodolfo, "The Pope sneaks away nights disguised as a Swiss guard. Then he goes to the cafe, actually more like a trattoria, just 3 blocks away. Once there, he changes clothes from the guard outfit into a nice cashmere sweater and grey flannel slacks to go with his red patent leather slippers."

In answer to questions by Glossy News, Rodolfo said, "B-dict is a very good customer. He always tips 25% and usually pours me a glass of wine which he insists that I drink. Even though we are lovers, he pays the tab with a smile. I have to make a living, you know."

Asked about his decision to reveal the Pope's secret, Rodolfo stated, "We have analyzed our relationship in depth with his spiritual advisor. Then we decided to 'come out' as they say. The advisor recommended that we be up-front about our situation. 'Tell it like it is', he said."

We then asked about the recent serious statement by the pope on the church's position on gays and lesbians who want to marry. "They are an obstacle on the road to peace" are the pontiff's exact words.

Rodolfo said, "You know he is speaking for the church then, that's not his personal position. We are planning our own ceremony now. Of course we are going to have to do it in Canada, and he will have to be disguised. I hope we can honeymoon at Niagara Falls, it's always been my dream."

What an outrageous piece of crap! Even a three-year-old child finds it difficult to believe. Perhaps Rodolfo should look deeper into the life of B-dict before he made such accusations. We all know who Pope Benedict XVI is and his background. He is theologically conservative, and his teachings and prolific writings clearly defend traditional Catholic doctrine and values. He has also emphasized what he sees as a need for Europe to return to fundamental Christian values. And the traditional Catholic values certainly do not include homosexuality. Joseph Ratzinger was born to a religious family and his brother, Georg Ratzinger, is also a priest. His sister, Maria Ratzinger, although not a nun, was never married and managed Cardinal Ratzinger's household until her death in 1991. Thus we see that his siblings also live celibate lives and homosexuality certainly does not run in this family. Why am I saying this? People who can live celibate lives are holy people who enjoy a close relationship with God. When the mind is filled with thoughts of God, one would not participate in any sinful and indecent acts. Our Holy Father has chosen to live a celibate life because he wants to emulate Christ and walk in the footsteps of Christ. How could such a holy man possibly indulge in sinful activities especially when it is against nature?

At the age of five, Ratzinger had already announced that he wanted to be a cardinal. His love for the priesthood has already begun when he was still a young child. He received his priestly ordination on 29 June 1951 at the age of 24 and has never looked back. Never once did he pester the popes of his time to allow him to get married. The vows of chastity that he has taken freely at an age when most men would be thinking of marriage clearly shows that he is a very holy, pure and chaste person who wants to give himself completely to God and to men . When one is ready to take up the cross and follow Christ, one wouldn't think of sex. Be it marriage to a beauiful blonde or homosexuality, they have no place in his life. That's why I am wondering how on earth could Rodolfo made such outrageous remarks about this holy man. Has the pope offended him in any way? This would probably help to explain why he is trying to defame the Holy Father. Or perhaps this waiter only wants attention. Has he ever considered Pope Benedict XVI's age-related health problems when he said that the Holy Father disguises as a Swiss guard and sneaks out in the night? Dear Rodolfo, please remember that our Holy Father is no longer an agile teenager. Given his age and health condition, can he still indulge in homosexuality? Just think of the effect that it would have on his health!

And now let us hear what Pope Benedict XVI has to say about celibacy. According to our Holy Father: "Celibacy is really a special way of conforming oneself to Christ's own way of life. In continuity with the ecclesial tradition, with the Second Vatican Council, and with my predecessors in the papacy, I reaffirm the beauty and the importance of a priestly life lived in celibacy as a sign expressing total and exclusive devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God, and I therefore confirm that it remains obligatory in the Latin tradition. Priestly celibacy lived with maturity, joy and dedication is an immense blessing for the church and for society itself."

Truly Pope Benedict XVI has walked his talk. He has devoted his whole life completely and wholeheartedly to Christ, to the Church and to the Kingdom of God and he himself is one of the greatest gifts from God to the Latin Rite. Pope Benedict is not only a very holy and chaste man, he is also very highly educated. In 1953 he obtained his doctorate in theology with a thesis entitled "People and House of God in St Augustine's Doctrine of the Church. He has also served as a professor of theology at various German universities. Even before becoming Pope, Joseph Ratzinger was one of the most influencial men in the Roman Curia. Wow! What a great man our Pope is! Really hard to find.

I am sure we have seen photos of Pope Benedict XVI's younger days. How handsome he was then and even at this age he still looks great. Such a handsome, holy and well-educated man is really not easy to find nowadays. Our Pope is truly a perfect gentleman. No doubt he is the most eligible bachelor in the world. It is no wonder why Rodolfo is smitten already. Not only the ladies are crazy of him but it seems that the men are of no exception! Going for honeymoon at the Niagara Falls is certainly very romantic but is Pope Benedict XVI really that romantic? Our Holy Father is an old man now. He is not a young man in love. Further, he is married to the Church and would not commit adultery with anyone else be it a man or a woman. For someone as romantic as Rodolfo, I hope that he will find the romantic gentleman that he is looking for who will take him to the Niagara Falls for their honeymoon but please leave our Holy Father alone!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MEDITATIONS BY FORMER MEDJUGORJE PRIEST, TOMISLAV VLASIC

1st November 2009 - Tomislav Vlasic was formerly a Medjugorje priest but was excommunicated by the Vatican and reduced to the lay state recently. He could have been a good priest. No doubt, he preached well. Let us hope that he will find what he is looking for in life. Here, I would like to share his advice about prayers. I got this excerpt from a very old book, a grey book entitled "Open Your Hearts to Mary, Queen of Peace" given to me by a church member many years ago. This book was cowritten by Father Slavko Barbaric and Tomislav Vlasic. I find this book very meaningful and very beautifully written. It's a very good book and really worth reading. I have read it countless times for the past two years and am still reading it from time to time.

MEDITATIONS ON PRAYER by Tomislav Vlasic
"I am going to disappoint you to start with. On 24th April Our Lady said, 'That is enough news. People know enough. Tell people: this is a place of prayer.'

When people arrive here they say they are happy! Then they go home and continue the same life as before. So, please do not forget this, that I am giving you the items of news so as to bring you to prayer and to the path towards Jesus Christ. Remember this.

I will tell you something very interesting: you are always curious to know what Our Lady says, how she appears. Our Lady is very interested to know what is happening in your souls. I want to talk to you a little about this. During the apparitions, especially to Jelena and Marijana, Our Lady almost everyday says, 'Pray and fast.' In this way curiousity will have no place in your souls. Pray and fast. If you pray you will understand everything. (Medjugorje, 31st July 1984)

In February, Our Lady said, 'Do not be surprised because I often say pray, pray, pray. I have nothing else to tell you.' I must mention something else. Our Lady said, 'When I tell you to pray do not understand this as meaning only an increase in the number of prayers. I want to bring you to an attitude of a continuous longing and desire for God.'

Our life must be transformed into a day for prayer. A week ago, Our Lady said, 'Pray when you can, but always pray more and more.' And then added, 'Each of you could pray four hours a day. But I know that many people do not understand this because they think that they can live by their work alone.'

I said, 'If I tell people this, they will turn away.' She replied, 'Even you do not understand this. It is only a sixth of your day.' I added, 'I understand that you want us to pray all day.' Then she seemed happy.

"I tell you that it is really possible to pray all day, to be in contact with God all day long. When I told the peasants, they looked at me in a rather amazed way. I asked them what they did after half an hour's heavy work in the fields? They get up and try to rest for a while. So I asked them why not say, 'Jesus help me.' Why not say then, 'Jesus bless what I have done?' Why not keep in contact with God while you rest so that He may bless your work? This is how you can transform prayer into continuous prayer.

We must remember what Our Lady said in Autumn: 'Do not forget, man does not live by work alone but also by prayer. Your work will not go well without prayer.'

In fact, in the beginning of the planting season here I told the parishioners: If you want to tire yourselves out while planting the tobacco, do not pray and work very hard. But if you want God to help you plant the tobacco - which is very difficult here because the earth is dry, water has to be carried and the plants protected - if you want God to work for you and for you to rest ... then come to church. They came to church more frequently and everything went easily. They did not even have to carry one drop of water for the tobacco. God sent rain at the right moment.

I am giving you this example so that you can understand that we really must pray more. If we do not pray more, we are not truly converted."

Our Lady has given us another rule, 'If you want to be very happy, live a simple, humble life, pray a great deal and do not delve into your problems, let God resolve them.'

Another rule that you must learn is to simplify your homes, because life has become complicated: all those clothes, toys and pleasures. Give all this to the poor and you will be freer, less worried. When you have problems, do not have them analysed or go here and there trying to find out what has happened: leave them to God. You just pray and have faith.
(Medjugorje, 24th May 1984)

I wonder where can I find the time to pray, to manage my blog, to do God's work, to write my Ph.D. thesis and to teach in school. Well, let God take care of them. Let us not worry over what we are to eat, what to wear and what to put upon our feet. Have faith and pray hard and do your best today. God will take care of everything.

Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Which of you by worrying can add a moment to his life-span? Matthew: 6:26-27