Thirty-seven years ago today, on 24 (and 25) June 1981, something happened to six young people in Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is alleged that the Virgin Mary began appearing to them, and has been since that time.
That something remarkable happened to these young people, who are now in their 40s and 50s, is unquestionable – the Vatican recently recognized the first seven apparitions of Mary. However the validity of the alleged ongoing apparitions since then has been questioned for several reasons, and investigations are ongoing. Pope Francis’ final decision regarding the apparitions is imminent.
I have read, and am still devouring, several books and articles about the alleged apparitions at Medjugorje because I want to make up my own mind. I am also prepared to fully accept and adopt whatever the final decision of the Catholic Church is, which will be the right one.
I have been reviewing both sides – those for and against the authenticity of the apparitions and messages. While reading such material I have continued to pose the question above to myself and now also to you: is it for real? Is the Mother of God genuinely reaching out to her children, all of us, and begging us to return to her Son? Is she supposedly appearing for the longest and last time on earth, as is being claimed? Or is there something more sinister at work here?
I have decided on this personal thought process as the litmus test: that everything, including our lives and actions, should be judged by its fruits. Are there more conversions and an increase of faith in God as a result of an event (in this case, the alleged apparitions) or an action? Is the event or action causing people to fall away from God instead? Is it bringing harm to people and their spiritual lives? Is it causing division and discord? Is there any scam or money-making involved? Can we sense any trace of evil or the diabolical? Does it sit right in our hearts, souls, and consciences? And most importantly, are the messages purportedly from Our Lady totally faithful to the Bible and the teachings of Christ?
There are so many questions. Discernment which leads to truth is necessary because we need to be prudent.
I am no theologian or Church scholar, but would consider myself to be a logical person. When reading the information I have gathered so far, no red flags have been raised for me as yet. Granted that I have never been to Medjugorje, but I have studied the stories and testimonies of others who have, and who also experienced conversions or the supernatural, including a book authored by one of the visionaries themselves. I have read about the thousands of people who have returned to the Sacraments through Medjugorje which is also called the ‘confessional of the world’.
On the other hand I wonder if the visionaries would lie and, if so, why and how they could keep it up for 37 years. After all, the youngest of the six was only ten years old when the events started. As children and teenagers all six visionaries were persecuted by the authorities and their very lives threatened, as were the children at Fatima. They were studied and prodded by scientists and underwent sanity checks. I have seen mysterious photographs and read about physical and spiritual healings. Conversely, the devil is cunning and able to counterfeit anything in order to confuse, manipulate, and lead souls astray. Is he at the root of false hype or hysteria?
This see-saw of thoughts and emotions is normal. Yet still I return to the common phrase: ‘actions speak louder than words’. We must look at the concrete evidence and outcomes – the fruits.
I want to believe that the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Medjugorje are real. Based on what I have perused so far, I strongly lean towards their validity while retaining some measure of caution and healthy doubt – until we hear what the experts of the Church have to say and the final decision from the Vatican.
Looking at the state of the world today however, I would not be at all surprised if God is once again sending Our Lady to earth to plead for conversions, prayer, love, penance, and peace. Everyone would agree that humanity has gone haywire. Many people have forgotten about and rejected God. Look at attendances in our churches; look at the scale of death and destruction to life and our environment; look at what has happened to our morals and values? I do not think that God can stand it any longer, but despite all this, for love and mercy’s sake He keeps calling us back and gives us chance after chance after chance. This is a time of grace. If the messages of Mary at Medjugorje are to be believed, they commonly and continuously implore us to return to Jesus, repent, and live holy lives.
I don’t know about you. You can make up your own mind. But I say Amen to that.
- Is Rome changing course on Medjugorje? – Catholic Herald
- Vatican delegate: Every indication Medjugorje will be recognized, perhaps later this year – Crux
- Medjugorje; the findings of the Ruini report – Vatican Insider