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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

FRENCH GRAMMAR: THE FUTURE TENSE

In French, the future tenses include the simple future (le futur simple), the future perfect (le futur anterieur) and the near future (le futur proche). According to Eliane Kurbegov (French Grammar Drills, 2007:179), "The near future is used to talk about what is going to happen. Similarly the simple future talks about what will happen. Both tenses refer to future events. However, the near future is more frequently used in familiar conversation while the simple future is more formal. The future perfect, found less frequently in familiar conversation, is used to say that something will be done by the time something else happens."

The Simple Future (le futur simple)
The simple future expresses an action or a state that will take place after we speak. As the action or state has not happened yet, it is only more or less probable. To distinguish the simple future from the near future, let's say the near future expresses a fact that will take place more probably than the simple future (Jean Severy, Essential French Grammar, 2008:174).

In English, the simple future consists of will or shall + verb. In French, the simple future has no auxiliary, it consists of one word only. The future stem of regular -er and -ir verbs is the entire infinitive. Regular -re verbs drop the final -e of the infinitive before adding on the endings. The future endings are -ai, -as, -a, -ons, -ez, -ont. For example:

travailler (to work)
je travaillerai (I will work), tu travailleras, il/elle/on travaillera, nous travaillerons, vous travaillerez, ils/elles travailleront

finir (to finish)
je finirai (I will finish), tu finiras, il/elle/on finira, nous finirons, vous finirez, ils/elles finiront

perdre (to lose)
je perdrai (I will lose), tu perdras, il/elle/on perdra, nous perdrons, vous perdrez, ils/elles perdront

Where the irregular verbs are concerned, many have regular stems, that is, the entire infinitive or (with -re ending verbs) the infinitive minus final -e. For example:

boire (to drink) ------ je boirai
croire (to believe) ------ je croirai
dormir (to sleep) ------ je dormirai
lire (to read) ------ je lirai
ouvrir (to open) ------ j'ouvrirai
partir (to leave) ------ je partirai

However, there are also irregular verbs with irregular stems:

aller (to go) ------ j'irai
envoyer (to send) ------ j'enverrai
falloir (to be necessary) ------ il faudra
recevoir (to receive) ------ je recevrai
venir (to come) ------ je viendrai
vouloir (to want) ------ je voudrai

The Future Perfect (le futur anterieur)
Whereas the simple future describes an action or situation which will be taking place at some time in the future, the future perfect refers to an action which is seen as completed by or at a specific time in the future. In English, the future perfect consists of will have or shall have + past participle. In French, the future perfect consists of the simple future of avoir or etre + past participle. For example:

aller (to go)
je serai alle(e), (I will have gone), tu seras alle(e), il/on sera alle, elle sera allee, nous serons alle(e)s, vous serez alle(e)(s), ils seront alles, elles seront allees

devenir (to become)
je serai devenu(e), (I'll have become), tu seras devenu(e), il/elle/on sera devenu(e), nous serons devenu(e)s, vous serez devenu(e)(s), ils/elles seront devenu(e)s

It should be noted that the past participle of verbs conjugated with etre should agree in gender and number with the subject.

The Near Future
The futur proche implies the action will be completed soon, while the simple future is open-ended as to completion of the action. Thus, if you ask for a book at the library desk, the librarian's response would normally be in the futur proche as follows: Je vais chercher votre livre (I'll get your book). Were the librarian to respond with the simple future tense, Je chercherai votre livre, you would be left wondering how long you might have to wait.

In English, the near future consists of to be going to + infinitive. In French, the near future consists of the present tense of aller + infinitive. For example:

Je vais essayer (I am going to try)
Il va faire froid dehors (It's going to be cold outside)

Monday, December 20, 2010

FRENCH GRAMMAR: THE PAST TENSES

In French, the past tenses include the passe compose, the imperfect tense, the pluperfect tense and the passe simple.

The Formation of the Passe Compose
The passe compose is generally translated into English by the simple past (I lived, she wrote), the present perfect (I have lived, she has written) and the emphatic past (I did live, she did write). The passe compose is used when one knows how long a past action lasted, how many times it occurred, and at what precise moment it happened.

Like the English present perfect, the passe compose is a compound tense. It consists of an auxiliary and the past participle of the verb in question. In English, the auxiliary is always the verb 'to have'. In French, it can be either avoir or etre. Most French use avoir to build the passe compose. The second element of the passe compose is the past participle.

The past participle of regular verbs can be formed in the following ways. With -er verbs, the -er ending is dropped and is replaced with -e: (parler - parle)
j'ai parle (I spoke, I have spoken, I did speak), tu as parle, il/elle/on a parle, nous avons parle, vous avez parle, ils/elles ont parle.

With -ir verbs, the -ir ending is dropped and is replaced with -i: (finir - fini)
j'ai fini (I finished, I have finished, I did finish), tu as fini, il/elle/on a fini, nous avons fini, vous avez fini, ils/elles ont fini.

With -re verbs the -re ending is dropped and is replaced with -u: (repondre -repondu)
j'ai repondu (I answered, I have answered, I did answer), tu as repondu, il/elle/on a repondu, nous avons repondu, vous avez repondu, ils/elles ont repondu.

Irregular verbs, however, have irregular past participles which must be memorized. Below is a list of some of these verbs.

Infinitive ----------------English Meaning --------------Past Participle
avoir -------------------------to have --------------------------eu
boire------------------------- to drink -------------------------bu
construire --------------------to build ---------------------construit
connaitre ---------------------to know ----------------------connu
disparaitre -----------------to disappear -------------------disparu
faire ------------------------ to make, do ---------------------fait
lire ---------------------------- to read -------------------------lu
ouvrir -------------------------to open -----------------------ouvert
apprendre --------------------to learn -----------------------appris

The past participle using avoir to form the passe compose may change under certain circumstances. It should be noted that the past participle of verbs using avoir as auxiliary to form the passe compose agrees in gender and number with a preceding direct object. If the object is feminine singular, -e is added to the past participle, if it is masculine plural, -s is added (except when the participle ends in -s): if it is feminine plural, -es is added. For example:

  1. Quels livres avez-vous lus? (Which books did you read?)
  2. Il nous a reconnus. (He recognized us)
  3. Quelle imprimante ont-ils achetee? (Which printer did they buy?)
  4. Quelle chance elle a eue! (How lucky she was!)
  5. Combien de photos avez-vous prises? (How many pictures did you take?)
  6. La lettre que j'ai ecrite est longue. (The letter that I wrote is long)

However, the past participle remains unchanged if there is no preceding direct object, if the direct object follows the past participle eg Elle a vu la generale (She saw the dress rehearsal) or if the preceding object is indirect eg Ils leur ont repondu (They answered them).

A small number of French verbs form the passe compose with etre rather than avoir. Most of these express motion or a change of state. If the past participle of verbs is conjugated with etre, they must agree in gender and number with the subject. If the subject is feminine singular, -e is added to the past participle, if the subject is masculine plural, -s is added, and if the subject is feminie plural, -es is added. Here is a model conjugation:

aller (to go):
je suis alle(e), tu es alle(e), il est alle, elle est allee, nous sommes alle(e)s, vous etes alle(e)s, ils sont alles, elle sont allees.

To form the passe compose correctly, it is necessary to choose the correct form of the auxiliary verb as well as the correct form of the past participle.

The Imperfect Tense
The imperfect tense expresses actions and situations that lasted an indeterminate amount of time (he had a lot of money), occurred an unspecified number of times (she went to church every Sunday), or were in progress often when something else happened (it was raining when they arrived).

The stem of the imperfect tense of all verbs (except etre) is found by dropping the -ons ending of the nous form of the present tense. The imperfect endings are -ais, ais, -ait, -ions, -iez, -aient. For instance, here is the conjugation of the regular verb, parler, in the imperfect tense:

parler (to speak)
(nous parlons)
je parlais (I spoke, I was speaking, I used to speak)
tu parlais (you spoke, you were speaking, you used to speak)
il/elle/on parlait (he/she/one spoke/was speaking/used to speak)
nous parlions (we spoke, we were speaking, we used to speak)
vous parliez (you spoke, you were speaking, you used to speak)
ils/elles parlaient (they spoke, they were speaking, they used to speak)

Below is the conjugation of the irregular verbs boire, craindre and dormir:

Infinitive --------- Nous Form of Present Tense ----------- Imperfect
boire (to drink) ----------- nous buvons -------------------- je buyais
craindre (to fear) ---------nous craignons ------------------je craignais
dormir (to sleep) ----------nous dormons ------------------ je dormais

It should be noted that "It is in distinguishing between passe compose (used to represent finished actions) vs imperfect (used to describe actions that were going on in the past) that speakers of English have the most trouble (Didier Bertrand, Test Yourself French Grammar 1996:42).

The Pluperfect Tense
The pluperfect (also called the past perfect) is a compound tense consisting of an auxiliary and the past participle. In French as in English, the pluperfect describes what had happened before another action in the past. In the formation of the pluperfect, the imperfect tense of the auxiliary (avoir or etre) is added to the past participle of the verb in question. For instance here is the conjugation of the regular verb partir in the pluperfect tense.

partir (to leave)
j'etais parti(e) --------------- I had left
tu etais parti(e) --------------you had left
il/on etait parti -------------- he/it/one had left
elle etait partie -------------- she/it had left
nous etions parti(e)s --------- we had left
vous etiez parti(e)s ---------- you had left
ils etaient partis ------------- they had left
elles etaient parties ---------- they had left

The Passe Simple
The passe simple is often called the literary or historical past and it replaces the passe compose in formal speeches and writing. The passe simple is not used in conversations or everyday writing but one can see its usage in very formal speeches, newspaper articles, historical texts, and French Literature.

The passe simple of regular -er ending verbs is formed by adding the endings -ai, -as, -a, -ames, -ates, -erent to the stem of the infinitive. For instance:
donner (to give)
je donnai (I gave)
tu donnas (you gave)
il/elle/on donna (he/she/it/one gave)
nous donnames (we gave)
vous donnates (you gave)
ils/elles donnerent (they gave)

The passe simple of both -ir and -re ending verbs is formed by adding the endings -is, -is, -it, -imes, -ites, -irent to the stem of the infinitive. Eg:

choisir (to choose)
je choisis (I chose), tu choisis (you chose), il/elle/on choisit (he/she/it/one chose), nous choisimes (we chose), vous choisites (you chose), ils/elles choisirent (they chose).

entendre (to hear)
j'entendis (I heard), tu entendis (you heard), il/elle/on entendit (he/she/it/one heard), nous entendimes (we heard), vous entendites (you heard), ils/elles entendirent (they heard).

For -cer ending verbs a cedille is added to the c before a (except the third person plural)

For -ger ending verbs, e is added after g before a (except the third person plural). Eg:
manger (to eat)
je mangeai (I ate), tu mangeas. il/elle/on mangea, nous mangeames, vous mangeates, ils/elles mangerent.

Where irregular verbs are concerned some take the ending -is, -is, -it, -imes, -ites, -irent whilst others take the endings -us, -us, -ut, -umes, -utes, -urent.

The passe simple of irregular verbs can be derived from their past participle. If the past participle of the verb ends in -i, -is, or -it, the first series of the above endings would be used to form its passe simple. If the past participle of the verb ends in -u, then the second series of endings would be used instead. Eg:

dire (to say)
past participle: dit
je dis, tu dis, il/elle/on dit, nous dimes, vous dites, ils/elles dirent

courir (to run)
past participle: couru
je courus, tu courus, il/elle/on courut, nous courumes, vous courutes, ils/elles coururent

However, it should be noted that the passe simple of certain irregular verbs cannot be derived from their past participle. Eg:

ecrire (to write)
past participle: ecrit
j'ecrivis, tu ecrivis, il/elle/on ecrivit, nous ecrivimes, vous ecrivites, ils/elles ecrivirent

venir (to come)
past participle: venu
je vins, tu vins, il/elle/on vint, nous vinmes, vous vintes, ils/elles vinrent

How can we identify the passe simple? According to Trudie Maria Booth (French Verb Tenses, 2008:147), "If one is familiar with the endings, the verbs in the passe simple are easy to identify, even if the forms are not derived from the past participle. It is evident for example, that mourut comes from mourir and ouvrit comes from ouvrir. Only a few verbs may be difficult to recognize and should therefore be memorized."

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FRENCH GRAMMAR: THE PRESENT TENSE

According to Trudie Maria Booth (French Verb Tenses, 2008), "The verb is the most important part of the sentence. It expresses an action or state of the subject and indicates the time and mood of an occurrence. In order to be able to to communicate in a language, you must know how its verb tenses and moods are formed and how they are used." Veronique Mazet (Correct Your French Blunders, 2007:137) is of the opinion that, "The verb is crucial in determining the construction of a sentence and the placement of all its components. When you write a French sentence, focus on the verb." In order to master the French verbs, one would, first of all, need to master the art of conjugation. This is crucial if one wants to communicate effectively in French. Here I would like to share what I know about French Grammar with my readers. I hope that they will find this article useful.

In French, the subject must agree with the verb. Verbs are said to have three persons: the speaker, the person spoken to, and the third person, referring neither to the speaker nor the person spoken to. The subject pronouns in French are therefore as follows:

First person ------je (singular), nous (plural)
Second person ------ tu, vous (singular), vous (plural)
Third person ------il/elle/on (singular), ils/elles (plural)

There are two ways of saying you in French. Use tu to talk to friends, family members, children and animals. Use vous when you are addressing a stranger, someone you don't know well, or to maintain a certain degree of distance or respect. The pronoun on takes on different meanings. It may mean one, we or they depending on how it is used.

Since French has no subject pronoun for 'it', all nouns, whether animate or inanimate are referred to as either il or elle whilst ils refers to masculine plural nouns and elles refers to feminine plural nouns.

The following is the present tense conjugation of the verb, demander (meaning to ask). It is formed by dropping the -er ending of the infinitive and adding -e, -es, -e, -ons, -ez, and -ent to the stem of the verb. This is the rule for the formation of regular -er verbs.

demander (to ask)
je demande ------I ask, I am asking, I do ask
tu demandes ------you (familiar singular) ask, you are asking, you do ask
il demande ------he asks, he is asking, he does ask
elle demande ------she asks, she is asking, she does ask
on demande ------one asks, one is asking, one does ask
nous demandons ------we ask, we are asking, we do ask
vous demandez ------you (formal singular and plural, familiar plural) ask, you are asking, you do ask
ils demandent ------they ask, they are asking, they do ask
elles demandent ------they ask, they are asking, they do ask

French verb endings change depending on who you are talking about. In English, it is necessary to add -ing to the verb. In French, both the present tense and present continuous tense of the infinitive 'demander' are the same.

It should be noted that there are also a number of regular -er ending verbs that show slight spelling changes in their present tense forms. For instance, the verb 'appeler' (to call) doubles the last consonant of its stem in all persons except nous and vous. The following is the present tense conjugation of the verb appeler (to call):
j'appelle, tu appelles, il/elle/on appelle, nous appelons, vous appelez and ils/elles appellent.

For verbs ending in -yer, the y is changed into i in all persons except nous and vous. They can also keep the y throughout the conjugation. For isntance, let's look at the present tense conjugation of the verb payer (to pay):
je paie (je paye), tu paies (tu payes), il/elle/on paie (il paye), nous payons, vous payez, and ils/elles paient (ils payent).

Verbs ending in -oyer or in -uyer must change the y into an i in all persons except nous and vous. For example:
nettoyer (to clean)
je nettoie, tu nettoies, il/elle/on nettoie, nous nettoyons, vous nettoyez, ils/elles nettoient.
ennuyer (to bore)
j'ennuie, tu ennuies, il/elle/on ennuie, nous ennuyons, vous ennuyez and ils/elles ennuient.

Verbs ending in -ger and -cer show spelling changes only in the nous form.
For verbs ending in -ger e is added after the letter g in the nous form of the present tense.
manger (to eat)
je mange, tu manges, il/elle/on mange, nous mangeons, vous mangez, ils/elles mangent

For verbs ending in -cer a cedille is added to the c in the nous form of the present tense.

In the conjugation of regular -ir verbs, we have to add the following endings to the stem:
-is, -is, -it, -issons, -issez, -issent. Here is a model conjugation:
finir (to finish)
je finis, tu finis, il/elle/on finit, nous finissons, vous finissez, ils/elles finissent

In the conjugation of regular -re verbs, we have to add the following endings to the stem:
-s, -s, - (no ending), -ons, -ez, -ent. Here is a model conjugation:
attendre (to wait)
j'attends, tu attends, il/elle/on attend, nous attendons, vous attendez, ils/elles attendent

As for the present tense of the irregular verbs, they are even harder to conjugate because they don't have a consistent stem throughout their conjugation but luckily most of them have similar endings, making them a little easier to remember. The following is the present tense conjugation of three of these irregular verbs:

aller (to go)
je vais, tu vas, il/elle/on va, nous allons, vous allez, ils/elles vont
avoir (to have)
j'ai, tu as, il/elle/on a, nous avons, vous avez, ils/elles ont
etre (to be)
je suis, tu es, il/elle/on est, nous sommes, vous etes, ils/elles sont

But how are we going to remember all those verbs without a consistent stem and ending? According to Zoe Erotopoulos (French Verbs for Dummies, 2006:43), "The only suggestion I can make is that you study each one and practice using it; I'm sure each will become second nature to you in no time. A good way to make these verbs your own is to practice saying them out loud and to try to build up a certain rhythm. You may even try making a song out of the conjugations, using your favourite melody."

French verbs show a great multiplicity of forms. Learning French is therefore very challenging. Difficult though it may be, mastery of this language is a great accomplishment. I have always assumed that French speakers are clever people because French is a language which is not easy to learn due to its complex nature.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FRENCH WORDS AND PHRASES

French is the most beautiful language in the world. My love for this beautiful language actually began at the Grotto of Massabielle. It was at this holy place that I developed an intense love for this language. Learning a foreign language is no easy task and there must be a very special reason behind it. This is what gives meaning to learning. Without a specific purpose, learning a foreign language becomes almost impossible. Why do I want to master French when I can't even master my own language (Chinese)? The answer is simple. Because of my love for Our Lady and hence for Lourdes.

Come to think of it, the teaching and learning of maths and science in English in Malaysia is a failure despite the millions of ringgit spent on this project by the Malaysian Government because our Malaysian teachers and students do not have a special purpose for learning English. Learning English therefore becomes meaningless to them. One day, when they have found their purpose they will learn. The acquisition of a foreign language cannot be attained by force. The willingness to learn must come from the heart and soul.

Below is a list of some basic French expressions that may come in handy for the Lourdes pilgrims. In the brackets are the pronunciations of these words.
  1. yes ------------oui(wee)
  2. no ------------non(nawng)
  3. okay ------------d'accord (dakor)
  4. good morning/ afternoon ------------bonjour (bawngzhoor)
  5. good evening ------------bonsoir (bawngswar)
  6. good night ------------bonne nuit (bon nwee)
  7. goodbye ------------au revoir (oa rervwar)
  8. excuse me ------------excusez-moi (exkewzay mwa)
  9. very good ------------tres bien (treh byang)
  10. please ------------ s'il vous plait (seel voo pleh)
  11. thank you (very much) ------------merci (beaucoup) mehrsee (boakoo)
  12. you're welcome ------------de rien (de reang)
  13. sometimes ------------quelquefois (kelkefwa)
  14. someone ------------quelqu'un (kelkang)
  15. something ------------quelque chose (kelker shoaz)
  16. fortunately ------------heureusement (urrurzmahng)
  17. of course ------------bien sur (byang sewr)
  18. none ------------aucun (oakang)
  19. never ------------jamais (zhameh)
  20. now------------maintenant (mangtnahng)
  21. immediately ------------tout de suite (too der sweet)
  22. often ------------souvent (soovahng)
  23. always ------------toujours (toozhoor)
  24. probably ------------probablement (probablurmahng)
  25. perhaps ------------peut-etre (pur tetr)
  26. on the left/right ------------a gauche/a droite (a goash/a drwat)
  27. Turn left ... ------------Tournez a gauche
  28. a little ------------un peu (ang pur)
  29. too much ------------trop (tro)
  30. Why not? ------------Pourquoi pas? (poorkwa pa)
  31. totally ------------totalement (totalmahng)
  32. on foot ------------a pied (a pyay)
  33. extremely ------------extremement (extremmahng)
  34. equally ------------egalement (aygalmahng)
  35. slowly ------------lentement (lahngtmahng)
  36. a few days ------------quelques jours (kelker zhoor)
  37. a week ------------une semaine (ewn sermayn)
  38. every week ------------chaque semaine (shak sermayn)
  39. today ------------ aujourd'hui (oh zhoor dwee)
  40. tonight ----------- ce soir (suh swar)
  41. tomorrow ------------ demain (dermang)
  42. yesterday ------------ hier (ee yehr)
  43. per day ------------par jour (par zhoor)
  44. every day ------------ tous les jours (too lay zhoor)
  45. breakfast ------------le petit dejeuner (ler pertee dayzhurnay)
  46. lunch ----------- le dejeuner (ler dayzhurnay)
  47. dinner ---------- le diner (ler deenay)
  48. Help! ------------ Au secours! (oh skoor!)
  49. black ------------noir (nwar)
  50. blue ------------bleu (blur)
  51. brown ------------marron (marawng)
  52. green ------------vert (vehr)
  53. gray ------------gris (gree)
  54. orange ------------orange (orahngzh)
  55. pink ------------rose (roz)
  56. purple ------------violet (veeoleh)
  57. red ------------rouge (roozh)
  58. white ------------blanc (blahng)
  59. yellow ------------jaune (zhoan)
  60. air conditioning ------------la climatisation (la kleemateezassyawng)
  61. light ------------la lumiere (la lewmyehr)
  62. elevator ------------l'ascenseur (lassahngsurr)
  63. swimming pool ------------la piscine (la peesseen)
  64. bathroom ------------la salle de bains (la sal der bang)
  65. kitchen ------------la cuisine (la kweezeen)
  66. bedroom ------------la chambre (la shahngbr)
  67. dining room ------------la salle a manger (la sa la mahngzhay)
  68. botanical garden ------------le jardin botanique (ler zhardang botahneek)
  69. castle ------------le chateau (ler shatoa)
  70. church ------------l'eglise
  71. fountain ------------la fontaine (la fawngtayn)
  72. market ------------le marche (ler marshay)
  73. museum ------------le musee (ler mewzay)
  74. library ------------la bibliotheque (la beebleeotek)
  75. bookshop ------------ la librairie (la lee breh ree)
  76. car park ------------ le parking (ler par keeng)
  77. police station ------------le commissariat de police (ler komeessarya der poleess)
  78. post office ------------la poste (la posst)
  79. hospital -----------l'hopital (lo pee tal)
  80. travel agency ------------l'agence de voyages (lazhahngss der vwahyazh)
  81. supermarket ------------ le supermarche (ler sewpehrmarshay)
  82. pharmacy ------------ la pharmacie (la farmassee)
  83. bridge ------------le pont (ler pawng)
  84. pond ------------l'etang (laytahng)
  85. river ------------la riviere (la reevyehr)
  86. sea ------------la mer (la mehr)
  87. waterfall ------------la cascade (la kaskad)
  88. lake ------------le lac (ler lak)
  89. mountain ------------la montagne (la mawngtan)
  90. hill ------------la colline (la koleen)
  91. beautiful ------------beau (boa)
  92. boring ------------ennuyeux (ahngnweeyur)
  93. ugly ------------laid (lay)
  94. doctor ------------le medecin (ler maydsang)
  95. hairdresser ------------le coiffeur (ler kwafurr)
  96. without a passport ------------sans passeport (sahng passpor)
  97. That's true ------------C'est vrai (seh vreh)
  98. Not bad ------------Pas mal (pa mal)
  99. I'd like a/an.... ------------Je voudrais... (zher voodray)
  100. belt ------------une ceinture (ewn sangtewr)
  101. blouse ------------un chemisier (ang shermeezyay)
  102. hat ------------un chapeau (ang shapoa)
  103. pants ------------un pantalons (ang pahngtalawng)
  104. shirt ------------une chemise (ewn shermeez)
  105. skirt ------------une jupe (ewn zhewp)
  106. book ------------un livre (ang leevr)
  107. dictionary ------------un dictionnaire (ang deeksyonehr)
  108. pack of cigarettes ------------un paquet de cigarettes (ang pakeh der seegarett)
  109. chocolate ice-cream ------------une glace au chocolat (ewn glass oa shokola)
  110. hot chocolate ------------un chocolat chaud (ang shokolah shoa)
  111. coke/ lemonade ------------un coca / une limonade (ang koka/ewn leemonad)
  112. bottle of wine ------------ une bouteille de vin (ewn bootayy der vang)
  113. calendar ------------ un calendrier (ang kalahngdreeay)
  114. postcard ------------ une carte postale (ewn kart postal)
  115. piece of cake ---------- un morceau de gateau (ang morsoa der gatoa)
  116. liter of milk ------------ un litre de lait (ang leetr der leh)
  117. jar of jam ------------ un pot de confiture (ang po dekawngfeetewr)
  118. I'd like some... ------------ Je voudrais ... (zher voodreh)
  119. bread ------------ du pain (dew pang)
  120. butter ------------ du beurre (dew burr)
  121. eggs ------------ des oeufs (day zur)
  122. beef ------------ du boeuf (dew burf)
  123. chicken ------------ du poulet (dew pooleh)
  124. ham ------------ du jambon (dew zhahngbawng)
  125. pork ------------ du porc (dew por)
  126. sausages ------------ des saucisses (day soasseess)
  127. pepper ------------ du poivre (dew pwavr)
  128. salt ------------ du sel (dew sel)
  129. sugar ------------- du sucre (dew sewkr)
  130. honey ------------- du miel (dew myel)
  131. milk ------------ du lait (dew lay)
  132. It's raining ------------Il pleut (eel plur)
  133. It's snowing ------------Il neige (eel nayzh)
  134. It's sunny ------------Il fait du soleil (eel feh dew solayy)
  135. a single room for one person ------------une chambre pour une personne
  136. a double room for two persons ------------une chambre pour deux personnes
  137. Where do I pay? ------------Ou dois-je payer? (oo dwazh payay)
  138. How much is that? ------------C'est combien? (seh kawnbyang)
  139. How are you? ------------Comment allez-vous? (kommahng ta lay voo?)
  140. What's your name? ------------ Comment tu t'appelles? (kommahng tew ta-pel?)
  141. How old are you? ------------ Quel age as-tu? (kel azh a tew?)
  142. Where do you live? ------------ Ou est-ce que tu habites? (oo es kuh tew a beet?)
  143. Can you help me? ------------ Pouvez-vous m'aider? (poo vay voo meh day?)
  144. What time is it? ------------Quelle heure est-il? (kel ur ay teel?)
  145. It's... ----------Il est... (eel ay...)
  146. six o'clock ------------ six heures (see zur)
  147. midday ------------ midi (mee dee)
  148. midnight ------------ minuit (mee nwee)
  149. What a lovely day! ------------Quelle belle journee! (kel bel zhoor nay!)
  150. Merry Christmas! ------------Joyeux Noel! (zhwa yuh noh el!)
  151. Happy New Year! ------------ Bonne Annee (bon a nay!)
  152. Happy Easter! ------------ Joyeuses Paques! (zhwa yuz pak!)
  153. I'll pay ... ------------Je paie ... (zher payy)
  154. by cash ------------en liquide (ahng leekeed)
  155. by credit card ------------avec une carte de credit (avek ewn kart der kraydee)
  156. See you soon. ------------ A bientot (a byangtoa)
  157. Do you speak English? ------------ Parlez-vous anglais? (parlay voo ahnggleh?)
  158. Where is the hotel? ------------ Ou est l'hotel? (oo ay loh tel?)
  159. I'd like to buy ... ------------ Je voudrais acheter ... (zher voodray ashtay)
  160. That's all, thanks ------------ C'est tout, merci (seh too mehrsee)

Friday, December 3, 2010

LOURDES: THE GROTTO OF MASSABIELLE

Here the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared 18 times to Saint Bernadette between 18 February and 16 July 1858.

On 25 February 1858 Our Lady told Bernadette to "go to the spring, drink, and wash in it." The spring now feeds the water taps on the left of the grotto and the baths on the right. Nowadays there are 34 drinking fountains - actually simple taps - where the pilgrims can wash their faces in the water of the Massabielle Spring according to the wishes of Our Lady.

The Massabielle rock. Often we can see pilgrims queueing up just to wait for their turns to touch this rock. There is always a long queue in summer.

Pilgrims come from all over the world to pray at the place where Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous.

The grotto is the true heart of the Lourdes shrine. Pilgrims from all over the world flock to Lourdes basically to pray at the spot where Our Lady appeared to Saint Bernadette more than 150 years ago. The name Massabielle comes from "Massevielle" which means "old rock" in the local dialect. The rock where we find the grotto is about 20 metres high and is covered with shrubs and ivy. It seems to be supported by an enormous natural vault, which is nothing more than the grotto itself. It is blackened by plumes of smoke from the candles which burn constantly in a big cone-shaped candelabra (at the foot of the statue) in memory of that first candle lit in front of the grotto by Bernadette. Since 1858, following Bernadette's example, pilgrims come to the grotto bearing candles - the symbol of their faith in Christ whose own words recorded in the Gospel declare, "I am the light of the world." In a way, these candles also express the faith, anxieties and vows of the pilgrims who lay down the burden of all their human and spiritual miseries in front of the grotto.

Every year, more than three million candles are burnt in front of the grotto. Candles of different sizes are to be found to the left of the drinking fountains. The profits of their sale go mainly towards the upkeep of the shrine. So great is the number of candles bought during the season that it is impossible to burn them all at the same time. Consequently, pilgrims are asked to hold their candles while they are praying, and then hand them to the staff in charge of the burners (to the right of the grotto, near the bath-houses). Some of the candles will be kept in a special store and then lit again during the winter months, thus prolonging the pilgrims' prayers well after they have gone.

This cave is made up of three irregular apertures - the largest one is 5 metres high, 7 metres wide and 8 metres deep. On the roof of the vault is a plume of ivy. A white carrara marble statue representing Our Lady of Lourdes was blessed and placed in this spot on 4 April 1864. The statue is the gift of two sisters from Lyon, the Misses Lacour - sisters of the speaker in the French Senate. It is the work of the Lyonnaise sculptor Joseph-Hugues Fabisch who sculpted the statue according to Bernadette's suggestion. On the pedestal are engraved the words spoken by Mary in local dialect, "Que Soy era Immaculada Councepciou" which means "I am the Immaculate Conception." These are the words the Madonna said to Bernadette during the sixteenth apparition on 25 March 1858.

At the time of the apparitions the floor of the grotto was covered with a mixture of earth, sand and gravel left behind by the River Gave during flooding. Scattered arond were dead branches, pieces of wood and the bones of animals that had been dumped there by flood tides. In front of the entrance to the grotto runs a canal bringing water down from the Savy mill and the adjacent sawmill. The canal runs into the River Gave further down. The grotto was used as a natural shelter by the fishermen and hunters of the area during bad weather. Since the apparitions, the grotto has been cleaned and restored on several occassions. In 1955 its interior was lowered by more than a metre and grey marble slabs were used to pave it. An altar for the celebration of masses and other religious cereemonies were placed in the centre. Masses are celebrated daily at the plain stone altar at the grotto. Behind the altar one can find the box where people place their prayer petitions.

Inside the grotto, to the right, the rosebush planted in the rock is a reminder of the "sign" required by Father Peyramale who said, "And have Her make the rosebush in the grotto blossom." At the back of the grotto, to the left of the altar (see picture above), you can see the flowing spring that Bernadette discovered on 25 February 1858 during the ninth apparition. It is covered by an illuminated glass pane. This spring water, in order to be made available to everyone, is now channelled towards the taps and the baths. The work was carried out in February 1949 by Father Joseph Mailhet, a renowned hydro-geologist.

In front of the grotto a large open square covering a surface area of 27 square metres has been built for the pilgrims to provide space for them to reflect quietly or to attend religious ceremonies. To obtain the space needed for the square, the River Gave de Pau had to be diverted twice. The Gave was diverted by about 30 metres with a strong protective embankment being built and the canal that Bernadette crossed was rerouted upstream. Two paving stones mark the original location of the Savy Mill canal and the place where Bernadette stood when Our Lady appeared to her for the first time. Despite the various changes, the grotto has maintained its original, simple and austere appearance.

The silent, private joy of personal prayer that Bernadette experienced during the first apparitions is today shared by millions of believers who come to pray at the grotto. Massabielle Grotto is a place for silent contemplation. Just as Bernadette used to meet Our Lady at this Grotto of Apparitions, pilgrims today come face to face with her statue - placed on the exact spot where She habitually appeared to Bernadette.

"I want people to come here," said Our Lady. Here, the first masses of the day follow one another in all languages in the quiet contemplation of the morning. Here, Pope John Paul II prayed in silence for a long time from the moment of his arrival in Lourdes in 1983. Here, before the rock. we remember Bernadette's "young lady", the Immaculate Virgin who came smiling as She appeared to the poor girl from the Cachot. It is thus God who reaches out to us, the poor beings that we are. How good it is to pray here! And it was here that my French story began. I vow to devote the rest of my life to improve on my French after I have completed my PhD thesis. To me, French is the most beautiful language in the world. Why French? Because it makes me feel close to the Grotto of Massabielle and hence close to Our Lady. Each time I take out a French book to read, my mind drifts to the Grotto of Massabielle - to the exact spot where Our Lady appeared to Bernadette and I couldn't help feeling that I am already there - at the Grotto of Massabielle with Our Lady.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

MEMORABLE WALKS IN MEDJUGORJE

In the photo below, you can see a part of Mount Krizevac behind the hotels. Medjugorje has many beautiful hotels now. However, life wasn't very comfortable for the pilgrims during the early days of the apparitions. During those days the beautiful hotels that we see now do not exist. Although life in Medjugorje wasn't easy at that time, the pilgrims still went to Medjugorje because of their strong faith. Even the war couldn't stop them. They were ready to endure whatever hardship that awaited them. Where did they stay then? Who provided food for them? The villagers were very kind. They provided food and lodging for the pilgrims. That was how the hotel business in Medjugorje began.

This was the path that I took from my hotel to St. James Church. I have walked this path countless times yet I have never felt bored with it. All I could see was the beauty of this place - a place of love. A place where heaven touches the earth.

A simple path without any form of luxury but it means a lot to me. Even now I am filled with nostalgia for this simple and humble path of life that I have travelled in Medjugorje.

In the above photo you can also see Podbrdo Hill. Medjugorje is situated between Mount Krizevac and Podbrdo Hill. Hence the name Medjugorje which means "area between two mountains" in Croatian.

In the above photo you can get a better view of Podbrdo Hill. Skyscrapers and big cities would never catch my fancy. What I really yearn for is a simple life in a simple village like Medjugorje where everyone is kind, honest and helpful. What I really want to do for the remainder part of my life is to relive again the life that I have lived in Medjugorje. Just pray, pray, pray all day long. For those of you who are tired of this materialistic world and are yearning for some peace Medjugorje is the best place for you.

Some of the souvenir shops in Medjugorje. We are getting closer to St. James Church. You can see more of them opposite St. James Church. Medjugorje is truly a shopper's paradise. There are so many things worth buying there.

The beautiful St. James Church in Medjugorje. We have finally arrived there.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

IS MEDJUGORJE A SATANIC CULT?

I don't understand why there are people who keep saying that Medjugorje is a cult and at the extreme end there are even those who say that it is a Satanic cult. I find that they are not doing justice to this holy place. Even though they do not believe in the apparitions there is no reason why they should say such a thing. Maybe they do not know what a Satanic Cult really is. If only they would take the trouble to find out more about it they would realize that they have misinterpreted its meaning. A Satanic Cult is a fearful thing - certainly NOT what you can see and experience in Medjugorje. Is Medjugorje really a Satanic cult? This will be the issue of my discussion tonight.

First of all, it is necessary to understand what a Satanic Cult is. The Cult of Satan or Satan worship is in part a survival of the ancient worship of demons and in part a revolt against Christianity or the Church. It is absolutely evil and in complete antithesis to God. Their central feature is the Black Mass, a corrupted and inverted rendition of the Christian eucharist. Practices are said to include animal sacrifice and deviant sexual activity. Worship is motivated by the belief that Satan is more powerful than God and is more capable of bringing about the results sought by his adherents.

Now to go deeper into the meaning of Black Mass characteristic of the Satanic Cult. The Black Mass is a magical ceremony and inversion or parody of the Catholic Mass that was indulged in ostensibly for the purpose of mocking God and worshipping the devil; a rite that was said to involve human sacrifice as well as obscenity and blasphemy of horrific proportions. Other stories of the Black Mass include:
  • mocking screams of "Beelzebub! Beelzebub! Beelzebub!" instead of speaking the holy words of consecration;
  • a wine that may be either urine or blood drunk from a human skull;
  • feasts on roasted human flesh;
  • naked bodies being used as altars;
  • black candles made from human fats;
  • frenzied sexual orgies and newborn babies being crucified alive or baptized in holy oil, strangled and offered as a sacrifice to Satan;
  • young boys' throat being cut to provide blood for the chalice, with prayers to the demons Asmodeus and Astaroth;
  • "Satan" being substituted for "God" and "evil" for "good";
  • crosses being tattooed on the soles of the feet so that the symbol of Christ is continually trodden under food.
Have the Medjugorje priests ever celebrated the Black Mass? Have they ever preached anything about Satanic worship? Have they ever taught the pilgrims how to worship Satan? In Medjugorje, Satan's name is never mentioned. Evil does not exist. Everyone is kind, honest and helpful. Even those who are not normally kind, honest and helpful would embrace these characteristics for a short while during their stay in Medjugorje. Why is it so? How can one choose to do evil in a place where evil does not exist? There is no such thing as the Black Mass in Medjugorje. The words 'Black Mass' do sound fearful, don't they? These fearful words do not exist in Medjugorje. In Medjugorje we do not see darkness. We can only see the light of God.

I have been invited to other non-Catholic churches before. Not that I wanted to go. It was just that my friends were too persuasive to the extent that they kept calling me unendingly - almost to the extent of dragging me there by force. In the Catholic Churches we do NOT look for new members like this. Once there was a friend who told me that she wanted to introduce a lawyer who graduated from the UK to me. I wonder if this is one of the tactics which her church employs to bring in new members. Any woman wouldn't be able to resist such temptation but definitely NOT me. I never like the idea of hunting for a husband especially in such an unnatural way. I have other more important things to do in my life. Well, he has all the 3Cs - career, condo, cash. Couldn't blame the ladies for competing so desperately for him! What is the purpose of going to church? To pray or to hunt for a husband?

Out of curiousity, I went to the other non-Catholic churches to see what was going on and being an extremely picky person I felt uneasy throughout my presence in those churches. I am the kind of person who cannot accept the slightest deviation from the Catholic practices. If I have ever attended the Black Mass in Medjugorje I will never ever mention this place again in my life. The reason why I am so supportive of Medjugorje is because it is more Catholic than the Catholic Churches in Malaysia. Frankly speaking, in Malaysia, I cannot find the kind of Catholic life that I yearn for. I can only find it in Medjugorje and Lourdes.

Human sacrifice, animal sacrifice and deviant sexual activities are never a part of the Church practices in Medjugorje. I haven't seen the priests killing people and animals in the church as offerings to God. And Medjugorje is certainly the last place to go for those who enjoy deviant sexual activities. People are smart nowadays. They know where to go for these activities. Medjugorje is NOT the place for them. In Medjugorje we do not drink urine or blood from a human skull nor do we feast on roasted human flesh. We fast on bread and water.

So, what can we see in Medjugorje? I saw people praying all the time even while walking. Back home, they probably wouldn't do such a thing in public because no one is doing it. But in Medjugorje, even godless people would pray all the time because everyone is doing it. Even those who seldom go to church would find themselves attending mass everyday or possibly twice a day. To a greater or lesser extent, we are influenced by our surrounding environment and by the people around us. So, if we want to live a holy life, Medjugorje is the best place for us. Why accuse Medjugorje of being a Satanic cult? Do you think people who worship Satan would do what the Medjugorje pilgrims are doing each day?

A few months back, a church member who is not very bright was invited to a non Catholic church in Kuala Lumpur. He went there with the purpose of getting a free meal. As I have said earlier, anyone in Malaysia can rent a flat or a shoplot and call it a church and then call himself a pastor. When this church member entered this particular "church", he was given a very lucrative offer i.e to marry a beautiful China woman. Irresistible, isn't it? Any guy would simply say "yes". Why not? The wife is free of charge. Better than taking a Vietnamese bride. To marry a Vietnamese bride one would have to pay RM15000. Well, this guy said that he couldn't afford to support himself and he did not want a wife. Next, he was given another offer i.e. he would be paid RM1000 for marrying this China woman. This was supposed to be a faked marriage. The China woman only wanted the marriage certificate so that she could stay here. He was told that this China woman would not give him any problems. She only wanted to work as a maid here. When he asked for the advice of another church member in my church, this church member told him that since Malaysian wives do not want China maids for fear that they will destroy their families there is the likelihood that this China woman may come here to work as a prostitute instead. So, this not-so-bright church member declined the marriage offer by that non-Catholic church. Why offer him RM1000 when he declined the first offer? The reason is very obvious. There was the intention to cheat this not-so-bright man. Needless to say, this China woman would disappear with the marriage certificate after marriage and he would be left without a wife. Just imagine how heart-broken he would be if he really wants a wife? If he really wants to get married one day, he'll find that he cannot do so because he is legally married to this China woman. Goodness knows where she'll be then. Only after he declined the first offer that he was being told about the truth of this transaction. They had no choice but to give him money to lure him into doing something illegal. The people in that church even told him that he should help people whenever he could. Does it mean that to be kind he must marry that China woman?

The marriage offer aside, how come no one ever says that this particular church is a cult? In fact it is regarded as a respectable church by many. Quite a prominent one too! If such a church cannot be regarded as a cult, then why is it that Medjugorje is accused of being a Satanic cult? Whatever the situation may be Medjugorje will NOT do this kind of marriage transaction business to promote prostitution. Which is more Satanic? The rented-flat church or Medjugorje? Think of it!

Friday, October 8, 2010

GOING UP PODBRDO HILL (APPARITION HILL)

Podbrdo Hill, also known as Apparition Hill, is the name of the place where the visionaries first saw Our Lady. Be it day or night, pilgrims can be seen climbing towards the place of the first apparition. This place has been marked by a pile of rocks, with a simple cross placed in the middle.


A photo of Podbrdo Hill taken while I was walking towards the hill.

The Blue Cross at the foot of Podbrdo Hill. There are two of them. Below is another one. Those who cannot afford to climb the arduous hill can sit and recite the rosary in front of the blue cross.
How did the story of the Blue Cross begin? On 27 July 1982, on his way to the apparition site, Ivan (one of the visionaries) suddenly knelt down. Our Lady warned Ivan that the communist police were waiting for him there. The place where Ivan knelt became the site of today's Blue Cross. A second blue cross was later placed close to the first one. Instead of going to the apparition site, Ivan and his prayer group met at the foot of the hill - the place where the Blue Crosses are now. The Blue Cross had since became the secret meeting place for Ivan's prayer group. There have been many apparitions at the Blue Cross.

See how steep and rocky Podbrdo Hill is! Certainly NOT an easy climb.


Above are two of the bronze reliefs of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary on Podbrdo Hill sculpted by Carmelo Puzzolo from Italy. (The reliefs of the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary were placed along the path leading up to the hill in 1989).


Two beautiful Medjugorje postcards. These are the scenes that you can see on Podbrdo Hill. In honour of the 20th anniversary of the apparitions, a statue of the Queen of Peace was placed at the very place of the apparitions. At first sight, this statue looks like the one in front of St. James Church. However, if you look at it carefully, you will notice that the features are slightly different.

I climbed Podbrdo Hill only once. When I went there for the second time with the intention to climb the hill again, it looked like it was going to rain. I changed my mind and after snapping some photos at the foot of the hill, I went to do some shopping before I went back to my hotel to prepare for church. Anyway, if I had climbed Podbrdo Hill that day, I would be late for church. That was also one reason why I decided not to climb Podbrdo Hill that day. I have never missed the Croatian Rosary (6.00 pm) and Croatian Mass (7.oo pm) at St. James Church during my stay in Medjugorje. In fact, every pilgrim feels that it is compulsory to be there in the evenings.

Friday, October 1, 2010

THE MESSAGES OF MEDJUGORJE

According to the unanimous testimony of the visionaries, during the apparitions Our Lady gave them specific messages to be delivered to the world. Although there are many messages, they can be summarized into five fundamental ones because all the others imply, request and promote these five.

Peace
Already on the third day Our Lady gave as the first of all messages: "Peace, peace, peace and only peace!" She also repeated twice: "Peace must rule between man and God and among the people." Since visionary Marija saw the cross behind Our Lady while she was giving that message it was obvious that such peace comes only from God who became "our peace" (Epf 2,14) in Christ through Our Lady. The world cannot give that peace (Jn 14,27), and that is why Christ commanded His disciples to be the ones to bring it to the world (Mt 10,11) so that all people may become "sons of peace" (Lk 10,6).

That is why Our Lady as the "Queen of the Disciples" introduced Herself in Medjugorje as the "Queen of Peace". No one else is as capable as She to convince successfully the modern world faced with so many threats, that peace is the greatest and the most needed possession.

Faith
Our Lady's second message is faith. She speaks about it on the fourth, fifth and sixth day of the apparitions and generally repeats it often, which is understandable.

Without faith it is not possible to achieve peace. Furthermore, faith by its nature is an answer to the Word of God through which God not only reveals Himself but also gives himself to mankind. Through faith man receives the Word of God that has become "our peace" (Eph 2,14) in Christ. Receiving it, man becomes new with a new life of Christ within him. He becomes an inheritor of God's nature. (Pet 1,4; Eph 2,18).

In this way man is assured of peace both with God and his fellow man. No one knows the significance of faith and how much modern man needs it as Our Lady does. That is why on every occassion She emphasizes this message to the visionaries and entrusts them to spread it to others. She places it above everything that people seeks and sets it as the first condition for the fulfillment of all pleas, desires and requests, whether they pertain to health or any other need.

Conversion
Conversion is also one of the most frequent messages on the basis that people today have a very weak faith, if at all. Without faith it is impossible to achieve peace. True conversion means to cleanse the heart (Jer 4,14) because a corrupt heart creates and sustains bad relatiopnships and social systems. It creates and sustains unjust laws and vassal establishmensts. Without a radical change of the heart and conversion there is no peace. That is why Our Lady calls for frequent confession. This call applies to everyone. "There is no one just, not one... All have gone astray, all alike are worthless." (Rom 3, 11-12).

Prayer
Since the fifth day of the apparitions, nearly every day Our Lady recommends prayer. She calls all the people yto pray without ceasing just as Jesus asked. (Mk 9,28; Mt 8,34; Lk 11,5-13).

Prayer either awakens or strengthens faith, which enables man to have a proper relationship with God and his fellow man. Furthermore, through prayer, man manifests his life's connection with God: recognizes Him, gives him praise for received gifts and with confidence relies on him for all his needs, especially salvation. Prayer strenghthens this attitude and helps man achieve a proper relationship with God. Without a proper relationship it is not possible to keep and promote peace with God or one's fellow man.

The justification of prayer is especailly evident in that the Word of God is directed to man and there is a need for man to respond to it by word. The answer is verbalized faith or prayer, through which faith encourages, restores, strengthens and supports itself.

Furthermore, through prayer man convincingly proclaims God and the gospel, enflaming faith in others. The word of prayer at the same time purifies and shapes human life.

Fasting
Already since the sixth day of the apparitions Our Lady has started recommending fasting because it serves faith. Fasting helps man to examine, confirm and ensure self-control.

Only a self-controlled person can be free and capable of serving God and his fellow man as faith demands. Fasting warrants that man's serving in faith is sincere and certain. It helps man to be liberated of all enslavement, in the first place of sin. Whoever cannot control himself is a slave. Furthermore, fasting helps man restrain his desire for excessive pleasure, which easily lead to inconsiderate spending of temporal goods needed by the poor for mere survival.

Fasting makes it possible to obtain the goods that can become living signs of love for the needy and poor and reduces the differences between the poor and rich. Fasting heals the lack of some by the excess of others and vice versa.

So in its own way, fasting helps establish the form of peace that has been especially endangered by the enormous differences between the rich and the poor (south and north). Consequently, form Our Lady's messages it is obvious that peace is our greatest good and that faith, conversion, prayer and fasting are the sole means through which it can be achieved.

Fasting on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays is Our Lady's message. Many have really learned to fast in Medjugorje.

Special Messages
Along with the five main messages Our Lady has given at the beginning for all mankind, since March 1, 1984 She has started to give, mainly through Marija Pavlovic, special messages for the Medjugorje parish and the pilgrims.

Besides six visionaries Our Lady has chosen the whole parish and all the pilgrim for Her witnesses and collaborators. This is evidenced in Her first message: "I have chosen this parish in a special way and I want to lead it." She confirmed this again later: "In a special way I have chosen this parish, one more dear to me than the others, in which I have gladly remained when the Almighty sent me." (March 21, 1985) She even mentioned the reason of Her choice: "You in the parish, be converted" (March 8, 1984) "I beseech you especially those from this parish, to live my messages." (August 16, 1984).

The parishioners and the pilgrims are the ones who must become the first witnesses of Her apparitions and messages so that they may join Her and the six visionaries in realization of Her plan of the conversion of the world and its reconciliation with God.

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.

(This article is written by Father Ljudevit Rupcic, O.F.M. in the book entitled MEDJUGORJE.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

A MESSAGE OF PEACE FROM MEDJUGORJE

There was fear and uncertainty. In 1980 the great dictator died. What was going to happen to this artificial formulation he held under foot until the end? What was going to happen with divided Europe? Who could have foreseen that the incredible democratic changes, which began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin wall, were going to happen? The good Mother is always vigilant over the destiny of Her children. A group of young people claimed how She came to them on June 24, 1981 in Medjugorje and continued to speak to them, almost every day, bringing the message of the Gospel, calling to peace, prayer, penance and conversion. At a time when peace in the world and in human hearts was jeopardized, according to the witness of the visionaries, Our Lady of Medjugorje introduced Herself as the "Queen of Peace". All goodness is actually contained in peace and God's people obtain it from Christ, its inexhaustible source. Peace is a fruit of justice and a deed of love. Our Lady in Medjugorje attracts people from all over the world who yearn for peace. Many confess, reconcile with God, with the community and with themselves; they return to prayer, embrace fasting and other forms of penance.

With Her messages Our Lady in Medjugorje directs God's people to the core of the Revelation contained in the Gospel. She calls to conversion, fasting and prayer. The faithful achieve true conversion and genuine peace through faith which is often exposed to temptation.

Peace can also be reached through fasting and helps the faithful to gain self-control. Peace can also be achieved through prayer by which faith is brought to life and without which great upheavals occur in the world.

Our Lady does not bring a new revelation to the world, or some new truths of faith that were as of yet unknown. In Medjugorje, as in Lourdes and in Fatima, in the center of the apparitions is the message of the gospel. The Mother of Jesus reminds Christians of the eternals truths, invites them to intensify their faith and to revive hope and strengthen love. Private revelations do not comprise the essential core of faith, nor do they intend to expand the "official revelation". Our Lady's apparitions contemporize Christ's message in a specific time and place. Our Lady continues to to be in the service of the gospel and of human salvation. The Mother's message is an encouragement and a call to give the Gospel its true meaning in the life of the faithful. Togetherness with God is a source of peace and togetherness with others. Our's Lady's apparitions are in the service of the work of salvation. They are a particular sign of Mary's presence in the Church and Her concern for the community of the faithful. Apparitions have always been connected with the needs of the Church and have always served in Its renewal in faithfulness to Christ and His Gospel - Father Petar Lubina OFM, Split.

This article is taken from the beautiful book entitled "Medjugorje" (Information center "MIR" Medjugorje).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ST. JAMES CHURCH, MEDJUGORJE

The external altar next to St. James Church was constructed in 1991.

One of my Medjugorje postcards. Really, Medjugorje has got the best postcards in the world. I have got a great collection of them!

The marble statue of Our Lady was placed in front of the church in 1987. Dino Felici sculpted it according to the descriptions given by the visionaries. I snapped this photo myself. Beautiful, isn't it?

The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes inside St. James Church.

The altar inside St. James Church

Stained glass windows in the church by Branimir Dorotic

One of the Stations of the Cross in the church by the famous Italian sculptor Peppino Sacchi. The 14 Stations of the Cross were placed in the church in 1996. Those who are not able to climb Mount Krizevac can have the opportunity to be immersed in the mystery of Jesus' passion before the carvings of this famous sculptor.

Building of the old St. James Church
On the 1st. of May 1892, the dreams of the parishioners became a reality. They could start building the church that they yearned for. The building of the church started in 1895 under the leadership of the parish priest Father Nikola Simovic. It took only two years to build. The building was supported by the Franciscan province and also by the many Croatian benefactors living in the country and abroad.

The church was the pride of the parishioners and their friars. Father Andeo Nuic was the parish priest of Medjugorje from 1907 to 1914. Fifteen years after the church and bell-tower were completed, the parishioners who emigrated to the USA bought a bell weighing 375.5 kg. In 1911, a large baroque altar was bought in Tyrol, Austria. The statue of St. Anthony was obtained three years later.

Thirty years later, the walls of the old St. James Church began to crack and its bell-tower leaned to the left. Nothing could be done to restore it. It became dangerous to use so the bells were removed and placed on beams in front of the church. In the summer, Holy Mass was celebrated in front of the church and in the winter Holy Mass was celebrated in the basement of the parish house. The old church was pulled down in 1979.

Building of the new St. James Church
In 1934, under the leadership of Father Bernardin Smoljan, the project for the building of the new parish church, on the land to the west of the parish house was approved. The parishioners donated the land. However, numerous difficulties arose as a result of which the building did not progress as planned. Digging of the foundation started on 21 June 1935. It took 8 months to finish a foundation of 42 metres by 21 metres and to build a four-metre high stone wall. After that, the buiding ceased until 17 October 1966 when the parish priest Father Radovan Petrovic together with the parishioners reommenced the building of the church which had been started more than three decades earlier.

Resources for the building of the church were donated by the parishioners, especially those who worked in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, and by numerous emigrants in countries overseas. The church was completed in a short time and was blessed on 19 January 1969 in the presence of all parishioners by Bishop Petar Cule and the provincial Father Rufin Silic. After the building of the bell-towers in May and June 1969, the bells that were on four oak trees in front of the old church were placed in them. In 1976, the floor was tiled with stone and in 1980 wooden benches were set in place.

During the past years, the church and the surrounding areas were organized to meet the needs of the growing number of pligrims so an external altar was constructed next to the church in 1991. Today Medjugorje is the confessional of the world. Numerous pilgrims have responded to the call of the Queen of Peace to conversion and reconciliation even at the very beginning of the apparitions.

GOING UP MOUNT KRIZEVAC - THE CALVARY OF MEDJUGORJE

The 4th. of June 2007 - that was the second time I climbed Mount Krizevac. Above is a photo of Mount Krizevac taken whilst I was walking towards the mountain.



Thus you can see how rocky the mountain is. It was indeed a tough climb. I wonder how Father Slavko Barbaric could do it every morning at sunrise. But then nothing could stop him from going there - not even the snow in winter.

Father Slavko's memorial - the place where he died on the way back from leading the Stations of the Cross on 24 November 2000. I talked to him for a very long time that day. What a great privilege to be with him alone on the mountain that day. It was the day I would never forget - the day I promised to consecrate my virginity to the Lord. To those who are not sure if they should enter religious life, why not ask Father Slavko?

The last station of the cross - the Resurrection. From there you can see the Krizevac Cross. After taking this photo, it started to rain. I didn't mind the rain. The most important thing to me was what happened to me that day on Mount Krizevac.

In the year 1933, the villagers of Medjugorje built an eight metre concrete cross in memory of the 1900th. anniversary of Jesus' death. Here you can see the stations of the cross. During the early years, simple wooden crosses marked the stations. In 1988, beside these crosses, bronze reliefs of the Stations of the Cross made by the Italian sculptor Carmello Puzzolo were mounted. Krizevac has become a privileged place of devotion to Christ's passion and has thus become the Calvary of Medjugorje. Medjugorje pilgrims follow the Way of the Cross on Krizevac on Fridays at 2.00 p.m. in the winter and at 4.oo p.m. in the summer. Everyone who is capable of climbing the arduous Mount Krizevac prays at the stations whilst pausing in front of the reliefs. Meditating on the passion of Jesus, the pilgrims unite themselves with Jesus.

The Building of the Cross

"Dear Children! The Cross was also in God's plan when you built it. These days, especially, go on the mountain and pray before the Cross. I need your prayers. Thank you for having responded to my call." (Our Lady's message dated 30 August 1984)

The parishioners and their parish priest Fr. Bernardin Smoljan had made a vow to build a Cross on Sipovac (now known as Krizevac) in 1933. The vow meant a great sacrifice not only because of hard work and the difficult climb but also because of the lack of material means due to the economic crisis in Europe and the world in 1933. This vow was fulfilled with the blessing of the Cross on 16 March 1934. The Cross of 8.65 metres contains relics from Rome. Holy Mass was celebrated at the foot of the Cross on Sipovac which became known as Krizevac on that day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

CROATIAN WORDS AND PHRASES

Croatian is a beautiful language. Below is a list of my first Croatian words and phrases. I hope that the Medjugorje pilgrims would find them useful.
  1. da (yes)
  2. ne (no)
  3. molim (please)
  4. hvala (thanks)
  5. nema na cemu (not at all)
  6. bok (hello)
  7. dovidenja (goodbye)
  8. dobro jutro (good morning)
  9. dobar dan (good day)
  10. dobar vecer (good evening)
  11. laku noc (good night)
  12. jedan (one)
  13. dva (two)
  14. tri (three)
  15. cetiri (four)
  16. pet (five)
  17. sest (six)
  18. sedam (seven)
  19. osam (eight)
  20. devet (nine)
  21. deset (ten)
  22. jedanaest (eleven)
  23. dvanaest (twelve)
  24. trinaest (thirteen)
  25. cetrnaest (fourteen)
  26. petnaest (fifteen)
  27. sesnaest (sixteen)
  28. sedamnaest (seventeen)
  29. osamnaest (eighteen)
  30. devetnaest (nineteen)
  31. dvadeset (twenty)
  32. sto (one hundred)
  33. tisuca (one thousand)
  34. ponedjeljak (Monday)
  35. utorak (Tuesday)
  36. srijeda (Wednesday)
  37. cetvrtak (Thursday)
  38. petak (Friday)
  39. subota (Saturday)
  40. nedjelja (Sunday)
  41. sijecanj (January)
  42. veljaca (February)
  43. ozujak (March)
  44. travanj (April)
  45. svibanj (May)
  46. lipanj (June)
  47. srpanj (July)
  48. kolovoz (August)
  49. rujan (September)
  50. listopad (October)
  51. studeni (November)
  52. prosinac (December)
  53. proljece (spring)
  54. ljeto (summer)
  55. jesen (autumn)
  56. zima (winter)
  57. Kako ste? (How are you?)
  58. dobro, hvala (fine, thanks)
  59. oprostite (excuse me)
  60. zao mi je (sorry)
  61. u redu (okay)
  62. zajutrak (breakfast)
  63. rucak (lunch)
  64. vecera (dinner)
  65. danas (today)
  66. veceras (tonight)
  67. sutra (tomorrow)
  68. jucer (yesterday)
  69. kruh (bread)
  70. maslac (butter)
  71. marmelada (marmalade)
  72. margarin (margarine)
  73. kava (coffee)
  74. vrhnje (cream)
  75. secer (sugar)
  76. jaja (eggs)
  77. riba (fish)
  78. pile (chicken)
  79. mlijeko (milk)
  80. jogurt (yoghurt)
  81. salata (salad)
  82. caj (tea)
  83. bocu mineralne vode ( a bottle of mineral water)
  84. limunada (lemonade)
  85. bijelo vino (white wine)
  86. crno vino (red wine)
  87. samoposluga (supermarket)
  88. knjiga (book)
  89. selo (village)
  90. suvenir (souvenir)
  91. Sretan rodendan! (Happy Birthday!)
  92. Sretan Bozic! (Merry Christmas!)
  93. Sretnu Novu Godinu! (Happy New Year!)
  94. Sretan Uskrs! (Happy Easter!)
  95. koliko mnogo? (how many?)
  96. koliko cesto? (how often?)
  97. Kako ti je ime? (What is your name?)
  98. Odakle si? (Where are you from?)
  99. Drago mi je! (Pleased to meet you!)
  100. Ja zelim taksi (I want a taxi)
  101. Gdje mogu naci taksi? (Where can I get a taxi?)
  102. Koliko to kosta? (How much is it?)
  103. kreditna kartica (credit card)
  104. Kljuc, molim (The key, please)
  105. Jelovnik, molim (The menu, please)
  106. Racun, molim (The bill, please)
  107. Caj s mlijekom, molim (A tea with milk, please)
  108. s ledom (with ice)
  109. bez (without)
  110. Sladoled, molim (An ice-cream, please)
  111. Ja bih sladoled (I'd like an ice-cream)
  112. Ne razumijem (I don't understand)
  113. Da li razumijete? (Do you understand?)
  114. Koliko je sati? (What time is it?)
  115. Koji je danas datum? (What is today's date?)
  116. Koji je danas dan? (What day is it today?)
  117. Kad se banka otvara? (When does the bank open?)
  118. Kad se banka zatvara? (When does the bank close?)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MEDJUGORJE'S IMPACT ON MY LIFE

The day before I left for Medjugorje, I went to Ocean to buy a torchlight. What would I do with the torchlight in Medjugorje? That was because I intended to climb Mount Krizevac in the morning of my birthday. That was also my last day in Medjugorje. I knew that if I wanted to climb Mount Krizevac on my birthday, I had to do it in the wee hours of the morning because I had to leave for Sarajevo Airport latest at 8.00 am if I did not want to miss my flight. Sad to say, I did not manage to climb Mount Krizevac that day. It was too cold for me. To be frank, I am very clumsy whenever it comes to doing outdoor activities and I knew that the rocks on the mountain (Mount Krizevac is very rocky) would be very slippery in the morning and I wouldn't be able to make it. Anyway, despite my clumsiness, I managed to climb Mount Krizevac twice during my stay in Medjugorje. Come to think of it, Father Slavko Barbaric used to climb Mount Krizevac every morning at sunrise because he loves Our Lady. Our Lady has said that She prays at the foot of the Krizevac Cross at 5.00 a.m. every morning and Father Slavko wanted to join Her in prayer every morning. Yet, there are people who say that he is a disobedient Franciscan. Surely, this isn't fair for him. Try climbing Mount Krizevac at sunrise and see how it is like!

Well, that was probably the saddest birthday I ever had because that was the day I left Medjugorje. Now, three years later, I still miss this place very much. Since the day I left Medjugorje, there isn't a single moment in my life that I do not think of this place. In fact, I am trying to relive my Medjugorje experience every day of my life.

So what did I do after I returned to Malaysia? Well, when I got off the plane at KLIA, I wasn't happy at the idea that I am no longer in Medjugorje. The first thing I did when I got home was to decorate my room with the souvenirs that I brought home with me from Medjugorje. I wanted to create the atmosphere of Medjugorje in my room to get the feeling of being in Medjugorje all the time.

For weeks, I felt homesick (as though Medjugorje is my home) and found it very difficult to adjust to my life back here in Malaysia. I immediately wrote to the University of Sarajevo to inquire about the PhD programs of this university. All that I ever wanted then was to be as near to Medjugorje as possible. But circumstances wouldn't allow that. So, instead of proceeding with my PhD program, I spent all my time praying and reading the books that I brought home with me from Medjugorje. I just did not want to do anything else. Since I came back from Medjugorje, I have been saying the Croatian rosary. As though the few Croatian words that I learnt in Medjugorje wasn't enough, I started learning the Croatian language. I wanted to go beyond words like molim (please), hvala (thanks), dobro jutro (good morning), dobar dan (good afternoon), danas (today), and kako ste (how are you) because they are too simple. I bought Collins' Croatian phrasebook that comes with a CD and did self-study. This provided me with the basics of the language. I don't believe in memorizing blindly. I then proceeded to learn more of the language on my own including Croatian grammar. Learning a language without knowing its grammar can be very confusing. For instance, what is the difference between 'moj', 'moja' and 'moje' in these three sentences when these three words mean 'my' in English? 1. Moj hotel je tamo (My hotel is there). 2. Moja torba je ovdje (My bag is here). 3. Moje selo je malo (My village is small). Croatian nouns are divided into 3 genders - masculine, feminine and neuter gender. The usage of these words depends on the gender and number of the nouns they modify. To date, I have learnt quite a number of Croatian words, phrases and sentences. I am also quite familiar with Croatian grammar. To me, Croatian is a very beautiful language. However, learning Croatian isn't as easy as French due to the lack of reference books.

For six months, that was what I did. Then my priest friend suggested that I should go to Lourdes the following year. The year 2008 was the 150th anniversary of the apparitions. I immediately agreed. I thought that maybe I could go over to Medjugorje if I had the time. The next few months, I was busy preparing for my pilgrimage to Lourdes. On 15 March 2008, I consecrated my virginity to the Lord - a promise I made right in front of the Krizevac Cross. And in less than 3 months' time, I would be going for my honeymoon with the Lord in Lourdes. What a great excitement!

I spent two weeks of my school holidays in Lourdes. There were so many things to do there that I couldn't find the time to go over to Medjugorje. In my heart, I wished I could visit Medjugorje that year. There were so many things that I wanted to buy in Medjugorje. I did ask myself the question - If I had not been to Medjugorje, would I go to Lourdes? Probably not. Well, in Medjugorje I learnt to live a religious life. I discovered my real vocation and my real self. Prayer life suddenly became very important to me. The presence of the Lord and His Blessed Mother in my life is of utmost importance to me now though I have never thought of seeking their presence in my life in the past.

After my visit to Lourdes, I spent the next eight months praying and learning French. I began to say my rosary prayers in French and Croatian. I went to Kinokuniya and bought all the French books that I could get hold of. I actually spent more than RM2000 on the French books alone. The Grotto of Massabielle - that was where my French story began. Then, I realized that it was time to go back to reality. There were so many things left undone in my life. I had to proceed with my PhD program. I had to write my proposal and I had to do a lot of reading before I could write. I actually do not like the idea of doing a PhD because it interferes with my prayer life and deprives me of my time with the Lord. I can't give all my time to Him anymore. I am always too busy to do anything now. But then, Father Slavko Barbaric has a PhD. Pope Benedict XVI has a PhD. Never mind, this is the last thing I will do before I give all my time to Jesus. Let's look at it this way. Maybe I should equip myself with better knowledge so that I can serve Him better. Since I came back from Medjugorje, I couldn't help feeling that my life does not belong to me anymore. I will live the rest of my life for the Lord.

What is my greatest regret now? If only I had been to Medjugorje before the year 2000, I would get the chance to help Father Slavko Barbaric with his work. What would I really like to do now? Life would be perfect if only I could spend the rest of my life in Medjugorje and in Lourdes. That's why I have to learn Croatian and French. No one knows what may happen in the future. But one thing is for sure. I have to rewrite the story of my life because I went to Medjugorje. The way I perceive life is different now and because of that my plans for the future would be different too.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MEDJUGORJE: FAITH OR FRAUD?

Three years ago, when I made up my mind to go to Medjugorje, it wasn't because I wanted to ask Our Lady to grant me my wishes. I don't need a healing. I am happy with my present state of health. Even if I were suffering from a terminal illness, it doesn't matter so much to me whether I can be healed or not. I am not the kind of person who clings on tightly to this material world. I don't need to ask Our Lady to make me rich. I am happy with my present situation. Contentment is the real happiness of life. I don't need to ask Our Lady to give me a husband. I would be happier with the Lord. I wasn't interested in the miracle of the sun either. And I didn't go there to ask the visionaries to prove to me that the Gospa is indeed really appearing to them. So why did I go to Medjugorje? Because Our Lady invited me to be with her in this place of grace. Because I wanted Our Lady to tell me what she wanted me to do with my life. Because I wanted the Lord to let me know how I could serve Him. And I found all my answers in Medjugorje right in front of the Krizevac Cross.

What is the purpose of our visit to Medjugorje? To look for miracles? To ask for favours for ourselves and our family members??? What if our requests remain unfulfilled? Are we to come home disappointed and then start blaming Medjugorje for deceiving us to go there? Where is our faith? To those who lack faith, this is where the tales of the Medjugorje hoax begin.

Let's consider the following prayer requests from a typical Malaysian aunty. Gospa, I pray that my husband will get a promotion soon. And of course I would like to have a promotion myself. I am tired of being just a store clerk. We really need the money badly to pay off the housing loan. Oh, I forgot to tell you that my mom is suffering from AIDS. Can you please heal her? Oh yes, my son will be entering university soon. Can you please grant him a scholarship to study abroad? My daughter has a lot of pimples on her face and this may deprive her of the chance of becoming an air hostess. Can you please make those pimples disappear from her face? What if this aunty returns home from Medjugorje and finds that none of her prayers is answered? Is she supposed to go around telling everyone that Medjugorje is a fraud? If she lacks faith, this is exactly what she is going to do.

This kind of prayers may sound a bit funny but we cannot deny the fact that this is the way many of us would pray. My grandmother used to pray this way. My aunt is no exception. This shouldn't be the way we pray. The majority of us live from day to day asking for this and for that for ourselves and our family members. Our requests are unending. But have we ever asked ourselves, "What is the purpose of life? How does the Lord want us to live this life? How can we serve Him?" Life is fleeting. Why ask for so many things? Instead of asking for favours why not ask ourselves what we have got to offer to the Lord? Many of us would remember Saint Bernadette of Lourdes. She never asked for a healing for herself even though she was sick all her life. She did not take the apparitions as a stepping stone to make herself rich. She died as poor as the Lord.

To me, Medjugorje is a place of deep prayer, a place of self-discovery, a place of reflection. But why Medjugorje and not elsewhere? Those of us who have been to Medjugorje would agree with me that the atmosphere there is different. When you are there, you become extremely religious. You will discover things that you have never discovered before. You will discover your real self. You will discover what you really want in this life. When you come back from Medjugorje, you will see life from a different perspective. This is because you have found the real meaning and purpose of existence. And the people there are different. They are so caring and loving quite unlike the situation in the churches in Malaysia. Here in Malaysia, we may go to the same church and sit in the same row with the same people every Sunday but we may end up not knowing each other. But in Medjugorje, everyone is our friend. In Medjugorje, everyone is helpful, kind and honest.

Although miracles do happen in Medjugorje, I feel that it shouldn't be a place for us to look for miracles and end up disappointed if we can't find any. If we say that Medjugorje is deceiving us because our prayers remain unanswered, in a way we are also saying that we are disappointed with the Lord for not answering our prayers. Not every prayer will be answered. Sometimes we have to learn about life the hard way in order to become a better person. All shine no rain would only make a desert out of us. The Lord knows what is best for us. He has His ways that we do not know of. Let us have faith in Him. The most beautiful smile in this world is the smile that shines through tears.