Jelena Interviewed - Our Lady told us the truth
Date: May 15, 2006 , Originally published March, 2005
Author: Sr. Stefania Consoli
Category: Visionaries , Jelena Vasilj , Interviews
Jelena, you have been absent from the pages of Echo for some time. What has been happening in your life lately? Who is Jelena today?
We’re expecting our third child, but the pregnancy hasn’t been going according to previsions, and I’ve been confined to total rest. But I’ve seen how this condition of immobility regards my body only, while my spirit has been able to broaden out continually. So this has been a time of grace for me, because love has two sides to it. There is the joy and the enthusiasm of giving, even though this is accompanied by the cross, but it is when the cross is accepted, that our joy is even deeper. Then, everything is okay. It seems as though life should be always downhill to be true – or that’s how we imagine it. However, I am coming to understand ever more how suffering is our true life. So I can say that right now I am living this “true life.”
You mean the cross should be a kind of permanent fixture?
The cross is inevitable, but when it is accepted as an element of love, then it takes on so much more meaning and becomes more bearable, I would say even inexistent - or at least the negative charge we feel is greatly lessened.
My suffering of now is not marked by great pain; it’s rather an experience of being unable to “produce” according to the mentality of modern day society, for which “being” equals nothing. No one asks who you are… you asked me who I am!
Maternity, rather than doing, is being, and at present I am living this state of being. Mary gives us her example. Her life was a life of prayer, spent listening to the Word, at disposal of the Word whom she bore in her womb. Though she cooperated with Him, it was the Son’s work. Suffering places us in this true vision of life, where we depend entirely on the Lord, where it is He who works, and has everything under control.
So what is the correct attitude to assume when we suffer?
There are three possible approaches. The first is when a person feels he is crushed by suffering and seeks to resist and fight back. In this case, the person becomes aggressive, even unbearable, for those around him because he wants at all costs to control his own life. The second option is to feel so crushed as to become passive. The person refuses to cooperate and becomes depressed.
The third option is what I would call a type of “dance” where it is necessary for the person to collaborate. In this dance you feel yourself being carried up by God’s energy: the source of this energy is not yours, as it is God who leads. You, however, are not passive, not a puppet being pulled around by God. An interaction takes place. I think suffering must be lived thus, as a dance together with the Holy Spirit. He inspires you, shows you the steps, and you – through following Him – express an act of will. This way, suffering need not be lived as something destructive, or as a defeat. It is important that we neither resign ourselves nor want to impose our will on our lives, otherwise we would find ourselves fighting against God.
Mary often refers to suffering as something to be lived as an offering to God. Man, though, is afraid of suffering. In a world that teaches us to avoid and even anaesthetize it, the words of Mary come to counteract this idea, they come as a medicine. What would you say?
I recently read a book by Benedict XVI called Maria, Chiesa Nascente. A lot of its expressions are still impressed in my mind, and I want to use them to say what I’m thinking. You know, without Mary the Church would be nothing more than an organization of persons, and peoples, who try to make a project work. Mary, instead, helps us to understand who the Church really is. She is the Church-bride, the Church who listens, the Church who in a certain way subjects herself – even though this word is not very popular today. In short, the Church is aware of being betrothed to Christ, not an autonomous Church that’s “in business.” That is why Mary at Medjugorje asks us above all to learn from the Bridegroom, to let ourselves be led by Him, as she did. In this perspective Mary becomes the central figure in the life of the Church.
Yes, and without Mary our spirituality would risk being mere activism. Only she can teach us to pray. These days prayer is in a crisis, as is listening with the heart to God. So it is right that she should come to teach us again. Without Mary we cannot be what we ought to be! So rather than “doing” prayer, perhaps we should learn something from Mary’s way of being. She is a sign of what each of us should be before God. I think it is a great injustice to be deprived of Mary. We need her.
Many people say they can’t pray because they lack the time. However, you say that Mary asks us to be “contemplatives” in the world. How can we do this?
I want to refer to the Pope’s book again, when he speaks of the dimension of motherhood without which the world could not survive. The problem is that the role of motherhood is almost completely disfigured in today’s world, because all of the tasks that were once a mother’s have been removed from her in one way or another, due to a distorted vision of society that makes one believe that if the woman cannot “produce” she has no worth, and does not consider that certain aspects of femininity are fundamental for the collective growth. In his book the Holy Father says that there are some things that need only grow, and someone must watch over that growth. So the role of the woman in the Church is fundamental in her capacity to make things grow, besides generating them.
I don’t think women need to take on men’s roles. Perhaps men need to learn who the woman really is, because before God each soul is almost feminine. I don’t mean to get philosophical, but I do see that before God the soul is receptive, disposed, and welcoming. Women, then, don’t have to withdraw or feel useless in society. They only need to profoundly be themselves to be able to save the world.
It’s what Pope Benedict says in his book: if everything was just activism, those things that only need to grow - for example a child in the womb, or a flower - could not exist because they would be suffocated by activism. Without motherhood, without Mary, there would be no prayer. Without prayer one loses time. That is why motherhood is not attractive for many, because they consider time spent talking with your child is time lost.
So the Church needs people willing to “lose time”?
Someone in a hurry cannot have a fertile spiritual life. If a mother’s relationship with her children is rushed she cannot live her motherhood properly. Children need their parent’s union more than they need bread. Today we worry about houses and things – not that this isn’t good – but the interior life is practically ignored.
Our world reminds me of a silent film: there are events that we see, but we can’t see the real meaning of things because we don’t listen to God’s voice in us. We live life badly because we don’t realize that human relations – which mirror our relationship with God – are the most important thing on this earth.
Why do you think relationships clash?
I think because we cultivate our own projects, which at times can be obsessions; and because we’re obsessed with reaching a certain point without ever listening to the Holy Spirit, or to others. We really need to be in harmony with God and with those around us. We can’t have everything the way we want them.
I would say that it would be better to prefer the other to self. I know it’s very hard, but when we treat others this way, they too begin to treat us in the same way. So it’s for our own good, really. We concern ourselves with our own things, without considering that only good can conquer the heart of another. The more we are allied, the more this good grows also within us.
Mary has prepared us over these years, and she desires that her children today be ready. Habit can weaken one’s initial zeal. What would you say to those who’ve responded to her call”?
I would say that prayer must dilate the heart; and that often the heart is instead closed. Love is missing. The wine is missing, like at Cana. Gradually, one tires along the journey. We have to trust Our Lady; believe that she told us the truth; and we shouldn’t doubt, or lose our faith. I see that often people feel isolated, as if deciding for God meant withdrawal. Instead, when you decide for God you enter into the heart of the world. The world desires God, but it’s like an immature child that can’t hear the voice of its parent.
You’ve been in Rome for many years now. How do you relate with Medjugorje today?
For me Medjugorje is not a place, but a state of being. Before I spoke of a silent film, whereas I think of Medju as a film with a very deep sound, and where there is great awareness of life and life’s destination. Here, instead, there’s no conscience; we don’t know where we’re going. We’re going, but without knowing where.
Medjugorje is this awareness of God in us, where it is normal for everyone to think that God is with us, despite all the limits that exist. I’ve noticed that at Medju love remains always, even if people weren’t to speak well of each other, behind there is still this love which is committing. Here instead it seems that there is a total non-commitment, in everything!
What is your mission?
It’s not a profession, that’s for sure. Not even an activity which I don’t think I’ll ever take up. Probably, I think I’ll especially live the Incarnation in every aspect of my life and be in a certain sense a bridge. I wouldn’t like this to sound too vain, but lately I’ve been thinking that all of us should be like Mary, in that she is a mirror of God’s work, so that the world might believe in this Presence. In short, I’d like to realize the Christian life: that is, lead an ordinary life that is also extraordinary. In other words, make those choices that the world by now finds profoundly disturbing.
Do you have a word for the Church of today?
I strongly feel the universality of the Church. I think that we have a very big family, and that we can’t close ourselves up in our own little family. I am a mother of children, but I see how they share my same destiny, which is to be a part of this big family. So the word you ask for is: love!(interviewed by S.C.)