Bishop Hnilica - Not Ashamed of Medjugorje!
Quite to the contrary, Mons. Paul Hnilica was a courageous witness in the Church of the extraordinary grace of that blessed land. In 1997 he addressed a letter to Medjugorje-inspired prayer groups, a part of which we publish here to synthesize the immense value of the event known as Medjugorje.
A Living Reality
“No one can deny, even if some try, that the spiritual Movement of the Queen of Peace is a living part of the Church, born of a spirit of prayer, not of human initiative. This river of light, peace and love for the Mother of God has generated prayer groups everywhere, has inspired conversions, and continues to heal and console the hearts of all those faithful who have found in the simplicity of the messages of the Queen of Peace authentic direction enabling them to rediscover the Gospel and to return to the heart of the Church.
Transformed by Grace
Thousands of priests and hundreds of bishops have celebrated Holy Mass, and dedicate a lot of time listening to the confessions of penitents who’ve been trans-formed by Mary’s motherly grace. Many of these have returned to their dioceses with the conviction that “at Medjugorje people convert,” and these conversions are being noticed by the Pastors because they are long-lasting conversions. So many are the people who have experienced the presence of Mary at Medjugorje that they cannot be counted, just as the stories of spiritual and even physical healings can no longer be counted. Countless as well, are the vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life born of the grace of Medjugorje. These are just some of the main spiritual fruits which have brought many to the conclusion that the Queen of Peace is truly present in Medjugorje.
The Light of Hope
In each of the continents there are many prayer groups inspired by the messages of the Queen of Peace, from whom they receive hope and consolation. These groups are a living Christian presence in the Church. The motherly presence of Mary helps us remember what happened at Guadalupe, Lourdes and Fatima and in other places of Marian apparitions. Prior to the apparitions of Mary these places were spiritual deserts, and after Mary’s motherly visits they flourished with life; the people regained hope, they asked forgiveness and this produced the fruit of peace.
Voice in the Desert
The Queen of Peace came to Bosnia-Herzegovina with a message of peace and reconciliation for peoples which some years later were hurled into a hellish war. Her voice had cried out as though in a desert. She came to warn, to admonish and to plead, that her children might understand that without conversion of heart there could be no real peace. The peace in 1981 was apparent only, because ten years later the war broke out. But no one knew that. At the time of the first apparitions it was not clear why in a land of peaceful cohabitation, Our Lady should speak of the need for urgent return to God as the means to obtain true peace. On 26th June 1981 she was seen crying before a large cross; on the 26th June 1991 the first bombs fell on the airport of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
The message of Medjugorje – like that of Fatima – speaks of peace and conversion, nonetheless the journey of the Church is not an easy one. She shares the same destiny as that of the prophets: many conversions but also much persecution; much grace, but a great battle. Like the prophets it is only after much suffering and tribulations that men will come to understand its true importance. The event of Medjugorje is taking place in a period of the history of mankind which is particularly threatened by the forces of Evil. Without the encounter with the Mother of Jesus there is no supernatural life, and this life is always threatened; there is always a Herod trying to suppress it.
It is our conversion that decides the fate of mankind of the future. It is not the programmes, or meetings, or words that will change the world. The Queen of Peace has shown us the Highway that leads one to the conversion of heart. This way leads to the Cenacle, or Upper Room, and it is here that by means of prayer in communion with Mary, Bride of the Holy Spirit, we are able to acknowledge our sins, make penance and convert. We must not be surprised if Satan tries many ways to destroy the supernatural fruits which have matured within the spiritual Movement of Medjugorje. As our defence we must sincerely love, serve and imitate our Queen and Mother of Peace by living her messages.
To journey towards Mary and together with her to discover her Son: this spiritual journey, considered by many as a great blessing for the Church, does not create confusion. Confusion is the work of the Evil One. The Queen of Peace in her messages does not disorient, but rather, orients towards the truth of the Gospel, and Medjugorje itself has become for numerous pilgrims a place of reconciliation with the Church, not of separation from the Church. We know that some speak out against Medjugorje, but this is not the first time that within the Church even bishops have expressed confl icting opinions about a supernatural intervention. Some years ago the Holy Father said: “The world is losing the supernatural, people are finding it at Medjugorje through prayer, fasting and the sacraments.”
Times of Universal “Totus Tuus”
Let us unite our hearts to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Many of us have clearly un-derstood that these are Her times; the times announced at Fatima and confirmed by the message of Medjugorje! These are the times of the universal “Totus tuus”. The Queen of Peace wants us united in prayer as we trust-fully await the New Pentecost which will renew the face of the earth. Together with her, let us journey towards the Lord!”
(Paolo M. Hnilica, Vescovo)