Monday, February 13, 2017

The pacemaker Pope

So just why has Pope Francis entrusted Archbishop Henryk Hoser to go to Medjugore as a Special Envoy of the Holy See?

The Vatican press statement released on Saturday explains: “The mission has the aim of acquiring a deeper knowledge of the pastoral situation there and above all, the needs of the faithful who go there on pilgrimage, and on the basis of this, to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future. The mission will therefore have an exclusively pastoral character.” ​

However, the appointment is primarily a result of Pope Francis responding to a recommendation made in the dossier submitted to him in January 2014 by Cardinal Ruini, president of the Vatican Commission investigating the Medjugorje phenomenon. ​

The provision of pastoral care was pointed out by Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reporting on the handover at the time. ​

“Some of the Commission’s members have highlighted the need for a change of pace in the provision of pastoral care to millions of faithful who come to Medjugorje from all over the world. The Commission and Cardinal Ruini himself, thanks to visits by people close to him, have noticed that people really are converting to the faith or returning to the sacraments – what the Church refers to as spiritual fruits – in a significant way.”

With this appointment by Pope Francis we see his first and very positive response to the significant study on Medjugorje undertaken by the Commission appointed by Benedict XVI in March 2010 – an unspoken but visible sign that the Holy See is not intent on cutting down the tree that produces good fruit in abundance.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Mother of Pastoral Care

I am making myself known to you by these comings, by these words; I desire to witness to you my love and motherly care.

Medjugorje message, January 2, 2017

Pope appoints special envoy to Medjugorje

Pope Francis has appointed his “special envoy” to Medjugorje, but not to make any further investigations into the Marian apparitions that some sections of the Italian media is reporting.

A statement from the Vatican press office advises that the Holy Father has mandated Henryk Hoser (pictured), Archbishop of Warsaw-Prague (Poland) “to go to Medjugorje as a special envoy of the Holy See”.

“The mission aims to acquire more in-depth knowledge of the pastoral situation of that reality and, above all, the needs of the faithful who go there on a pilgrimage... The mission will, therefore, be of a purely pastoral character.”

Writing for Vatican Insider, Andreas Tornielli commented: “With the appointment today confirms the attitude of Pope Francis towards these phenomena. Although he has repeatedly warned against morbid attention to the ‘messages’ and the ‘secrets’ attributed to Our Lady, which in some cases ends up diverting some of the faithful from the heart of the Gospel message, Bergoglio shows great respect for what goes on in these places.”

This from Vatican Radio:

On Saturday, Pope Francis named Archbishop Henryk Hoser, S.A.C., the Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, as a Special Envoy of the Holy See to Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The scope of his mission, according to the press release announcing the appointment, is “to acquire a profound understanding of the pastoral situation” in Medjugorje, with special concern for the “needs of the faithful who come on pilgrimage;” and on the basis of that understanding “to suggest possible pastoral initiatives for the future.” His mission, therefore, “will have an exclusively pastoral character.”

Responding to questions from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke said, “The Special Envoy of the Holy See will not enter into the question of the Marian apparitions, which are the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” Archbishop Hoser’s mission, he said, “is a sign of Holy Father’s concern for the pilgrims. It’s purpose is not inquisitive, but strictly pastoral.”

Burke said, “The Special Envoy of the Holy See will be in contact with the diocesan Bishop; the Franciscans, to whom the parish of Medjugorje is entrusted; and with the faithful” of Medjugorje. Archbishop Hoser, who will continue to exercise the office of Bishop of Warszawa-Praga, is expected to complete his mission by summer.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

A 15th century painting by Rogier van der Weyden of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.

Can you spot the two turtledoves offered in sacrifice?

The man on the extreme right is a reference to King David and another painter of the period, Robert Campin.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

President of European Parliament visited Medjugorje

Italian Antonio Tajani, who was elected President of the European Parliament earlier this month (January 17), visited Medjugorje for the first time in July last year, accompanied by three other politicians: the French MEP Elisabeth Morin-Chartier and two Italian MEPs, Alberto Cirio and Lorenzo Casa. Mr Cirio is a regular pilgrim to Medjugorje. The group met with parish priest Fr Marinko Šakota and also the visionary Jakov Čolo.

The 53-year-old President is a former Italian Air Force officer and a member of the European People’s Party (EPP), a pro-European centre-right political party. He succeeds German socialist MEP Martin Schulz who announced this week that he will now stand as the SPD candidate for the German Chancellorship.

Antonio Tajani prays at the Blue Cross
photo by Michele Vasilj

Monday, January 30, 2017

When Our Lady speaks of Satan

When Our Lady makes mention of Satan in her messages it can be for no other reason than to serve as a warning about the threat of the Evil One’s activities in the world.

Satan is named in her latest message (January 25, 2017), as he was in the January messages for the previous two years, and other months besides. So is there a pattern forming that indicates a growing threat in some way?

When Our Lady first began giving weekly messages at Medjugorje in 1984 she made regular mentions of Satan. Seven years later the reason became very clear when the Bosnian War broke out in 1992 and lasted for four years.

The diagram clearly shows the pattern of consistent warnings leading upto and during the war.

For the next 14 years after the cessation of hostilities the name of Satan was mentioned just five times in all of the monthly messages given to the seer Marija Pavlovic. But in 2010 Our Lady began again to point out the threat of Satan to the world, coincidently just two months after Pope Benedict XVI announced the latest Vatican investigation into the Medjugorje phenomenon.

The mentions have started to become more frequent, particularly these past two years, and it will be interesting to see if the pattern of warnings intensifies during the current year and if they are directed at any specific region or event as they were in the early 90s.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Medjugorje message to Marija, January 25, 2017

Dear children! Today I am calling you to pray for peace: peace in human hearts, peace in the families and peace in the world.

Satan is strong and wants to turn all of you against God, and to return you to everything that is human, and to destroy in the heart all feelings towards God and the things of God.

You, little children, pray and fight against materialism, modernism and egoism, which the world offers to you.

Little children, you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you.

Thank you for having responded to my call.

Medjugorje message, January 25, 2017


Numbers down at Medjugorje

The number of communicants at Medjugorje in 2016 was down almost 8% (1,658,800) on the previous year’s total of 1,800,400, and 18% on the record high of 2,027,900 recorded by the parish office for the 30th anniversary in 2011. ​

How this translates into pilgrim numbers is anyone’s guess, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that pilgrims receive Holy Communion at least five times during their stay at Medjugorje. On this basis that would put the number of pilgrims visiting Medjugorje last year at no more than 330,000. ​

It will be interesting to see if the Fatima centenary celebrations will impact in any way on pilgrim numbers visiting Medjugorje during 2017.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Balthasar’s Bouquet

This edited article by Fr Richard Foley SJ first appeared in the 1988 winter edition of the Medjugorje Messenger.

• Cardinal-designate Urs von Balthasar died suddenly, aged 82 on June 26, 1988 – just two days before he was due to receive the red hat from Pope John Paul II, who had long been one of his warmest admirers.

“Medjugorje’s theology rings true. I am convinced of its truth. And everything about Medjugorje is authentic, in a Catholic sense. What’s happening there is so evident, so convincing.”

Bouquets seldom come more glowing than this one presented to the extraordinary little (Yugoslav) “world village” by the world-famous Swiss theologian.

Von Balthasar was a tall, gaunt man who wore his 80- plus years extremely lightly. What had long established him as a giant figure in the world of theology and culture was his profound learning combined with a wide vision. Also he had a unique gift for marrying up modernity with tradition. It came as no surprise when, in 1984, the Holy Father (whose favourite theologian Balthasar was) award him the prestigious “Paul VI prize” for theology.

Cardinal du Lubac hailed Balthasar as the most cultured mind of our generation. Not only as a theologian but as a friend, he was on close terms with the likes of Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI). And it was another theological giant – Karl Rahner – who referred to what he called the “breathtaking versatility” of Balthasar’s writings.

His views on Medjugorje were expressed in sundry articles and private letters (including one to myself). And he developed these views in the course of a long interview he gave me in London.

To begin with, the Swiss theologian emphasised our liberty and right to go to Medjugorje on private pilgrimage. Pending the Church’s formal acceptance of Medjugorje, pilgrimages organised at an official level have rightly bee vetoed by the Yugoslav bishops as presumptuous and pre-emptive of the (expected) go-ahead.

Balthasar told me that he, too, had come across any number of people, including priests and even prelates, who dismiss Medjugorje as anything from irrelevant to impossible, yet have not taken a really hard look at the evidence. And he agreed with my verdict on theological liberals: they are illiberal enough to question the Mother of God’s freedom to appear where, when, and to whom she likes, and over as long a period of time as she likes.

Yet the ordinary faithful, he pointed out, see divine realities instantly and uncomplicatedly. This is thanks to their instinct for Heaven-sent truths; we refer to it technically as sensus fidelium. Not for nothing did Our Lord tell us that his Heavenly Father is wont to reveal things to plain, ordinary folk that blinkered wiseacres (some with theological degrees) miss by a mile.

For Balthasar, the clinching proof of Medjugorje’s genuineness is in the quantity and quality of its fruits. By going there on pilgrimage, or simply through such contacts as books, videos etc, countless thousands have received rich graces. These graces pertain to things like peace of mind, a deepening faith, the desire to pray more, courage to fast once or twice a week on bread and water (or hot drinks), the resolution to frequent the Sacraments regularly.

Incidentally, Balthasar noted how pastorally wise and opportune is Our Lady of Medjugorje’s recommendation of frequent confession as the very instrument to sanctify and renew the contemporary Church.

Given that the “fullness of faith” is a recurrent Balthasarian theme, it is not difficult to see why he accepted Medjugorje so wholeheartedly. For its message is thoroughly, uncompromising orthodox. And it nourishes within us respect for the Church’s divine authority. Nor could this be otherwise, seeing that the message comes from her whom Balthasar has styled “the mother and model of the Church, the immaculate Church; the heart and centre of the Communion of Saints.”

Another Balthasarian concept finds in Medjugorje a fresh and exciting expression. It is what he terms Theoramatik – “the drama of love being played out between God and the world.”

Looking at Medjugorje in the light of Balthasar’s concept, we can say that the God of love has transformed it into a theatre of holiness in which his Mother – leading lady in the divine drama – is teaching multitudes of people and helping them to make her message the very guiding star of their pilgrimage of faith, their lifelong adventure into the grace of God and the God of grace.

Closely linked with divine drama in Balthasar’s theological system is the communication of truth. And there’s certainly an abundance of this commodity to be found in Medjugorje. Its messages coincides and dovetails to a remarkable degree with what John the Baptist proclaimed in the Judaean dessert. In fact, the general Medjugorje message virtually amounts to the Gospel according to the Gospa (Croatian name for Our Lady).

Finally, Medjugorje’s message is shot with divine beauty – another key idea in Balthasar’s thinking. To apply it to Medjugorje, we canny say that beauty is abundantly manifest in that little favoured corner of Yugoslavia. It is in the hills, the fields, the stars that look down, the soft winds that blow across the plains. It is in the faces and hearts of those gracious people who live there. It is in the faith and prayer of the pilgrim throngs. It is in the vast Eucharistic assemblies and the haunting Slav hymns. It is in the patient lines of penitents seeking absolution. It is in the myriad of Aves that rise day and night.

Medjugorje’s beauty is, above all, in the glorified humanity and maternal love of Mary. The perfume of her holiness is everywhere. Her presence it is that permeates Medjugorje with “God’s better beauty – grace.”

Fr Richard Foley SJ

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Solemnity of the Mother of God

And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. (Luke 2 :20)

I was reminded by this statement from today’s Gospel reading of the time my wife first went to Medjugorje. It was in 1997. She had travelled there with a friend. I preferred to stay at home.

I met her at the airport on her return. She didn’t ask after the children or how things had been while she was away. Instead, her first words to me were: “Don’t ever tell me there isn’t a God!”

Like the shepherds in the Gospel reading, she had journeyed to meet with the Lord and had been blessed big-time, returning to glorify and praise God for all she had heard, seen, and experienced.

As for me, I pondered all that my wife had said in my heart, and three years later went to Medjugorje. It was exactly as I had been told.

Dear children! I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I want to help you and call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you understand and accept my messages and practice them in your life. Read Sacred Scripture, live it, and pray to understand the signs of the times. This is a special time, therefore, I am with you to draw you close to my heart and the heart of my Son, Jesus. Dear little children, I want you to be children of the light and not of the darkness. Therefore, live what I am telling you. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, August 25, 1993

Friday, December 30, 2016

Resurrecting St Eligius

I’m currently studying the iconography of another Early Netherlandish painting known as “A Goldsmith in his Shop” by Petrus Christus. At one time it was accepted that the goldsmith depicted St Eligius but recent research has suggested otherwise.

However, my findings lead me to conclude that St Eligius does figure in the painting – as well as St Joan of Arc, the French heroine, a cardinal, a king, and a Greek god!

More details at Resurrecting St Eligius

Sunday, December 25, 2016

December Medjugorje message to Marija

Dear children! With great joy, today I am carrying my Son Jesus to you, for him to give you his peace. Open your hearts, little children, and be joyful that you can receive it.

Heaven is with you and is fighting for peace in your hearts, in the families and in the world; and you, little children, help with your prayers for it to be so.

I bless you with my Son Jesus and call you not to lose hope; and for your gaze and heart to always be directed towards Heaven and eternity.

In this way, you will be open to God and to his plans.

Thank you for having responded to my call.

December 25, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Countdown to Christmas

Above is a section from The Census At Bethlehem painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1566. It shows Mary arriving at Bethlehem riding on a donkey. Even this small selection presents much to mediate on.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

St Lucy’s Day

Dear children! Today the Lord permitted me to tell you again that you live in a time of grace.

You are not conscious, little children, that God is giving you a great opportunity to convert and to live in peace and love.

You are so blind and attached to earthly things and think of earthly life.

God sent me to lead you toward eternal life.

I, little children, am not tired, although I see that your hearts are heavy and tired for everything that is a grace and a gift.

Thank you for having responded to my call.

Medjugorje message, October 25, 2006

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Bishop sets record straight on Medjugorje event

Italian bishop Fausto Tardelli has rejected claims that he approved of a recent Medjugorje prayer meeting in his Pistoia diocese.

The prayer meeting had been organsised by the The Sons of Mary in association with Medjugorje promoter Paolo Brosio and his charity Olympics of the Heart which is endeavouring to build a medical facility in Medjugorje.

Brosio had also expressed his appreciation of the bishop on his Facebook page, for giving “a positive opinion” to what the former TV presenter considered “an important prayer meeting”.

Within days after the event, however, Monsignor Tardelli issued a blunt denial to Brosio’s claim, saying he had not been properly informed nor permission asked, and on the information he had received had explicitly expressed some reservations.

The note issued by the Diocese concludes: “As long as the Church has not ruled definitively, [permission] is not granted in any parish church of the Diocese to spread the so-called messages of Our Lady, put statues or images depicting the so-called Madonna of Medjugorje, pray with formulas that call to it, arrange meetings with witnesses or alleged visionaries. They are however allowed pilgrimages, but in private – therefore not as a parish.”

Friday, December 02, 2016

Mirjana’s messages... trend continues

Monthly messages to Mirjana continue to expand.


2016... 12 messages averaging 240 words
2015... 12 messages averaging 220 words
2014... 12 messages averaging 217 words
2013... 12 messages averaging 204 words
2012... 12 messages averaging 162 words
2011... 12 messages averaging 144 words
2010... 12 messages averaging 89 words
2009... 9 messages averaging 85 words

Friday, November 25, 2016

Medjugorje message, November 25, 2016

Dear children! Also today, I am calling you to return to prayer.

In this time of grace, God has permitted me to lead you towards holiness and a simple life – that in little things you discover God the Creator; that you fall in love with him; and that your life be a thanksgiving to the Most High for everything he is giving you.

Little children, in love, may your life be a gift for others and God will bless you; but you, witness without interest – out of love for God.

I am with you and intercede before my Son for all of you.

Thank you for having responded to my call.

Medjugorje message, November 25, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Priests at the service of Medjugorje pilgrims

With his Apostolic Letter Misericordia et Misera published last weekend it is clear that Pope Francis has nixed any doubts about the legitimacy of pilgrimages to Medjugorje and priests travelling there to assist with administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Medjugorje has long been referred to as the “Confessional of the World” because of its renown as a “place of prayer and reconciliation”.

In his new Apostolic Letter issued at the end of the Extaordinary Jubilee Year, Pope Francis said:

“The Sacrament of Reconciliation must regain its central place in the Christian life. This requires priests capable of putting their lives at the service of the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18), in such a way that, while no sincerely repentant sinner is prevented from drawing near to the love of the Father who awaits his return, everyone is afforded the opportunity of experiencing the liberating power of forgiveness.”

Seven years ago, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, a member of the nine-man Council of Cardinals that serves to advise Pope Francis, said about Medjugorje:

“There are certainly strongholds of Confession today. I think particularly of Medjugorje. I dare speak of that because for 28 years it has become one of the greatest strongholds of Confession. Thousands and thousands of people go to Confession!”

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Presentation of Mary

Mary’s presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.
• source:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King

Thou shalt know him when he comes
Not by any din of drums
Nor by the vantage of his airs
Nor by anything he wears
Neither by his crown
Nor his gown
For his presence known shall be
by the holy harmony
that his coming makes in thee.