"Today the concept of truth is viewed with suspicion, because truth is identified with violence. Over history there have, unfortunately, been episodes when people sought to defend the truth with violence. But they are two contrasting realities. Truth cannot be imposed with means other than itself! Truth can only come with its own light. Yet, we need truth. ... Without truth we are blind in the world, we have no path to follow. The great gift of Christ was that He enabled us to see the face of God".Pope Benedict xvi, February 24th, 2012

The Church is ecumenical, catholic, God-human, ageless, and it is therefore a blasphemy—an unpardonable blasphemy against Christ and against the Holy Ghost—to turn the Church into a national institution, to narrow her down to petty, transient, time-bound aspirations and ways of doing things. Her purpose is beyond nationality, ecumenical, all-embracing: to unite all men in Christ, all without exception to nation or race or social strata. - St Justin Popovitch

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


Weeping Madonna of Syracuse, Sicily. 1953

Our Lady's tears

Watch/view video of Our Blessed Mother Mary weeping. Watch video report about these events. See here photos of the Reliquary that holds the tears of Mary.

Weeping Madonna of Syracuse Sicily, 1953

This plaster sculpture, or plaque, which depicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary was mass-produced in a studio in Tuscany. It was then shipped with others of its kind to Syracuse, where it was purchased as a wedding gift. But after it had hung for a time in the humble home of the Iannuso couple, the plaque was singled out for the unexpected and prodigiously shed tears for four days.

The veneration paid this plaque in a church built especially for its exhibition was approved by three popes, but only after an ecclesiastical tribunal scrupulously studied the miracle and had the tears scientifically analysed. It has been said by authorities that never was a miracle so thoroughly tested or so quickly approved.

The history of the image begins with its sculptor, Amilcare Santini, who modeled it in only three days "under artistic inspiration." It was made of plaster that had been dissolved in water and poured into a mold before it was turned out to dry in the sun. It was then sprayed with nitrocellulose varnish that made it shiny and suitable for painting. After it was colored, varnished and polished, ordinary screws were used to attach the image to a panel of black opaline. The panel measures 39 by 33 centimeters, the figure 29 by 22 centimeters.

The plaque was purchased a s a wedding gift for Antonina and Angelo Iannuso, who were married March 21, 1953. They admitted that they were tepid and neglectful Christians, yet they hung the image with some devotion on the wall behind their bed. Angelo was a labourer who had taken his bride to live in the home of his brother on Via Degli Orti 11. When his wife discovered that she was pregnant, her condition was accompanied by toxemia that expressed itself in convulsions that at times brought on temporary blindness. At three in the morning on Saturday, August 29, 1953, Antonina suffered a seizure that left her blind. At about 8:30, her sight was restored. In Antonina’s own words:

I opened my eyes and stared at the image of the Madonna above the bedhead. To my great amazement I saw that the effigy was weeping. I called my sister-in-law Grazie and my aunt, Antonina Sgarlata, who came to my side, showing them the tears. At first they thought it was a hallucination due to my illness, but when I insisted, they went close up to the plaque and could well see that tears were really falling from the eyes of the Madonna, and that some tears ran down her cheeks onto the bedhead. Taken by fright they took it out the front door, calling the neighbours, and they too confirmed the phenomenon…

Of the many visitors who examined the plaque at close range was Mario Messina, who was highly regarded in the neighborhood. After observing the slow formation of the tears he removed the plaque from the wall, examined it thoroughly and satisfied himself that the tears were not the result of an internal reservoir. After the plaque was dried, two tears immediately reappeared.

News of the phenomenon spread quickly throughout the city, bringing crowds that forced their way indoors and gathered in the streets around the house. The inspector of security, with the couple’s permission, hung the plaque on the outside of the house to satisfy the curiosity of the people, but later, on seeing that the crush showed no sign of diminishing, the picture was taken to the constabulary in an effort to reduce the confusion. The image wept while outside the building and during its transport, but after 40 minutes at the police constabulary, when it did not weep, it was returned to the Iannuso home.

On Sunday, August 30, at 2:00 in the morning, the weeping image was placed on a cushion and displayed to satisfy the curious who had remained in the street throughout the night. The image was nailed above the main door on Monday, and its tears were collected by the people on pieces of cloth and wads of cotton. During this time the curious were satisfied, the sceptics were convinced, and many of the sick were healed. Also during this day, to protect the plaque from falling, it was brought to an improvised altar outside the home of the Lucca family who lived directly across the street. Several hours later, after the recitation of the Rosary, it was returned.

Three priests visited the home during this time. One of them notified the Chancery, which assembled a group of distinguished clergymen, four men of science and three reputable witnesses, to comprise an investigative commission. On the specific instructions of the chancellor, the commission gathered at the Iannuso home the morning of Tuesday, September 1 for the purpose of studying the phenomenon and collecting a sample of the tears for chemical analysis. The plaque was examined while it wept and while the liquid collected in the cavity formed by the hand over the heart. The commission examined the smooth finish and found no pores or irregularities on the surface. The backing was removed and the unfinished calcined gypsum was scrutinised and found in a dry condition, even though tears collected on the reverse.

Six coats of nitrocellulose colours were counted on the image; these were covered with a coat of nitrocellulose varnish. Using a sterilised pipette, a sample of tears was collected and placed in a sterilised vial that was taken to the provincial laboratory to be examined by doctors and chemists. One centimetre of liquid was obtained, about 19 to 20 drops. Following this thorough examination, the image continued weeping for another 51 minutes, but at 11:40 in the morning the tears stopped, never to be repeated.

The sample of tears was compared scientifically with those of an adult and to those of a child. Following a detailed analysis, the conclusion reached by the doctors was that: the liquid examined is shown to be made up of a watery solution of sodium chloride in which traces of protein and nuclei of a silver composition of excretory substances of the quanternary type, the same as found in the human secretions used as a comparison during the analysis.

The appearance, the alkalinity and the composition induce one to consider the liquid examined analogous to human tears. The report was dated September 9, 1953, and was signed by Drs. Michele Cassola, Francesco Cotzie, Leopoldo La Rosa and Mario Marietta. Concerning this commission and the various investigations conducted, we must consider that the church is never in a hurry to pronounce her judgments on such occurrences and that she acts with maximum caution and prudent reserve and is ready to affirm miracles only after positive and unquestionable proofs have been extended. Nevertheless, sufficient proofs were apparently given, since a favorable judgment was rendered in a relatively short time.

The Archbishop of Syracuse visited the Iannuso home to examine the plaque and returned another day to recite the Rosary together with the crowd. Various monsignori visited the plaque, some of whom witnessed the weeping. Many cardinals expressed interest, while the Archbishop of Palermo, Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini, in a radio broadcast of December, 1953 stated: After careful sifting of the numerous reports, after having noted the positive results of the diligent chemical analysis under which the tears gathered were examined, we have unanimously announced the judgment that the reality of the facts cannot be put in doubt.

Pope Pius XII, in a radio broadcast on October 17, 1954 said:

We acknowledge the unanimous declaration of the Episcopal Conference held in Sicily on the reality of that event. Will men understand the mysterious language of those tears? The medical commission that was nominated on October 7, 1953 to examine seriously and scientifically the nature of extraordinary cures worked through the intercession of the Weeping Madonna of Syracuse, considered 290 cases of which 105 were of "special interest." These miracles were reported within a few years of the incident.

The first person to experience a miracle of healing was also the first to observe the weeping. From the time Antonina Iannuso first saw the tears, she recovered completely from severe toxemia and gave birth to a healthy son on December 25, 1953. Archbishop Baranzini officiated at the infant’s Baptism. The same astonishment experienced by the people of Syracuse at the time of the miracle was felt by those around the world who read about the occurrence in local newspapers, or heard about it on radio or television. It has been tabulated that reports even reached India, China, Japan and Vietnam. In Italy alone more than 2,000 articles appeared in 225 papers and magazines, while hundreds of articles appeared in 93 foreign newspapers in 21 different nations. Rarely is an event of religious interest given such worldwide attention.

That the events were the result of collective hallucination is rejected by authorities of the shrine where the image is now kept, since one, then, two, then small groups and finally hundreds of people, including skeptics, viewed the event and the intermittent character of the weepings. The plaque was seen to shed tears in several locations inside the home and at three places outside; moreover, there was the tangible evidence of saturated cloths and cottons. Hallucinations are to be excluded because of the psychological state of numerous unbelievers who examined the image and even tasted the salty liquid. Moreover, photographs and motion picture footage of the weeping cannot, of course, be hallucinated.

The question of condensation is likewise rejected since it would have covered the whole statue and would not have originated only from the corners of the eyes. Condensation would have collected on nearby objects as well, which did not occur, and if it had been present certainly would not have been salty. The physicians and scientists who studied the event could offer no natural explanation for the occurrence and deemed it extraordinary in several documents.

The reliquary presented to Archbishop Baranzini on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination is of special interest since it contains the tears collected by the medical commission for their chemical analysis. The reliquary is comprised of three layers. The bottom contains, in addition to cloths that had been saturated with tears, one of the vials that contained the tears collected by the commission and cotton wool that absorbed some of the tears on another occasion. The second layer has four panels depicting the events. The third and highest layer has a crystal urn which holds another of the vials used for the collection of the samples. The tears within it are now crystallized.

The little house on Via Degli Orti 11, where the Madonna first shed her tears, is now an oratory where Mass is often celebrated. The image itself is enshrined above the main altar of the Santuario Madonna Delle Lacrima, built specifically to accommodate the crowds that continually gather in prayer before the holy image.

Why did the Madonna weep? Many theories have been offered which remind us of the tears Mary shed at the foot of the Cross and of those shed by her during the vision of La Salette. During one of the visions of St. Catherine Labouré on July 18, 1830, St. Catherine noticed that the Virgin looked sad and had tears in her eyes. Perhaps we should pray the words engraved on the base of the reliquary, "Weeping Madonna, take from the hardness of our hearts tears of penitence." And we wonder with Pope Pius XII, "Will men understand the mysterious language of those tears?


In 1995, an article appeared in the Independent newspaper which announced: 
SCIENCE DEBUNKS MIRACLE OF WEEPING MADONNA by Steve Connor.   Here is part of what he wrote:

"The only weeping madonna officially accepted by the Roman Catholic Church has been exposed as a fake by an Italian scientist who used the logic of Mr Spock, the deductive reasoning of Sherlock Holmes and a knowledge of capillary attraction.

There has been an sharp increase in the sightings of weeping madonnas, from Ireland to Croatia, but the only one recognised by the Church is a statue of the Virgin Mary in the town of Siracusa in Sicily. It first began weeping in 1953.

The "miracle" of a statue that appears to weep has even been caught on film. But Luigi Garlaschelli, a chemistry researcher at the University of Pavia, believes he has an explanation.
Dr Garlaschelli has made his own weeping madonna which baffled onlookers into believing the statue was able to shed tears without any mechanical or electronic aids or the deployment of water-absorbing chemicals.

The secret, he revealed, is to use a hollow statue made of thin plaster. If it is coated with an impermeable glazing and water poured into the hollow centre from a tiny hole in the head, the statue behaves quite normally.
The plaster absorbs the liquid but the glazing prevents it from pouring out. But if barely perceptible scratches are made in the glazing over the eyes, droplets of water appear as if by divine intervention - rather than by capillary attraction, the movement of water through sponge-like material.

Dr Garlaschelli said: ''I notice that, among these weeping madonna miracles, the only one accepted by the Catholic Church happened in Siracusa in 1953. This is the best documented case, with many witnesses to an actual case of weeping, and even a couple of amateur films showing watery tears appearing on the face out of the blue.

''Examination of a copy of this bas-relief from the same manufacturer as the original, however, proved it to be made of glazed plaster and to possess a cavity behind the face.''

Dr Garlaschelli said the actual madonna of Siracusa is kept behind a glass partition and he is unable to inspect its glazing for himself. ''I think permission won't be granted to examine it. Many of these relics are not allowed to be examined.'"

Of course, until the scientist has examined the actual plaque, he has neither proved anything nor has he debunked anything.   He has only provided a possible explanation: that someone has tried to cheat everyone by filling a cavity in Our Lady's head with human tears.   That scientists have already examined the plaque, that  there are many weeping icons and myrrh producing icons that are painted on wood, that a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in Australia that weeps perfumed oil has been x-rayed especially to look for a cavity, without finding any.   I was shown a small, two square inch thin wooden icon by a Russian Orthodox abbot that was producing myrrh while we looked.   So humble and accepting is this journalist's faith in Science that he accepts the mere suggestions of a scientist as living proof  - because they remain only suggestions until  the actual plaque has been examined.   May God grant me a similar, non-critical confidence in himself, because he alone is worthy of such confidence!!

Secularists are often so superstitious!   They believe in Nothing, but believe that this nothing can do anything! 

my source: Visions of Jesus

This Icon is from an Albanian Orthodox Church in Chicago named St. Nicholas. In December 1986 there was a shock in the community when the people in the church found out that the Icon of the Theotokos was weeping actual tears! They started holding services and people from all over the United States flocked to Chicago to see this miracle. I was present and got to see it first hand, and it was incredible. I even served a liturgy there with my cousin, Nicholas Chakos, and we both noticed that the back of the icon was perfectly dry, and it had been weeping for about a half of a year by the time we got to see it.

Also, myrrh started flowing from the right hand of the Virgin Mary. It was truly a miracle-working Icon. The icon stopped and then started back up crying for a short time after that, and then it eventually stopped for good. The crying, however, did not stop. After that, the tears from that Icon were used to anoint other Icons, and those Icons started crying! Icons to this day still weep from those tears. Cotton balls in plastic bags are still moist from that Icon in Chicago. God blessed us with a sign calling us back to faith. May we recognize this sign from God in our own lives. Amen.

On December 6, 1986 the very Reverend Archimandrite Philip Koufos arrived at his church with a good feeling in his heart. His three year pastorate at the 250 family St. Nicolas parish on Chicago's Northwest Side was beginning to bear fruit. He was pleased with the noticeable spiritual renewal and rebirth and rebirth his congregation was undergoing. The church had been quite the night before for Vespers on the eve of the Holy Day of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. He anticipated the same response today, as the parish celebrated their patronal feast.

Lillian George and Bessie Tolbert, two dedicated parishioners had also gotten to church well in advance of the beginning of services to make some last minute preparations. As Father Koufos lit the candles burning in the lamps before the icons on the ornate Icon Screen, he reflected upon the sermon he had preached the previous evening, which, in retrospect, had been almost prophetic. In his homily, Father Phillip, in extolling the many virtues of St. Nicholas, concentrated on his role as a worker of miracles and as a healer. He spoke about the great responsibility of today's clergy to be "healers" as well.

After staring at this sight in speechless wonder for a few seconds, Father Koufos was able to compose himself and get the attention of the two woman, who were now in the back of the church. They hurriedly approached the sanctuary, where they, too, stood totally awe struck before the sacred image of the Mother of God. If this were not enough for the astonished trio to comprehend, moisture literally began to "spurt" from the fingers of hands of the Virgin, causing Father Philip to fall prostrate before the Holy Icon.

The weeping Icon

September 1988 - Moisture was visually noticed on the face of the Holy Virgin and remained visible for almost two weeks.

July 23, 1995 - The holy Icon began to weep copiously as She had originally on December 6th 1986.

The weeping Icon of Theotokos at St. Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church, which many now refer to as "Our Lady of Chicago," was painted some 23 years ago by the renowned Byzantine Iconography, there are many types and styles of icons of the Mother of God. The Icon of the image known as the Hodigitria in Greek or, in English, the Directress. The Mother of God in this style of icon is depicted as "the one who points the way."

According to an ancient tradition of the Church, this style of icon of the Blessed Mother is traced back to an original painting of her done by the Evangelist Luke. It is said that the Theotokos herself gave her blessings to this portrait, saying"My Blessing will always remain with this Icon." St. Luke is said to have sent this Icon, along with the text of his Gospel, to Theophilus in Antioch. In the middle of the fifth century, this holy image was taken to the city of Constantinople by the Empress Eudoxia, as a present to her mother in law Pulcheria. It was in the ninth century that the name "Hodigitria" began to be used in reference to this special painting.

In the reproduction of this icon, the Christ Child always appears seated erect on His Mother's left arm. The Infant is no longer shown as a "Baby," but rather as the "Pre-Eternal God," full of wisdom. He holds a scroll on His left Hand, and is shown giving a blessing with His Right Hand. The Mother of God is portrayed in a majestic manner. Her right hand is pointing to Her Son, in a grand gesture of presentation. It is the Son of God, the One we must follow and obey.

The Theotokos embraces all

Since December 6th, 1986 it has been estimated that over two million people have come to St. Nicholas Church to view the Weeping Icon. Orthodox Hierarchs, representing nearly all jurisdictions in the United States, have humbly knelt in prayer before the Miraculous Lady. The Weeping Icon has reached out and touched the lives of more than the hierarchs and dignitaries of the Orthodox Church. Pilgrims from all walks of life, of all ages, and of all faiths have made a point of visiting and re-visiting the moderate Albanian parish to view this miraculous sign. They come for a variety of reasons. Some come out of curiosity. Others come looking for "miracles" in their own lives. Still others come merely to pray and meditate before the Icon of the Mother of God.

In the words of Father Koufos:

"We have a treasure which God has entrusted to us. We thus have even more of a responsibility to share it with all of our brothers and sisters, be they Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant. For perhaps as a mother seeks to bring peace to her own family, The Mother of God, even now, is helping to bring to all of the family of those who honor her Son." From the Paraklesis to the Most Holy Mother of God. For those In great sorrow you are joy, And for the oppressed, a protection, And for the hungry, their food, Comfort unto those estranged: You are a staff to the blind, Visitation of all those sick, And to those held by pain Shelter and a comforting, And to the orphaned, an aid: Mother, of God in the highest, You who are the Spotless One, hasten, Save your servants from their sin, we ask you.


Address - Saint Nicholas Albanian Orthodox Church 
2701 N. Narragansett Ave. Chicago, IL 60639 



 If you need an introduction to Medjugorje, click: http://tinyurl.com/pw24e8l

“It was June 24, 1981, the Feast of John the Baptist, the proclaimer of the coming Messiah. In the evening the Virgin Mary appeared to two young people, Mirjana Dragicevic * and Ivanka Ivankovic.* The next day, four more young people, Marija Pavlovic,* Jakov Colo, Vicka Ivankovic,* and Ivan Dragicevic saw the Virgin Mary, bringing the total to six visionaries. These visionaries are not related to one another. Three of the six visionaries no longer see Our Lady on a daily basis. As of July, 2009, the Virgin is still appearing everyday to the remaining three visionaries; that’s well over 12,820 apparitions.”

Medjugorje and the bishops

On 10 April 1991, the Yugoslav Episcopal Conference issued at Zadar a declaration that states: "It cannot be affirmed that these matters concern supernatural apparitions or revelations."[2]
On 2 October 1997, Perić wrote: "On the basis of the serious study of the case by 30 of our 'studiosi', on my episcopal experience of five years in the Diocese, on the scandalous disobedience that surrounds the phenomenon, on the lies that are at times put into the mouth of the 'Madonna', on the unusual repetition of "messages" of over 16 years, on the strange way that the 'spiritual directors' of the so-called 'visionaries' accompany them through the world making propaganda of them, on the practice that the 'Madonna' appears at the 'fiat' of the 'visionaries', my conviction and position is not only non constat de supernaturalitate [the supernaturality is not proven] but also the other formula  the non-supernaturality is proven of the apparitions or revelations of Medjugorje."[5]
In response to enquiries about Bishop Perić's non constat de supernaturalitate comment, then-Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, as Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that the comment of Bishop Perić "should be considered the expression of the personal conviction of the Bishop of Mostar which he has the right to express as Ordinary of the place, but which is and remains his personal opinion."[6]In the same letter, Archbishop Bertone stressed that "it is not the practice of the Holy See to assume, in the first instance, a position of its own regarding supposed supernatural phenomena". Accordingly the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith limited itself to what the Yugoslav bishops had stated in their 1991 Zadar declaration: "On the basis of the investigations conducted to this point, it is not possible to affirm that it is a case of apparitions or of supernatural revelations".   
On 21 October 2013, the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States communicated, on behalf of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that, in the light of the 1991 Zadar declaration about the Medjugorje events, Catholics, whether clergy or laypeople, "are not permitted to participate in meetings, conferences or public celebrations during which the credibility of such 'apparitions' would be taken for granted".[13]

On the basis of this letter of 21 October 2013, which refers to another of February 2013, Colin B. Donovan of EWTN remarked: "These 2013 letters clearly represent a change of pastoral attitude on the part of the Holy See, one which began before the end of the pontificate of Pope Benedict and which has now been affirmed by Pope Francis. An attitude of seeming tolerance has been replaced with a firm call for acceptance of the ecclesiastical judgments made to date, or at least publicly acting in accordance with them." He added: "Catholics on both sides of the issue should exercise prudence and charity in speaking of it. Medjugorje is not a litmus test of orthodoxy, though every Catholic will have a moral obligation to accept the judgment of Rome, in the manner Pope Benedict XIV explained, when it is rendered."[14]

Also regarding the October 2013 letter, James Akin of Catholic Answers, when asked "what does this tell us about how the Church is likely to rule on Medjugorje?" replied, "Not a great deal. It certainly is not an encouraging sign for those who would want to see Medjugorje approved. On the other hand, sticking with the existing policy and applying its logic more rigorously is not a change of substance and does not tell us anything in particular about what the ultimate ruling is likely to be. The current Medjugorje commission is expected to deliver its findings to the CDF for evaluation, and, after the CDF has had a chance to study them, the results will be presented to the pope. It will be the pope who makes the final decision. Sticking with the current policy at the present time does not tell us anything, one way or another, about what that decision will be." [15]

The Vatican commission set up in 2010 to study the Medjugorje question was reported on 18 January 2014 to have completed its work, the results of which it would communicate to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.[16]  (excerpts from Wikipedia on "The Official Position of the Church".)

Approaching Medjugorje from a different point of view.

I wish to look at Medjugorje from the point of view of eucharistic ecclesiology.

  The twentieth century Jesuit Chilean saint, Alberto Hurtado, said, "The Mass is the centre of my day and my day is a prolongation of the Mass."   This is in keeping with the statements that "the Mass makes the Church," and "the Church makes the Mass."   The Constitution n the Sacred Liturgy says that the liturgy is the source of all the Church's powers and the goal of all its activity.   It also says that, by participation in the liturgy on earth, we participate in the liturgy of heaven.   The Roman Canon celebrates the fact that we are in communion with Our Lady the angels and saints.   The Letter to the Hebrews says:
You have come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festive gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Able....since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe; for indeed our God is a consuming fire." (Heb. 12, 22-29)

Earlier, but on the same theme, the author of Hebrews writes that we enter into the Holy of Holies through the veil, which is the flesh of Christ, into God's presence.
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach ("approach" is the root verb of the Hebrew word for "Sacrifice") with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
Why all this about the Mass?   What does it have to do with Medjugorje?   Firstly, because the celebration of the Eucharist is the most important activity in any visit to Medjugorje, and because it offers a living contact with the Father, with Christ, Our Lady, the angels and saints, far richer than any apparition could offer, as the Letter to the Hebrews points out.    Moreover, it is something we have all experienced to a greater or lesser degree, and it should be our starting point when to come to look at the apparitions.

Our first impression, when we visit Medjugorje is that it is rich in the supernatural.   When we witness the conversions, the prayer, the fasting, the penitence, the celebration of the sacrament of penance and, above all, the celebration of Mass, no one can deny the presence of grace in abundance.   When I meet people whose life has been changed in Medjugorje, drug addicts, alcoholics, the desparate and the wordly, who now dedicate themselves to the service of God and others, I have no doubt that God is working there.   When I see that the people of the village offer places in their homes to priests, free of charge, and when I see the youth of the village at prayer, then I know that it is surely authentic!   Then I wonder what will happen in the lives of drug addicts, converted in Medjugorje, who look after abandoned children here in Lima, putting their trust in the providence of God, if they are told that Medjugorje is fake, as the local bishop quoted above clearly believes.

Thus, I experience directly and intensely the supernatural life manifested in prayer, conversions, the celebration of the sacraments and the Mass.   I know it is occasioned by the belief that Our Lady has been appearing to a group of young people.   Not only is this true, but countless pilgrims bear witness to their experience of happenings that only make sense if Mary has actually chosen Medjugorje as a place of contact with the Church.   For instance, I brought with me on my pilgrimage in 1990 a number of crucifixes to have them blessed, to be given to people in Peru when I returned.  These included two plastic crosses with chain, coloured in metallic silver, each in its own box.   When I returned to Belmont, I opened my case and found one of the crosses and its chain had turned to gold.   It was something I had heard about but never believed in.   During the week, a Cardiff housewife had her rosary, solid silver which belonged to her grandmother, turned to gold.   Such was my lack of logic, that I could not impinge her honesty, but I didn't believe her either. Hence my astonishment when I discovered that my own cricifix and chain had turned to gold.  Then there was an old priest friend of my parents who had survived a Japanese prison camp on the River Kwai in World War II before becoming a priest, a very down-to-earth kind of guy, who saw a many coloured cross in the sky in Medjugorje and photographed it, and countless more.   So it isn't just a question of the proberty of the kids who claim they saw and go on seeing Our Lady.   Then there are all those scientific tests on the seers themselves, before, during and after the apparitions. Science is unable to tell whether Our Lady is present during the apparitions, but it is able to tell whether the seers are lying or whether they are conscious of their surroundings during the apparitions.  No, there is more to this than sheer mendacity.

On the other hand, there is the evidence  of those opposed to Medjugorje, which also has the wring of truth.  Some things they object to are quite explicable and capable of a perfectly Catholic interpretation; but, what about these?
Disobedience: The diocesan bishop, Msgr. Zanic of Mostar, has on several occasions given legitimate instructions to the Franciscan priests active in Medjugorje parish, which they have consistently disobeyed. He has ordered certain priests to leave the parish, and they have stayed. He has asked that the occurrences should not be publicized, and that pilgrimages  should not be organized or welcomed (until his canonical enquiry was complete). These orders have been ignored. But the most flagrant and (to my mind) conclusive case is that involving Fathers Prusina and Vego, two Franciscans being disciplined by their superiors (and who have since been expelled from the Order). Bishop Zanic' had ordered them to leave the parish. "Our Lady", questioned by the "visionaries", is stated to have said on two occasions (19.12.81 and 20.1.82) that the bishop was "in the wrong" and that the Franciscans "should stay put"! "Our Lady" is thus shown as inciting disobedience to a lawful order of a bishop. 
Lying: I can understand the indignation this word will cause to convinced Medjugorjists. Yet I honestly do not see how otherwise to describe certain behavior on the part of the visionaries Ivan and Vicka and of Fr. Vlasic: Vicka's alternate denials and admissions that she was keeping a day-to-day chronicle of the events (and her concealment of large sections of it from the bishop's commission); the unbelievable perjury of Fr. Vlasic, swearing on the cross in the bishop's presence that he knew nothing of Vicka's diary (though he had earlier supplied extracts of that very diary to Fr. Grafenauer); young Ivan's "message" regarding the great sign to come "in the sixth month", written and signed by him and lodged in sealed envelopes with the canonical commission, but which he retracted nearly 3 years later when the "messages" were opened and shown to be invalid. Ivan, by then twenty years old, agreed that the "Lady" had not objected when he wrote the "message" originally, conveniently delaying her admonition for 3 years until the day before he admitted his "mistake"! Only lack of space dissuades me from continuing this distasteful and saddening list. A whole study could be devoted to the subject, particularly if one includes the suppressiones veri and suggestiones falsi purveyed by Medjugorje's chief propagandists, Frs. Laurentin, Bugalo, and Co.  
However, in the following accusation, the Medjugorje group is more in harmony with Catholic teaching than their accuser.   Their words must be interpreted within the context of inter-religious hatred which boiled up only a few years later.   It can be said that Our Lady was calling back Catholics to a more Christian attitude towards their neighbours. We are bound to evangelise, but not to proselytise.   The first proclaims the Christian message by example and words, but it is done with love, not trying to bash our neighbours, even with words.   We leave conversion to the Holy Spirit.   Moreover, Orthodoxy is not a false religion: it is a group of our sister churches "of orthodox faith". As for Moslims, the Catholic attitude towards Islam can be found in the documents of Vatican II and in the different contacts that the modern popes have had and are having with that reliogion. 

False Doctrine: Properly doctrinal statements are rare among the interminable reported words of the "Lady", but a single example of a doctrinal falsity ought to be enough to discredit any apparition. Here are two examples, both dating from 1983. In January, Mirjana told Fr. Vlasic how "Mary" was distressed by the lack of unity between Catholics, Orthodox and Muslims, since there was only one God: "You are not a believer if you do not respect the other religions, Muslim and Serbian (i.e. Orthodox). You are not Christians if you do not respect them." [This is false doctrine: we owe proper respect to non-believers, but none at all to their false religion; this would be a betrayal of Christ and His Church.] Even Fr. Vlasic was taken aback by this, but to his further questions-----Mirjana could only reply by repeating herself: ". . . lack of unity among the religions. You must respect each person's religion," adding "Keep your own for yourselves and your children." This Masonic syncretism in a supernatural message is quite inadmissible; it rules out the missionary charity whereby we try to win our neighbors over to Our Lord.
The most important inconsistencies are those involving the relationship between Mgr Zanic, the local bishop, and the Franciscans, with Our Lady coming out in support of the Franciscans.   It shows us the context which has coloured almost everything in this debate.  It is clear from our quotation from Mgr. Zanic that, looking at Medjugorje, all he sees is mendacity and falsehood.   He sees absolutely nothing of all the good fruit that has come out of Medjugorje, so obvious to so many of us.   Perhaps, in their disagreement with the bishop, the Franciscans are equally unbalanced. 

For centuries, the Franciscans were there, sharing the problems of the people and supporting them in the turbulent history of the Balkans which included centuries of Muslim occupation.   Now that normality has returned, the bishop wishes to replace the Franciscans with his own diocesan clergy; and neither the Franciscans nor the people want this.  There is a close relationship between them, born of much suffering and hardship.   It is a very human situation, and not an easy one to resolve.   Both sides have their arguments, interests and prejudices.   

I have seen the heartache caused by us giving up our parishes in England, where, over centuries, the people have come to identify themselves with the Benedictines and to take pride in the association.   They were part of the Benedictine family and drew sustenance from this in times of religious persecution and social hardship.   

It isn't just a problem of obedience/disobedience; though, in the end, the bishop has the last word.  It would be helpful if the the bishop appreciated the situation; but, typical of the Balkans, neither side seems to be able to put itself in the other's shoes.

Unfortunately, this disagreement has entered into the reported dialogue between Our Lady and the Medjugorje group.   In this dialogue, Our Lady came out in favour of of the Franciscans; and, quite rightly, it is the point where people have parted company with Medjugorje.

For one thing, there is simply no comparison between the Medjugorje group and St Bernadette at Lourdes.   She is a saint and showed, in her simplicity as a young girl of thirteen, that she was a match  for both her teachers of religion and for those who attacked her about the apparitions. She had a purity of heart way beyond the capacity of the group in Medjugorje. Even as a young girl, her purity of vision allowed her to go straight to the heart of the problem.   

On the other hand, there is no lack of evidence that the Medjugorje group were just ordinary kids - avarage kids, we could say.  The story I heard about the second meeting with the "Gospoda" (Our Lady) was that they were going into the country, among other things, to enjoy an illegal smoke.   Jakov Colo, a boy of ten, was following them; but they tried to get him to return home because they thought he might report them to their parents for smoking.   True or false?   Certainly, it is agreed by all witnesses that they were no holier than any other group of teenagers in the village.   If Our Lady chose to appear to them, then she chose to appear to very imperfect instruments, people who would only understand to the extent that they were pure of heart, and they were only beginning the process of purification.   Those of us who have not yet attained purity of heart live in two worlds, the world of faith, with its priorities, and the "real" world with its own worldly priorities.   How ever clear we may be in moments of faith, clarity becomes rather obscure when we are immersed in opur own concerns.   To try to bridge this dichotomy is not easy, and we can make mistakes.   These kids were both visionaries and Croats with pro-Franciscan sympathies.   Of course the world of faith is only separate from the real world in appearance to those who are not pure in heart.   Those who are can go directly to the truth.

When we listen to any message, understanding comes through interpretation, and we relate what we learn to other things we believe to be true.   When these kids were questioned under pressure, they interpreted Our Lady's message in the same way, as Croats in the early 80's.   They may well have stretched Our Lady's messages to answer questions put to them, even if her conversation with them had not covered these questions, and they did so in accordance with their own prejudices, simply because they believed these prejudices to be true.   Yes, they may even have lied.   As an ex-school master, I have had all this from teenagers, even when their basic story is true.   

I suspect that some of the critics have a thoroughly Protestant, fundamentalist idea of revelation, even private revelation, that is untrue, even in the Scriptures.   For them, it comes from heaven whole, pure and uninterpreted by man, and we only have to receive it.    In fact, all revelation is interpreted revelation; and we have to know the background in order to understand it.

For this reason, we can only take full advantage of any revelation in and through the Church which is the body of the Way, the Truth and the Life, and has the charisma veritatis.   Our understanding has to be filtred through Tradition, which is the product of the synergy between the Holy Spirit and the Church, and is expressed principally in the Liturgy.   To that end, we submit our understanding to that of the Church, even if its source is revelation.

Let us look back at the Mass, which is the most supernatural event we will ever attend, even if Our Lady or the saints should appear to us.   When the Scriptures are read in Church, Christ himself speaks, just as truly as it is claimed Our Lady speaks to the seers of Medjugorje; but are we perfect in our understanding, and are we good purveyors of the message to the world? Does it not depend on our purity of heart, on our closeness to Christ, on the action of the Holy Spirit?

    If Our Lady chose ordinary kids, then she chose a tainted source.   To what end?   To bring about the sanctuary of Medjugorje where the illusory separation between heaven and hell is shown for what it is, an illusion; where we can be converted, pray, go to confession, do penance, celebrate Mass, and then joyfully return to our homes and tell everyone how wonderful it is to live in close union with Christ and his Blessed Mother.   The modern world needs places like Medjugorje as never before.   I hope the Vatican is not going to shoot itself in the foot by being too clever and authoritative.

What about the messages from Our Lady that have come to us so frequently over the years?   Well, many of us have stopped reading them because they keep telling us what we know already.   However, back in 1990 in Medjugorje, I asked Ivan if there is a basic message among all the words.   His answer went something like this:
The world is extremely violent and is in urgent need of peace, a peace that can only come from God.   God can grant this peace if we pray for it.   Prayer is that powerful.   But not any prayer by anyone is powerful: it must be prayer by those who have peace themselves; but not just any peace.   It must be the peace that springs from true conversion expressed in prayer and penance?   What kind of prayer and what kind of penance?   Well, any kind of prayer and any kind of penance; but Our Lady has given us particular prayers and a particular penance as a guide to what she means.   She has suggested a complete rosary (all fifteen, now twenty mysteries every day).   "It is easy once you get into it."   She also suggested fasting on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday.
When I met him in Lima a couple of years ago, Ivan said that the basic message is the value of constant prayer.   I thought of the spiritual classic, "The Way of the Pilgrim".

Some have said that the Medjugorje message is banal.   I believe it to be extremely important.

Hence, looking at all the evidence, I believe that what is happening in Medjugorje is very important, that it is tragic that it became mixed up with a bishop-Franciscan quarrel in which neither side seems very reasonable, that Our Lady chose just ordinary kids, and this has been reflected in the messages.   This last factor may stop the Vatican giving unequivocal support for Medjugorje, because not all that has been said has equal value.   However, Medjugorje is doing very well without that support, and the Megjugorje message will continue to be purified as it is filtred through the consciousness of the praying Church. When something works, why fix it?

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