Papal Envoy Archbishop Henryk Hoser invites us to “…sign up for some of the seminars here in Medjugorje so that you would be able to discover something that you wouldn’t be able to dream about.”

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Archbishop Henryk Hoser – Papal Envoy to Medugorje.

Yesterday I watched a very positive press conference from Medjugorije given by Papal Envoy to Medjugorje, Archbishop Henryk Hoser.

Archbishop Hoser is not there to comment on the authenticity of the apparitions. His role in the investigative commission is to focus more on the pastoral side of things.

First of all he spoke about the pastoral Initiatives now and for the future to tend to the needs of the many pilgrims who come and will be coming to Medjugorje. He spoke of the many “positive fruits” that have come, and continue to come from Medjugorje.

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St James’ Church in Medjugorje.

“Not long ago, Medjugorje was not very well known.  It was just a little place between two hills which is the meaning of the name “Medjugorje”. Today, Medjugorje is know throughout the whole world. Pilgrims are now coming from about 80 countries from all over the world.   The significance of this place we can compare to Lourdes.  2.5 million pilgrims are coming here, in Lourdes there is 6 million people who come but that has been here for 150 and Medjugorje only 36 years.  It is a time to make a first estimate and for the future growing of this place.  Why so many people coming here?   On one hand they have surely heard about the apparitions in Medjugorje taking place since 1981 on the other hand, those others who are coming are experiencing something extraordinary.”

“First, the atmosphere is an atmosphere of peace and reconciliation, and of inner peace and peace of the heart.  Also what they discover is a huge space for profound religion and spirituality.  They rediscover or discover what something sacred and Holy means.”

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Priests line the front of the crowd during Medjugorje youth festival.

“In Medjugorje they encounter sacred time and sacred space.  That sacred means specially reserved for something that is divine.  Usually it says that Medjugorje is the place where we honor our lady and that is the truth.  But if we look deeper we will see that actually it is all completely turned to worshiping Christ.   For instance at the center is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, transmitting of the word of God, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, where one discovers the real presence of Jesus Christ and his Divinity and Character.”

“Some discover the prayer of the Rosary that is meditative prayer on the mysteries of our faith.  And when they pray the way of the Cross they enter into the pascal mystery which is the mystery of passion death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

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People queue for the Sacrament of Confession in some of the 61 confessionals in Medjugorje. The queues are regulary 10-15 people deep.

 

“I would like to conclude this with a question of the Holy Sacrament of Confession with the personal and personalized Sacrament.  From the religious perspective, Medjugorje is a very fertile ground.  During the pervious years we noticed and counted 610 priests with vocations that came from medjugorje with the greatest number from Italy, the US and Germany.  When we are aware of crises of Vocations in those countries then we can see that there is something new, something that can touch us in a profound way.  If we look at the distribution of Holy communion, which is the only way we can keep track of the number of pilgrims arriving here, then we can see there were were 37,000,000 Holy Communions that were administered  pilgrims here since 1986 to today.  And we can say that the number of pilgrims is greater because not that all those who come can receive Holy Communion.”

“When it comes to evaluating events in Medjugorje we should differentiate different areas.  The first area is the parish.  The parish takes care of people who live here people who work here and parish is already and then the number of those living in the parish has increased.”

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Confession in Medjugorje.

“The parish in the previous century that built the way of the Cross on Cross Mountain was the parish that accepted Medjugorje.  The story of the parish of Medjugorje that was written is also the phenomenon of the visionaries.”

“The second belongs to the pilgrims.  Up to 2.5 each year that come and that number is also growing.  Of course it is a huge challenge for priests who serve here and this phenomenon has grown to include  the current infrastructure that needs to respond to the increase in pilgrims.”

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Crowds often exceed 10,000 during outdoor Adoration in the summer months.

“The Chapel of Adoration, and the huge space in the back of the church was all added in time according to the amount of pilgrims that were coming here.  On the other hand we see the development of this place. There are more and more hotels, and shops that reminds me a lot of Lourdes already.  It might not be widely known but Lourdes is the largest hotel town after Paris. Maybe that is the future of Medjugorje in relation to Sarajevo.”

“The population is growing and what else is growing is the possibility of accommodating pilgrims.”

“The third area,  In Medjugorje there are various humanitarian organizations and there are about 30 of them. Some are from Medjugorje with their roots here and some who have been founded other places who live here so that they could live the Phenomenon of Medjugorje.”

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Sr. Elvira who founded the Cenacalo – a place where young men and woman can come to recover from drug addiction and prostitution and rebuild their lives based on Rosary and Eucharist.

“There have been things that were created here that were initiated from Franciscans like Mother’s village.  It is worth visiting because it is about watching someone’s life in those difficult faces with orphans who have difficulties, addicts, men who are there because of drugs, because of alcohol and those who are disabled.”

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Medjugorje international seminar for Priests.

“That is an expression of an act of love that is related to the faith.   There is another thing that is very important and that is Domus Paces which  is the house for silent retreat and spiritual exercises.  We have more than 1000 to 2000 groups that have passed and more that 42,000 participants over these years.  Those type of spiritual exercises transform people from the inside.  And the seminars are yet another fruit of the Parish of Medjugorje.  The seminars that are held each year and take place once a year already for 23 years  are seminars that are open to everyone. And for 22 years it is exclusively for the formation of priests. For 17 years there is the seminar for married couples and for 4 years seminars for Doctors and medical professionals. Last year first year we had pro-life seminar that was organized for the protection of human life.  And there is one for those with disabilities.”

“I would like to recommend to you to sign up for some of the seminars here in Medjugorje so that you would be able to discover something that you wouldn’t be able to dream about.”

Please visit http://marytv.tv/ to see the full press conference.

For pilgrimages please visit http://www.nationalmedjugorjemovement.com/

The BIG Rosary

 

 

A very sweet priest friend of mine was kind enough last month to give me a giant rosary.

I tried hanging it on the wall, but my husband said it made the house look like we were living in a convent so I had to take it down! Then it kinda just hung around for a few weeks until suddenly my tiny brain had a brainwave – “Let’s actually pray with it, like, together!!” (Sometimes I wonder how God can possibly put up with my unbelievably slow grasp of His utterly obvious plans.)

So that’s what we now do most evenings. The baby can’t join in yet because she just eats the beads and distracts the other two. But the older two love the BIG rosary and join in just fine. We say 1 decade together and try to all move along the beads in a clockwise motion otherwise there would be a ‘prayer collision’ between decades 2 and 3! It’s a really nice way of praying together as a family.

My kids know the prayers of the rosary because they have grown up watching and listening to me saying it. It is second nature to them, even if they do fidget, giggle and occasionally thump each other during the Our Father! Tonight was even more special because Daddy decided to join us. 

If you would like to learn how to pray the Rosary in your family try the Interactive Rosary.

Our Lady Queen of Peace pray for us.

St. Joseph, patron saint of husbands and fathers pray for us.

St Dominic Calaruega, receiver of the most Holy Rosary (feast day today 8th Aug) pray for us.

St. Dominic of Silos, patron saint of hopeful mothers pray for us.

I’m becoming a Carmelite!

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I’m not going to go into the long and drawn out story of how i got to this point in my life, other than to say that I didn’t realise there was a name for what i experience, and that name can be condensed into one word – Carmel. For those who understand no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, I’m afraid no explanation is possible. My heart has been in Carmel since i was 4 years old and it has taken my spirit 30 long painful wrenching years to catch up! But now it seems I can be whole again and it is time for me to take my first few steps into the home i knew was out there and have been desperately searching for my whole life.

This week i was enrolled with the brown scapular (to find out more about the brown scapular click here). Look at my big happy face! 

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It will take around 6 years in total before i can make my final profession as a secular carmelite and I would ask you now to pray for me as i start this incredibly exciting new part of my life! 

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That is all i will say for now other than if you want to know who made my beautiful brown scapular – it was my amazingly patient and kind friend Lynne and you can see more of her work here.

The closer one approaches to God, the simpler one becomes.”  ― Teresa of Ávila

“Lord, I am not worthy…”

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Remember on Maundy Thursday when Jesus told me “…let people see my relationship with you…”?

Well, I guess I’m gonna tell you a bit about it now. Can you hear the hesitation in my voice? I’m shy about this. Really shy. That is because it is the deepest most personal relationship I have with anyone in my life. Seriously, it would be easier for me to reveal the secrets of what goes on in my bedroom rather than the secrets of what goes on in my heart (not that anything particularly secret goes on in my bedroom – we still have the baby in our room because there is nowhere else to put her!).

An-y-way…

Me and my son were at the vigil Mass on Saturday evening. I was having difficulty concentrating and so was he. I was plagued by the thought of something I have been really struggling with recently. I’m not going to tell you what it is, but it is not good. I constantly go to confession about it. I am struggling with it. It makes me feel guilty and rubbish – like I’m the worst person in the world. And I just could not get it out of my brain.

I have never spoken so sincerely as when it came to the words just before communion “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” I know I’m not worthy. I really know it – especially at the moment, with this particular struggle I’m having. It seems that the closer I get to Christ the more I am acutely aware of my own sinfulness. This is especially a problem when I approach Jesus in Holy Communion. I beg our blessed Mother to help me receive her Son well. I just kept saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, please forgive me. I know I’m not worthy to approach you.”

Quite often my heart burns while I’m in the line waiting to receive Him, but this time something different happened: Right after I said the “Lord, I am not worthy…” part, I was aware that Jesus was with me. He was all around me, in me and through me. He was everywhere in the Church but alone with me at the same time. I know Him. This is not the first time. My heart burned. He said to me “Don’t think of it as you coming to Me, it’s Me coming to you! I still want you.” He then reminded me of all the times in the Gospels when He invited Himself round to the houses of sinners to eat dinner!

The Eucharist is the same principle: It is not me going to Him, it’s Him coming to me. He desires me. God desires me!

Excuse me while I have trouble processing this information! Of course looking at it theoretically I know that I am made in the image and likeness of God etc, etc, etc. But when He comes to tell you Himself it is quite different. Despite my sinfulness, my struggles and my constant faults and failings, I know I am forgiven and I am loved. OH!!! His mercy breaks me! It BREAKS me! His gentleness totally floors me and His love is there to catch me. I am a tiny baby in His universe sized arms. And He looks at me and smiles, because He delights in me. His desire for me is greater than my desire for Him – if that could even be thought possible? Our endless infinite love affair continues…

So there we go. I said it.

 

You’ll never find a Liberal Catholic in Medjugorje.

While the Vatican mulls over the findings of the third and final commission on Medugorje, we have to sit and wait.

There are plenty of people for and against Medj, but one interesting point struck me recently – You will never find a “liberal” Catholic in Medugorje. By “liberal Catholic” i mean people who consider themselves Catholic AND… Pro abortion, Pro women priests, Pro re-marriage etc…

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Believe me, you wont. From all the people i have met there on the 4 trips i have made, and from all the people my mum has met on the 18 trips she has made, there has not been one. 

In all the Medj prayer groups, meetings, days out, tour operators, Facebook friends, twitter, blogs – you name it, i have not come across one.

Why is this?

My Medjugorje Trip, Day 3 - Thank God for Confession!

Medjugorje International Youth Festival

Medjugorje International Youth Festival

Is it because the idea of fasting does not appeal to them? Or perhaps it is the fact that with 61 permanent confessionals and many, many other open air confessions, Medj is the largest confessional in the world. Perhaps it is the fact that Adoration is attended in the summer months by over 10,000 people longing to open their hearts and fall deeper in love with Jesus through the Holy Eucharist. Maybe it is the call to reject sin and turn back to God – this wouldn’t sit too pretty with a few of their ‘ideals’. It might be the constant instruction to pray the rosary that is happening round the clock in every language you can think of. Or it might just be the fact that Holy Scripture is being opened up to people through the Priests on a level they can understand – many for the first time.

Or perhaps they just think that all of the above is all a load of old mumbo jumbo?

I dunno – it must be something…? But i can tell you this – Medjugorje is a liberal free zone.

The Incredible Sulk

 

My prayer this new year was “Lord, teach me to suffer well…” I’m not kidding – that is what i actually asked for (stupid, stupid woman…!)

So, for the last couple of months i’ve been having a pretty hard time for one reason or another. We all get times like that right? When you are getting the living daylights kicked out of you from all sides of life it never comes in a nice ordered fashion does it? It comes as several massive bombshells all at once.

Well, i’ve been coping pretty well (or so i thought) until a few weeks ago when i started letting it get to me and then fell into the most incredible sulk. Since then I have been officially hosting my own mega pity-party for the last 3 weeks.

I wake up, i look like this…

by lunch time i look like this…

 

 

by dinner time i still look like this…

 

 

and i go to bed looking like this…

 

How can a 34 year old woman possibly get into this terrible state? I’ll tell you why shall i? Shall i? SHALL I???

EVERYBODY gets enough sleep, APART FROM ME!

EVERYBODY gets their pre-pregnancy figure back within weeks of the birth of their 3rd child, APART FROM ME!

EVERYBODY gets to work on their computer without constant, CONSTANT, interruption APART FROM… (wait someone’s calling…) ME!

EVERYBODY has a perfect marriage APART FROM ME!

EVERYBODY has perfect, well behaved children who do not push their mothers to the brink, APART FROM ME!

NO-ONE has to visit the terror dentist 5 TIMES in 2 months, APART FROM ME!

NO-ONE ever feels lonely or depressed or worried or overwhelmed or completely rubbish, APART FROM ME!

EVERYBODY gets to go to ROME to watch the double mega Pope canonization, APART FROM ME!

You get the picture.

(Notice that so far in this post i have mentioned myself 21 times, my children 2 times, my husband once and the Lord once.)

It was time to face it – i was having a 3 month long tantrum. Time for me to go stand in the naughty corner…

 

I repeated my new year prayer: “Lord teach me to suffer well, because all i have been doing is suffering badly and its getting worse. I can’t take it anymore…”

“Clare, it’s not about you. Praise Me while you suffer.”

WHATT???!! Another cryptic answer i didn’t want to hear. Why would i want to praise God during times of suffering? Suffering hurts. It sucks. It sucks big time. I don’t like to suffer. Why does God allow suffering anyway…?

This is why. Suffering achieves stuff. But suffering on it’s own is useless unless it is done with Love. Christ suffered for us on the cross, but wouldn’t it also be true to say that He never loved us more that when He was hanging there dying for us?

Love and suffering go hand in hand. For the Christian, they are inseparable. This is another major feature (apart from personal relationship with Jesus) that separates Christianity from other world religions. It is a mind boggling, mysterious, wonderful paradox.

When we accept it out of love for Christ, our suffering becomes a gift. It is a gift to us that we can accept with love and then offer it back to God as a gift to Him. (I am not saying this is easy to understand.)

In this way we actually get to participate in the redemptive suffering of Christ. 

And i’m not just talking about the big stuff like having cancer, losing a child, or a failed marriage. I’m talking about stuff like not getting your own way all the time, not taking out your tiredness on your husband and kids, and accepting that following Christ with real love means that you don’t get to do stuff that other people do a lot of the time because He wants you to be doing other more important things at this point in your life.

Giving up meat on a friday each week is easy peasy lemon squeezy compared to giving up your own personal life ambitions, to stay home and change nappies right? It gets us all in different ways.

We do it out of love.

So what about the “Praise Me…” thing? Well i had no idea what this meant (as usual) and i had no idea of what i was doing (as usual) but that evening i decided that bedtime prayers with the kids was going to consist of singing. ONLY singing.

“Gloria! (clap, clap) Gloria! (clap, clap) in excelsis deo!…”

“Ave, Ave, Ave Maria!…”

“Gospa Mijka Moya” and Zdravo Kraljice Mira (“Mary you are my mother”, and “Hail Queen of Peace” – Croatian)

and finally… “Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising…!”

The kids loved it. Dancing all over the room – purposefully jumping on and bursting the balloons we blew up for the Canonisation earlier in the day! Singing at the tops of their voices. It was one of the loudest most raucous prayer times we’ve ever had and it was great!

And do you know… I feel much better now. Try it for yourselves… I know you grump just as much as i do 😉

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5: 3-5

Taking a break…

As you may have noticed I have missed the last few weeks Gospel reflections. Sorry about that. I’m afraid I am just so pregnant now and it is also the start of the summer school holiday for my 7 and 3 year old – along with the fact that we are trying to move house and it is 30 degrees!

I have a 50 inch waist! (that is 4 foot 2 inches, or 1 meter 27 cm !!!!!!!) and I still have 2 months to go!

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I am going to be taking a break from blogging for a while now until after the baby is born.

God bless you all and I’ll see you in a few months!

Clare x

Tenth Sunday – Year C

“…When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her…”

Gospel: Luke 7: 11-17

11 Soon afterwards he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. 12 As he approached the gate of the town, a man who had died was being carried out. He was his mother’s only son, and she was a widow; and with her was a large crowd from the town. 13 When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized all of them; and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us!” and “God has looked favourably on his people!” 17 This word about him spread throughout Judea and all the surrounding country.

Gospel Summary

From his place among the crowd of disciples and many other followers, Jesus is attentive to another procession that includes a widow, the coffin containing the body of her only son, and the many people from the city of Nain who were with her. He touched the coffin, commanded the son to arise, and gave the son to his mother. The crowd proclaimed Jesus to be a great prophet in its midst, and recognized that they had witnessed the power of God.

Relating the Gospel to our lives today.

Why did Jesus decide to have compassion on this widow and her only son? And why did Luke feel it was important enough to be documented? If we read the passage again we can see there are some similarities between this story and the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The young man who died was his mother’s only son – as Jesus was Mary’s only son. The woman was a widow – Mary was also a widow by this point. Both stories end with the son no longer dead. This miracle was indeed a foreshadowing of Jesus’ own death and resurrection – but also of the compassion He would demonstrate to His own Mother (who would also become a childless widow) when on the Cross he entrusted her to John to take care of for the rest of her life.

This story also points out clearly the fact of Mary’s perpetual virginity. There are some non-Catholics who argue that Jesus had sibling’s – which is of course not true! – But how do we know this for sure?

Luke uses the Greek word “monogenes” meaning “only-begotten”. Jesus is also described as “monogenes” in John’s Gospel. Also, there was no social security in the time of Jesus. A widow would have relied solely on her children to provide for her. A childless widow would have had to beg for money and food. During the crucifixion, Jesus entrusted His disciple John to take care of Mary. Why would John have been asked to do this if there were biological siblings available to do the same job? If she had other children, she would not be able to devote herself 100% to Jesus (and to us). Her perpetual virginity is a commitment to us as much as anything. She truly is our Mother.

We can also see now why Jesus felt so moved with compassion for the widow in Nain. He recognized in her, what His own Mother would soon be facing.

  • Do I know anyone who is old and lonely?
  • How can I show compassion to this person?
  • How do I want to be treated when I am old?

Dear Jesus,

Help me to be compassion to those around me, as you were compassion to the widow at Nain. Help me to understand people’s circumstances without judging them. Help me to remember those who are lonely or have no family to care for them.

Thank You, I Love You Jesus, Amen.

Corpus Christi – Year C

“… And all ate and were filled…”

Gospel: Luke 9:11-17

11 When the crowds found out about it, they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured. 12 The day was drawing to a close, and the twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away, so that they may go into the surrounding villages and countryside, to lodge and get provisions; for we are here in a deserted place.” 13 But he said to them, “You give them something to eat.” They said, “We have no more than five loaves and two fish—unless we are to go and buy food for all these people.” 14 For there were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, “Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each.” 15 They did so and made them all sit down. 16 And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. 17 And all ate and were filled. What was left over was gathered up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.

Gospel Summary

Jesus continued to teach the crowds that had gathered until late in the day when his disciples came to him and said that Jesus should let the crowd go so that they might find food and a place to stay. Jesus told the disciples to feed the crowd themselves, but they knew it would be impossible because they only had five loaves of bread and two fish among them. Jesus instructed the disciples to divide the people into groups of fifty. Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, blessed and broke them and shared them among the people. Not only was this food sufficient for the crowd but they had twelve baskets of leftovers.

Relating the Gospel to our lives today.

Meal times are so important for families. They ‘gather the group’ together, strengthen bonds, and let us feel part of something bigger than just ourselves. This is the same in our parishes. Being part of a larger group with other families helps us to remember that there are others just like us, sharing the same joys and difficulties that we have. We can find so much strength, joy and comfort every Sunday when we all come together in Jesus’ presence to share our weekly, holy ‘meal’.

The feeding of the 5000 was a miracle. But so is the Mass. In fact it is possible to draw quite a few parallels between the two events. They both involve a large number of people coming together in the presence of Jesus, to listen to His word and to share a meal. At both events the people are hungry – spiritually as well as physically. And at both events Jesus gives the people more than they can ever need – unending sustenance, replicated thousands of times over.

The feeding of the 5000 is a sort of foretaste of the Holy Mass we enjoy today – except of course that the bread we consume at Mass is the ‘Bread of Life’, Jesus Himself. He is the unending sustenance we crave. He is the only thing that can satisfy our hunger, completely and eternally.

  • The greatest hunger in the world today is…
  • Only Jesus can truly and completely satisfy this hunger.
  • How will I feel when I receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist this week?

Soul of Christ, sanctify me                                  

Body of Christ, save me

Blood of Christ, inebriate me

Water from Christ’s side, wash me

Passion of Christ, strengthen me

O good Jesus, hear me

Within Thy wounds hide me

Suffer me not to be separated from Thee

From the malicious enemy defend me

In the hour of my death call me

And bid me come unto Thee

That I may praise Thee with Thy saints

and with Thy angels, forever and ever , Amen