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

Saturday, January 30, 2010

BERNADETTE RECOUNTS HER APPARITIONS

Much has been written about the apparitions in Lourdes. However, the most authentic and vivid account has been left to us by Bernadette herself. It is an account without any distortion, an account which is essentially characterized by its simplicity, fluency, liveliness and spontaneity. It is as simple and spontaneous as Bernadette always showed herself to be.

In this book, complete and detailed narratives of great value have been written about the events which took place in Lourdes through the witnesses and documents of that time. Bernadette's accounts are all different but in their entirety they represent the most genuine evidence of the apparitions. This book aims at introducing them to the reader in the way that Bernadette left them to us.

The accounts are preceded by a concise description of the life of the Saint; as much as is necessary to allow the reader to understand all the tragedy of poverty, suffering and humiliation which characterized the life of this young girl privileged by Our Lady.

This publication also contains a reproduction of the autographed manuscript on the apparitions, photographs of the main protagonists connected with the events, and other photos concerning the Sanctuary of Lourdes. The work as a whole constitutes not only a work of enthralling interest to the reader, but also an indispensable record for the pilgrim. Below is an excerpt taken from this book.

In her LETTER TO ABBE CHARLES BOUIN (A priest of deep devotion to the Virgin Mary), Bernadette gave him an account of her apparitions and of the events at the grotto. This can be found on pages 59-61 of this book. Here it goes:

"The first time that I was at the grotto I went to collect wood together with two other girls.

On reaching the mill, I asked them if they would like to see where the discharge water ran into the river. They said yes. We went along the channel and arrived in front of a grotto. My companions crossed the water, whereas I remained on the other side.

I asked them to throw some stones into the channel to enable me to cross over it without taking off my shoes. They told me to do as they had done if I wanted to cross.

At this point, I went a bit further down in an attempt to cross over, but didn't succeed in doing so. I returned in front of the grotto.

I began taking off my shoes. I had just taken off one shoe when I heard a noise similar to a gust of wind. I turned towards the meadows and noticed that the trees were motionless. I began taking off my other shoe and then heard the same noise.

I lifted my head towards the grotto and saw a lady dressed in white. She had a white dress, a blue girdle, a white veil over her head and a yellow rose on each foot.

I thought I had made some mistake and rubbed my eyes. I looked again and again noticed the same lady. I then put my hand in my pocket and took out my rosary.

I wanted to make the sign of the cross but was unable to do so because I could not reach up my hand. Although filled with fear, I remained.

The apparition made the sign of the cross; I too tried to do so and succeeded. After making the sign of the cross, I calmed down and recited the rosary, with the image of the lady constantly before me.

She motioned to me with her finger to draw near, but I did not have the courage to do so and remained in the same place.

At the end of the rosary I asked my companions if they had seen anything. They replied that they had not. I pressed them again, but their reply was always in the negative. I asked them to say nothing about it to anyone. They said to me:- So you've seen something?-

I didn't want to tell them about it, but they urged me so much that I decided to tell them everyhting on condition that they would maintain absolute silence. They promised me to do so; but no sooner had they arrived home than they lost no time in saying that I had seen a lady dressed in white.

This is what happened the first time I went to the grotto. It was Thursday, 11th February 1858.

On the following Sunday I returned there a second time together with various other persons. Some people had advised me to take paper and ink with me and to ask the lady, if she should appear again, to put down in writing anything she had to say.

On reaching the spot, I began the rosary. At the end of the first then Hail Mary's, the lady appeared and I asked her to put down in writing anyhting she had to say to me. She smiled and said that it was not necessary to put into writing what she had to communicate to me. She asked me to have the goodness to return to the grotto for fifteen days.

I promised her that I would do so.

She also asked me to go and tell the priests to build a chapel on the spot, to go and drink at the fountain and wash myself, and to pray for sinners. She repeated this to me several times.

She told me that she promised me happiness not in this world, but in the next.

I repeatedly asked her who she was: she only replied to me with a smile. I saw her on fifteen consecutive days, with the exception of a Monday and a Friday.

At the end of the fifteen days she told me she was the Immaculate Conception. She had blue eyes."

Lourdes, 22nd August 1864

Bernadette Soubirous

Thursday, January 28, 2010

THE WONDERS OF LOURDES: 150 MIRACULOUS STORIES

"The Wonders of Lourdes" is one of my favourite books. It is one of the most beautiful souvenirs that I brought home with me from Lourdes. It tells the true story of this marvelous shrine from the very first apparitions to the present day. Working in harmony with the bishop of France and with complete access to the Lourdes archives, twenty-two contributing writers relate in creatively dramatic style the development of the shrine, its traditions, and the personal journeys of many who have worked or visited there. Above all, they reveal Lourdes as a place of spiritual healing - a font of grace where faith is strengthened, hope is renewed, and the love of Christ is shared. These are the real miracles of Lourdes. Below is an excerpt from this wonderful book that I would like to share with my readers tonight.

THE RELIGIOUS SISTER OF BRIVE
Sister Julienne, Twelfth Miraculous Healing, September 1, 1889

"But Doctor, has the Virgin ever saved a native of the region?"

At dinner, all gazes converged upon Dr. Gustav Boissarie. The question was posed by Mrs. Dubrulle, the notary's young wife, who was known throughout Sarlat for her devotion to the Virgin and the charity she exhibited every day by helping the most indigent. On this day late in September 1889, a soft light still brightened the dining room of Sarlat's mayor, who was entertaining, as was his habit every Thursday, a few of the town's leading men and their wives. Tonight, he had invited Boissarie who, after brilliant studies in Paris, chose to practice medicine in this charming town of the Dordogne; Robert Dubrulle, who came from a family of notaries dating back to the reign of the Bourbons; and the schoolmaster, Jean Balou, a freethinker who never missed an opportunity for a dig at the clergy.

The mayor smiled. His wife fidgeted nervously, sensing the schoolmaster's reaction. Boissarie, who was familiar with Balou, hastened to answer with a wink all around.

"Yes, that's right, my dear Jean, we are going to speak about miracles," he began in playful condescension. "Oh, I beg your pardon - about these so-called miracles, fit only to comfort pious ladies in their antiquated faith, but unworthy of enlightened and scientific minds such as your own."

Everyone guffawed as Balou feigned taking offense.

"Never, Doctor, would I permit myself to speak thus, and Mrs. Dubrulle is well aware of it," Balou said in reply. "I simply think that your religion, as socially necessary as it is, sometimes tries to make us swallow some rather queer ideas."

"Dear friends, to answer the question posed to me, I shall relate a story that is not a month old," Boissarie continued. "Do you remember little Julienne, at the hospice orphanage?"

"The religious sister of Brive?" cried out Mrs. Dubrulle. "She came to spend a few days at the hospice two years ago, I believe. She suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, but her youth and our town's healthy air finally overcame the disease."

"That's the one," the doctor went on. "Coming from a very poor family, she had been placed in that orphanage at the age of eleven. When the doctor of Brive wished her to spend a few calm days with her family to rest, she naturally went back. Indeed, Julienne had a chest complaint, but her stay in Sarlat did not cure her. I met her doctor in Brive, Dr. Pomarel. He related her illness's progress to me. The poor girl must have suffered a lot."

For a few minutes, the conversation digressed to Sarlat's orphanage and the construction that the city intended for it. Mrs. Dubrulle continued to fidget in her seat, like a child eager to learn the rest of the story. No longer able to contain herself, she begged Boissarie to be so kind as to resume his tale.

"Back in her convent in Brive, Julienne had about ten months' respite, but in October 1887, the illness started up again and she began to spit up blood," the doctor said. "After a second remission, the illness reappeared in May 1888, but it did not keep her from making her profession in July of the same year. I think her doctor gave a favourite opinion so as to allow her to become a sister before she died. Ever since her First Communion, Julienne had dreamed of entering the convent."

'So young, yet so sure of wanting to become a religious sister?" Mrs. Dubrulle interjected.

"This reminds me of a certain religious sister of Rousseau," muttered the cynical schoolmaster, a remark that earned him a withering glare from Mrs. Dubrulle.

"Her vocation was somewhat impeded, dear friends," continued the doctor. "Indeed, as the community did not have an extern sister, the bishop asked her to give up the cloister and to devote herself to being the link between the community and the rest of the world. That is why Sister Julienne is so well known in Brive. Everybody has passed her on the street."

'Giving up the cloister, living in the world in contact with sinners and suffering in one's body," said Mrs. Dubrulle. "God wanted to make her share in his Son's suffering."

It was now the schoolmaster's turn to glare with annoyance at Mrs. Dubrulle, and, if it were not for his wife's swift knee to his right thigh, the dinner might have taken a far more ugly and combative turn. Fortunately, by the time Balou had rubbed his leg and silently rebelled against his wife's methods, the mayor's wife had had time once again to propose her steaming bean stew to her guests.

Boissarie resumed his story. "In January 1889, the illness worsened from day to day. There was talk of raging tuberculosis, and heat acupuncture points were applied by the hundreds. Starting in the month of July, the poor sister never stopped spitting blood from her purulent lungs."

"Doctor! We are eating," one of the women protested at the distasteful reference.

'Excuse me, Madam," the doctor apologized. "But really, her condition was in an absolute state of collapse, and no medical means were able to curb the illness's progress. Sister Julienne could only take broth and milk. She was visibly wasting away."

"And then she went to Lourdes," Balou piped in. "She took a dip in the pool and was healed. Now Doctor, you are a scientist. A pulmonary lesion does not disappear like that in a bath of ice water!"

"That's right, my dear schoolmaster," Boissarie responded. "But, you see, that is what happened! Against her doctor's recommendations, she made the trip to Lourdes at the end of August with two friends, including a religious from the convent of Brive. Throughout the trip, those who saw her, the bishop of Albi in particular, thought that she would not make it to the shrines. At the pools themselves, the two ladies who were supposed to bathe her refused at first; that is how close to death's door she appeared to be. It was up to the two ladies who had come along with her to assure them of Julienne's will and to stay by her side. And at that point, believe it or not, the miracle took place. She came out of the water and was able to walk all the way to the grotto, where she prayed on her knees before the pilgrims' captivated and happy eyes. If you don't believe me, go and meet her in Brive!"

"Mr. Boissarie, you're a doctor!" Balou repeated.

Boissarie stood his ground. "Yes, just like the doctor of Saint-Maclou who is the founding president of the Bureau of Medical Authentication. I have been his assistant for three years now in his scientific work of verifying that the Lourdes healings termed 'miracles' cannot otherwise be explained. We appeal to many physicians, sometimes unbelievers. There is a veritable investigation, and we never draw frivolous conclusions."

"Go see Dr. Pomarel," he challenged the schoolmaster. "Go to Lourdes... and see!"

The dinner having ended, the men retired to the town hall's drawing room to smoke cigars and continue the conversation about the scientific work of the Bureau of Medical Authentication. Gathered among themselves, the women promised each other to go to Brive soon to visit Sister Julienne.

Monday, January 18, 2010

INSTEAD OF WORRYING ABOUT INGRATITUDE, LET'S EXPECT IT

On his journey to Jerusalem he passed along the borders of Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten lepers met him. Keeping their distance, they raised their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he responded, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." On their way there, they were cured. One of them, realizing that he had been cured, came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself on his face at the feet of Jesus and spoke his praises. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus took the occasion to say, "Were not all ten made whole? Where are the other nine? Was there no one to return and give thanks to God except this foreigner?" He said to the man, "Stand up and go your way; your faith has been your salvation." Luke 17:11-19

Many years ago, there was a young woman whose job was to sell Toto at the Toto booth near my house. She was paid very little for this job. Everyone in that area called her "Toto girl". At night, she helped her sister to sell ladies' handbags at China Town (Petaling Street). She got married at 16 and by the time she was in her mid-twenties she already had two daughters who were of school-going age. Her husband was a taxi driver and his income was barely enough to support his family. To make matters worse, her mother-in-law was giving her a tough time and often scolded her in front of the neighbours. My grandmother, who loved to buy Toto, got to know of her plight and related it to my mother. My mother really sympathized with her situation and asked this Toto girl to show her whatever certs she had. After looking at her certs, my mother said that she could qualify to become a temporary teacher in one of the chinese primary schools. My mother then got her a teaching job. She worked for one year as a temporary teacher but was kicked out the following year because of her bad attitude. My mother got her another teaching job in another chinese primary school. After teaching for two years, she qualified to go for training and became a permanent teacher. (During those days, there was a lack of chinese school teachers and those who taught for two years would be trained to become permanent teachers.) So after becoming a permanent teacher, did this 'Toto Girl' ever say "thank you" to my mother? No, she didn't. She pretended that she didn't know my mother at all. Whenever she met my mother, she would just walk past without even looking at my mother as though my mother was a complete stranger to her. Because of her steady income, her husband and mother-in-law dared not bully her anymore. On the contrary, she was the one who bullied them! If not because of my mother, what would she become? Did she ever ask herself this question? My mother used to tell me about her ungratefulness and I kept wondering how could someone be so ungrateful to the person who changed her life. Is this human nature?

Now, after so many years, I am doing what my mom used to do ie to recruit temporary teachers for my school. I know very well that there are many jobless graduates out there and it is not easy for them to get a job especially those with a poor command of English. Whenever there are vacancies in my school, I would try my best to help these jobless graduates to become temporary teachers in my school. Last year, I brought this jobless graduate from Johor to my school as a temporary teacher. It wasn't easy to arrange an interview for her with the officer in the Education Department at Jalan Duta. On the day of her interview, we were having some kind of ceremony in the hall and I had to go up to the office so many times to call her and a middle-aged guy (another jobless graduate whom I have recommended as temporary teacher for my school) to see how the situation was. Finally, I had to drag my headmaster with me to confirm with the officer that these were the temporary teachers that our school sent for the interview and that our school needed them badly. The guy didn't get this job because he was overaged but she was lucky enough to get it. When she first started teaching, she was penniless and often complained that she had no money. She even wanted to borrow money from the school. She was really desperate for money and at that moment of her life this job was her only way out. Now, after teaching for a few months, she has made enough money to buy beautiful clothes for herself (graduate temporary teachers are quite well-paid). Did she ever say "thank you" to me for getting her this job at the moment when she was penniless and needed a job badly? She pretends that she doesn't know me just like what the Toto girl did to my mom many years ago! Whenever she sees me, she would just walk past without looking at me as though I am a complete stranger to her. And I dare not talk to her. Why? Because even simple friendly questions like "How much is the bus fare from Kuala Lumpur to Johor?" and "Do you have a diploma?" could make her lose her temper. I am glad that not all the temporary teachers that I brought to my school are like her. There are some very nice and helpful ones. Actually, it doesn't matter to me whether they know how to be grateful or not. I only hope that they don't treat me like a stranger. What do I get from helping these jobless graduates? Nothing. Why am I helping them? Well, I would like to share one of the parables that Jesus told. Here it goes:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will sit upon his royal throne, and all the nations would be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place on his right hand, the goats on his left. The king will say to those on his right: 'Come. You have my Father's blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me. Then the just will ask him: 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison? The king will answer them: 'I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.' (Matthew 25:31-40)

Let us serve the world as Our Lord did. Let us stop thinking about gratitude or ingratitude but give for the inner joy of giving. Do not make the human and distressing mistake of expecting gratitude. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let's expect it. This is human nature. That's life! Below is an excerpt about ingratitude from Dale Carnegie's "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living" that I would like to share tonight. It is very meaningfully written and I suppose my readers would like to read it too. Here it goes:

If you saved a man's life, would you expect him to be grateful? You might - but Samuel Leibowitz, who was a famous criminal lawyer before he became a judge, saved seventy-eight men from going to the electric chair! How many of these men, do you suppose, stopped to thank Samuel Leibowitz, or ever took the trouble to send him a Christmas card? How many? Guess ... That's right - none.

Christ helped ten lepers in one afternoon - but how many of those lepers even stopped to thank Him? Only one. Look it up in Saint Luke. When Christ turned around to His disciples and asked, "Where are the other nine?" they had all run away. Disappeared without thanks!

And when it comes to money matters! Well, that is even more hopeless. Charles Schwab told me that he had once saved a bank cashier who had speculated in the stock market with funds belonging to the bank. Schwab put up the money to save this man from going to the penitentiary. Was the cashier grateful? Oh yes, for a little while. Then he turned against Schwab and reviled him and denounced him - the very man who had kept him out of jail!

If you gave one of your relatives a million dollars, would you expect him to be grateful? Andrew Carnegie did just that. But if Andrew Carnegie had come back from the grave a little while later, he would have been shocked to find this relative cursing him! Why? Because Old Andy had left 365 million to public charities - and had "cut him off with one measly million," as he put it.

I knew a man in Chicago who had cause to complain of the ingratitude of his stepsons. He slaved in a box factory, seldom earning more than forty dollars a week. He married a widow, and she persuaded him to borrow money and send her two grown sons to college. Out of his salary of forty dollars a week, he had to pay for food, rent, fuel, clothes, and also for the payments on his notes. He did this for four years, working like a coolie, and never complaining. Did he get any thanks? No; his wife took it all for granted - and so did her sons.They never imagined that they owed their stepfather anything - not even thanks!

That's how it goes. Human nature has always been human nature - and it probably won't change in your lifetime. So why not accept it? Why not be as realistic about it as was old Marcus Aurelius, one of the wisest men who ever ruled the Roman Empire. He wrote in his diary one day: "I am going to meet people today who talk too much - people who are selfish, egotistical, ungrateful. But I won't be surprised or disturbed, for I couldn't imagine a world without such people."

That makes sense, doesn't it? If you and I go around grumbling about ingratitude, who is to blame? Is it human nature - or is it our ignorance of human nature? Let's not expect gratitude. Then, if we get some occasionally, it will come as a delighful surprise. If we don't get it, we won't be disturbed.

It is natural for people to forget to be grateful; so if we go around expecting gratitude, we are headed straight for a lot of heartaches. Instead of worrying about ingratitude, let's expect it. Let's remember that Jesus healed ten lepers in one day - and only one thanked Him. Why should we expect more gratitude than Jesus got? Let's remember that the only way to find happiness is not to expect gratitude, but to give for the joy of giving.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

THE VALUE OF SUFFERING


Every year, about 70000 sick and disabled pilgrims travel to Lourdes in the hope that they would be miraculously healed. In Lourdes, they can be seen everywhere - along the road and at every corner of the town, in the sanctuary area as well as the outside of it. There are always long queues of them at the grotto, waiting at the baths and in processions. In a way, it may be true to say that their sufferings actually enrich the sanctuary spiritually. Their presence tend to make us think and reflect on our own lives. Perhaps, for the first time in their lives, the healthy pilgrims would learn to appreciate their good health and offer thanksgiving to God. Perhaps, for the first time in their lives, these healthy pilgrims would realize that their cross is not the heaviest. Amongst the sick pilgrims themselves, many would have learnt how to bear their burden courageously and thus be healed spiritually in this place of grace. I snapped the above photo myself during a procession in Lourdes. Never have I seen so many sick people in my life. As I was reflecting on my own life that day, I said to myself, "I have nothing else to ask for."

The first words of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Bernadette are, "I do not promise you happiness in this world but the next." The meaning of these words can be found in the Bible: "Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my steps. Whoever would save his life would lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." Luke 9:23-24. These words clearly suggest the essence of Bernadette's Calvary, a journey made of poverty, sickness, pain, misunderstanding and humiliation.

The message of the Virgin Mary to Bernadette was a simple one. Poverty, prayer and penance - these are the keys that would open the gates to the Kingdom of God. Bernadette accepted the destitution of her family and her own sufferings because God willed it. In the midst of our materialistic world, she has chosen poverty, altruism and charity as her way of life. The healings in Lourdes were not meant for Bernadette. She was merely the privileged witness and the faithful messenger of the Church. Although Bernadette was sick most of the time, she did not ask for her own healing. She bore her sufferings bravely all her life.

To define this sanctuary as simply a "place of miracles" or a "centre of pilgrimage" is to reduce its true significance. Lourdes is not merely a place of miracles. Rather, it helps us to understand the glorification of suffering in all its forms. Its purpose is not to rid us of our cross, but to help us to understand it and carry it with great fortitude. Every pilgrim, especially every sick pilgrim, should remember the two phrases uttered by Bernadette in the final moments of her life, "I am happier here in my bed of pain than any queen on her throne. To obey is to love; suffering in silence for Christ is love. To love sincerely is to offer up everything. Especially pain." Healing is important but knowing how to bear suffering is far more important! In this place of grace, Mary reminds us that veritable wealth is that of the heart. True happiness can only be found within us and that it may be acquired through honesty, responsibility and goodness if God is placed at the centre of these values.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

TESTIMONY OF FATHER UMBERTO LONCAR

On August 2 and 3, 1981 (Sunday and Monday), many pilgrims in Medjugorje saw that the sun had grown dim and was orbited by bright rings that cast reddish rays upon the church at Medjugorje. Later, bright circles of various colors rotated around the sun. This was seen by pilgrims during Our Lady's appearance to the children, from about 6:20 to 6:40 p.m., and of course produced unusual talk and speculation as word of these occurrences spread far and near.

On Sunday, I had noticed nothing at all of this, and did not believe that any of it happened. However, I must admit, I had not observed the sun or the sky by even the most casual glance.

Monday, because of the reports about the Sunday happenings, I made it a point to observe the sun and the sky - and saw the same phenomena repeated. The sky in the other direction - that is, north of the church - was traversed by an arc of dark globes, moving from east to west. I tried to dismiss all this as unusual but natural phenomena, produced by weather and/or temperature abnormalities. Or perhaps my looking into the sun had caused these unreal images. In short, none of this, I told myself, was miraculous.

The next day, however (Tuesday, Aug. 4), I had what I must call a "special vision." Purposely, I had stayed home, and did not go to Medjugorje. When I left the house, at 6:oo p.m., I spread a hand before my face and, through slits betwen my fingers, glanced at the sun, whose light was fading. A light breeze had arisen and the early evening was very pleasant. After I glanced at the sun, I looked away, in the direction of Medjugorje, because I did not want my vision to be affected by direct observation of the sun. I did not see any "dark globes," but exactly at 6:20 I saw a huge red and violet cloud over Cerno. The cloud was massive and was moving in my direction at unusual - tremendous - speed, then hovered over the hill of Krizevac for one or two minutes, moved eastward, and seemed to sink to the earth. Because of the hills and trees between me and the cloud, I couldn't see what happened; so I ran to the upper floor of the rectory to have a better view. After the cloud disappeared from sight, I descended to the terrace between the rectory and the church. Precisely at 6:40, the red and violet figure of a magnificent lady arose from the hill of Crnica. The red and violet faded in intensity as she ascended in the sky; then she disappeared. The last thing I saw was a brilliant white scarf that dangled from her feet and swung in the air.

The vision of the lady ascending into the sky lasted about 30 seconds. This experience, I have no doubt, was supernatural. Therefore, it is a proof that the events in Medjugorje originate with God. I have given this much thought, and the following points (among many others) seem especially obvious and pertinent.

1. The skies on that early Tuesday evening were clear and absolutely cloudless - although I did not look toward the sun, so that my vision would not be affected. However, I have never seen a cloud, before or since, like the cloud that suddenly appeared over Cerno.

2. The figure that appeared in the sky was of a beautiful woman, which I saw sharply and clearly - unmistakably - and whom I must say was Our Lady.

3. The scarf or veil that dangled beneath her feet was whiter than the whitest snow.

4. The figure was that of a high-born woman.

5. Reason disallows mere coincidence and sensory vagaries. At the exact same time I saw what I have described above, Our Lady appeared to the children in a garden in Bijakovici.

I must conclude that I witnessed a miraculous sign: our heavenly Mother, whom the children see and talk with. (Excerpted from the book entitled "The Apparitions of Our Lady at Medjugorje" by Father Svetozar Kraljevic, pages 197-199.)

Who is Fr. Umberto Loncar? Fr. Loncar is a highly valued and well-thought-of Franciscan priest in the Province of Herzegovina. He was born in Posusje on June 6, 1922, where he attended primary school. He joined the Franciscans in 1940 and completed his theological studies in Zagreb, where he was ordained a priest on June 6, 1949 (his twenty-seventh birthday). Thereupon he spent a year in military service, after which he was assigned to Mostar and then to Konjic as associate pastor. He remained in Konjic till 1952, when he became pastor in Crnac. He was pastor in Cerin from 1959 to 1964, pastor in Humac from 1964 to 1970, and pastor in Posuski Gradac from 1970 to 1978, when he was sent to Gradnice. In 1988 he came to Cerin where he is now. At Humac, he was also guardian of the monastery from 1967 until he was assigned to Posuski Gradac. The testimony above is therefore the testimony of a well-respected priest.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

IN MEDJUGORJE I FOUND THE MEANING OF EXISTENCE

Last year was a beautiful year for me. So was the year before last. And of course the year 2007 would always remain one of the most memorable years in my life because that was the year I went to Medjugorje. I am not trying to say that I wasn't happy before I went to Medjugorje. My life has always been a comfortable one and I have been enjoying myself all these years. Those who have been to Medjugorje would agree with me that life would never be the same again after our pilgrimage to Medjugorje.

When I came back from Medjugorje, my views about life changed. I am now a much happier person. I have found the meaning of existence at last. When life is so full of meaning, how could I be unhappy? I pray for hours every day now, something I seldom did before my pilgrimage to Medjugorje. Saying the Croatian rosary is really interesting and this is also one of the reasons why I love to pray so much now.

Before I went to Medjugorje, I had a boyfriend. He is one of the most eligible bachelors in town - handsome, rich and well-educated. Somehow I have never considered myself lucky for having such a boyfriend. Obviously, all the girls in town would willingly die for him and although he kept saying that he could be faithful, I just couldn't trust him. After I came back from Medjugorje, I found that I have completely lost interest in him. I wasn't even interested to talk to him again. I consider this a great blessing. I am glad that I have given up on him and I feel happy for him now because he can enjoy himself with all the young girls in town. In a way, I have done him a great favour. Am I sad? I would say that I have no more feelings for him. Perhaps it may also be true to say that I have done myself a great favour. How can a 'diamond bachelor' like him be faithful to only one woman? I don't want to end up being a broken-hearted divorcee. I don't want to give him the chance to ruin my life. It is better to offer myself as a pure and chaste virgin to the Lord before it is too late. Wow! I have all the time in the world for My Lord now. My mind is very peaceful. I have become the happiest person in the world. My life is filled with great excitement and expectations.

I have so many plans for the future and so much to do now that I really don't know what to do first. I want to be actively involved in church activities. I want to pray for hours each day. I want to write articles for this blog. I have to teach my teenage students. I have to write my Ph.D. thesis. Well, maybe this is what really gives meaning to life.

Father Slavko Barbaric has a Ph.D. Pope Benedict XVI has a Ph.D. I must get a Ph.D. too. After getting my Ph.D, I will dedicate all my time to do God's work. There are lots of things that I am going to do for My Lord. Would I have enough time to do all the things I plan to do for my Lord? Oh dear! Life is too short.

Being so happy and busy myself, I really don't understand why my spinster friends keep telling me how desperate they are in trying to find a man to the extent that they do not mind being someone's secret mistress. A former colleague of mine used to say that she would marry any guy who would take her as his wife. She has a few houses and is always busy collecting rent. But she is really desperate. Once, I told her about a very irritating family friend and I thought she would agree that someone like him would never be able to get a wife. What is so wrong with this guy? Well, he doesn't like to work and is terribly stingy. Guess what she said? She asked me to introduce this guy to her.

When I told a former classmate of mine about this lazy and stingy guy, she too asked me to introduce him to her. She is rich herself and she doesn't mind supporting him. Then, there is this friend of mine who keeps saying that she's afraid that she would die alone in the house without anyone knowing about it. She is sad that she isn't married and has no children. She always says that she is very lonely. Even after spending hours watching television each day, she has a lot of time to spare and she doesn't know what to do with her spare time.

I feel sad for them because they don't understand the real meaning and purpose of existence. Is a man really that important to a woman? Can't she live without him? As for me, I don't have the time to feel lonely and think about dying alone in the house. Why worry when the Lord will take care of me? I have no fear of the future. Even if I have a boyfriend, I'll have no time for him. I would only be too glad if I could find time to write a good article for my blog. All I can say is: Spinsters, do not despair if you can't find a man. Love and sex are not what life is all about. Think of the Lord and his teachings. 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 - Matthew 19:29. A man is better off having no relations with a woman - 1 Corinthians 7:1. Think of our priests and nuns who willingly give up love and marriage in order to serve the Lord. These are the people who have found the real meaning and purpose of life. If they can do it, why can't you do it too? Do not sit and mourn just because you can't find a man in your life. Remember, there are lots of things that you can do for yourself and for this world.

I promised to consecrate my virginity to the Lord on Mount Krizevac and I have never regretted doing so. In fact I feel so proud of myself because my life has since found its meaning and purpose. What about this New Year? Would it be as meaningful as the previous years? I know that I will love this New Year too as much as I love the previous years. This is going to be another beautiful year for me.