Strange Connections In 'Messages' From Alleged Site Under Study By The Church
Is there a link, or is it just the wording?
Shortly before September 11, 2001, the monthly message from Medjugorje, the alleged apparition site in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where Mary is said first to have appeared in 1981, had this to say:
"Dear children! Today I call all of you to decide for holiness. May it be for you, little children, always in your thoughts and in each situation let holiness be in the first place, in work and in speech. In this way, you will also put it into practice; little by little, step by step, prayer and a decision for holiness will enter into your family. Be real with yourselves and do not bind yourselves to material things but to God. And do not forget, little children, that your life is as passing as a flower. Thank you for having responded to my call."
It was August 25 and some found it ironic that the message contained a warning about death in the way of saying "life is as a passing flower" shortly before the World Trade Center collapsed.
That came to mind this year on the same day of August 25, now 2006, when the Blessed Mother was quoted as saying:
"Dear children! Also today I call you to pray, pray, pray. Only in prayer will you be near to me and my Son and you will see how short this life is. In your heart a desire for Heaven will be born. Joy will begin to rule in your heart and prayer will begin to flow like a river. In your words there will only be thanksgiving to God for having created you and the desire for holiness will become a reality for you. Thank you for having responded to my call."
There it was again: "how short this life is," this time less than three weeks before the fifth anniversary of 9/11.
Chalked up to mere coincidence it might be, but for the fact that the shortness of life, phrased in this fashion, is not a recurrent theme in messages from this controversial place which is now the subject of a formal evaluation by Church officials, led by the Cardinal of Sarajevo (whose assistant has said a decision will not be rendered until the apparitions end).
Did the first message have any relevance to 9/11, and if so, what might it mean that there is now a second such message -- close to the anniversary and also tumultuous events around the world, especially in Rome, where the Pope has been under fire for citing Muslim hatred in its attempts at conversion?
Is another shoe about to drop?
On March 25, 1999, the Blessed Mother reputedly said something else with intriguing phraseology. "I call you to prayer with the heart," was this message. "In a special way, little children, I call you to pray for conversion of sinners, for those who pierce my heart and the heart of my Son Jesus with the sword of hatred and daily blasphemies. Let us pray, little children, for all those who do not desire to come to know the love of God, even though they are in the Church. Let us pray that they convert, so that the Church may resurrect in love. Only with love and prayer, little children, can you live this time which is given to you for conversion. Place God in the first place, then the risen Jesus will become your friend. Thank you for having responded to my call" [our italics].
The phrase "sword of hatred" came to mind when Benedict famously spoke at the University of Regensburg.
"Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," the Pope said, quoting a medieval emperor and creating a furor, along with another connection, one could argue, to Medjugorje.
On Monday, headlines blared of his attempt to "reconcile" with Muslims -- a word that has also been used to describe messages about religion at Medjugorje.
Meanwhile, in personal letters to a Polish couple, Zofia and Marek ("Z. M.") Skwarniccy, on February 25, 1994, the Pope's predecessor, John Paul II, had alluded to an inter-religious prayer summit in Assisi that took place the previous year -- and involved the participation of Muslims.
Strikingly, this summit, the second in a series, was called the "Day of Prayer for Peace in Bosnia."
The Virgin Mary's appearances, of course, are in Bosnia-Hercegovina, where she has come as "Queen of Peace."
In the letter, John Paul said:
"Zofia writes about the Balkans. Now we can better understand Medjugorje. We can better understand this mother's 'insistence' today, when we have the magnitude of such danger before our eyes. Equal is the answer of special prayer, prayer for the people of the whole world. It gives us a hope that here goodness will win, that peace is possible. That was the main idea of the prayer day, January 23."
At Medjugorje, the Blessed Mother has often indicated the need for religions to reconcile, and in one case called a Muslim peasant a very "holy" woman -- a remark that set some against the apparition, as did the healing of an Orthodox (instead of a Catholic) youngster when two boys were brought to an apparition during the 1980s for prayer. The Virgin Mary, some argued, would never do such a thing.
She also has emphasized that the Lord did not create religious separations, but that such has been done by the minds of men. "God rules over each faith just like a sovereign over his kingdom," she said in 1981. "In the world, all religions are not the same because all people have not complied with the commandments of God. They reject and disparage them." One disparagement, of course, is religious violence and terrorism (as denounced by Benedict).
At another point, the Madonna of Medjugorje said it is "no coincidence" that her apparitions for the most part take place in Catholic settings, pointing out that "there is only one mediator between God and man, and it is Jesus Christ" -- indicating here the need to reconcile but to keep to the true Church at the same time.
Currently members of a new committee are being considered for a final evaluation of the site, despite widespread misperceptions that the Church has officially ruled on the case. Mary is said to have first appeared in the small Croatian area on June 24, 1981, with several visionaries still seeing her, allegedly, on a daily basis.
Most recently, on September 2, a seer named Mirjana Soldo experienced an apparition in which the Blessed Mother said, "You know that we have been gathering for me to help you come to know the love of God."
She then spoke about the future and -- using a phrase know well to Muslims -- said: "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" [our emphasis again].
[see also: What John Paul II thought of Mohammed]
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