Fruits of Medjugorje,
by Elizabeth Ficocelli, a new and professional look at some stunning conversions
and miracles at the most famous active apparition site in the world, the place
of wonders in Bosnia-Hercegovina where 30,000 priests and bishops have
visited, and where now Ficocelli takes us on a whirlwind look at some of the
most captivating accounts at this time when the apparitions are suddenly
once more and despite controversy coming to the fore!
IN THE REALM OF ALLEGED PROPHECY IS THE NOTION OF A 'SIGN' THAT SOME CONNECT TO THE PHENOMENA IN EXODUS
How far to go with prophecy?
It's always good to recall that to "prophesy" means to proclaim, to testify to, to pronounce. That means Christian evangelization. It means to utter under Divine inspiration.
But undeniably it can also mean to predict, to proclaim future events, and it is interesting how of late a similar "prophetic pulse" beats in Catholic and Evangelical circles, with Protestants a future happening they believe will be related to Israel and "blood moons" (more on this later in the week) and in Catholicism reputed secrets from the Virgin Mary.
For years, actually decades, there has been talk in Marian circles about a coming great "sign" or "miracle." The notion was especially prominent at the reputed site of Garabandal in north-central Spain, where apparitions were reported during the 1960s, and then at a number of alleged sites during the Eighties and Nineties, in particular Medjugorje in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which is under very active consideration by the Vatican and where it has been said that one of the "secrets" given to the six visionaries includes a sign that will occur on Podbrdo, the "hill of apparitions." It has been described there as something that will be indestructible, seen by anyone who goes there, and inexplicable. As Danish journalist Jakob Marschner pointed out, "The earth has never seen its like. It will appear suddenly, as if out of nowhere, or right out of Heaven itself. It will arrive in such a way that people will not have words to say what it is. It will appear on the ground, it can be seen and photographed, but it cannot be touched. According to the visionaries, some day a permanent sign will appear on the site of the first apparition. Beautiful and indestructible, the sign will lead to many conversions. According to see Marija [Pavlovic], there will also be healings. But first and foremost it will make many more people believe. 'Naturally, it will be clear to everyone that it is not something constructed and erected. Nobody will be able to say that it was brought and placed in that particular spot by, let us say, someone from Medjugorje,' [another seer] Mirjana Solodo, told a Catholic author/journalist in 2002."
The seers have been given up to ten secrets. It is the third, Marschner pointed out, that is about a sign that the Blessed Mother will leave on Podbrdo. This sign, some believe, will remain forever. Others imagine it as something more limited and ephemeral -- not something that will capture the entire world's attention, but will attract many from afar. It will be given above all, it has been said, for those people who are still far away from God. "The Madonna wishes to give these people who will see the sign a chance to believe in God," a third seer, Vicka Ivankovic, told Radio Maria in January of 2008.
An early interview with Mirjana was similar to Vicka’s statement. “They will understand the sign as a place where they can convert. They will go to the mountain and pray and they will be forgiven," Mirjana prophesied in 1983. “When the Permanent Sign comes, people will come here from all over the world in even larger numbers. Many more will believe,” visionary Jakov Colo, who like Ivanka and Mirjana has all ten of his secrets, has said. However, according to the visionaries, there will also be people who see the sign and still don’t believe – or who will not receive the impulse to convert that many other people will receive from seeing the sign: “I want to say about those people who will see it and not believe, the Madonna leaves everyone free to believe or not, but those are ones whose hearts are too closed." Added Vicka twenty-five years ago: "I’ll just say this: whoever does not believe without a sign will not believe with a sign. And, I’ll tell you this too: woe to him who delays his conversion, waiting for the sign. I once told you that many would come, and perhaps, even kneel before the sign, but will, nonetheless, not believe. Be happy that you are not among them!” Would it be on Heaven or on earth? On earth, they have said. Gradual or spontaneous? Spontaneous. What do they mean that, when it allegedly occurs, for sinners it will be too late? This is anything but clear. As the third, it will supposedly accent the preceding two secrets. Interestingly, it is the only secret that we seem to be certain all or at least most of the visionaries have. We don't know what else they share. ”It will shake people up” and ”make people see themselves in a new light," said Mirjana.
What are we to make of this?
It certainly is a challenge in discernment. Some might relate it to the prophecies of Fatima. Others may look upon it as a bit dramatic, like the Protestant idea of a "rapture."
At Garabandal -- which like Medjugorje has been the subject of great controversy (at one point formally rejected as far as its supernaturality by the local bishop, on the suggestion of the Vatican, but never outright condemned) -- a miracle is to occur in Garabandal within twelve months of a prophesied great "warning." One that, these seers claimed, would be noticed around the world).
"It will be on a Thursday at 8:30 p.m. on a feast-day of a martyred Saint for the Eucharist ... (not a feast-day of Our Lady or Our Lord) ... it will happen in the month of April... between the 7th and the 17th of the month but not the 7th or the 17th... it will be seen by looking up over the area of the [apparitions] and will be visible from all the surrounding mountainside which will serve as a 'natural' amphitheater. The sick will be cured...the unbelievers will be converted... It will be able to be filmed, photographed and televised. It will be followed, supposedly, by a 'permanent sign' that will remain at Garabandal in memory of the miracle as visible proof of our Blessed Mother's love for all humanity. It will be a 'thing' never before seen upon the earth. It can be photographed by not touched."
This all goes, of course, into a very speculative realm.
Can such prognostications really bear legitimacy?
Among those who have shown keen interest in this site is the famous and well-respected American nun, Mother Angelica, who devoted air time to the Spanish apparitions and pledged that a television crew would be sent there, when and if the event occurs.
Are there precedents?
At Fatima, Sister Lucia said a "great sign" foreseen in the secrets there back in 1917 materialized twenty-one years later, in 1938, when an extraordinary display of the aurora borealis was seen from Europe to Canada and the U.S. -- described in publications such as The New York Times as like a "curtain of fire."
Again, a luminosity.
Yet also one that could be "scientifically" explained.
Sister Lucia said it was not merely a natural happening and served as the harbinger of the Second World War.
If another such happening is in the future, one can only imagine: might it be (as a Polish priest gaining currency on YouTube claims he saw as a child in a vision) a "sign" that hearkens back to what occurred in the time of Moses: a cloud-like phenomenon on the hill during the day and some sort of pillar of light at night; perhaps exquisitely subtle; perhaps right between the natural and supernatural, still allowing (as did the 1938 aurora) for the free will of belief or skepticism?
It certainly plays through the imagination: something cloud-like. A mist? A fog? And at night: like a sublime spotlight, a prism, the aurora? Strange ephemeral smoke has been seen wafting on the highlands of Medjugorje.
It is a realm about which the Church is rightly cautious and until there is proof of the secrets, Medjugorje, if looked upon favorably by the Pope, is perhaps likeliest to be named an official shrine while the apparitions, secrets, and prophecies are left for future discernment. The Vatican is prudent, while we are free, of course, to imagine. At Medjugorje, a strange fire that was seen twice on apparition hill in the early days -- to the point where Communist authorities sent firemen there -- turned out to be a sort of mirage that scorched nothing. Our Lady later allegedly said it was a "forerunner" of the aforementioned great sign. In more recent years, actual wildfires have erupted on the hill (though not encompassing the actual shrine-like spot of apparition). There have been unusual fogs and clouds.
"After the warning, in about a year, the Lord God will intervene in the history of the world," claims the Polish priest, whose video is currently making the rounds. "The miracle can be presumed to be like the cloud falling to the earth under which the Jews found refuge, the pillar of cloud which led them for forty years. At night in turn the pillar of cloud resembled a pillar of fire. It will be sort of the Finger of God descending onto the earth an proclaiming to the people, you are given a final opportunity to repent and acknowledge My fatherly authority over you showing your love. It is an ultimatum to man." It will come between major regional and global events. He saw happenings while the northern hemisphere was covered with snow.
Well, who knows? We will await to see what the official Church says. Something is coming, some day, that much we will ourselves "prophesy." We'll not despise what folks claim to "receive," while being cautious about the rampant embellishments of our time.
-- Michael H. Brown (2/18/14)
[resources: Tower of Light, Sent To Earth, and Fear of Fire]
[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: San Antonio and Corpus Christi; Michael Brown retreats: Virginia]
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