Last week we began a two-part series with Fr. Leon Pereira, Chaplain to English-Speaking Pilgrims in Medjugorje. We looked at the Church's current ruling on the Medjugorje apparitions, and Fr. commented on a quote from Archbishop Henrik Hoser - "The light far outweighs the shadows." This week, we'll turn our attention to the question, "Do we need Medjugorje for our faith?" We'll also provide an overview of the messages of Medjugorje, and receive further encouragement from Fr. Leon regarding visiting Medjugorje.
THE ROLE OF MEDJUGORJE - AND OTHER PRIVATE REVELATION - IN OUR LIVES OF FAITH
So do we need Medjugorje for our faith? Strictly speaking, no. It falls into the realm of private revelation, and “we do not need any private revelation to be Catholics,” Fr. Leon said. “We do not need Lourdes, we do not need Fatima, we do not need Guadalupe … We do not need the Divine Mercy apparitions … What do we need? We need the faith that has comes to us through Jesus and through the apostles,” as described in the Holy Scriptures.
The things that come to us through private revelation – Lourdes, Fatima, and the Divine Mercy apparitions, for example – are not strictly necessary. But if we do not believe them, Fr. Leon said, “something is lost.
“I would put this in the category of celebrating your mother’s birthday. It is not strictly necessary. You don’t have to do it. But I think if you didn’t, something would be lost. You would be poorer for it. In that sense, I think we are more blessed to believe in Lourdes … We’re more blessed believing in it.
“What did [Our Lady] say at Lourdes? She said, penance, penance, penance, and let the sick come here and let them make a procession. And what did she say at Fatima? Similar. To make sacrifices. To pray. To offer ourselves and the Holy Mass to the Heavenly Father. We would be poorer if we didn’t do these things. So, in that same category I would say we would be poorer if we didn’t try to live the messages of Medjugorje.”
UNDERSTANDING THE MESSAGES OF MEDJUGORJE
What are the messages of Medjugorje? They go hand in hand with those of Lourdes and Fatima, and are summarized by what’s known as the five stones of Medjugorje.
“The image of the five stones comes from David the shepherd taking the five pebbles from the stream with a sling shot to face Goliath. These are the stones that Our Lady gives us to face our Goliath,” Fr. Leon said.
The five stones encourage us to live our life of faith more deeply. They are: 1.) Pray with the heart, especially the Rosary; 2.) Go to Holy Mass as often as possible, and receive Christ in a state of grace; 3.) Read scripture every morning, especially the Gospel, memorize a small portion, and live by it; 4.) Fast on Wednesdays and Fridays – an ancient discipline of the Church which Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholics keep to this day; and 5.) Go to confession once a month.
These five stones are the “heart of living the message of Medjugorje,” Fr. said, and they tie in perfectly with what Our Lady has said elsewhere. “They are not contradictory to the faith, and in fact nudge us in the direction of living our faith more fully.”
CAN CATHOLICS GO TO MEDJUGORJE?
In a word, yes.
“Let me state this quite clearly. We Catholics are free to visit any parish in the world,” Fr. Leon said. “Medjugorje is one parish in the world. There is nothing forbidding us from coming here.”
Fr. cautioned that there is a restriction on priests and bishops. “They themselves are not to organize an official pilgrimage to come here,” because this might give the perception that the Church had already established the Medjugorje apparitions as worthy of belief. But, “lay people are free to come here and to organize pilgrimage groups.” Fr. added, “you’re also free to invite your priests and bishops to accompany you as your chaplains, because you need pastoral care. … In fact, it’s advisable. If you’re coming here you should have your priests and bishops with you, pastorally, to give you that pastoral care.”
Fr. Leon referred to the words of Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard, former Archbishop of Brussels, who said: “Two risks exist: the risk that we are being deceived in Medjugorje and the risk that we are bypassing a gift of grace,” adding, “Between the two risks, I prefer to take the risk of being open rather than the risk of a priori being closed to the grace of God which can be operating in this place. Accordingly, therefore, I take the position of openness and prudence.”
Fr. Leon further reflected, “If it’s false, what have you been duped into? You’ve been duped into praying the Rosary, going to Mass more regularly, reading the Bible, confessing, and fasting. So, that’s not a bad thing to be duped into doing.”
On the other hand, Fr. said, “what if Medjugorje is real, and if it is real, imagine! Let’s imagine that God has sent the Blessed Mother here to Medjugorje.” Pointing again to Lourdes and Fatima, Fr. Leon stated, “If people had waited for the approval, lots of things would never have happened. The first miracle of Lourdes — the stone mason who was blind recovered his sight. He’d still be blind, he would have died blind. And the little boy who was dying, he might have died if people had waited [for Lourdes to be approved.] And in Fatima, it happened in 1917. Approval came in 1930. So if people had waited, the 17,000 wouldn’t have seen the miracle of the sun.
“Your experience is part of the process of the final judgment on Medjugorje, and I say like Bishop Leonard has said, the greatest danger is, what if Medjugorje is actually true?”
Fr. Leon ended his interview with an invitation to the faithful throughout the world: “I’d like to end by inviting you. You are free to come here if you so choose, and to experience it for yourself. Why not? You know, most of you usually visit neighboring parishes to go to confession because you’re too ashamed to go to your own priest. So if you’re free to go to your next door parish, you’re also free to come here, to Medjugorje in Bosnia Herzegovina. God bless you, and God love you.”
ARE YOU FEELING CALLED TO MEDJUGORJE?
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