Conversion is the primary overall aim of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Medjugorje. Because this is so, her messages on the topic of conversion also reveal the answers to several key questions concerning Medjugorje, first of all: The scope of these apparitions.
A closer look at the “conversion” messages is all it takes to see why these apparitions, for those who believe, are world history in the writing, in the making. For when the Virgin Mary talks about conversion – leaving sin and selfishness behind for a God-centered, peaceful, prayerful life – it is not in any small scale. On the 2nd anniversary day of the first apparition, she said:
“I thank the people who have prayed and fasted. Persevere and help me to convert the world”. (June 24th 1983)
“To convert the world”. That is the purpose of these apparitions, no less. But instead of going into details of how this (if believed) truly world-changing event of a global conversion to Jesus through Mary will be, the Virgin Mary turned her eyes to the individual believer. All the while explaining that she comes as the spiritual Mother of every human soul, on the same anniversary day she also said:
“The only thing that I would want to tell you is to be converted. Make that known to all my children as quickly as possible”. (June 24th 1983)
A maternal call to collaboration
This is the duality of the Virgin Mary’s call to conversion: The overall goal of converting the world will be brought about by the conversions of individual men and women, boys and girls of this time. To each human being, to each of her children the Virgin Mary extends her hand and offers her leadership through love as the world moves through the birth pangs of the whole new era clearly announced by the Virgin, also known and honored as Queen of the Prophets.
“Dear children, I want to lead you to the path of conversion. and I wish that you convert the world, that your life be conversion for others”. (June 24th 1987)
The Virgin Mary’s call from Medjugorje is a call to collaboration. Having already stated that she was sent by God Himself, little less than three years into the apparitions the Virgin Mary outlined the further structure of collaboration ordained to bring about the coming worldwide conversion to Jesus, indeed: To truly authentic, truly spiritual, peaceful Christian lives lived by everyone, everywhere.
“Little children, I also wish that you all become active during this time that is through me connected to Heaven in a special way. Pray in order to understand that you all, through your life and your example, ought to collabroate in the work of salvation. Little children, I wish that all people convert and see me and my Son, Jesus, in you. I will intercede for you and help you to become the light. In helping the other, your soul will also find salvation”. (May 25th 1996)
To everyone who would like to collaborate with her, the Virgin Mary’s call from Medjugorje is first of all a call to prayer. For every human soul, prayer is prerequisite number one in order to achieve salvation. To the Virgin Mary, prayer is the “fuel” or “ammunition” she needs to lead mankind through this historical period in time:
“I ask you to pray for the conversion of everyone. For that, I need your prayers”. (April 8th 1984)
“Dear children! I hoped that the world would begin to convert on its own. Do now everything you can so that the world can be converted”. (June 1st 1983)
This time: Intensified battle between good and evil
Having early on announced that “A major battle is about to unfold – a battle between my Son and Satan. Human souls are at stake” (August 2nd 1981), the Virgin Mary soon moved on to to talk about the state of the world, indeed: of all human beings – in the light of objectivity through which she sees the earthly life unfold for all her children, every single person on Earth.
In the Autumn of 1984 there was still a long way to go. The picture was dim, but in diagnosing mankind’s spiritual health, the Virgin Mary also gave a main remedy. The prayer of the Rosary, given by the Virgin herself and ever since praised by Saints, Popes and common believers by the millions alike – a beautiful prayer and a powerfool tool against evil:
“Dear children, all the prayers which you recite in the evening in your homes, dedicate them to the conversion of sinners because the world is immersed in a great moral decay. Recite the Rosary each evening”. (October 8th 1984)
Having singled out immorality as a widespread symptom of the current strength of Satan, a very common obstacle on the path of conversion, in later messages the Virgin Mary warned about materialism, too, as holding the potential of luring people away from God, from faith and conversion. This message is but one of several in which the Virgin Mary takes on this theme:
“Children, darkness reigns over the whole world. People are attracted by many things and they forget about the more important”. (July 30th 1987)
The Ten Commandments are valid, establish the standard
The expressions are different, but the author was and is the same: Throughout the years many of the Virgin Mary’s messages from Medjugorje have been reminders and warnings of not only the existence of Satan, but more particularly that the enemy of God and mankind alike is unusually strong in this our time.
Also one of these warnings, the following message is central for another reason, too: It establishes The Ten Commandments as the standard to stick to for anyone who wants to take The Blessed Virgin’s hand on the path of conversion. Measuring ones own behavior and actions in the light of the Commandments is vital for remaining and growing on that path. But there will always be opposition:
“Satan wishes to destroy everything which I and my Son, Jesus, are building up. In a special way he wishes to destroy your souls. He wishes to guide you as far away from Christian life as possible as well as from the Commandments, to which the Church is calling you so you may live them. Satan wishes to destroy everything which is holy in you and around you”. (September 25th 1992)
Quite a bit can be concluded from this message:
(1) Jesus and the Virgin Mary are building up a lot in our time – in Medjugorje alone about 1,5 million pilgrims are expected in 2011 - because the Virgin says that Satan wants to destroy “everything that she and her Son are building up”. This is so because the apparitions in Medjugorje will end Satan’s tightened grip on humanity and launch an era of peace.
(2) An authentic Christian life including a respectful observance of The Ten Commandments is paramount for being with Jesus and the Virgin Mary in their raging battle with Satan, as these two were singled out as Satan’s primary targets. Finally and not least notably:
(3) Living an authentic Christian life in respect for the Commandments makes holy.
Indeed, it is through the ongoing conversions and the growing holiness of still more people, still more of her children, that the Virgin Mary intends to bring about the conversion of the world. For this to be possible, over and over in her messages, time and time again, she has called everyone to personal conversion, that is: The daily attempts at replacing a sinful, unrepenting, self-centered life with the holy, God-centered life called for by the Virgin Mary.
For this to be possible, all influences and repercussions of Satan must be rooted out from the life of the believer. Because:
“I want each of you to live a new life without the murder of all that God produces in you and is giving you”. (March 25th 1987)
Conversion is daily work and attention
Though being in a place like Medjugorje as a pilgrim can initiate a conversion in a person – and indeed has done just that for millions of people – conversion is not a one-time experience. Because conversion is the gradual purification and sanctification of the soul, it must take place every day to be a real process of conversion in the sense that the Virgin Mary is talking about:
“You cannot say you are converted, because your life must become a daily conversion. In order to understand what you have to do, pray and God will give you what you concretely have to do, and where you have to change. I am with you and place you all under my mantle”. (February 25th 1993)
Prayer is paramount for staying on the path of conversion. Where there is no prayer, there will be no conversion because without prayer there is no meeting with God, and without this meeting no convesrion will take place:
“Dear children, today I invite you to decide to give time patiently for prayer. Little children, you cannot say you are mine and that you have experienced conversion through my messages if you are not ready to give time to God every day”. (July 25th 1994)
“Little children, I invite you again to decide for prayer because through prayer, you shall be able to live the conversion”. (July 25th 1996)
How easy or difficult conversion will be is determined from the attitude of each person who sets out on the path of conversion. Six and a half years into the apparitions, the Virgin Mary said:
“Dear children! Today again I am calling you to complete conversion, which is difficult for those who have not chosen God”. (January 25th 1988)
Whereas, two years earlier, the Virgin had said, on a positive note:
“Conversion will be easy for all who desire to accept it”. (January 23rd 1986)
Conversion in the light of the secrets
The Virgin Mary never said when her prophecied worldwide conversion to Christ will come about. But the Virgin has conncected Satan’s coming defeat to the so-called secrets she has entrusted to all of the Medjugorje visionaries – in the first sentence of this very rich and informative message:
“This century is under the power of the devil, but when the secrets confided to you come to pass, his power will be destroyed. Even now he is beginning to lose his power and has become aggressive. He is destroying marriages, creating divisions among priests and is responsible for obsessions and murder. You must protect yourselves against these things through fasting and prayer, especially community prayer. Carry blessed objects with you. Put them in your house, and restore the use of holy water”. (Exact date unknown; reported by Mirjana on November 5th 1983)
According to the visionaries, the arrival of the so-called Permanent Sign will inspire many people to convert. To miraculously come about on Apparition Hill, the sign will be marvelous, beautiful, indestructible – and undeniably sent by God, the visionaries said about the sign, the only secret the Virgin Mary allowed them to talk about to a certain degree. According to the visionaries they will receive ten such secrets from the Virgin. Mirjana, Ivanka and Jakov have informed to have received all ten secrets (and so no longer have daily apparitions) whereas Marija, Ivan and Vicka only know nine secrets (and so still have daily apparitions).
According to Mirjana the Permanent Sign on Apparition Hill is the third of the secrets entrusted to her. But though The Permanent Sign will lead many to convert, the Virgin Mary expressedly warned against delaying ones own conversion until the sign appears on the hill in Medjugorje:
“Hasten your conversion. Do not await the sign which has been announced for those who do not believe; it will be too late. You who believe, be converted and deepen your conversion”. (Spring 1983, exact date unknown)
When she was 20 years old Mirjana had an intense apparition during which the Virgin Mary showed her images of the first secret “as if in a movie”, Mirjana relayed. Once more relating the necessity of individual conversion to the Medjugorje secrets, the Virgin Mary said, according to Mirjana:
“Here you have a time of grace and conversion. It is necessary to use it well”. (October 25th 1985)
Since that day in 1985 the Virgin Mary has called our time “a time of grace” on at least 33 more documented occasions. Among the biggest graces, if not the biggest at all, is her daily appearances in Medjugorje during which she blesses the world and all people – and invites everyone to be open to her motherly love, a starting point of millions and millions of conversions:
“Dear children, today I wish to tell you that I love you. I love you with my motherly love and I call upon you to open yourselves completely to me, so that through each of you I may be enabled to convert and save the world, where there is much sin and many things that are evil”. (August 25th 1992)
However, to follow Mary never ends with Mary. Historically and in Medjugorje, too, following Mary leads to God. The message continues:
“Therefore, my dear little children, open yourselves completely to me so that I may be able to lead you more and more to the marvelous love of God, the Creator, who reveals Himself to you day by day. I am at your side and I wish to reveal to you and show you the God who loves you. Thank you for having responded to my call”. (August 25th 1992)
The joy of conversion
Conversion is not meant to be hard work only. It is also meant to be joyful, as experienced by millions of Medjugorje pilgrims. Experiencing this new kind of joy in the heart is linked to living what the Virgin Mary calls a “full” conversion:
“I desire, dear children, to call all of you to a full conversion so that joy may be in your hearts”. (June 25th 1990)
Putting God in the first place in life helps along joy and conversion alike, the Virgin said. The expression and practice of “putting God in the first place” has become commonplace in Medjugorje, and with millions of visitors who began to live the Medjugorje message. The visionaries, particularly Vicka and Mirjana, often include the concept of “giving God the first place” in their talks.
“Little children, when God is in the first place, then you will, in all that you do, seek the Will of God. In this way your daily conversion will become easier. Little children, seek with humility that which is not in order in your hearts. Conversion will become a daily duty that you do with joy”. (April 25th 1996)
Whenever a conversion process is being allowed to go on, to be deeper and still more prayerful, surrender to the Will of God will occur at some point along the way. In another very rich and informative message the Virgin Mary includes a call to surrender among a dozen other remarkable statements:
“Dear children! Today I want to wrap you all in my mantle and lead you all along the way of salvation. Dear children, I beseech you, surrender to the Lord your entire past, all the evil that has accumulated in your hearts. I want each one of you to be happy, but in sin nobody can be happy. Therefore, dear children, pray, and in prayer you shall realize a new way of joy. Joy will manifest in your hearts and thus you shall be joyful witnesses of that which I and my Son want from each one of you. I am blessing you. Thank you for having responded to my call”. (February 25th 1987)
Whereas Faith is the initial spark or impulse that leads man to start out discovering God and His love, the process of conversion is faith in action, faith put into practice. With all that it implies, conversion nourishes and strengthens man’s relationship with God. Gradually each individual who receives the gift and undertakes the path of conversion will be given to perceive and experience God still more clearly, and get to rely on God still more completely.
This, in turn, further strengthens faith and also produces the first fruits of the process, one of them being the joy that the Virgin Mary is talking about. Another one is the fruit of love. And yet another one is the fruit of peace.
Getting to harvest these fruits takes some labour, as does any harvesting. But as with earthly labour, the work of conversion should be joyful. This is particularly true of the habit of daily prayer that the Virgin Mary’s messages repeatedly plead everyone to start nourishing. Prayer is to a process of conversion what water is to a tree: It will blossom and bear fruit when it has enough – but also it will wither and die when it has not.