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
Be strong in your faith and protect the faith of your people
I want to tell you a little about our experience here but, above all, I want to allow you priests to ask questions so I can reply, because these are the deepest questions and concern pastoral work
As I told you yesterday, what is happening here is a tangible fact. Each of us can find different interpretations; until now nobody knows the religious interpretations of the apparitions. It is only possible to make suppositions. As far as we priests, who live here are concerned everything is very clear. I, personally, have seen that all these events have led me forward towards God and towards my fellow beings. As I feel truly helped along this path, then it must be real. During this period here, I have discovered Our Lady in a new light and I have come to realise that we have not yet discovered her strength. Most people, also priests, regard her as one of the saints. It is my opinion that we are about to enter into a new era when we will discover Our Lady in her full light and understand her special role
After the recent Vatican Council, we have seen many groups and movements springing up and I see in the apparitions of Our Lady a purification of all this spiritual growth. I put a precise question to Our Lady : "Have you come to purify these movements ?" She replied 'It is exactly so'
I see Our Lady here as an event and as a person who will take us beyond all movements, because in all these movements there exist our individual manner of organisation, our human subjectivity. Our Lady is above all this and what has impressed me, is that Christian prayer must be above all methodology. I discovered this here. For example, once I asked this question of Our Lady : "You can help us. How did Jesus manage to pray all night without becoming tired ? What method did He use ?" She replied 'He had a great desire for God and for the salvation of souls'. Everything consists in this. She has often repeated : 'Prayer is a dialogue with God. It is a discovery of the Gospel'. Here it is not a question of any special method of concentration in prayer or methodology, although we can each have our own method. It is something natural; just as a sick person has his own way of praying, so a young person has another and so on. But I have seen that the prayer Our Lady speaks of, brings us to discover Jesus
When we asked what Our Lady thought of oriental meditation, she replied : 'Why do you call it meditation when it is human work ? True meditation is a meeting with Jesus when you will discover joy and inner peace.' She is really saying : to be very happy with God, to be united to God. We can see that everything is centred on a personal meeting with God and this is the context of the pilgrimage which Our Lady is making with us. The path of prayer is, at the same time, a path of faith to discover the existence of only one God, the God of Jesus Christ and to discover Jesus Christ. Once Our Lady said : 'You must know that there is only one God and only one Mediator, Jesus Christ.'
It seems to me that this pilgrimage Our Lady is making with us is a pilgrimage of faith and prayer for a personal meeting with God through which the meaning of many movements is clarified. I have found this problem, that many people, even priests, look to the visionaries and Our Lady for rules, formulae, but there are none. We have to go beyond these. I will explain: during all this time, Our Lady has never given a formula to anyone, but has only wanted to put us on the path, to urge us forward. She has only given us brief words : 'Pray, pray, pray' and 'Be converted'. These are more of a stimulus, not a theology, not a treatise, but an inducement to open our hearts. What is happening ? We priests must take a step forward, beyond those words and discover, by the light of the Holt Spirit, the whole content of the words. When I am in my parish I must have the light within so as to bring that content to people, because words without content are empty. This is the reason why Our Lady has said several times : 'Pray to the Holy Spirit that He may descend upon you. People pray in the wrong way : they go to shrines, to churches to ask for special graces, but few are those who ask for the Holy Spirit. Those who receive the Holy Spirit have already received everything. ' She often advises us to pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we may be enlightened. I see this as being extremely important for us priests, so that we may have inner light to conduct ourselves by this light, to understand the subject matter. We will be able in this way to lead people onwards. We have seen here that people want to be saved easily : press a button and expect special gracesat once. Here, by Divine Providence, we have been able to save the shrine, save the apparitions. I am sure that the apparitions were saved because people came into the church. The police had forbidden people to go on the mountain side and in this way we have been in a position to guide them. Otherwise, people transform everything into superstition, into something superficial
Those who have studied these things have told me about what has happened in several shrines where Our Lady has appeared. The priests withdrew and the visionaries were left alone and were turned into something like automatic machines for everything and that the nucleus of the apparitions has been literally covered with money and with superficial objects
Even yesterday we discovered the case of a lay person who had been bringing people here, giving them his own explanations. These were terrible : how women should be dressed, how the Holy Eucharist should be received, how a woman who has had an abortion cannot be pardoned and goes to Hell : and all this attributed to Our Lady ! Words that have never been spoken by Our Lady here ! We can see that where there is no guidance from the Church people will say anything, they bring their fanaticism, their problems, and leave them here. I see that it is most important for priests to feel the responsibility for guidong people. Our Lady is appearing in order to reawaken us and we must go forward, understand and remember the words, just as Our Lady remembered the words spoken about Jesus. I see this as being important
Another thing I consider important and would do if I were in a parish like you : I would immediately call everyone to a minimum of prayer and fasting. I have discovered that the greatest sin of the Christian today is indifference. A majority of the faithful are in practice unfaithful. They do not pray, they do not fast, they do not practice anything, they are carried away by society like everybody else. If we succeed in bringing them to at least a minimum of spiritual activity they will come out from their indifference. Our Lady had a very good lesson for us when, at the beginning of the apparitions she said : 'Say every day at least 7 Our Father's, Hail Mary's, Glory Be's and the Creed and begin to fast every Friday.' In my opinion this is not enough for a Christian. It means we are below a minimum of at least 7 minutes direct relationship with Jesus. If we succeed in bringing people to a minimum of prayer, fasting renunciation, then at home, in the family, something will start moving and people will lose their indifference. Then some generous people from the parish will come forward, who will go ahead and you will be able to form various active groups and start working together. In this way you will make the rest of the parish grow
I think that this way of working is very important in order to unite the whole parish and to allow spontaneous prayer groups and renewal groups to come out of their ghettos. Yes, I have seen many groups closed in on themselves and thus lacking the strength to influence others. If they are closed they run the risk of condemning others, considering themselves as good and honest and not so the others. I see that all groups can be corrected from within the parish and the parish priest can guide them together with the rest of the parish
I would like to tell you about another experience of mine : be open towards all groups because they will be able to help the parish and at the same time, be corrected if you are open towards them. In all groups I have seen some good initiatives but, if they are not guided, human elements often cause problems. The impulses which come from certain leaders at the beginning are good but, as they are not helped and guided, they do not blossom. Later the group becomes like a small sect ; this diminishes its strength and at the same time, creates problems in the parish. I think it is most important that the parish priests should be open towards all groups, because the groups are a human way of expression which can be improved and opened up when we are able to guide them. I have often seen that lay people have the spirit and the zeal but not the perspective that a priest should have in order to enlighten a movement and help it. I feel this is very important
Returning to my experience and way of thinking, everything undertaken with Our Lady receives more strength and the path with her is easier. Here, for a year, there has been a group guided by Our Lady. I have never found any of those difficulties in this group that are to be found in several other groups : certain fanaticisms, quarrels and jealousies. There is simplicity, harmony and peace, and simplicity is what Our Lady says about the path of faith. A total abandonment to God. I always say to the people who come here and ask me how they can pray that they have two things to take : the Rosary and the Gospel, and that their priest will give them everything else. Start praying with simplicity. All the methods we know can help us, but we must not be worried about them, it enough to set people out on the path of faith, before God
Last year, at the end of May, through little Jelena, Our Lady said :'I wish for a prayer group.' She gave us a month's time during which every young person could decide to enter or not, a month of preparation. On 2nd June, 1983 Our Lady said : 'Now I will give you some points to follow; I will guide this group and through its experiences and through what I do with it, later, when I say so, other groups can be formed in the world. Abandon yourselves totally to God, then cast out fear; in the hearts of those who have abandoned themselves to God there is no more place for fear.' She asked for three hours of prayer each day and said : 'In the morning and evening pray for at least half an hour.' She recommended daily Mass. She said : 'Do not be surprised because I ask for so much prayer, but you are weak because you pray too little.' She asked for fasting twice a week and in the last six months has asked for fasting three times a week. At the beginning she said : 'The time will come when I will ask you to fast even three times a week.' These three days are for certain needs of the Church. We know them. One of them has already been fulfilled. Our Lady told us before Christmas, 1983: 'Be happy because you have received the Grace, but it will be given later according to God's plan.' Then she asked the group that it should particularly love its enemies, not to bear ill feeling towards anybody, not to judge or slander but only to love and especially to visit the sick and suffering and to serve them. She has asked the group to follow a pilgrimage lasting four years. During this period she has told them not to choose a vocation, not to marry or go into a convent. I asked the reason for not even going into a convent and she replied : 'The most important thing for all Christians is to enter into the depth of prayer ; only then can one make the right choice.' This year I have realised that spiritual life consists in the deepening of prayer. As prayer deepens, so does spiritual life. The elements for entering more deeply into prayer are these : to pray more, to fast and to love. These three elements are clear. Our Lady has given us other suggestions, too. For example, she said in a message : 'If you want to be very happy, live a simple, humble life, pray a great deal and do not delve into your problems but allow God to resolve them.'
I find this recommendation, not to go into the depth of problems very deep because we have complicated everything, even the Church and theology, with much analysis because we want to be the guides, instead of allowing God to guide us
On Holy Thursday of this year, she said : 'I will reveal a spiritual secret to you : if you want to be stronger than evil, make yourselves an active conscience, that is, pray sufficiently in the morning, read a passage from the Gospel and root the Divine Word in your hearts and live by it during the day, particularly in your trials, in this way you will become stronger all the time.' I heard about having an active conscience forn the first time in my life from a girl of eleven, Jelena, who brought Our Lady's message. I can see that through this active conscience we enter into a permanent and continuous prayer and only in this way can we grow. Otherwise I realise that our prayers leave us in a closed circle : I pray but remain as before; I go to confession but remain as before. This active conscience takes me forward all the time and all the points given to us by Our Lady, that is: interior prayer for at least half an hour every morning and evening, strengthen this active conscience. I will explain: if a person who is mentally sick does not take medicine, tranquillisers, he will get worse because he will have frightening dreams and in the morning will get up feeling tired. During the day he will continue to accumulate difficulties and his sleep will deteriorate. The tension increases so the doctors prescribe medicines to halt this. So it is with us, in prayer, if we pray each morning, if we can be cleansed and purified in our hearts and abandon ourselves completely to God, we can live the day. In the evening, we must be unloaded of all our burdens in order to sleep during the night with a light heart; in the morning we will feel better. In this way we make progress all the time
Once Our Lady said to little Jelena : 'Your days will be different according to whether you pray in the evening or not.'
If we have a continuous rhythm for a direct relationship with God, our inner strength will increase, the light will increase and we will always be on the way forward.
(Fr. Tomislav Vlasic - to a group of priests - 20/6/84)