On August 2nd 1981 the Virgin Mary told the visionary Marija Pavlovic to have people follow her to a nearby meadow for an extra apparition later that day. Once there, Marija told the crowd that the Virgin had allowed them all to touch her. One by one the visionaries showed the villagers where to place their hands.
However, this most unusual experience came to a sudden end when the Virgin Mary’s dress got more and more stained as more people touched her. The visionaries, knowing that the stains were due to people’s sins, cried out loud and called people to go to confession.
By then, 40 days into the apparitions, a wave of confessions had already started. The desire to purify their souls was a part of the parishioners’ enthusiastic response to the Virgin Mary’s arrival in their village. This wave never stopped and so, for many years now, Medjugorje has been known as ‘the confessional of the world’. Every day long lines of people, parishioners and pilgrims alike, are seen going in and out of the confession booths in Medjugorje.
This they do in response to the Virgin Mary’s call to go to confession at least once a month. She has singled out confession as a necessary point to begin for anyone who wants to walk the path of conversion with her:
“May Holy Confession be the first act of conversion for you and then, dear children, decide for holiness. May your conversion and decision for holiness begin today and not tomorrow.” (November 25th 1998)
“Dear children! In the great love of God, I come to you today to lead you on the way of humility and meekness. The first station on that way, my children, is Confession. Reject your arrogance and kneel down before my Son. Comprehend, my children, that you have nothing and can do nothing. The only thing that is yours and what you possess is sin. Be cleansed and accept meekness and humility. My Son could have won with strength, but He chose meekness, humility and love. Follow my Son and give me your hand so that, together, we may climb the mountain and win. Thank you.” (July 2nd 2007)
“One must invite people to go to Confession each month, especially the first Saturday. (…) Monthly Confession will be a remedy for the Church in the West. One must convey this message to the West.” (August 6th 1982)
“Pray, pray! It is necessary to believe firmly, to go to Confession regularly, and likewise to receive Holy Communion. It is the only salvation.” (February 10th 1982)
According to the Virgin Mary (who is viewing everything in the light of God’s eternity), the eternal value of going to confession cannot be over-estimated:
“Whoever has done very much evil during his life can go straight to Heaven if he confesses, is sorry for what he has done, and receives Communion at the end of his life.” (July 24th 1982)
The fruits of confession
The expression ‘to unburden one’s heart’ comes to mind in explaining what happens during a confession. A good, honest, thorough confession, born from evaluating one’s actions, habits, thoughts and neglects in the light of The Ten Commandments, may even be felt on a physical level – as an immediate weight loss of several pounds in the heart.
This is so because a confession is not only a meeting with a priest. First of all it is a meeting with Jesus who authorized priests to absolve people from their sins in His Name. With some priests, the inspiration they receive from above during confession is pretty obvious. But in all cases it is Jesus who acts though the priest:
“Dear children, I invite you to open the door of your heart to Jesus as the flower opens itself to the sun. Jesus desires to fill your heart with peace and joy. You cannot, little children, realize peace if you are not at peace with Jesus. Therefore, I invite you to Confession so Jesus may be your truth and peace. So, little children, pray to have the strength to realize what I am telling you. I am with you and I love you. Thank you for having responded to my call.” (January 25th 1995)
The peace of heart and mind experienced after a worthy confession springs from the liberation that takes place. Using God’s gift of freedom as a jumpboard to sin makes man incapable of experiencing God and receiving gifts and graces from Him. Sin blocks, but confession liberates:
“Dear children! Open your heart to God’s mercy in this Lenten time. The Heavenly Father desires to deliver each of you from the slavery of sin. Therefore, little children, make good use of this time and through meeting with God in Confession, leave sin and decide for holiness. Do this out of love for Jesus, who redeemed you all with His blood, that you may be happy and in peace. Do not forget, little children: your freedom is your weakness, therefore, follow my messages with seriousness. Thank you for having responded to my call.” (February 25th 2007)