need to experience the church as their home, says Medjugorje visionary Jakov
Čolo who had daily apparitions of the Virgin Mary for more than 17 years.
During lectures to pilgrims on Friday both he and his fellow visionary Ivanka
Elez also urged parents to pray with their children from very early on in their
MEDJUGORJE, March 15th – Parents should take their children to church even though they know that the children might start crying or otherwise have a hard time being silent during Mass. By keeping the children from the church out of concerns of what others in the congregation might think, the children are deprived of a most needed sense of relationship with the church, Medjugorje visionary Jakov Čolo advised pilgrims during a lecture on Friday.
Jakov, who had daily apparitions of the Virgin Mary until September 12, 1998 and now has a yearly apparition on Christmas Day, urged people in the church to accept that children are children, and that children sometimes cry. Keeping them away is a mistake, he underscored.
“It is very important to take children to the Holy Mass. They need to experience the church as their home. They need to understand that it is important to go,” said Jakov.
“When I was in the United States it surprised me a lot to see people turn around when a child started crying during the Mass. A child is a child. It happens, and it should not be enough of a reason to keep them away,” he added.
The visionary also emphasized the importance of teaching prayer to children from very early on in their lives. By making prayer a daily routine in the family the children will gradually learn that prayer is a joyful experience, said the visionary who was 10 years old when he saw the Virgin Mary for the first time. Jakov compared his own pre-apparition relationship with God to the one he now tries to teach his three children aged 6, 4 and 1.
“Before the apparitions I was never thinking about God and the truth that He exists. I went to Mass and I prayed, but I never felt as I feel now. I knew that God and Our Lady existed, but I never thought deeply about it,” he said.
“Now I try to teach my own children from the beginning of their lives. It is very important that children are brought to understand these things from the beginning. Children understand a lot more than we think they do. It sometimes even happens that my oldest child is the one who suggests that we pray.”
During her lecture to pilgrims on Friday, visionary Ivanka Elez also spoke about teaching prayer to children from the onset of their lives. Ivanka, whose daily apparitions ceased in 1985, has three children with a daughter of 13 as the oldest. She urged her listeners to make use of the fact that children of different age and personality also have different interests, and that this should be taken into account when teaching children how to pray.
“Some children want to play while they pray. Others want to draw or put colors on drawings while they pray. Parents can then ask them to make drawings of Jesus or the Virgin Mary during prayer. What is most important is that the children come to experience the love of God in prayer. We parents have a big responsibility in making our children experience this love,” Ivanka told the pilgrims.
While both visionaries said that making use of force can not make children pray or go to church, Jakov suggested a better solution to a pilgrim who was sad that her children of age 17 and 20 have lost interest in living Christian lives.
“Pray for them and give them to Our Lady in prayer. And be an example for them,” he said before going on to say that Medjugorje pilgrims are called to be an example for the world.
“The world is in need of experiencing the love of God. People need to see God in us; to see how God is working through us. That is the only way of being an true example of what Medjugorje is about. It is not important to come here to see us, the visionaries, or to look for signs. The biggest signs here are peace and conversion – people changing their lives,” he said.
Indirectly answering Church officials and lay people who take the unusual duration of the apparitions as a sign against the authenticity of the Medjugorje apparitions Jakov said that the question or objection is misapplied.
“We should never ask ourselves that question. What we need is to pay thanks to the Lord for sending His Mother to be with us so long. See how much He loves us: He loves us to the point of sending her among us for almost 20 years now,” he said.
The visionary also took the opportunity to give a little pep-talk on fasting. From the beginning this discipline has been one out of five in the Virgin Mary’s standard Medjugorje programme for conversions to start and the world to grow better. The others are daily prayer, Mass and reading in the Bible, and confession of sins once a month.
“I have been fasting on bread and water every Wednesday and Friday since I was 10 years old. Fasting is not that hard. Many times we do things that we do not like to do, but we do it anyway although it is not all that important. On the contrary fasting is very important. With prayer and fasting we can overcome everything,” said Jakov.
Refusing to answer a question on the 10 prophetic secrets that are to be entrusted to each of the six Medjugorje visionaries (Čolo and two others know all ten whereas the remaining three seers have been told of nine such future events by the Virgin), the visionary preferred to emphasize that we are all in control of the future.
“We are in control of the future and capable of helping others if we allow God to live in us. Secrets are secrets, and you have to put the secrets aside,” he said.
“Our secrets are our own lives. And how we choose to live them.”
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