Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Medjugorje... Over 33 Years of Reported Apparitions - Should We Believe?

Never heard of Medjugorje nor have any idea what it is? 

Medjugorje is a small village in the former country of Yugoslavia (now Bosnia-Herzegovina) where, since June 24, 1981, the Virgin Mary has reportedly been appearing everyday!

Six alleged visionaries tell us that Our Blessed Mother comes as the Queen of Peace to remind us that God exists and to "call us to conversion for the last time".  This conversion consists of living lives of Eucharist, confession, peace, heartfelt prayer and fasting.  Such an outpouring of graces have flowed from the messages of Medjugorje that hundreds of priestly and religious vocations, tremendous miracles of healing of the body and the spirit, and thousands of conversions have been reported. 

Some who have heard of Medjugorje, mistakenly think that the Church has condemned the reported occurrences that are happening there, however, it has not. The last official word from the Church, stated:

“We bishops, after a three-year-long commission study accept Medjugorje as a holy place, as a shrine...”  His Eminence Cardinal Dr. Franjo KUHARIĆ, Archbishop of Zagreb (Glas Koncila, August 15, 1993)

The latest commission, ordered by the Vatican, investigated Medjugorje rendered its findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on January 19, 2014. It is up to Pope Francis to decide when he will make the findings public. Interestingly, before becoming Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio welcomed the Medjugorje visionary Ivan, as well as the former pastor of Medjugorje, Father Jozo Zovko to speak in his diocese. (Father Jozo had been imprisoned and tortured by the local Communist government soon after the apparitions began for protecting the six children who claimed to see Our Blessed Mother).

For millions, there are persuasive reasons for believing the visionaries' accounts:
Never before have such extensive scientific tests been done on alleged seers.  These tests included blasting ninety decibels (equivalent to a loud explosion) into the ears of the alleged visionaries during an apparition --to which, the visionaries showed no response, When touched with an algometer, an instrument that causes a skin burn to register response to pain, again, the visionaries had no reaction. 1000 watt light bulbs where placed before the seers' eyes, and no blinking occurred - the pupils dilated, but the brain waves showed no change.  Like the other results reported, this is scientifically inexplicable. The tests also showed the seers' eyes simultaneously looked at precisely the same spot, (as well as knelt down) within one-fifth of a second of each other, and gazed simultaneous upwards at the end of the vision.  Two of the visionaries had no eye movements or blinking whatsoever during the apparition (lasting anywhere from 3-45 minutes). All visionaries' voices became inaudible during the alleged apparitions-- although the movements and muscles associated with speech remained functioning. 

In the decades of scientific research done on the reported visionaries, not one test has been able to discount the reported visionary's testimonies, nor has one been able to explain away these inexplicable findings.

It is estimated that around 50 million people have visited Medjugorje.  

The large Church has long been too small to hold the crowds, so a large outdoor altar and amphitheatre has been built to accommodate up to 50,000 pilgrims at a time, who flock to experience the spiritual atmosphere of Medjugorje, where there are often tens if not hundreds of visiting priests concelebrating Mass and hearing confessions.
One of the most beautiful aspects of Medjugorje is the intense prayer life of the villagers.  The village gathers to pray for at least 2 -3 hours every evening. 

Their daily prayers consist of:
The Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary, the reported apparition of Our Blessed Mother, Holy Mass, followed by the peace chaplet, prayers for the sick, the blessing of objects and the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary. Additionally, Eucharistic holy hours are added three times a week, the Stations of the Cross are prayed while climbing up the nearby Mount Krizevac each Friday, and the rosary is prayed while climbing Apparition Hill on Sundays.

There are currently fifty-nine confessionals in the small village, often in use all day long and into the early morning hours, causing many, including John Paul II to name Medjugorje the "confessional of the world". In a private letter, it is said that he stated that if he had not been pope, he would have wanted to live in Medjugorje to have the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation with the millions of pilgrims who travel there.  

The fruits of living the Messages given by Our Mother are remarkable! 

Some of these include: the healing of centuries old animosities between villagers, the steadfast faith of both villagers and visionaries against the communist oppression, which marked the first 15 years of the apparitions. The communist oppression included arrests, imprisonment, loss of jobs and torture for many villagers, including Father Jozo, the parish pastor at the time the reported apparitions first began. Another sign that many point to is the fact that the village stood unharmed as an oasis of peace in the midst of one the most vicious and horrific wars of our time.

The Church tells us that we are never bound to believe in any private revelation -- that the fullness of our Faith is revealed to us in Christ, in Scripture, and in the Public Revelation passed down to us by the apostles. Yet, neither does the Church forbid the faithful from believing in private revelation that is not contrary to our Faith or morals. Often times apparitions have occurred at particular moments of history to reinforce a revealed Truth that is not clearly understood, that is no longer being practiced or in times of grave necessity. Think of the 1994 Rwandan genocide which was preceded by years of calls for repentance, prayer, reconciliation and conversion by Our Blessed Mother beginning in 1981. The apparitions were officially approved in 2001 -- officially recognizing the faithful's belief in the apparitions that had been in place in for years. 

With this understanding in mind, if the Most Holy and Blessed Trinity has continued to send Our Blessed Mother to the earth pleading with us to pray with the heart and to convert our lives every day for over 33 years -- is it not something that we should ponder, pray about, and take very seriously?

To find out more about Medjugorje, visit Medjugorje.org.  

Contrary to many reports circulating recently, there is no ban on believing in Medjugorje.  Nor is it a concern that the last report of the 1991 Bishop's Conference in Zadar (mentioned in the Apostolic Nuncio's directive) stated: 

"On the basis of investigations so far it can not be affirmed that one is dealing with supernatural apparitions and revelations."  

This is not a condemnation.  

Interestingly, the Church rarely states that apparitions are of supernatural origin. Very rarely has the Church ever done so.  Instead, most typically, the Church simply states, as in the case of Lourdes and Fatima, that they are worthy of belief.

© Janet Moore 2015. All Rights Reserved.

There is NO BAN on Medjugorje Prayer Meetings -- IF We Adhere to the Papal Nuncio’s Directive

There is tremendous confusion surrounding the status of Medjugorje.  
I am writing this to provide some clarification.  
This clarification has received acceptance from my Diocesan office.  

There is much talk of Medjugorje being banned! 
However, we must stop speaking this way.  
There is NO BAN! 

Much of the confusion has stemmed from a directive written by the Papal Nuncio.  However, this confusion never needed to occur.

The latest directive from the Apostolic Nuncio stated that the faithful "are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted." 

This directive was issued when a Catholic parish advertised an apparition of the Blessed Mother in its promotions of an event, in which Ivan Dragicevic (one of six alleged visionaries of Medjugorje), was to speak. This directive was sent to the local bishop (and subsequently forwarded to all U.S. bishops).  

The directive was written to address this specific occurrence, and to ensure that similar promotions -- advertising apparitions, and thus, taking for granted the credibility of these same apparitions -- would cease to occur. 

A more recent event scheduled in St. Charles, MO, advertised their event in the exact same way -- advertising that an apparition would occur -- and thus the event was prohibited from taking place.

However, if credibility of apparitions are not taken for granted,  
we are FREE to meet, and so we must stop saying there is a ban! 

The enemy wants there to be a ban, 
for us to believe it and
to go around saying there is one.  
But, there is no ban -- it’s a directive to not presume authenticity.  
Nothing more!  
It's a directive that states we cannot presume the credibility of the apparitions nor advertise that an apparition will take place.

Saying there is a ban is feeding into the enemy's plan 
--it's a charged word that the Papal Nuncio never wrote in his directive.  
Saying there is a ban is inciting misinformation 
it’s inaccurate 
and again, 
it’s feeding into the enemy's plan, 
which is to make everyone think that believing in or talking of Medjugorje is banned.  
This is not the case!  

We cannot presume Medjugorje’s authenticity nor presume an apparition will take place, but if we don't presume or advertise these things as if they have already been deemed authentic, (the Church has made no final judgment) we can still meet!

So, what does this look like? 
--Not taking the credibility of apparitions for granted in Medjugorje meetings, conferences and the like?  

1. Share the Papal Nuncio's directive with the group and explain the group's adherence to it.
2. Clarify that our faith does not rest on Medjugorje, but rests on Public Revelation and we need always be obedient to the Church's judgment. 
3. Recognize that we cannot advertise nor promote the reported apparitions as having full authenticity of the Church—
4. Know that we can share reports of healings, conversions, vocations, as well as the reported messages --as well as, our personal stories and experiences and our own beliefs regarding Medjugorje, IF we clarify that these are our own personal judgments.

Then, we are not taking for granted the official approval of the Church, and thus, meetings regarding Medjugorje cannot be banned!

While keeping all this in mind, 
we must also 
proclaim that in the 33+ years of reported ongoing apparitions, 
the Church has found nothing to condemn, 
nor does it condemn people reporting or having meetings in which 
we celebrate and speak of the tremendous fruits that have been documented –nor does it condemn those striving to live prayerful lives of conversion, Eucharist, Confession, Scripture and fasting. 

We may continue to live and report on the messages of Medjugorje that consist of conversion and peace, by praying with the heart through Scripture, the Rosary, prayer for our shepherds, of fasting, Eucharist and confession.  

And, I encourage everyone to live the reported messages ever more fully, as they are extraordinary effective means of living the Gospel message.  And to be even more humble and take the directive simply for what it is -- paying attention to what it says -- adding nothing more to it, nor taking anything away from it.

And, I reiterate, we must never speak of Medjugorje as being banned!  

Below are further clarifications regarding recent articles:

Regarding the article that calls into question the Papal Nuncio’s directive… I believe it is a mistake to speak of the papal nuncio's directive as a misquotation.  (Who are we to say such things?)

Regarding the misinformation about the reported visionary Ivan being banned from speaking:

I spoke to the organizers of the event in St. Charles, MO before it got canceled -- because I wanted to understand why they would advertise Ivan as a visionary as well as an apparition taking place --which is exactly what the Papal Annuncio's directive said we cannot do. In my opinion, the action is a reflection of the organizer's disregard for the directive that made the CDF step in to assure the directive was being adhered to.  The CDF's statement when it stepped in to halt this gathering specified Ivan by name because it was regarded Ivan in particular -- because it was Ivan who was supposed to speak and have an apparition each time. I tried to speak to the organizers in love-- suggesting they advertise it differently.  I believe if they would have had advertised Ivan as a "reported" visionary and not advertised that an apparition would take place, they would not have been prohibiting from having him speak.  They told me when I called they believed since they were holding the event in a public place the directive wouldn't be disobeyed. 

Thus, Ivan Dragevic is not banned from speaking if the Bishop's permission is obtained and all persons and promotions agree to adhere to the Papal Nuncio's directive of not advertising apparitions, nor taking their credibility for granted. 

If interested, here is the Papal Nuncio’s directive:

This will be one of a series of articles on Medjugorje.  
Please see my previous article, St. John Paul II and Medjugorje for more information. 

© Janet Moore 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Exuberant Joy in Christ's Healing Power

I have been captivated by the response of the crippled man who was healed through Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles.  For two days in this Easter Octave, the daily Mass readings have shared the story of his healing.

The story relates that the man had been crippled from birth and had to be carried to the gate of the temple to beg for alms each day. When Peter and John saw him, they looked intently at him and said, "Look at us." He paid attention, expecting to receive something, when Peter said: 

“I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.  

I love this image!  
The exuberant joy of this man, who had never walked before, leaping up, walking and jumping into the Temple with Peter and John!
What a sight this must have been which caused such a commotion among the people that EVERYONE recognized that a mighty miracle had taken place.

When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.

As he clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” 

There are a lot of things that can be said about this passage, but I just want to ponder this man's Easter joy, his excitement, and most of all his glorious response to grace! 

I can't help but make a comparison between this man's healing and the man whom Jesus healed who had been paralyzed for 38 years. In contrast to this man, the healed paralytic had to be told by Jesus to rise and pick up his mat. In fact, there is no mention of jumping and leaping up in any of the people that Jesus cured.  Also, the cured paralytic did not even know who cured him, yet this man, who was cured by Peter and John - did not let the apostles leave his side -- but, went into the temple with them, praising God! 

Even when all the people gathered around Peter and John, the passage says that the healed man clung to them as Peter taught the people that Jesus was no longer dead, but ALIVE! Proclaiming that of this he was a witness and this profound miracle of healing attested to the power of the Resurrected Christ -- Who still continues to heal and save his people!

What incredible Good News!

It makes me ask myself, do I leap for joy at the great wonders God has done in my life?!

Am I so exuberant about God's goodness to me and the miracles that He has wrought in my life, that others can't help but be attracted and astounded by my joy? 

We may never experience a physical healing such as the crippled man in the Gospel, but how often are we healed of our the wounds that cripple our soul, our emotions, our intellect and our will? These types of  healings may not be as easily recognizable as physical healings, but they are far more profound and eternal. 

We must remember that even those who are brought back from the dead through Jesus' saving power, such as Lazarus, have to die again, but these internal healings that take place within us cause us to live forever!  They are our salvation, and the healings we should most rejoice in!  

The most profound healing takes place in our Baptism, in which we enter into the death and resurrection of Christ:  
This is something amazing and unheard of! It was not we who actually died, were buried and rose again. We only did these things symbolically, but we have been saved in actual fact. It is Christ who was crucified, who was buried and who rose again, and all this has been attributed to us. We share in his sufferings symbolically and gain salvation in reality. What boundless love for men! Christ’s undefiled hands were pierced by the nails; he suffered the pain. I experience no pain, no anguish, yet by the share that I have in his sufferings he freely grants me salvation.  (From the Jerusalem Catechesis)
ALL of us have the opportunity to receive this incomparable grace and tremendous healing miracle that occurs in Baptism, in which Jesus not only cleanses us from original sin, but fills us with Divine Life and makes us sons and daughters and heirs of God's eternal Kingdom! How tremendous is that?!

We also encounter a great miracle in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in which Jesus forgives our sins and wipes them away as if they never existed, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us" Psalm 103:12, as we hear Him speak the words "I absolve you" through the priest. Yet, in this Sacrament, He bestows even more graces through healing, strengthening and reconciling us with the Father and His Body on earth. 

Also, we must recognize the unfathomable miracle of grace present in the Holy Mass, in which Jesus' passion, death and resurrection is tapped into and made present anew at every moment, every day, throughout the world! 

In the Holy Mass, Jesus not only allows us to participate in His One, Eternal Sacrifice, but heals our loneliness and sorrow by coming to us in Holy Communion!  Each time we "take and eat... and drink the cup" of His Body and Blood  -- Jesus abides within us physically in a mysteriously divine way that is beyond our comprehension!  In this great Sacrament, we realize we are not alone!  Jesus not only lives among us, but inside us! 

How can God do more for us?!

And the last way I want to enumerate, is the amazing grace we have been given to know God's Holy Word and hear Him speak to us through hearing His Word proclaimed, and by reading, meditating and acting upon Scripture within the heart and the mind of the Church.  In His Holy Word, God heals and sanctifies our minds, our wills and emotions when we humbly listen to Him attentively.

In all these ways, we are healed, strengthened, renewed and empowered by the living Christ!  In response to His tremendous love, how can we not be filled with gratitude and proclaim:
"We must celebrate and rejoice, because [we] were dead and have come to life again; [we] were lost and have been found!” cf. Luke 15:32.

O Jesus, help us to look expectantly and trust in You to heal us, our loved ones, and the world.  And may we be exuberant witnesses, so people can see and glorify Your Healing Power and Presence in our lives -- as we "give freely of what we have freely been given" so all will know we are Christians by our love and joy!  

© 2015 Janet Moore. All Rights Reserved.

Here is the complete passage from Acts 3, from which this meditation is taken: 
1* Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer.*2a And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.4But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.”5He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.6* Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk.”b7Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.8He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.c9When all the people saw him walking and praising God,10they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.
Peter’s Speech.11As he clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.”d12When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?e13The God of Abraham, [the God] of Isaac, and [the God] of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified* his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him.f14You denied the Holy and Righteous One* and asked that a murderer be released to you.g15* The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.h16And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.17Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance,* just as your leaders did;i18but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets,* that his Messiah would suffer.j19Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,k20and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus,*21whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration* of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.22For Moses said:*
‘A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you
from among your own kinsmen;
to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you.l
23Everyone who does not listen to that prophet
will be cut off from the people.’m
24Moreover, all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days.25You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, ‘In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’n26For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each of you from your evil ways.”o