Interview of Fr. Tomislav - Twenty five years with Mary
Date: May 9, 2006 , Originally published January, 2006
Author: Fra Tomislav Vlašić, OFM
Category: Priests of Medjugorje , Interviews
This year is the 25th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions at Medjugorje. You were a witness of the extraordinary events of the first years. In the light of your personal journey and your priestly experience, what memories awake in you today?
With regards to my past years in Medjugorje, not a lot of things come to mind right now. In 1985 I began gradually withdrawing from Medjugorje to live in contemplation. As my relationship with God grew deeper there was an awakening of the memory of my soul, that space where the Holy Spirit was able to assume the role of main actor, to reveal the Mystery. In this memory there’s not so much the phenomena of Medjugorje, but rather the divine truth of the living and true God, and the Mother of God who is present in and works in us. It is the truth of the Church.
Whoever receives an extraordinary grace must make it bear fruit for the Church. The visionaries have said, with regards to some of the secrets, that when these will be revealed it will be too late for many. This means that what counts is our participation in the divine action in us, including that which is being manifested at Medjugorje in such an extraordinary way
So what do you think is the most important thing about Medjugorje?
As I said, the memory of our soul records everything. The Holy Spirit reveals the contents of it to us gradually, to lead us to the entire truth. All is entrusted to the Church to accompany us on our way to God, as the deposit of the divine truth is revealed to us.
For all of us it is extremely important that we accept the Mother of God as part of God’s salvific plan; and accept her person. By following her example, and letting ourselves be guided by her motherly love we participate in her glorification. Through Mary we conceive Christ in us, and in us He grows, offers Himself, and is glorified. Through Mary Most Holy we take part in the salvific event of Christ.
It is a dynamic journey that involves the human being on all the levels of his existence and guides his development. For this reason it can also confuse and overwhelm him, but in a good sense. He who accepts this action of God, and converts, allows himself to be fully included in the salvific event worked by Jesus Christ, the Saviour, and allows himself to become an instrument of divine action himself. If this doesn’t happen, man remains closed up within his own little world, though remaining a believer.
Our Lady at Medjugorje continues to invite us to conversion. Do you think people are truly converting?
The fruits are many and evident. That people are converted, let’s leave it to Heaven to judge. In the message of 25 December 2005 given to Jakov , Our Lady said: “Children, throughout all this time in which God has permitted me to be with you, I have continuously called you to conversion. Many of your hearts have remained closed… Begin to pray. Pray to God for the gift of conversion.” I think these words should make us seriously reflect.
Don’t you think this message is perhaps a little too severe; that it might discourage those with good will but who feel too weak?
I would say not! This is a mistake, based on our fears, which we immediately seek to justify. St. Francis of Assisi, at the end of his earthly life, told his brothers: “Brothers, let’s start from the beginning because so far we have done nothing!” These words are very significant also for us.
When a person is open to God he always sees new horizons ahead of himself, and he always receive new graces. He is fascinated by life in God and with that same vital fascination he attracts others to God, since they feel its pull and are overwhelmed.
In these our times, with evil so strongly present, God expects His children to let themselves be powerfully involved in His divine life, so they in turn may involve others, and overturn and destroy evil, and ultimately overturn death itself. If believers remain outside this dynamic action, they remain flat, they do not arrive at authentic conversion and they are subject to the aggressive action of evil.
In this message that you quoted, Our Lady asks us to pray. For many years she has continued to ask for prayer, almost with insistence. Why, do you think?
Our Lady is faithful to herself. She shows us the way; she indicates the most suitable means to awaken in us the divine life and all its dynamics. There is no doubt that prayer is the fundamental means for active participation in the life of grace.
Why are many of our prayers not granted, even when we think they are good things?
St. Augustine explains that bad people (mali) pray in a bad way (male) for bad things (mala). We turn around ourselves, and we want to involve everyone and everything, including God, in our egoistic needs. God withdraws from this type of behaviour.
In the message of 25 December 2005 that I cited before, Our Lady also says: “My Children, Jesus is peace, love and joy. So decide for Jesus.” True prayer raises a praying person, and introduces him into the life of Christ. It detaches him from his egoism and makes him participate in the dynamics of salvation. This is the prayer that attains its scope.
Our Lady has frequently called us to fast. Many have difficulty fasting. Can you say something about this?
We must understand that in God’s plan, everything is connected harmoniously; also fasting. Independent from the form one may choose to fast, its scope is to lead the person away from material and spiritual consumerism, and to awaken in him the quest for God, to steer him towards conversion. As with prayer, fasting too is an indispensable means to arrive at God.
What advice can you give us to advance in the spiritual journey?
The scope of our life is to enter into mystical union with Jesus; to enter into the fullness of His life. If we have the Son, then we also have the Father, and the Holy Spirit will lead us – says St. John the apostle. If we allow ourselves to be involved and overwhelmed by Jesus Christ, then we will be His people and He the Immanuel, the God-with-us. All apparitions, all graces granted us have this purpose.
If we journey decisively in this direction, that is, towards total union with Jesus, then everything in our life will change. Faith, hope, and love become dynamic, able to involve and overwhelm others. This is the way we become involved in the action of divine grace, and participate in the mandate of the apostles, moved by the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, we remain closed up in our own superficial religiosity, turning around ourselves and our concern for the future, and trying to get others involved not in God but in ourselves: it’s like a destructive vortex.
The world doesn’t seem to be going too well. Many people are concerned, pessimistic. Do you think something in the world is changing?
Very much is changing; very much! God is the true protagonist of history, even if He seems hidden. His action is silent, hidden to the “greats” of the earth. He transforms everything, and He doesn’t want to damage anything. He allows humanity’s crises so that man will seek God and convert. God does wonderful things even today, often through the little, simple people, those who are most hidden. Besides, He has always acted this way throughout history, even in the life of the Virgin Mary.
What do you expect from the 25th anniversary of apparitions at Medjugorje?
A jubilee is a jubilee! A jubilee brings many graces with it, and opens up great scenarios of divine action. So I expect very much. In particular I expect an awakening of God’s people: with regards to prayer, conversion, and fasting; that they may be caught up by God.
I hope each believer will comprehend that the main stage where God acts is within himself, in his soul. The fruits will come, both in and around persons. God’s people will thus see the realization of His promises; they will see the salvation of mankind. And then, believers will bear the announcement of the happy news of the salvation of each person. This is my hope and also my prayer to God and to our Mother.