Pilgrimage of the Heart

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We recently celebrated the Jubilee of Heaven: Our Lady’s presence in our midst for 25 years. Since that distant 25 June 1981, a good part of the world has been to Medugorje. Some pass through but once, but the greater majority return after the first visit, and continue to return as though to a special appointment that one is anxious for.

Medjugorje is known by now in every corner of the world, even if merely by hear-say. Every time one returns is though to drink fresh water from a well-spring which quenches our thirst for God and His love. This thirst is in the hearts of all, but at times is ignored, wittingly or unwittingly, and we often seek to quench it with “polluted water.” Mary came to awaken in us this thirst and to help us find at Jacob’s well Him who quenches every thirst: her Son Jesus. This then, explains the ongoing desire to make this pilgrimage, to begin the journey on which to encounter the Lord. At Medugorje, it is difficult not to encounter Him, not to hear the call to conversion, the need to pray, to reconcile with God through confession and begin a new life.

Just going to Medjugorje, though, is not enough to safe-keep the graces which are given us. We are urged to make another type of pilgrimage for this; an inner pilgrimage, the markers of which are indicated in Mary’s messages. This spiritual journey enables us with every passing day and in each of life’s circumstances to seek and understand God’s will; the same journey undertaken by Mary, as pointed out in the Vatican II document: “the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith” (LG 58) keeping everything in her heart, from the Annunciation (“How is this possible…?”) to the birth of Jesus (“and she lay him in a manger for there was no room for them”), to the encounter with old Simeon at the presentation (“and a sword shall pierce your heart”), to the finding of Jesus at the temple (“why were you looking for me?”), to the Calvary, at the foot of the Cross.

Mary made a pilgrimage of the heart and mind to safe-keep her communion with God and to be His handmaid, especially when she couldn’t understand. At Medjugorje Mary teaches us to be servants of the Lord and to live in communion with Him especially in difficulties, amid incomprehension, denial, and in the desert, so we can learn to die to ourselves and rise as new creatures, according to the Father’s original blueprint, and so we might collaborate with Him to fulfil His plan for us, and through us, for the whole world.

Mary knows well that to be His servant, we must be docile to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, and strip ourselves of our ego and our plans, to be ready to follow the voice of God, and like Abraham leave everything behind us so we can enter to become part of the adventure of following behind Christ. If we do not know where it shall lead us, we do know that if we live in simplicity and faith, we shall receive life in the full. Mary also desires that we too make this pilgrimage of the heart and mind so that in the light of the Risen One we may see the shadows of darkness in our souls, so that with prayer, the sacraments, and fasting we might undertake a journey of purification to become new creatures, capable of being pliant instruments in the Father’s hands, and light for the world. We must be “faultless and simple, immaculate children of God, amidst a perverse and depraved generation, in which you must shine as though stars for the world” (cf. Phil 2:14-15).

Mary knows that today’s world is rushing towards a precipice, hence she has been with us for so many years and doesn’t tire of calling us, for she desires generating blameless children who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes; children who may be ready to offer themselves for the salvation of their brethren who are in danger (“witness with your life, and sacrifice your life for the salvation of the world” msg. 25 Feb. 1988 [O] ). This is the meaning of Medugorje - at least it seems to me - and the sign of God’s endless mercy which is given as a gift to those who respond to her call, and through them to the world.

 


For God to live in your hearts, you must love.