Sad is Beautiful

“Sad is beautiful,” a wise man once told me. There are few expressions that convey this reality as powerfully as the late-medieval hymn the Stabat Mater (“the Sorrowful Mother”), which speaks about the sadness of Mary during the Passion of Jesus. Friends, as we delve into this sacred season, with the Triduum upon us, I wanted to share this beautiful video that captures the sorrow of Our Lady so poignantly in one of the greatest hymns of all time. May it be useful for your meditation on the Passion in the coming days.

As a Franciscan I am proud to say that the authorship of the Stabat Mater—though debated—is most often associated with the Italian Franciscan mystic and poet Jacopone da Todi, who has given us some of the deepest mystical poetry of the medieval period with his work the Lauds. The English author and scholar of mysticism Evelyn Underhill wrote eloquently of Jacopone da Todi, capturing his spirit with these words:

“One of the greatest and most interesting Italian mystical poets: Jacopone da Todi, the typical singer of the Franciscan movement, the first writer of philosophic religious poetry, and perhaps the most picturesque figure in the history of early Italian literature…this vigorous missionary and subtle philosopher: this poet, by turns crude satirist, ardent lover, and profound contemplative, who can sink to the level of the popular hymnal and rise above that of St. John of the Cross.”

Fr. Gabriele Amorth on Medjugorje

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With the recent news of the passing of Fr. Gabriele Amorth (1925-2016), the most prominent exorcist in the Church, here is a video of Fr. Amorth on national TV speaking about Our Lady of Medjugorje, a topic he was not shy about. Fr. Amorth emphasizes that Satan’s biggest success has been constructing “a world culture without God, and the Madonna of Medjugorje has come specifically to bring back the world to God.” He stressed that Medjugorje is a place of great conversions and where people return to confession.

Help Bring “Apparition Hill” to the Academy Awards

Friends, please help bring Apparition Hill, a life-transforming movie about a group of pilgrims experiencing Medjugorje, to the Academy Awards. When I saw the film, months ago, there was not a dry eye in the theater it was so powerful. Please watch this video of one of the producers, explaining the situation of getting the film to the Academy Awards and allowing it to reach millions of people. If you are able to contribute to this important project here is the Web site to go to.

Our Lady’s Message, November 2, 2013

“Dear children, anew, in a motherly way, I am calling you to love, to continually OurLadyofMedjugorje3pray for the gift of love, to love the Heavenly Father above everything. When you love Him you will love yourself and your neighbor. This cannot be separated. The Heavenly Father is in each person. He loves each person and calls each person by name. Therefore, my children, through prayer hearken to the will of the Heavenly Father. Converse with Him. Have a personal relationship with the Father, which will deepen even more your relationship as a community of my children – my apostles. As a mother I desire that, through the love for the Heavenly Father, you may be raised above earthly vanities, and may help others to gradually come to know, and come closer to the Heavenly Father. My children, pray, pray, pray for the gift of love because ‘love’ is my Son. Pray for your shepherds that they may always have love for you as my Son had, and showed by giving His life for your salvation. Thank you.”

Our Lady’s Message, August 25, 2013

“Dear children! Also today, the Most High is giving me the grace to be with you and to leadMedjOurLady you towards conversion. Every day I am sowing and am calling you to conversion, that you may be prayer, peace, love – the grain that by dying will give birth a hundredfold. I do not desire for you, dear children, to have to repent for everything that you could have done but did not want to. Therefore, little children, again, with enthusiasm say: ‘I want to be a sign to others.’ Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Experiencing Medjugorje & Heaven’s Sense of Humor: Judy Pellatt’s Story

Judy Pellatt is a Titulaire of the Hospitalite Notre Dame de Lourdes and worked voluntarily in the baths at Lourdes for 25 years before ill health prevented her carrying on and she finally stopped in  2005.  The following year, quite out of the blue, a thought came into Judy’s mind. She wondered: whatever happened to Medjugorje? Judy had heard about Medjugorje very early on but had put it to the back of her mind as her association and work with Lourdes deepened. She decided to do an internet search and discovered to her amazement that the events in Medjugorje were still happening. She had to go—simple as that, and by the following May, she was in Medjugorje.

Judy had an introduction to Medjugorje that few people have, experiencing in the process God’s amazing sense of humor, as Heaven smiled down on her. In her own words, here’s Judy’s testimony:

MirjanaJudy

Judy Pellatt with visionary Mirjana Soldo, in front of Mirjana’s house

“My first visit to Medjugorje was in late April 2007. I arrived knowing very little but aware that Mirjana had her monthly apparition on the 2nd of every month. On our first full day, our guide took us up Apparition Hill but strongly suggested that as a storm was approaching, we didn’t stay but make our way back down as quickly as possible. It was very much a case of “Hello Our Lady, goodbye Our Lady, I‘ll be back.” I was one of the first to descend and decided that I could probably make it back before the rain set in. However, I couldn’t remember the way we had come and promptly set off in the wrong direction.

I had only gone about a hundred meters or so when the rain began to fall quite heavily. I remembered having passed a house with a little archway at the bottom of the drive and so decided to walk back the 50 meters or so to shelter there. I didn’t think the owners would mind as I wouldn’t actually be on their property and anyway, it would only be for a few minutes until the rain passed over.

So I took up position under the arch and scanned the skies to try and guess which way the clouds were coming but couldn’t. The rain just got heavier and heavier and the sky darker and darker and more menacing. After about fifteen minutes I began to get a bit scared. How was I going to get back?  I looked at my watch, it was 5.40pm. So I said to Our Lady, “You are going to have to help me, I have no idea how I’m going to get back. Please send me a taxi or something.”

Within a minute, a man came out of the house, got into a big 4×4 car and reversed down the driveway. I stood aside to let him pass. He wound down the window and asked me if I was going to the church and would I like a lift. I accepted gratefully and got in. He was listening to Radio Mir and the rosary was nearing completion so I didn’t say much at first. After a few minutes he asked if I knew whose car it was. I thought what a bizarre question. How could I possibly know whose car it was, so I said “No.“

He then said, “I am the husband of Mirjana and you are sitting where she normally sits.” I looked at him in utter astonishment and uttered a rather high pitched “ohh!” As I regained my composure, the conversation continued and he told me how they had been in England the previous year. As we neared the church the rain was lashing down out of the heavens and the thunder and lightening was something else. He knew lots of people en-route and waved at them all. Afterwards, I thought they probably thought I was Mirjana. I do have blond hair but short not long!

He dropped me off and I thanked him profusely and said what a pleasure it was to meet him and promised to pray for Mirjana. As I walked away a thunderbolt hit the spot where he had stopped. I had no idea of the significance of 5:40pm nor did I know it was Mirjana’s house. I asked Our Lady to “send me a taxi or something” and she sent me Mirjana’s husband. If that wasn’t an answer to prayer, I don’t know what is!!!!

As a postscript to this story. The following year I stayed with Mirjana in her house as part of an American pilgrimage group. She kindly posed for a photo and it was only much later I realized that the backdrop was the little arch I had sheltered under the year before. Heaven has a sense of humor!”

Editor’s Note: in 2014, Judy will be celebrating 30 years as a Carmelite Tertiary. She has been given permission and is working on setting up a Medjugorje prayer group in her parish in England. I thank Judy for sharing her story!

Fr. Jozo: “Do not be Afraid. Our Pope Loves Medjugorje”

Benedict!!With our beloved Holy Father’s resignation, which was officially undertaken today as he stepped down from the Seat of Peter, a question has been lingering for many of the faithful: what will happen with Medjugorje?

Pope Benedict XVI did so much to fight for Medjugorje, from his days as a cardinal to his papal actions in establishing the international Vatican Commission to examine the apparitions objectively. I recently came across a beautiful homily by Fr. Jozo Zovko, who confirms that Pope Benedict XVI loved Medjugorje, calling it “a place of prayer. MedjugoFrJozo_5936rje is a place of sacraments, where people seek the sacraments.”

Fr. Jozo, addressing a group of pilgrims — lay people and priests — at Široki Brijeg on October 22, 2007, pointed to a photograph of Fr. Slavko Barbaric, who for many years was the spiritual director of the Medjugorje seers, meeting with (then) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Fr. Jozo explained:

“….in the small picture we see Father Slavko with Cardinal Ratzinger,CardinalRatzingerFrSlavko today our Pope, on an interview about Medjugorje, what our Pope says about Medjugorje as Cardinal Ratzinger. He issued a most beautiful document then that stands to this very day. What does that document say?”

” ‘Medjugorje is a place of prayer. Medjugorje is a place of sacraments, where people seek the sacraments.’ And he asks the priests to be at the disposition of a place of reconciliation with God, asking to respond all the better. The right to determine the supernaturalness was taken away from the Bishops but the observation continues about the fruit of Medjugorje that speak about Medjugorje. And our wise Pope Benedict XVI at that time freed the Bishops before the pressure of the communists and today before the pressure of atheism of us faithful. Do not be afraid. Our Pope loves Medjugorje. The Pope loves you as a pilgrim, as a priest. As a priest when you confess, pray the rosary and live the messages, and proclaim the messages.”

What powerful words from Fr. Jozo — “Do not be afraid. Our Pope loves Medjugorje.” Should we be afraid now that the Holy Father has stepped down and a new pontiff is to be elected?

Of course not.

When we are dealing with sublime matters we must realize that the hand of God is involved, and the Lord will guide his flock, his Church, with a chosen successor. I believe that Pope Benedict’s successor, whoever he may be, will realize how dear and important Medjugorje was to both of his precursors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI; he will realize what an important decision it was to form a Vatican Commission, the first in the Church’s history to examine a Marian apparition site.

The Holy Spirit has been good to us, to the Church, in giving us the grace of Our Lady’s appearances in Medjugorje and in giving us Popes who have, despite much opposition within, fought courageously to protect those appearances, protecting Our Lady’s messages and her continual work of conversion of bringing so many of the masses back to her Son.

Let us continue praying for our Holy Father (emeritus), for his successor, and for Our Lady’s continual work and intentions. Peace & abundant blessings to you, friends!