The best fast is on bread and water. Through fasting and prayer, one can stop wars, one can suspend the laws of nature.”
~ Blessed Virgin Mary, July 21, 1982
According to the united testimony of the visionaries, Our Lady on the occasion of her apparition gave a series of messages, to be transmitted to the people. Even though there are many messages, they can however be summarized in five themes, because all the messages basically underline or lead up to these five.
Already on the third day, Our Lady stressed peace as the first of her messages: “Peace, peace, peace and only peace!”, after which she said twice, “Peace must reign between God and man and between people”. Considering that Maria could see a cross, when Our Lady gave this message, the obvious conclusion is that this peace comes from God. God, who through Our Lady in Christ became our peace.(Ephesians 2:14)”For He is the peace between us”…This peace, “the world cannot give”(John 14:27)and that’s why Christ commanded His apostles to bring it to the world(Matthew 10:11) so that all men could become “sons of peace”(Luke 10:6). That’s why Our Lady as “Queen of Apostles” in Medjugorje specifically refers to herself as “Queen of Peace”. Who better than she can more successfully convince today’s world, which is faced with the threat of destruction, how great and how necessary peace is.
The second of Our Lady’s messages is faith. Already on the fourth, fifth and sixth day of apparitions, Our Lady exhorted those present to have strong faith. Understandably, she repeated this message many times. Without faith we cannot arrive at peace! Not only this but faith is itself an answer to God’s Word, which he not only proclaims but actually gives to us. When we believe, we accept God’s Word, which in Christ became “our peace”(Ephesians 2:14). Accepting it, the individual becomes a new creature, with a new life of Christ within, and a share in God’s nature (1 Peter 1:4, Ephesians 2:18) In this way the individual ensures peace with God and with others.
Once again there is no one who can better understand the necessity and efficaciousness of faith than Our Lady. That’s why she stressed it on every occasion and charged the visionaries to bring the light of faith to others. Our Lady presented faith as an answer to everything, no matter whatever people were looking for. She presented it as the pre-requisite of all prayer, desires and demands, relating it to health, wholeness and to all other human necessities.
Conversion was another one of Our Lady’s frequent messages. This presupposes that she noticed either a weakness or a complete lack of faith in humanity today. And without conversion it is impossible to achieve peace. True conversion means, the purifying or cleansing of the heart, (Jeremiah 4:14), because a corrupt or ‘deteriorated’ heart is the basis of bad relations, which in turn brings social disorder, unjust laws, base constitutions etc. Without a radical change of heart, without the conversion of the heart, there is no peace. For this reason, Our Lady continually suggests frequent confession. The request is directed to all without differentiation because, “not one of us is just”….”all have wandered, not one does right”(Romans 3:11-12).
Almost daily, from the fifth day of apparitions onwards Our Lady recommends prayer. She requests everyone to “pray without ceasing” just as Christ himself taught.(Mark 9:29, Matthew 9:38; Luke 11:5-13) Prayer, therefore stimulates and strengthens our faith, without which our relationship with God is disordered;-as is our relationship with each other. Prayer also reminds us of how close God is to us even in our daily lives: In prayer we acknowledge Him, we give Him thanks for His gifts to us, and we are filled with a hopeful expectancy of that which we need, but particularly our redemption. Prayer solidifies the equilibrium of the individual, and aids us in our ‘ordered relationship with God’, without which it is impossible to maintain peace either with God or with our neighbour.
The Word of the Lord acquainted itself with all humanity and awaits humanity’s response. It is precisely this which gives prayer it’s “justification”. Our response should be “spoken faith”, or “prayer”. In prayer, faith animates, renews, strengthens and sustains itself. In addition to this, man’s prayer really bears witness to the Gospel, and to the existence of God, thus provoking a response of faith in others.
Our Lady has recommended that this best form of fasting is on bread and water and the best days to fast are Wednesday and Fridays. Already on the sixth day of the apparitions, Our Lady often recommended fasting because it aids faith. That is, the practice of fasting aids and ensures control over oneself. Only the person who can dominate himself is truly free, and is capable of abandoning himself to God and to his neighbour, as faith demands. Fasting guarantees him that his abandonment to faith is secure and sincere. It helps him to free himself from every slavery, but especially to the slavery to sin. Whoever is not in the possession of oneself is in some way enslaved.
With fasting we also retrieve the gift, which creates within us a realistic love for the poor and the destitute, which up to a certain point eases the difference between rich and poor. It therefore heals the wants of the poor and also heals the excesses and over-indulgence of others. And in it’s own way, it gives a dimension of peace which today in a special way, is threatened by the difference in the lifestyles of the rich and the poor.
To sum up, we can say that Our Lady’s messages underline that peace is the greatest good, and that faith, conversion, prayer and fasting are the means by which we can attain it.
Outside of the five messages which, as we have said are the important messages which Our Lady immediately gave to the whole world, she started from the 1st of March 1984, every Thursday, mainly through the visionary Marija Pavlović to give special messages to the Parish of Medjugorje and to the pilgrims who come. Our Lady therefore, outside of the six visionaries chose the Parish of Medjugorje together with the pilgrims who come here to be her collaborators and witnesses. This is clear from the first of the Thursday messages, where she says: “I am choosing this Parish in a special way and I want to guide it.” She emphasized this once again when she said,” I am choosing this Parish in a special way, which is dearer to me than others, where I joyfully went when the Almighty sent me.”(25th March 1985). Our Lady gave a reason too for her choice saying: “Convert, you in the Parish, this is my second wish. In that way, all those who come here will convert.” (8th March 1984).” I am asking you, especially the members of this Parish, to live my messages” (16th August 1984). First of all the parishioners and the pilgrims should become witnesses of her apparitions, and her messages, so that we can then unite with her and the visionaries in the realization of her plan for conversion of the world and reconciliation with God.
Our Lady well knows the weaknesses and the nature of the parishioners and pilgrims with whom she wishes to collaborate in the salvation of the world. She is aware of the need for supernatural strength. That’s why she leads them to the fount of that strength. This primarily is prayer. She ardently and continuously exhorts us to pray. Of all prayer, she especially stresses the Holy Mass, (7th March 1985, 16th May 1985) and recommends continuous devotion to the Blessed Sacrament (15th March 1984). She also encourages devotion to the Holy Spirit (2nd June 1984; 9th June 1984; 11th April 1985; 23rd May 1988, etc.) and the reading of Sacred Scripture (8th Sept. 1984; 14th Feb. 1985).
With these special messages to the Parish and it’s pilgrims, Our Lady wishes that the first messages, which in the beginning were intended for the whole world, are deepened, made more acceptable and understandable to others.
From the 25th of January 1987 Our Lady began to give the message on the 25th of every month instead of every Thursday, through the visionary Marija Pavlović. This still continues today. To view these messages, click here.
Fr. Ljudevit Rupčić
Professor of Theology and translator of Sacred Scripture into the Croatian language
Fr. Rupčić is resident in Medjugorje
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