I would like to share with you a fascinating story. The disappointment of losing the All-Ireland minor and senior football finals still weigh heavily on us. Unless you are very young, most of you will have experienced far bigger disappointment in life.
I am writing today from a little town in Bosnia. There was a terrible war in this country at the time when Donegal were lifting the Sam Maguire for the very first time back in 1992. The war came about as a result of the break up of Yugoslavia. An estimated total of 100,000 people were killed, 20,000 to 50,000 women were raped and over 2.2 million people were displaced making it the most devastating conflict in Europe since the end of World War II.
Here in Medjugorje, you will find many women who were widowed from that period. Travel to Mostar, just a half an hour’s drive from here and one can see the physical remnants of mortar shells on many buildings. There are a lot of mysterious stories told about Medjugorje during the war. It is said that that two Russian-made MIG fighter jets were sent to destroy the village. As the pilots approached Medjugorje on a clear and cloudless day, a dense fog suddenly obstructed their vision and they were unable to drop their bombs on the target. One plane went down and the other returned to its base. It is said that the surviving pilot defected from his military unit. In another instance, one bomb fell in a field near the village but failed to explode.
The story of Medjugorje is well documented but I will give you a brief outline of what happened here in 1981. On June 24th Our Lady appeared to six children cradling the Infant Jesus in her arms. The children, four girls and two boys ran away frightened. They returned to the same spot the following day hoping that Our Lady would again appear to them. She did. The children approached and dropped to their knees in prayer. After the prayer she began to speak with the children. This event was agreed to be “indescribable” by those present.
After Our Lady had appeared to them for several days the children were taken to the nearby city of Mostar for medical examinations after which they were proclaimed “healthy.” The chief examining doctor reportedly stated, “The children aren’t crazy, the person who brought them here must be though.” The six visionaries have dedicated their lives to the visions they’ve received and the messages and personalized intentions bequeathed to each. Each has been instructed through their visions to focus on a particular need in their prayers.
These are: Vicka, prays for the sick; Ivan, prays for the young people and the priests; Marija, prays for the souls in purgatory and the nuns; Jakov, prays for the sick; Mirjana, prays for all unbelievers; and Ivanka, who prays for the families.
In addition to the messages, the Virgin Mary promised to confide to each of the six visionaries ten “secrets” on future events, some of which are personal to the visionaries themselves, and some of which concern the whole world.
As of today, three visionaries, Mirjana, Ivanka, and Jakov, report they have received all ten messages, while Ivan, Marija and Vicka say they have received nine each. The six visionaries would eventually each know all ten secrets, but none has fully disclosed them except to announce that they include chastisements for the world and that they will begin during the lifetimes of the visionaries.
As each receives all ten secrets, Mary ceases appearing to them on a daily basis, but appears once a year.
The visionaries have so far revealed only one of the “secrets”: Mary has promised to leave a supernatural, indestructible, and visible sign on the mountain where she first appeared. She said: “This sign will be given for the atheists. You faithful already have signs wand you have become the sign for the atheists. You faithful must not wait for the sign before you convert; convert soon. This time is a time of grace for you. You can never thank God enough for His grace. The time is for deepening your faith and for your conversion. When the sign comes, it will be too late for many.”
It is believed that once all six visionaries receive all ten secrets, Mary will stop appearing, and three warnings will be given to the world. It is expected that many healings and conversions will occur before the warnings become reality. Does this frighten you? Stay close to your faith and it won’t. This particular pilgrimage was booked back in May. I have been waiting long and hard because I know that something wonderful and inexplicable is present here in Medjugorje. I do not have the words because words can not do it justice.
I am with thirty two other pilgrims, most from Donegal but a few from Tyrone thrown in for good measure. As Peter said to Jesus during the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor “Lord it is wonderful for us to be here”.
It sure is. Keeping the faith!