Faith

Leading more people to have faith in God and strengthening the faith of those who already believe is a primary purpose of the Virgin Mary’s apparitions in Medjugorje. According to a message she gave as early as the third day, the strong faith of the local people was the reason why the Virgin chose Medjugorje to be the site of these lengthy apparitions:

St. James’ Church in Medjugorje dominating the landscape by the time the apparitions began. According to an early message, the Virgin Mary chose to appear in Medjugorje because the faith of the locals was strong. By that time the Christian faith of the villagers had survived 400 years of Turkish rule as well as 40 years of Communist oppression

“I have come because there are many true believers here”. (June 26th 1981)

Within the first week of the apparitions alone, on several occasions the Virgin Mary talked about the vital importance of faith. From the earliest days the Virgin’s call to faith was equally addressed to the visionaries, the ordinary people, and the local priests. The visionaries asked her what she wished from each of these groups. The answers were fundamentally the same:

“Have them persevere in the faith and protect the faith of the people”. (June 27th 1981, addressing the priests)

“That they remain strong in faith and that they help you”. (June 28th 1981, when asked what she wished from the priests)

“That people believe and persevere in the faith”. (June 28th 1981, when asked what she wished in general)

“That those who do not see believe as those who see”. (June 28th 1981, when asked what she wished from the people)

“There is only one God, one faith. Let the people believe firmly and do not fear anything”. (June 29th 1981, addressing the people)

“You will be able to, my angels. Do not fear. You will be able to endure everything. You must believe and have confidence in me”. (June 29th 1981, asked if the visionaries would be able to endure the persecutions from the ruling Communists)

The prominence of faith

Colleen Willard suffered from an inoperable brain tumor and several other severe illnesses when, on September 3rd 2003, she was healed and stood up from her wheelchair in St. James’ Church in Medjugorje. According to the Virgin Mary, a firm faith is the most important for the sick who pray for their healing

The next message was given in response to questions from the visionaries about a number of sick people who had asked them to recommend their intentions of a cure to the Virgin. Yet from the entire corpus of the Virgin Mary’s messages from Medjugorje it follows that the first sentence of her answer to the sick applies to more than the sick:

“”Without faith, nothing is possible. All those who will believe firmly will be cured”. (July 24th 1981)

On the cusp of 1982 the Virgin explained why faith is so vital:

“Faith is the foundation from which everything flows”. (December 31st 1981)

“The most important thing is to believe”. (1983, exact date unknown)

When faith takes on concrete expressions such as prayer and fasting, the Virgin Mary has described how something powerful is in the making. Not because of any power of man, but due to the power of God. The contribution of man consists in  his allowing God to act in his life. The beginning of this contribution is faith:

“The more you believe firmly, the more you pray and fast for the same intention, the greater is the grace and the mercy of God”. (August 18th 1982)

The Virgin Mary’s coming and the crisis of faith

In 1982-83 apparitions were being reported not only in Medjugorje, but elsewhere, too, in the then-Yugoslavian province of Hercegovina. A good half year into the apparitions at Medjugorje, the visionaries asked the Virgin Mary why this was taking place. Compared to particularlly the Western part of the world, people’s faith was always strong in Hercegovina. Yet still the Virgin Mary lamented:

Nicknamed “The smiling visionary” and “The Smile of Medjugorje”, Vicka Ivankovic-Mijatovic has been instrumental in leading thousands upon thousands of people to faith. They have all been attracted by the supernatural joy she radiates. In Medjugorje the Virgin Mary calls everyone to become the same kind of living sign to a world still wandering in darkness

“My children, don’t you see that the faith begins to extinguish itself and that it is necessary to awaken the faith among men?”. (January 21st 1982)

Later the Virgin Mary elaborated on this message, and made it more concrete. In the last two sentences she sums up a long range of messages describing the very special nature of the times we are living in:

“God does not have a hard heart. Look around you and see what men do, then you will no longer say that God has a hard heart. How many people come to church, to the house of God, with respect, a strong faith, and love God? Very few! Here you have a time of grace and conversion. It is necessary to use it well”. (October 25th 1985)

In the early days of the apparitions the Virgin Mary told the visionaries that not even a very big sign, repeatedly requested by the seers, would have the effect that they hoped for:

“My sweet angels, even if I were to leave the sign, many people will not believe”. (July 21st 1981)

The Virgin Mary never called the visionaries, nor anyone else, to preach for people without faith. Not even as teenagers in the 1980s did the visionaries try to convince other people that their apparitions were real. The Virgin Mary’s approach always was a different one:

“Do not impose your faith on the unbelievers. Show it to them by your example and pray for them”. (February 2nd 1990)

Earthly happiness and eternal destiny both depend on faith

 

In what could be called her missionary statement, the Virgin Mary linked a truly happy life to having faith in God:

“I have come to tell the world that God is truth; He exists. True happiness and the fullness of life are in Him”. (June 16th 1983)

Seven years later the Virgin Mary confirmed this message by viewing things from the opposite angle:

“You will not have happiness on this earth, neither will you come to Heaven if you are not with pure and humble hearts and do not fulfill the law of God”. (February 2nd 1990)

Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo during an apparition. Her special call, entrusted to her by the Virgin, is to pray for people who do not believe. This is also the purpose of Mirjana’s apparitions on the second day of each month

In the Autumn of 1981, according to the visionaries, the Virgin Mary showed Heaven, Purgatory and Hell to all of them (except for Mirjana and Ivanka who prayed to be spared from seeing Hell). In later messages the Virgin Mary talked about how all human beings choose their eternal destiny already while on earth. Because Hell is an eternity of separation from God, she said that people without faith are already living the condition of Hell. In getting used to this condition, they are preparing Hell for themselves:

“Men who go to Hell no longer want to receive any benefit from God. They do not repent nor do they cease to revolt and to blaspheme. They make up their mind to live in Hell and do not contemplate leaving it”. (exact date unknown, reported by Mirjana on January 10th 1983)

As early as August 2nd 1981 the Virgin Mary outlined the times we are living in as a time of major battle between her Son Jesus and Satan. “Human souls are at stake”, the Virgin added. Later she told the visionaries how a strong faith is among the most important weapons in the battle she was talking about:

“If you would be strong in faith, Satan would not be able to do anything with you. Begin to walk the path of my messages. Be converted, be converted, be converted”. (April 5th 1984)

“You who believe, be converted and deepen your faith”. (Spring 1983, exact date unknown)

First comes faith, next comes conversion – the second main theme of the message of Medjugorje.