The Day Will Come
Brown The facts behind Medjugorje.
A guide to answer your questions about discernment and the astounding religious phenomena of our times, with facts about Medjugorje, Betania, and other sites -- and about times about to come. Written in question-and-answer format, it is the most thorough analysis yet on the ten secrets of Medjugorje and their place in historical and mystical events -- driving away sensationalism to reveal exciting truths! CLICK HERE
On this the 20th anniversary we recall that:
FIERCE THUNDERSTORM WAS PRELUDE TO HISTORIC APPARITIONS IN MEDJUGORJE
It was on June 24, 1981, that a fierce thunderstorm swept the Croatian village of Medjugorje in what was then Yugoslavia. Although the peasants were used to sudden storms, its loudness frightened even the most seasoned farmers. It was like the Day of Judgment, remarked one woman, Iva Vasilji, who scurried through town sprinkling holy water while hail crashed furiously around her.
The sky itself seemed to be opening. Rain. Sheets of rain. Hail. Lightning darned the steeped early-morning horizon -- striking where the young people had their first disco.
The following afternoon at about four o'clock, on this the feast of John the Baptist, two teenagers named Ivanka Ivankovic and Mirjana Dragicevic were on their way back from a sheep pasture when Ivanka happened to look to a large, rocky hill known as Crnica or "Mount Podbrdo." There she spotted a strange light and in it a shining womanly figure, hovering. "Mirjana look!" she cried. "It's the Gospa [Our Lady]!"
At first Mirjana didn't bother to look. But soon she too saw the figure. Although others also witnessed phenomena (including a young girl named Milka, one of the first to see the Virgin), it was to six village youngsters -- four girls and two boys -- that Mary, appearing as a maiden, and always coming with the words, "Praised be Jesus" -- would begin to appear on a daily basis.
It was on the second day, June 25, that the Virgin first spoke. She prayed with the children, and when asked by Ivanka, whose mother had recently died, how her mother was doing, the Virgin told Ivanka, "She is happy. She is with me. She is your angel in heaven." There wasn't much else said, at least not that has been recorded. At the end of the apparition Mary said, "Goodbye my angels. Go in the peace of God."
It was the start of messages that continue to this day -- and the beginning of an apparition that has had the most momentous start since the Guadalupe image in Mexico (where Mary appeared in the 16th century). Where apparitions like Fatima took a while to develop into major pilgrim sites, Medjugorje has already been visited by close to 30 million. Thousands of priests, hundreds of bishops, and dozens of cardinals have journeyed there (including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the Vatican's second most powerful person, who visited the site incognito).
The apparitions had been prophesied just weeks before they occurred by a charismatic priest named Emiliano Tardif and as for the famous cross above the village on Mount Krizevac, it was erected in 1933 in part to ward off violent hailstorms.
According to one legend a priest from the area named Father Bernardin ("Brno") Smoljan was called to Rome in 1933 by Pope Pius XI, who supposedly had had a dream in which he felt inspired to raise a cross "on the highest Golgotha in Hercegovina."
Extraordinary is not only the number who have visited Medjugorje since 1981 and not only the fact that 99 percent of those do visit come away believers but that the pilgrims nearly uniformly describe it as one of the high-point events of their lives -- a profoundly changing and healing and anointed experience that sailed beyond expectation.
Something special is occurring here, and if it survives its enemies, if the Church approves it, and if its requests are met, it will doubtless enter the history books alongside not only Fatima, Lourdes, and Guadalaupe, but also older sites like Zaragossa in Spain (where, ironically, the Virgin appeared around A.D. 40 to James the Apostle, for whom the parish at Medjugorje is named!).
At first the local bishop believed and even spoke of the apparitions at St. James Church in the village, but became embittered after an unrelated dispute with the Franciscans (who oversee a number of parishes, including the one at Medjugorje) and sought to condemn the apparitions.
That condemnation, however, was negated by the Vatican, which in an unprecedented move took the matter out of the hands of the Mostar bishop and handed it to a commission of Yugoslavian bishops who are still studying the matter. The Pope himself has been regularly apprised of events there and according to bishops who have spoken to him about Medjugorje has indicated highly positive feelings.
From 40,000 to 100,000 are expected to celebrate the 20th anniversary this week. Never has an apparition had such immediate worldwide impact. And personally, although I've visited thirty or forty apparition sites, I've never encountered anything quite like the sensation here. Even non-Catholics like David duPlessis, the famous Pentecostalist, have testified to the almost palpable presence of the Holy Spirit. With prayer and fasting they have seen remarkable results.
There were warnings, yes; although not any kind of single apocalyptic event, the Virgin has said that unless it converts back to God mankind faces a series of events that will come as chastisements.
These can be warded off, however, by prayer and fasting, through which we can prevent war, protect ourselves spiritually, and suspend the very laws of nature -- including storms.
"I have come because there are many true believers here," the Virgin said in the first few days. "I wish to be with you and to reconcile the whole world."
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