This from the mail in recent days: "I don't know if you've read Mirjana Soldo's book yet. It just came out last week. It's amazing. I think the time of the secrets is close. Hence, her release of the book now."
It was from a viewer named Dave, referring to My Heart Will Triumph, by visionary Mirjana Dragicevic Soldo of Medjugorje in Hercegovina (which was visited just two weeks ago by the president of Croatia), and yes, indeed, of course, Dave, we have gone over much of this powerful, inspired book, which will now maintain a place with the seminal books we have on this topic.
Does its release bear significance?
Of that, we have no clue. But in the book are certainly fascinating tidbits to do with the secrets, along with all the extraordinarily useful advice on spiritual development, fighting evil, and finding Heaven.
Think what you will of Medjugorje (which remains controversial, as have so many major apparitions in the past, until the Church issued a final verdict); we respect all viewpoints, all discernments; after extensive research since 1990, including nine trips there, and despite an initial skepticism, we maintain a decidedly positive view, and will continue to do so pending a Vatican ruling (if one is forthcoming). Anything the Church officially rules will be accepted, no matter personal inclinations.
But let's get to the issue:
As at Fatima, the Miraculous Medal, LaSalette, Lourdes (where Bernadette was granted a secret that she said could not be divulged ever to anyone), and many lesser apparitions, the seers at Medjugorje have steadfastly maintained since 1981 -- when they were but peasant teenagers in a Communist country, allowing them no exposure to accounts about such things as Fatima -- that Mary, appearing daily in this remote hamlet, had likewise given each of them "secret" messages that pertained to: the Church; the future of Medjugorje; their own lives; and the world.
There were "secrets," they alleged.
And to this day, the six visionaries -- most of them now in their fifties -- have never deviated an iota from this spectacular, almost inconceivable claim, and have maintained an extramundane ability in most cases to deflect and elude the endless questions from interrogators (ourselves included) who have tried to glean information about the confidential messages. ("Even a woman can keep a secret," Mirjana once joked with us.)
More seriously, as reported in Tower of Light, Mirjana, during the early 1980s had said in an interview with her spiritual director that her first secret (no one is sure how many they share) had to do with a warning that would come as an event in a certain place, an event that everyone, everywhere, will immediately hear about, and when asked if, upon hearing about it, people would rush to see it, she replied: "It is one thing to go and see a sign, quite another to go and see suffering or a disaster. Who would, for example, go to Italy to see a dam collapse?"
Through the decades, there have been endless reports of miraculous phenomena at Medjugorje, witnessed by pilgrims as well as priests and bishops, not to mention the seers themselves. Too many of those who doubt Medjugorje have never been there.
Villagers testified to writing in the sky ("MIR" which means "peace"), moving, color-changing stars, luminous clouds over the surrounding highlands, miraculous photographs, unexplained healings (these are in the many hundreds and kept in parish records), and solar phenomena (witnessed by literally millions). Mysterious strangers who seem like angels are prevalent in reports. The list is almost endless.
But perhaps most difficult to believe, in the avalanche of alleged mirabilia, were the rumors that during her last daily apparition, in December of 1982 (she still receives monthly ones), Mirjana was given a strange object by the Blessed Mother.
In the book, Mirjana not only confirms this, but adds new details.
She asserts that the Blessed Mother, after finalizing a discussion with her of the secrets, which would start with that warning to the world, involve at some point a great sign, and end with massive chastisements, affecting the entire globe (eventually changing it for the better, and allowing that triumph), "then held out like a rolled-up scroll, explaining that all ten secrets were written on it, and that I should show it to the priest I choose when the time came to reveal them.
"I took it from her hand without looking at it." "Now you will have to turn to God in faith like any other person," Mary intoned. "Mirjana, I have chosen you; I have confided in you everything that is essential. I have also shown you many terrible things. You must now bear it all with courage. Think of me and think of the tears I must shed for that. You must remain brave. You have quickly grasped the messages. You must also understand now that I have to go away. Be courageous."
"How did that happen? I wondered," writes the seer. "How am I holding an object from Heaven? Like so many occurrences over the previous eighteen months, I could only explain it as a mystery of God. Beige in color, the scroll was made of a material akin to parchment -- not quite paper and not quite fabric, but perhaps something in between. I carefully unrolled it and found all ten secrets written in a simple and elegant cursive handwriting. There were no decorations or illustrations on the parchment; each secret was described in simple clear words, similar to how Our Lady originally explained them to me. The secrets were not numbered, but they appeared in order, one after another, with the first secret at the top and the tenth at the bottom, and included the dates of the future events."
A scroll? A scrap of parchment?
Even by the standards of apparitions, it is an amazing claim.
Are there precedents?
There was manna from Heaven, of course, the Ten Commandments (on those eternally famous "tablets," whatever they were made from) that likewise materialized into the physical realm.
One also thinks of Daniel and the "writing on the wall."
Through history, physical objects have certainly materialized around saints. At Fatima, a sort of ephemeral glitter materialized in the air as if falling from the sky, and at other apparitions the Host allegedly has materialized on the tongues of visionaries. The stigmata itself is a sort of materialization (in this case of blood). So are tears on miraculous statues.
But still: hard to believe? Of course.
When later she showed the "scroll," which she has since tightly guarded, to a cousin and a friend, Mirjana says the cousin saw not the written secrets but some sort of prayer or poem, while the friend saw something different: a letter in which a person was asking for help. Only Mirjana saw the secrets on the parchment. And only, when the time comes, she claims, will the priest she gives it to be able to see the same.
She wonders if perhaps the secrets had been "written down" in the event that she is not alive to forewarn a chosen priest of all of them. And wonders if this also is why in the earliest days Mary once had said, "Tell [everyone] to convert before it's too late" -- not so much because the secrets, back in 1981, were about to transpire, but because anyone could die at any moment (after which it is too late).
And thus this most relevant question:
Are we as concerned with what we know is going to happen, the end of the world, in our own lives -- our own eventual deaths -- as much as we are about the more exotic prophecies pertaining to events in the world at large?
Is not Heaven -- interior purity (which is what this book is mainly about ) -- the important reason for Mary's visits? It is a key question at a time of so much turmoil around us.
With the Blessed Mother, as Mirjana asks: what is there to fear?