Medjugorje Grey Book
Open Your Hearts to MARY Queen of Peace
Other languages: English, Italiano
Date: November 7, 2006 , Last update March 1, 2008
Author: Dr. Fra Slavko Barbarić, OFM , Fra Tomislav Vlašić, OFM
Category: Early Medjugorje Reflections Books , Books , Priests of Medjugorje
Content of the article
This book is the first of the four volumes of sermons and discourses given by Fr. Slavko Barbaric and Fr. Tomislav Vlasic during 1984 - 1987 in Medjugorje, and contains talks given from Easter until December 1984.
All chapters of this book are now included
It is risky to read the Gospel because it makes demands of us
On Tuesday, I told the people of Medjugorje that it is risky to attend Mass. I truly believe that it is risky to go to Mass every morning because the words are very clear : the Lord's words call us and we must always move onwards, or close our ears. It is risky because many people close their ears, they do not move onwards, they come to listen a little but they do not go forward. But if the Church went forward every day, it should be entirely holy. This is why I remembered the liturgy of St. Luke (Chapter 6) and reading the Gospel every day I see that it is not possible to live the Gospel in a superficial manner; it is risky to read the Gospel because it makes demands of us.
Two days ago, you saw the strength that came from Jesus there were many cures. Yesterday we read the Beatitudes : blessed are the poor, blessed are those who are slandered, blessed are the persecuted. I do not know if you have read today's Gospel: Jesus says we must love our enemies, and I understood that the fundamental point in our spiritual life is to have strength, feel the Divine Strength within us, to be stronger than all the obstacles, than all our enemies, than those noises around us in church, than slander, than poverty we must be strong. To be stronger than our difficulties means to be saved. When a person is not stronger than all obstacles, he is not saved, he does not live salvation; salvation is missing. This person instead of saving and constructing, destroys everything around him. He does not realise this, but, in actual fact, he destroys. You will be able to observe this in your daily behaviour in the future and you will see that there is always destruction when this strength is missing by which we are able to arrive at the Beatitudes.
I will give you an example that may be of help to you. I recently read a book that should be translated into Italian: "New man on fragile legs". Doctor Carlo Guido Rey, a psychiatrist, a Swiss I believe, describes his conversion: 'When my faith was reawakened and I felt the strength of the Spirit, I started to write articles and to speak openly about this. I had already begun to prepare a book on the subject. One day, returning home after a meeting with some of my followers whom I wanted to help progress, I found difficulties in my family and with my children. Later a friend left me, I had problems with my work I really ended up in a hopeless circle, and started to ruin my family life by being angry. My wife went away and my children went away from me like mice into their holes, and so the days passed by. One day I came home and found a German magazine with a large photograph of me in it, under which was written : a psychoanalyst lives God. I started to laugh and looked at my face and eyes in the picture and felt inside myself that I was nothing 'you are a light that goes out in a tiny breeze'. When I recognised that I was nothing, I felt completely unloaded of all my burdens. When my wife came she met me ready to pronounce judgement and with eyes full of anger, but when she looked at me she immediately changed and ran to embrace me. My children, like mice out of their holes, ran towards me because strength had come within me. I was saved and my family and the family felt my salvation; without a word, they moved towards me and my life began again.' I find this example useful to help us understand our behaviour. If we do not have Divine strength we are the destroyers of people around us. If we are saved, full of hope and inner strength, there will be more people around us and we will become persons from whom comes strength, like Jesus Christ.
If you read the Gospel only as words, it is empty. The Gospel without Divine strength is not worth anything. It is like the words of all philosophers. If we speak of the Gospel without this strength, we are nothing. If we have this strength, energy comes from us, Divine power comes from us and carries people onwards. The problem is: how can we live this strength ? How can we obtain this strength ? I know how to obtain it: you do if you want to. Jesus withdrew to pray all night and afterwards came down to act. At Medjugorje we have heard every day: pray, pray, pray. Now I want to underline for you the message which was given on Holy Thursday of this year : "If you want to be stronger than evil create an active conscience for yourselves. Pray, especially in the morning, read a passage from the Gospel, root the Divine word inside you and continually make it come alive during the day, especially in times of crisis, and by evening you will be stronger." It seems to me, that nowadays we cannot pray all night like Jesus, but must find a way of praying all day : staying with Jesus and continuing to strengthen our inner life all the time.
I have now understood that if you want to progress in spiritual life, if you want to be strengthened every day through all your prayers, it is necessary to take two steps: you cannot omit one of them, there are only two: it seems to me that it is the same as standing on two feet and walking with two feet.
The first step to take is to pray about the unredeemed part of our being: before praying we must be conscious of this unredeemed part of us. I am agitated, not in harmony with everybody, I am angry, I feel bitter, I am worried: I must always place that unredeemed part of me in front of my spiritual eyes; I must be aware of it, really able to feel it, to let others be aware of it, let them help me, that their criticism may help me. Then I must cry out from that part of me.
When I recite the rosary, too, the Hail Mary is a cry from the depth of my unredeemed being, that part of my family and society which is unredeemed. I must have everything before my eyes and cry out in search of the countenance of Our Lord. This step is most important so that our prayers are not merely formulae, but a search for God who saves us from the depth of our, as yet, unredeemed being. In this way, prayer will not be a pastime but a contact with God who will save us and give us new strength. I am fragile and weak and destroy all around me and Jesus wants me to become a person capable of saving others. If I omit this step, I can never become a person who is saved. This is the problem of many spiritual movements: people do not follow this step. Above all, they want to receive gifts, especially in the charismatic movement, or to have status or to hold important posts in the church. It is a step to take and it is no use omitting it. We must be redeemed, really aware of our own weaknesses and to cry out for salvation from the depth of our being so that we will be able to see the Divine Face and to go forward every day it is the first step.
The second step to take each day, is to forgive, but we have a mistaken concept of forgiveness. We think we must force ourselves a little to give someone something against our will this is not Christian forgiveness. Christian forgiveness is to love because I am blessed; it is like a full glass, full to the brim, where my joy, understanding and love overflow the glass, it goes beyond because I am full of strength and life. When I am full of God, I am able to understand all situations, the whole world and even darkness. I know, I understand and I can accept it, when I am slandered, persecuted, poor and not even allowed the holiest things I have a right to. To forgive means to go beyond: that is to be full of life. The second step to take every day is to go beyond the brim of the glass, to overcome bitterness, impatience and slander. To overcome in this way, means to live Redemption and to save others.
In my opinion, these two steps should always be present in our life: when we pray, during the routine of our daily life, when we are united to God. Every one of our prayers should be based on these two steps, so that every day we should cry out from the depth of our unredeemed being and go toward s the countenance of Our Lord in order to discover it and go towards forgiveness.
In the Gospel of Saint Luke, chapter VI 'love your enemies, be blessed when you are poor, when you are persecuted' means to go beyond the brim of the glass. This is what I wanted to tell you because it is only in this way that our inner strength increases; this is what happens: at the same time that our inner strength increases, people become converted. Not many words are needed, but people change as in the case of that psychiatrist: his wife and children came into the light because they felt his salvation in their hearts. This is the rule we must follow.
When you return from Medjugorje, I hope you follow this, in order to renew your countenance and the countenance of God. Look at what happens in the history of salvation and at what happens in the places where apparitions take place; it has always been so, when Our Lady appears, there is a contrast. Why are there apparitions ? Because a sleeping God does not disturb anyone, a God who sleeps and whose countenance is hidden does not even disturb the atheists. When the light appears, then the robbers run away or become aggressive. Our Lady's countenance brings the countenance of God amongst people it is the light ! Then opposition comes, because a very clear countenance has come.
Our task now is for all of us to become Our Lady's countenance and God's countenance. Then the darkness will disappear, but we must be aware how Our Lady's countenance becomes clearer and clearer to people. Why is this countenance so clear ? Because it disturbs the darkness. For our part, we must continue to live this countenance so that the darkness will vanish on its own. When there is light, the darkness disappears.
This is our role in the veneration of Our Lady: to increase this inner power of salvation so that Our Lady's countenance and that of God will shine on our face. Our face speaks to others; darkness vanishes and people will come to ask what we have inside us that makes us so serene, our family content, and how we have found happiness. This is the way the Gospel is spread.
I want to add something else; when you return to Italy, please do not accept this pilgrimage for personal motives. These may have been your reason on the way here. Now, on the way from Medjugorje to Italy you must feel this pilgrimage as a call from Our Lady for the salvation of the world. Look, if you now offer and accept this pilgrimage as a responsibility for the Kingdom of God, for the salvation of souls and for Our Lady, you will immediately realise that you feel a change inside yourselves. Difficulties then will no longer be difficulties but become bearable, made easier, but you must really put yourselves in Our Lady's hands and do what Our Lady and God tell us for the Kingdom of God. Then you will see that you will be unburdened and private graces and prayers will be granted, or you will be very happy to carry your cross.
This is what I wanted to tell you, what is important to me after reading the Gospel lately. I wish all of you to grow in Divine strength and I will always remember you in my prayers. Please also pray that Our Lady's plan may go forward. If you are willing no one will be able to halt Our Lady's plan any more. If you are willing, this is an important point.
An enormous theological error is made when only one side of the passage, at the beginning of the Bible, about a Woman being the sign and the salvation by which satan will be overcome, is stressed. We forget that it is the Woman with her children, and you are Our Lady's children. It is with us all that Our Lady wants to triumph. She needs us, our prayers, our fasting and our sense of responsibility. This is why I am reminding to accept this pilgrimage now on your return to Italy as God's pilgrimage, not for your own personal reasons, but for the salvation of the world, for the salvation of all those you meet and talk to.
Thank you for coming here.
Question: In the light for Our Lady's teaching about prayer, can you give us some practical suggestions as to how to start out on the way to deeper prayer ?
Answer: It is very simple ! Look, the experience at Medjugorje is different to that of Fatima and Lourdes. As you know, Our Lady is appearing here every day and has been doing so for nearly thirty nine months. it is a pilgrimage. At Fatima the apparitions were only once a month for a number of months and only several times at Lourdes. Here it is a pilgrimage, a path, and I feel quite sure that the time has come in which Our Lady will help the Church to come out of exile. Along this pilgrimage, Our Lady says few words in a very simple way which she asks us to put into practice: to pray and to put her words into practice. The problem of spiritual prayer life is of too many prayers and too little prayer. To make progress in our prayer life, start to read a very short passage of the Gospel, put it before you and desire God, but really place the Word before you so it becomes part of you. it must be transformed which means that it must be put into practice. As you desire the Divine Word in prayer, as you make progress in prayer each day and in your daily life, the horizon will open up and Our Lady will be before us, God will be with us and will open up our hearts. The important point is to search for God in a concrete way; God manifested Himself in a real way in the Gospel. I would remind you of what I said at the beginning: it is risky to read the Gospel. Open the Gospel at any page and you will realise how we have all run away from it. We do not want God, we do not want God as He has manifested Himself, when He says: "you must forgive", when He says: "do not worry I am guiding everything". The meaning of prayer is to put this into practice, to desire this in prayer, nothing else. How can we increase this desire for God in a concrete way ? By placing the Divine Word within us as Our Lady did and, as this desire increases, so will the growth of our inner spiritual life. It is so easy. But we must search for a real, manifested God. Other religions cannot do this. Soon all the oriental movements will be in crisis because they cannot a real and manifest God, theirs is only human wisdom. We have God manifested amongst us and we must search for Him in the Gospel, in the Sacraments so that His Word may enter deep within us where Redemption and Salvation are born.
(Fr. Tomislav Vlasic 13th September 1984)