PILGRIMAGE TO REPUTED APPARITION SITE IN SPIRIT OF DEEP DEVOTION AND PRAYER
25]If and when the Vatican rules on the apparition site of Medjugorje, we will strictly abide by that ruling. For now, the Holy See's press office has (twice) stated that priests and pilgrims are free to go there, as long as it is an unofficial pilgrimage (as opposed to a parish trip). Priests are encouraged to go and assist the faithful.
25]We are returning there because we have never seen a place that generates more conversion -- not just a return to Catholicism, or the adoption of it, but a profound, active, devout conversion. A Cardinal in Europe has stated that Medjugorje is responsible for the majority of new vocations in his diocese, and others have said the same. Hundreds upon hundreds of new priests found their calling there, and tens of thousands of priests, along with literally hundreds of bishops, and dozens of cardinals (including Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) have been there. It is not unusual to see between thirty and 150 priests concelebrating Mass there. In September, 5,324 priests distributed 226,500. The Confession facilities are the world's most extensive. In power, we have experienced it alongside Fatima, Lourdes, Guadalupe, Knock, Zarvanytya, and Kibeho.
25]And so we return -- earnestly. We also understand that it has many skeptics, critics, and disbelievers. We respect their viewpoints (and right to discernment).
25]Again, the Vatican -- which is currently studying the matter (and has extensively interviewed all of the seers) -- will be the view we follow. It has removed authority to rule upon the apparition from both the local episcopate, which usually rules on such matters, and a national commission. The report may be complete within the next year. What the Pope will do with it -- whether rule, comment, or remain silent -- is unknown, perhaps including by His Holiness. While John Paul II repeatedly endorsed Medjugorje, and urged bishops to go, along with having a daily devotion to it (as did Mother Teresa), it is the official Vatican view that will count. For now, it is up to individual discernment. "The Vatican has said that dioceses or parishes should not organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje," noted the U.S. bishops news service. "But the Vatican has also said Catholics are free to travel to the site, and that if they do the church should provide them with pastoral services." At least one priest will accompany us.
25]Astonishing healings, signs, and other miracles continue to flow from there. Dozens of millions have now visited. Interesting it is how active Italy has become -- at the same time that the commission weighs the alleged apparitions. A seer has been living there for years, and when other visionaries visit, as they do frequently, thousands or tens of thousands gather; in one village they recently called off school for the day. So many Italians are flocking to the apparition site that they have at times overwhelmed the airport at Mostar, which is being expanded. The Youth Day last summer attracted for than 100,000. Famous sports coaches, models, actors, and politicians (most recently, the leader of the Canadian senate) have visited (often testifying to the graces they encountered). The statue of the Risen Christ behind Saint James Church continues to exude a mysterious fluid (which some say heals and which no one has explained).
25]We go back to pray, and also to investigate. We will be staying near the church downtown this time, for better access. As before, we will hear talks from seers, go up the holy mountain called Kricevac, pray at Apparition Hill and the Blue Cross, and more. We will also have some talks, as time allows, by author Michael H. Brown, who will be leading the pilgrimage. The trip includes seven nights in Medjugorje, with details here.
25]And that's what it should be considered: a pilgrimage, set on spiritual development, not just a religious trip; focused on truly purifying and gaining in holiness. We will discuss these aspects as we discuss the afterlife, the Blessed Mother, healing, and the signs of our times (and what is to come). We are leaving May 29 so that the airfare is substantially lower than in June and the other summer months, and will be organized through 206 Tours -- the largest Medjugorje pilgrimage company (and one of the largest Catholic pilgrimage companies of any kind) in the U.S. and one that is extremely efficient, professional, thorough, sensitive to individual needs, and dedicated to the Blessed Mother. With their help, we have ironed out issues that will streamline and focus the journey.
25]What is occurring there now? What portends to occur in the future?
25]It will be an adventure, as it always is; an adventure on the journey to God.
25][resources: 206 Tours]
25][After note: Private letters between the late Pope John Paul II and a couple in Krakow, Poland, have confirmed, in writing, that the late pontiff had a positive view of Medjugorje and even a daily devotion attached to the site of apparitions in Bosnia-Hercegovina. The letters, dated March 30, 1991, May 28, 1992, December 8, 1992, and February 25, 1994, and addressed to Zofia and Marek ("Z. M.") Skwarniccy, make several references to Medjugorje (in Polish, "Medziugorje") by name. "And let everything be well on the journey to Medjugorje-Rome," wrote John Paul II. "I thank Zofia for everything that regards Medjugorje," the Pope apparently wrote. "I am also going there every day in prayer: I join everyone who is praying there or who derives the call to prayer from there. Today we have understood this call better. In the presence of Archbishop Harry Flynn of Minnesota the Pope said: "Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things are happening at Medjugorje. People are praying there. People are going to Confession. People are adoring the Eucharist, and people are turning to God. And, only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje." Similar testimonies have been related by august figures such as Archbishop Philip Hannan of New Orleans.]