Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter experience

When the sabbath was over, Mary of Magdala, Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices with which to anoint Jesus. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week they went to the tomb, just as the sun was rising. Mark 16 : 1-2

Easter Sunday arrived and I have to confess I wasn’t exactly in a joyful frame of mind. I hadn’t been feeling too well for the past three days and my wife was also struggling with sickness.

Not being able to drive because of recent surgery and knowing my wife was not well enough either, we resigned ourselves to not getting to Mass on Easter Sunday morning.

I have a habit of regularly checking BBC News on my iPad and it so happened today that the news channel was transmitting live coverage of the papal Easter Mass from Rome. I decided to watch it, but first I had to take my medication for the morning. I propped the iPad on a kitchen surface with one eye on the screen and another on sorting my medication. 

The Mass had progressed to the time of serving Holy Communion and it went through my mind then how everyone would be receiving healing through the Eucharist while I was having to settle for a handful of tablets. This disturbed me and I felt a longing for the Lord’s body and blood.

Later I took to my bed for a couple of hours rest. I recall that one of my prayers before I closed my eyes was to seek consolation and healing in receiving the Word through scripture as I wouldn’t be receiving Holy Communion today.

Around mid-afternoon I took it into my head to see how I could make my way to evening Mass at 5:00pm without having to rely on my wife to drive me – even if it meant walking the long distance. As it happened she was feeling much better and prepared drive us both to church.

Arriving about half-an-hour before the start of Mass, we had sat in the pews for only about five minutes when a priest approached us and asked how I was feeling after my recent operation. I said my recovery was progressing reasonably well. And then he asked when was the last time I had received the Sacrament of the Sick. I answered: “Just over three weeks ago, before my operation.” “Come with me” said the priest, and we both followed him to a small room close to the sacristy.

I sat down on a chair as the priest proceeded to administer the Sacrament of the Sick, anointing my hands and head with chrism oil and praying over me. Then he turned to my wife who was standing beside me. He began to pray over her and within a few seconds she had collapsed on the ground, resting in the spirit. The priest then continued to pray over her, anointing her hands and head.

After he completed the anointing, he left the room and the two of us together, man and wife, in the presence of the Lord. Afterwards my wife said: “I needed the Lord to hold me in that way.” She was blessed – we both were – but especially my wife who had cared for me during my illness which had run through the whole of Lent, and then had to endure her own sickness.

When she was ready, I helped my wife to her feet and we returned into the church for Mass.

Reading back through the gospel passages describing the Resurrection experiences of those who followed Jesus, I can’t help feeling that the experience my wife and I were blessed with today was a role reversal of a kind… Jesus came looking for us… came to anoint us… and when my wife fell at his feet, he clung to her, not wanting to let her go… it was his day of resurrection and he wanted us both to be resurrected in this way as well, even though it was late in the day.

How great is our God of Surprises when he comes to meet us in the most unexpected ways, especially after his resurrection, when he comes to anoint and heal us with his merciful love, when he rolls away the stones and the sins that entomb us, when he fulfils his promise and empowers us with his Holy Spirit and maks us all witnesses to his saving love.

And the Resurrection is not the end of the story… there is always more to come… there is no end to God’s love.

After the sabbath, and towards dawn on the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the sepulchre… And there, coming to meet them, was Jesus. “Greetings” he said. And the women came up to him and falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid…”
Matthew 28 : 9-10

Jesus said to Mary, “Do not cling to me, because I have not yet ascended to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” 
John 20 : 17

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclim the Lord’s year of favour. Luke 4 : 18

Called to love...

Dear children! Today I call you to love. Little children, love each other with God’s love. At every moment, in joy and in sorrow, may love prevail and, in this way, love will begin to reign in your hearts. The risen Jesus will be with you and you will be his witnesses. I will rejoice with you and protect you with my motherly mantle. Especially, little children, I will watch your daily conversion with love. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, March 25, 2005

And the women came up to Jesus and falling down before him, clasped his feet. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers that they must leave for Galilee; they will see me there.”
Matthew 28 : 9-10

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Called to the light...

Dear children! Today I am calling on you to decide whether or not you wish to live the messages which I am giving you. I wish you to be active in living and spreading the messages. Especially, dear children, I wish that you all be the reflection of Jesus, which will enlighten this unfaithful world walking in darkness. I wish all of you to be the light for everyone and that you give witness in the light. Dear children, you are not called to the darkness, but you are called to the light. Therefore, live the light with your own life. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, June 5, 1986

The glorious Cross...

“It is also a glorious Cross, as the dawn after a long night, because it represents the totality of the love of God, which is greater than our iniquity and our betrayals. In the Cross we see the monstrosity of man, when we allow ourselves to be guided by evil; but we also see the immensity of God’s mercy who does not treat us according to our sins, but according to his mercy.”

Pope Francis, Way of the Cross, Good Friday 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

Our wounded hearts…

“Watching Jesus in his passion we see a mirror of the sufferings of all mankind, and we find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of pain, of death. So often we feel horrified by the hurt and pain that surrounds us and we ask: Why does God allow this? 

“It wounds us deeply to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocents! When we see children suffer, it wounds our heart. This is the mystery of evil. Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering upon himself.

“This week, it would do us good to look at the crucifix, kiss the wounds of Christ, kiss the Crucifix. He took the whole human suffering upon himself.

“We expect that God in His omnipotence defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a divine triumphant victory. God shows us instead a humble victory that humanly seems to be failure. And we can say: God wins in this failure. The Son of God, appears defeated on the cross: He is suffering, betrayed, insulted, and finally dies. Jesus allows that evil to be wrought upon him and takes it upon himself to win. His passion is not an accident: his death – that death – it was written.

“Really, we do not have many explanations, it is a puzzling mystery, the mystery of the great humility of God: For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”

Pope Francis, April 16, 2014

Dear children! In this time of grace I call you to take the cross of my beloved Son Jesus in your hands and to meditate on his passion and death. May your suffering be united in his suffering and love will win, because he who is love gave himself out of love to save each of you. Pray, pray, pray until love and peace begin to reign in your hearts. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, March 25, 2013

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Do this in memory of me…

Three weeks ago today I lay helpless in a hospital bed after open-heart surgery. A specialist nurse in the high dependency unit approached me with a basin of warm water and proceeded to wash my body wherever I wasn’t covered in surgical dressings and monitor cables. I can’t remember much about it as my body was still filled with anaesthetic and other pain relief medication. But I do recall the tender and gentle way the nurse washed my face and the bliss I experienced during my helplessness. She was a total stranger and I didn’t catch her name. But I shall never forget the experience and will always remember her as Veronica, the woman who wiped the face of Jesus as he carried his cross.

Veronica’s pity was rewarded with a permanent impression of the Lord’s face on her veil. The nurse’s compassion has graced me with an everlasting memory in my heart of the tenderness and goodness of Jesus in the hearts of others.

Jesus said: “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Master and Lord, and rightly; so I am. If I, then, the Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example so that you may copy what I have done to you. John 13 : 12-15

My children, do not forget that you are not in this world only for yourselves, and that I am not calling you here only for your sake. part Medjugorje message to Mirjana, November 2, 2011

• Visibly fatigued and requiring assistance to kneel and stand up again as he came close to the end of the rite, Pope Francis conveyed tenderness and concern for each person, pouring water on each person’s foot, then drying it and kissing it, before offering a loving gaze, sometimes reciprocated, depending on each person’s state of health. The patients ranged in age from 16 to 86, and all suffer from a variety disabilities. All of them are Italian (though three were of a different ethnic origin), including one Muslim man.

“Everyone here must think of others… and how we can serve others better,” said Pope Francis.

Thursday, April 17, 2014, Mass of the Lord’s Supper

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Handing over to Jesus

One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment on he looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Matthew 26 : 14-16

My children, consecrate yourselves to me completely. I will take your lives into my motherly hands and I will teach them peace and love, and then I will give them over to my Son.
part annual message to Mirjana, March 18, 2012

Dear children! Also today I am with you in a special way contemplating and living the passion of Jesus in my heart. Little children, open your hearts and give me everything that is in them: joys, sorrows and each, even the smallest, pain, that I may offer them to Jesus; so that with his immeasurable love, he may burn and transform your sorrows into the joy of his resurrection. That is why, I now call you in a special way, little children, for your hearts to open to prayer, so that through prayer you may become friends of Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, February 25, 1999

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Light and darkness...

The mosaic above depicts the fifth Mystery of Light and The Institution of the Eucharist, a fourth set of mysteries added to the Rosary by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 2002. The station is situated just a few yards from the Stations of the Cross and the Risen Saviour sculpture at Medjugorje.

The scene illustrates the Passover meal where Jesus dips the bread into the dish and gives it to Judas. After Judas takes the bread, Satan enters his heart, and the apostle leaves the table and goes out into the darkness. Night had fallen.

Look closely and you will see a gap at the table where Judas was seated. He is is the shadowy figure in the corner, turning his back on Jesus.

At first glance it seems that Jesus is staring down at the bread but in fact his eyes are focused on the gap in the table and the departure of Judas. Later he will meet with Judas again in the Garden of Gethsemane and greet him with the words: “My friend…”
(Matthew 26 : 50)

Certainly there is a look of sadness on the face of Jesus. Is it because of any feeling of betrayal by Judas or, instead, a feeling of compassion for the misfortune of a disciple he chose to follow him?

Dear children! I want you to surrender your hearts to me so that I may take you on the way, which leads to the light and to eternal life. I do not want your hearts to wander in today's darkness. I will help you. I will be with you on this way of discovery of the love and the mercy of God. As a mother, I ask you to permit me to do this. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Annual message to Mirjana, March 18, 1999

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pope Francis echo’s Medjugorje’s ‘five stones’

This morning (Monday) Pope Francis met with seminarians from the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni.

In his address Pope Francis said that only by allowing oneself to be shaped by the Holy Spirit – as clay is shaped by the potter – will seminarians be able to shepherd the people of God and guide them “along the way that is Jesus.”

This, the Holy Father said, “means:
– meditating every day on the Gospel…
– experiencing the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation…
– eating the Eucharist with faith and with love…
– being men of prayer.”

How similar this is to the ‘five stones’ as outlined in Our Lady’s messages from Medjugorje – a reference to the stones gathered by David to defend himself against Goliath. As it turned out, only one was necessary. But David came fully prepared, even though the odds and opposition seemed insurmountable.

The Five Stones of Medjugorje

1. Unceasing PRAYER.
2. FASTING is also asked for.
3. Daily reading of HOLY SCRIPTURE.
4. CONFESSION, monthly at least.
5. Celebration of the EUCHARIST, Sunday at least.

Dear children, you know that for your sake I have remained a long time so I might teach you how to make progress on the way of holiness. Therefore, dear children, pray without ceasing and live the messages which I am giving you for I am doing it with great love toward God and toward you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
part Medjugorje message, January 1, 1987

Sunday, April 13, 2014


PALM SUNDAY... a comment from SACRED SPACE

The theme of this week and of today’s liturgy is clear. What Jesus experiences for us is a manifestation of God’s overwhelming love for each one of us. Further, by our identifying ourselves with the ‘mystery’ of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection we ourselves experience a great liberation, a ‘passover’ from various forms of sin and enslavement to a life of joy and freedom. Certainly our celebration of Holy Week is not just to be one of memories, or even just of thanks but of entering, together with Jesus, into a new experience of living. It is meant to be real and not merely religious, pious and devotional make-believe.

Today’s liturgy combines both a sense of triumph and tragedy. Very importantly, we are reminded at the beginning, that we are about to commemorate the triumph of Christ our King. We do this through the blessing of palms, the procession and the joyful singing. And the celebrant wears red vestments. We need to keep this in mind as we proceed in the second half to hear the long tale of the sufferings and indignities to which Jesus was subjected. A tale not relieved — yet — by the proper end of the story: the Resurrection to new life. So as we listen to the Passion story unfolding let us keep in mind the Hosannas as Jesus our King entered Jerusalem, his city. Very soon it will be difficult to recognise our King in the battered, scourged, crowned-with-thorns, crucified remnant of a human being.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Seeing the beauty of fragility...

Brotherly sharing with the sick opens us to the true beauty of human life, including its fragility, helping us to recognise the dignity and the value of every human being, in whatever condition he or she may find himself, from conception to death.

Dear friends, Holy Week begins tomorrow. It culminates in the Triduum of the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus. Here he takes on human suffering in its totality, which is then redeemed by God. By God – Love. Only Christ gives meaning to the scandal of innocent suffering. So many times Dostoyevsky’s anguished query comes to mind: why do children suffer? Only Christ can give meaning to this “scandal”. You too can look to him, crucified and resurrected, in your daily work. And at the feet of Jesus’s Cross we also meet Our Lady of Sorrows. She is the Mother of all humanity, and she is always close to her sick and suffering children. If our faith wavers, hers does not. May Mary support you in your commitment towards research and work. I pray the Lord to bless you all. Thank you.

POPE FRANCIS, Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pope to physicians... never lose sight of the spiritual dimension of man... full text

Dear children! Today when Jesus is born and by his birth brings immeasurable joy, love and peace, I call you, in a special way to say your ‘yes’ to Jesus. Open your hearts so that Jesus enters into them, comes to dwell in them and starts to work through you. Only in this way will you be able to comprehend the true beauty of God’s love, joy and peace. Dear children, rejoice in the birth of Jesus and pray for all those hearts that have not opened to Jesus so that Jesus may enter into each of their hearts and may start working through them – so that every person would be an example of a true person through whom God works.
Annual message to Jakov Colo, December 25, 2000

Friday, April 11, 2014

A mighty hero...

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Saviour; because he has looked down upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me...
Luke 1 : 46-49

I am gathering you under my motherly mantle to help you to come to know God’s love and his greatness. My children, God is great. Great are his works. Do not deceive yourselves that you can do anything without him. Not even to take a step, my children. Instead set out and witness his love! I am with you. Thank you. Medjugorje message, September 2, 2006

The Magnificat of Mary, in which she acknowledges God’s greatness, is the first indispensable sentiment of faith, the sentiment that gives certainty to the human creature and liberates the creature from fear, even in the midst of history’s storms.

Going beyond the surface, Mary ‘sees’ with the eyes of faith God’s work in history. For this reason she is blessed, because she believed: By faith, in fact, she welcomed the word of the Lord and conceived the incarnate Word.

Her faith allowed her to see that the thrones of the powerful of this world are all provisional, while the throne of God is the only rock that does not change and does not fall.

And Mary’s Magnificat, after centuries and millennia, remains the truest and the deepest interpretation of history, while the readings of the many wise persons of this world have been disproved by the facts over the course of the centuries.

Let us return home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let us carry in us Mary’s same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, her faith and her hope, her docile abandonment into the hands of divine providence.

Let us imitate her example of availability and generosity in serving our brothers and sisters. In fact, we are only able to raise a canticle of praise to the Lord by welcoming God’s love and making of our existence a disinterested and generous service of neighbour.

Pope Benedict XVI

This film clip is from a double-DVD set issued by the Information Centre Mir Medjugorje celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Medjugorje phenomenon. It shows five of the visionaries praying The Magnificat: Ivanka, Marija, Ivan, Mirjana and Mirjana. Vicka was absent, recovering from an accident.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Seeing with the eyes of God...

Wisdom is what the Holy Spirit does within us so that we can see everything with God’s eyes. This is the gift of wisdom… Let us ask for this grace of wisdom today. Let us ask Our Lady, who is the Seat of Wisdom, for this gift. Pope Francis, April 9, 2014. Full text

Dear children… I am praying to my Son to give you Divine wisdom and strength. I am praying that you may discern everything around you according to God's truth and to strongly resist everything that wants to distance you from my Son.
part Medjugorje message, November 2, 2012

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Misuse of Mass offering...

Parish Priest of Medjugorje Fr Marinko Sakota, has issued a warning against the misuse of selling Mass intentions on web sites.

He states on the parish website: “We were informed that some people are selling mass intentions from Medjugorje parish office on their web sites. This is huge misuse of the most sacred offering of Holy Mass and major fraud at the same time. Thereby, we would kindly like to ask you to be aware of this matter and not to support it by any means. If you happen to find out about similar activities of some other people involved in this, we would appreciate if you could notify us promptly about that.”

Monday, April 07, 2014

The mystery of God’s Mercy

Pope Francis drew inspiration for his homily on Monday morning, from the Gospel reading that tells of the mercy of Jesus when he does not allow the execution of a woman who was caught in adultery.

Speaking to those present for morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta, the Pope explained the meaning of the words “he who is without sin, cast the first stone”.

The reading is well known. It narrates the episode in which the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in the act of adultery. They point out that in the law, Moses commands us to stone such women because adultery is considered a very grave sin.

Marriage – Pope Francis said – is a human reality but it is also a symbol of a faithful relationship between God and his people. When the marriage is spoilt by adultery, he continued, it spoils the relationship with God.

But when the scribes and the Pharisees ask Jesus “what do you say?” they do so to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him.

“If Jesus had said: ‘Yes, go ahead and have her stoned’, they would have told the people ‘this is your good and merciful master… just look at what he has done to this poor woman!’ And if Jesus had said: ‘Poor woman! Forgive her!’ they would have said: ‘He does not observe the Law!’…”

The Pope pointed out that they cared nothing about the woman; “they did not care about adultery, perhaps amongst them there were some adulterers. All they cared about was catching Jesus in a trap”.

And to this – Pope Francis said – Jesus answered: ‘Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to cast a stone at her’. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.

So one can imagine – the Pope observed – that their own records were not that straight.

“So Jesus was left alone with the woman before him and said to her: ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ It is just you and I, alone before God, without accusations, without gossip. You and God! No one has condemned you. She replied: ‘No one, sir’”.

But Pope Francis said: “she does not say it was a false accusation! She does not say‘I have not committed adultery’. She recognizes her sin. “Then Jesus said: ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin anymore,’ do not offend God again; do not spoil the beautiful relationship between God and his people”.

“Jesus forgives” – the Pope said – “but here there is something that goes beyond forgiveness.”

“Jesus goes beyond the law. He does not say: ‘adultery is not a sin!’ But he does not condemn it according to law”. This – the Pope said – “is the mystery of mercy. It is the mystery of the mercy of Jesus”.

And the Pope said that when he is asked whether mercy removes sins, he answers that it is God’s forgiveness that removes sins: “mercy is the way in which God forgives our sins”.

This biblical episode – Pope Francis said – shows us Jesus’s merciful attitude when he advises the woman not to sin again and to go in peace. “He defends the sinner from her enemies; he defends her against a just condemnation”.

“How many of us” – the Pope said – “should perhaps go to hell? And the condemnation would be just… but he forgives and goes beyond. How? With this mercy!”

“Mercy” – Pope Francis said – “goes beyond in such a way that sin is put to the side. It is like heaven”:

“We look at the sky, there are many, many stars; but when the sun rises in the morning, the light is such that we can’t see the stars. God’s mercy is like that: a great light of love and tenderness. God forgives us, not with a decree, but with his love, healing the wounds of sin. Because He is involved in forgiveness, He is involved in our salvation.

So when Jesus acts as confessor to the woman he does not humiliate her, he does not say: ‘What have you done? When did you do it? How did you do it? With whom did you do it?’ No! He says: ‘Go and do not sin again!’. God’s mercy is great, Jesus’s mercy is great. Forgive us and heal us!”

Text from the Vatican Radio website

Dear children! I want you to surrender your hearts to me so that I may take you on the way, which leads to the light and to eternal life. I do not want your hearts to wander in today's darkness. I will help you. I will be with you on this way of discovery of the love and the mercy of God. As a mother, I ask you to permit me to do this. Thank you for having responded to my call. Annual message to Mirjana, March 18, 1999

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Do you believe this?

The sisters sent this message to Jesus. “Lord, the man you love is ill.” On receiving this message, Jesus said. “This sickness will not end in death but in God’s glory, and through it the Son of God will be glorified.” John 11 : 3-4

When told on Ash Wednesday I required heart surgery, I was consoled by the thought that this was the start of a Lenten journey, a pilgrimage of discovery and endurance that would culminate, as Lent always does, with an Easter Rising… a Resurrection. It was a necessary journey for me, although one I would not have chosen if I had a choice.

It reminded me of the time I made my first pilgrimage to Medjugorje in September 2000. That also wasn’t really a journey of choice and I regretted my decision to be ‘persuaded’ to travel as soon as I met up with the rest of the group of pilgrims.

Thank God, after four days I was blessed with an amazing conversion experience and ever since I have have done what I can to encourage others to avail of the special graces to be found at Medjugorje.

I look on my recent month’s stay in hospital as a pilgrimage, sharing the journey with other patients and staff. Hearts were opened in both a physical and spiritual sense and I feel the time has been a real blessing in my life, even though there is still a recovery period ahead.

Of course there was always the question: Would I make it through the operation? There were risks, as in any journey made in life. But I was consoled by the knowledge, perhaps even faith, that I was in a win-win situation. If I made it through the surgery then there was a ‘resurrection’ to look forward to. If I didn’t, then there was also new life awaiting as promised by Jesus in today’s gospel.

I take this opportunity to thank all my “sisters and brothers” for sending messages to the Lord and praying for me. Your voices and hearts were heard.

I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live., and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? John 11-26

Dear children! Today I call you to love. Little children, love each other with God’s love. At every moment, in joy and in sorrow, may love prevail and, in this way, love will begin to reign in your hearts. The risen Jesus will be with you and you will be His witnesses. I will rejoice with you and protect you with my motherly mantle. Especially, little children, I will watch your daily conversion with love. Thank you for having responded to my call. Medjugorje message, March 25, 2005

Friday, April 04, 2014

It has to be this way...

I was looking forward to Ash Wednesday, even though I had an out-patient appointment at my local hospital. It was scheduled for midday and would allow me more than enough time to attend Mass in the evening and receive ashes. That was until the heart consultant said I wasn’t going anywhere after my angiogram test had shown up problems.

A bed was immediately found for me on ward D25. But no Mass and no ashes. The start of my Lenten journey had taken the most unexpected twist.

Most days during Lent I pray the Stations of the Cross. Now, it seemed, this wouldn’t be possible, certainly for the time I would be spending in hospital. I tried to picture in my mind the Stations displayed at my parish church, even those at Medjugorje, but found them difficult to recall

Whenever I am in hospital I have a routine of praying for other patients around me. It somehow takes my mind off my own problems. So when the evening set in and I started to do this I became suddenly aware that every bed in the ward was indeed an actual Station of the Cross, that the suffering Christ could be found in each person on their sick bed.

These were not pictures or artwork hanging on a wall but real and live situations of people carrying their cross – Jesus in every person, whatever their background, religion or nationality.

Enlightened and encouraged by this truth I focused on each bed and each person every day to pray the Way of the Cross. I focused on individual scenes in the ward, looked for the Simon’s and Simone’s, the Mother’s and the Veronica’s, and in every bed I was able to witness Christ and his Cross.

I was also personally challenged along the Way. At times I found myself full of condemnation and judgement, and on other occasions wanting to show compassion and pity. It seemed as if I was taking the role of every person we associate with the Stations of the Cross.

And I even had my own cross to bear, both as the thief who repented and the other who showed no faith in Jesus.

For certain I understood that we are all made in the image of God and suffer with our cross, be we Muslim, Sikh, Christian or non-believer. Only today I was reminded again of this truth when Pope Francis said:

“We’re all brothers and sisters. Believers, non-believers or whether belonging to this or that religious confession, Jews, Moslems… we’re all brothers and sisters!

In hospital I met with my brothers and sisters suffering at every station, in each bed, in the image and way of Jesus.

Dear children, Today, with my motherly heart, I call you gathered around me to love your neighbour. My children, stop. Look in the eyes of your brother and see Jesus, my Son. If you see joy, rejoice with him. If there is pain in the eyes of your brother, with your tenderness and goodness, cast it away, because without love you are lost. Only love is effective; it works miracles. Love will give you unity in my Son and the victory of my heart. Therefore, my children, love. Medjugorje message, September 2, 2008

Pope Francis: Where is my heart before the suffering Jesus?

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Do you want to be well again?

Four weeks after entering hospital on Ash Wednesday for open-heart surgery, I was discharged into the care of my family and returned home on Tuesday, April 1.

The Gospel reading of the day
(John 5: 1-3) was particularly relevant to my situation and recovery:

There was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now at the Sheep Pool in Jerusalem there is a building, called Bethzatha in Hebrew, consisting of five porticos; and under these were crowds of sick people – blind, lame, paralysed. One man there had an illness which had lasted thirty-eight years, and when Jesus saw him lying there and knew he had been in this condition for a long time, he said, “Do you want to be well again?” “Sir,” replied the sick man “I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is disturbed; and while I am still on the way, someone else gets there before me.” Jesus said “Get up, pick up your sleeping-mat and walk.” The man was cured at once, and he picked up his mat and walked away.

On four occasions I was prepared for theatre. Three times the surgery was cancelled at the last moment because someone else was prioritised before me. And yes, I wanted to be healed, but I never realised how I had restricted myself to the merciful love God in so many ways before I entered hospital.

It has been both a life and soul-changing experience, and since leaving hospital the words of Jesus from the same passage of John’s Gospel constantly echo in my reconstructed heart: “Now that you are well again, be sure not to sin any more, or something worse may happen to you.”

Dear children! Today also I give thanks to the Lord for all that he is doing for me, especially for this gift that I am able to be with you also today. Dear children, these are the days in which the Father grants special graces to all who open their hearts. I bless you and I desire that you too, dear children, become alive to the graces and place everything at God’s disposal so that he may be glorified through you. My heart carefully follows your progress. Thank you for having responded to my call. Medjugorje message, December 25, 1986

Sometimes it requires a severe setback in life to make us want to leave our stubborn ways and accept the reality and seriousness of Our Lady’s call to reconcile with God and each other.

In time, I hope to share other experiences of my spell in the “field hospital” which Pope Francis described on Tuesday as “a symbol of the Church which houses a lot of hurting people.”

Meeting the Queen...

Today’s meeting between Pope Francis and Queen Elizabeth II reminds me of another scheduled encounter with the British Monarch that wasn’t fulfilled, but for an entirely different reason.

“Do you realise that I am giving up an invitation to be presented to the Queen of England if I decide to travel with you to Medjugorje?”

“But there is a greater Queen waiting to meet you in Medjugorje, the Queen of Peace,” was my quick answer to the question put by the diplomat’s wife.

Angela did respond to Our Lady’s invitation to travel to Medjugorje during Royal Ascot week. And she was truly blessed for doing so. On the final evening of the pilgrimage, beaming and excited, she sat down to dinner and revealed she had made her confession to a French priest an hour earlier.

“It was my second confession,” she announced.

Nothing unusual in that, I thought, pilgrims often make more than one confession during their week in Medjugorje.

But then Angela clarified her statement and said, “I mean the second confession of my whole life. The first was when I was a little girl.”

I estimated that first time was probably almost 30 years ago! Angela may have been a slow starter in the reconciliation stakes but she finally came back a winner in God’s mercy and love.

Through the Holy Spirit...

This morning, the Holy Father echoed the words of Our Lady, given yesterday to the Medjugorje seer Mirjana, when he spoke about separating ourselves from sin through the power of prayer and the Holy Spirit who teaches us to pray and makes us change our heart...

The Holy Spirit is in every prayer. You cannot pray without the Holy Spirit . It is he who prays in us... he makes us change our heart... it is he who teaches us to call God “Father”. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to pray, as Moses prayed, to negotiate with God, with freedom of spirit, with courage. And may the Holy Spirit, who is always present in our prayer, lead us on this path.
• Pope Francis, Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Ou Lady’s April message to Mirjana

Dear children, with a motherly love I desire to help you for your life of prayer and penance to be a sincere attempt of drawing closer to my Son and his divine light – that you may know how to separate yourselves from sin.

Every prayer, every Mass and every fasting is an attempt of drawing closer to my Son, a reminder of his glory and a refuge from sin – it is a way to a renewed union of the good Father and his children.

Therefore, my dear children, with hearts open and full of love, cry out the name of the Heavenly Father that he may illuminate you with the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Spirit you will become a spring of God’s love.

All those who do not know my Son, all those thirsting for the love and peace of my Son, will drink from this spring. Thank you.

Pray for your shepherds.

I pray for them and I desire that they may always feel the blessing of my motherly hands and the support of my motherly heart.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Come back to me, with all your heart...

The Lord says this: Israel, come back to the Lord your God; your iniquity was the cause of your downfall. Provide yourself with words and come back to the Lord. Say to him. “Take all iniquity away so that we may have happiness again and offer you our words of praise.” Hosea 14 : 2-3

Dear children; Today I bless you in a special way and I pray for you to return to the right way to my Son – your Saviour, your Redeemer – to him who gave you eternal life. Reflect on everything human, on everything that does not permit you to set out after my Son – on transience, imperfection and limitation – and then think of my Son, of his Divine infiniteness. By your surrender and prayer ennoble your body and perfect your soul. Be ready, my children. Thank you. Medjugorje message, April 2, 2010

Lord God, we ask you to receive us and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you with humble and contrite hearts. Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me from my sin.

Prayer offered by the priest during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Composer, Gregory Norbet ( who has experienced Medjugorje on pilgrimage), performs his song “Hosea (Come Back to Me)”. This song dates to the early 1970’s when Gregory was a monk in the Weston Priory in Vermont. He is still composing wonderful spiritual music today that speaks to all generations. See more:

Gregory Norbert © 1972 The Benedictine Foundation of the State of Vermont

Come back to me with all your heart.
Don't let fear keep us apart.
Trees do bend, though straight and tall,
so must we, to other’s call.

Long have I waited for your coming,
home to me and living, deeply our new lives.

The wilderness will lead you
to your heart where I will speak.
Integrity and justice,
with tenderness, you shall know.

Long have I waited for your coming,
home to me and living, deeply our new lives.

You shall sleep secure with peace;
faithfulness will be your joy.

Long have I waited for your coming,
home to me and living, deeply our new lives.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Message of the angel is the message of Mary

The two recent messages of Our Lady given to Marija (February 25) and Mirjana (March 2) express a call to trust and surrender and so be able to give witness to God’s presence in our lives.

To Marija: You be prayer; you who from the very beginning said ‘yes’ to my call.

To Mirjana: May out of your hearts, from your lips, always come forth “May your will be done!” Therefore, trust and pray so that I can intercede for you before the Lord, for him to give you the Heavenly Blessing and fill you with the Holy Spirit. Then he will be able to help all those who do not know the Lord – you, apostles of my love, will help them to call him “Father” with complete trust.

To Marija: Witness God and my presence and do not forget, little children: I am with you and I love you.

Today’s Gospel acclamation (Tuesday) echoes these calls to witness: “You will shine like bright stars because you are offering it the word of life.”

Isn’t that that what Our Lady is doing with her messages and apparitions – offering us the Word of Life?

Later this month (March 25) there will be another reminder when the Church celebrates the Feast of The Annunciation of the Lord, the time when Mary received the message of the angel and responded: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.”

When Mary asked the angel Gabriel how she could conceive and bear a son as she was a virgin, he responded: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you...”

In her message to Mirjana, Our Lady says, “Trust and pray... for the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit.”

When Jesus becomes incarnate in our heart in this way, we become a witness to God and Our Lady’s presence in the world.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Mancini returns to Medjugorje

The Italian soccer coach Roberto Mancini made a surprise visit to Medjugorje today before flying ack to Istanbul this evening where he is in charge of the Turkish team Galatasaray.

Roberto Mancini, pictured at the Blue
Cross on a previous visit to Medjugorje.
photo © Mate Vasilj
It was Mancini’s third visit to Medjugorje. After attending the 11.00am Mass for Italian speaking pilgrims he met with the parish priest Fr Marinko Sakota and then answered questions to waiting journalists on the fortunes of Italy and Croatia who are both in the same qualifying group for the World Cup.

When asked why he was back in Medjugorje Mancini said it meant a lot to him to come and pray at Medjugorje and that when someone comes for the first time they always feel the need to return.  
Later Mancini climbed the Hill of Apparitions before returning to Mostar airport where a private jet was waiting for him. 

It is reported in the English media that Mancini, former coach to Manchester City, may return to England next season to join Tottenham Hotspur.

March message to Mirjana

Dear children; I am coming to you as a mother and I desire that in me, as in a mother, you may find your abode, consolation and rest.

Therefore, my children, apostles of my love, pray.

Pray with humble devotion, obedience and complete trust in the Heavenly Father.

Trust as I have trusted when it was said to me that I will bring the blessing of the promise.

May out of your hearts, from your lips, always come forth “May your will be done!”

Therefore, trust and pray so that I can intercede for you before the Lord, for him to give you the Heavenly Blessing and fill you with the Holy Spirit.

Then he will be able to help all those who do not know the Lord – you, apostles of my love, will help them to call him “Father” with complete trust.

Pray for your shepherds and place your trust in their blessed hands. Thank you.

March 2, 2014