Be reconciled…

Fr Tomislav Pervan was the parish priest in Medjugorje for six years until 1988 and an important first-hand witness to the events that happened in and around the village during that time.

This second of three talks was given by Fr Tomislav at a weekend retreat held at Stanbrook Abbey in January 2003 . Here he tells how Medjugorje is a place of healing and reconciliation between man and God, and how many are changed after visiting the Shrine of the Queen of Peace.

I was there from the first. I tried to explain it in biblical terms. There was nothing new. Everything in the Church has its replica in past times. The Holy Spirit is always present. Medjugorje, for me, was like re-reading the Acts of the Apostles and Revelation. Everyone was opposing it, the chief priests etc, but the Apostles could not be silenced.

So it was with the visionaries – they were taken by the police – and even Fr Jozo and I were questioning them very strongly because of our faith and the communist regime. The visionaries were steadfast in their conviction – “We see Our Lady”. Even their parents didn’t believe them in the first days.

During an apparition, one person asked to touch our Lady, and Our Lady’s clothes became dark because of the person’s sinfulness! This can be compared to the Middle Ages when the people who were building churches were asked to go to Confession first. You can’t build God’s temple with impure hands and heart. This is a good lesson for us. Those beautiful churches took centuries to build. Faith is incarnated in the stones.

Today they are like museums – empty and for sale. Why? Because there is no faith. Our ancestors built churches; we build clinics. They bowed the knee; we exercise our knees. They wanted to save their souls; we want to save our bodies. We need a healthy mind, soul and heart, as well as a healthy body. Our churches are empty but the clinics are full.

When Jesus said to the paralytic, “your sins are forgiven,” no one sees anything, but if you say to the man, “get up and walk,” you see something. Today we look for psychiatrists and psychologists and drugs to make us well, but what we really need is Confession and the little experiences from Medjugorje to heal us.

In a Siberian camp a man, who was not a Catholic, wanted to confess his sins to a priest. When asked why he didn’t go to his own pastor, he replied: “I don’t need encouragement, I need absolution!” (In Medjugorje) people are in tears in the confessional. Jesus is healing people there and they don’t need psychiatrists, psycho-logists and clinics.

In Lourdes we had the spring of water; in Fatima the spinning sun. In Medjugorje we have confession.

On the second day of the apparitions, Our Lady appeared with Jesus in her arms and said, “Peace, Peace, Peace, between God and mankind.” Behind her was a huge dark cross. This is very serious and we are called to listen. “I am here to tell you that God exists.” This was in a country where God was banned.

In Germany, 40% of children aged six to twelve, don’t know the meaning of Christmas. We are scared about five million Muslims, but we are not scared about 20 million atheists! Who will heal the wounds that atheism brings?

Many people came to Medjugorje immediately, even though communications had been cut (lightning had damaged the small local telephone and postal office on the morning of the first apparition), the news spread like wildfire. America had the news the next day.

The physical healings in the early days encourage people to go to Medjugorje. There was a little girl in my Catechism class who had very bad sores. She took earth and herbs from Podbrodo (the hill of the apparition), washed her hands in the mixture, and the sores disappeared!

The reaction of the communist media was like a sign it was true. From the very beginning they were all against it. Satan recognises the truth – he knows that Our Lady is crushing his head. In 1984 the Pope consecrated Russia to Our Lady and the next year, communism fell.

Revolution is not to go out on to the street with guns in our hands, but to find the solution for our own life. Our Lady asked us to repent, convert, pray and have strong faith – and this gives peace. Conversion must come first. Peace and love… Princess Diana had everything except peace and love; Mother Teresa had only peace and love. She found the solution for her life, to serve those on the streets of Calcutta. She always had the Rosary in her hands; that’s the weapon.

The thousands who came to Medjugorje in the early days came against the will of the communists. It was risky to go to Medjugorje. It was forbidden to go on to Podbrodo or Krizevac until June 1983. There were police guards with dogs. They would not even allow the parish to go up Krizevac on Good Friday. The visionaries were taken by the police, but they could not make them change their story.

In July 1983, when the apparitions took place in the small chapel at the side of the altar, I was present. It was very crowded and hot, and the apparition lasted 40 minutes. The visionaries were outside of time and space, laughing sometimes, serious at other times. I asked myself: who can be forced to keep their eyes on one spot for 40 minutes?

In December 1983 I was in the apparition room with the visionaries, and I had given Vicka some questions on the New Testament to ask Our Lady. The visionaries were very serious and were crying. They said they could not ask my questions because Our Lady had revealed a new secret and they were very sad.

In 1984 there was an international retreat for priests, held in Rome, and afterwards 200 of those priests came to Medjugorje. It was a very beautiful time. Bishop Zanic had come to Medjugorje secretly in December 1981, and was convinced it was true. He later made a statement that Medjugorje had done more in three years than 30 years of pastoral work of priests. So many came to Medjugorje and went home renewed.

There is an American nun from Boston, Sr Margaret, who has been to Medjugorje 80 times, bringing groups since 1984! I asked her why she did it as it was such a difficult journey. She answered: “I see people are changing their lives, they become a new creation. If this doesn’t happen, then I will stop, but I always see this change.”

In all the places Our Lady appears, she has a mission from heaven. She has a mission for our day in Medjugorje.

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