First, Discern for Yourself


In Medjugorje, on June 24, 1981, six young people entered into an experience that has continued nearly three decades later. With their experience, they have drawn men from every continent on the earth to Medjugorje; people from every race, religion, every walk of life, the rich and the poor, the simple and the intelligent, believers and atheists, those known by the world and those unknown. Is the experience of the so-called visionaries real? Can reasonable people accept their testimony? Are the visionaries seeing what they say they are seeing? Can an average person discern for themselves if their experience is authentic?

On October 6, 1986, I was in Medjugorje. It wasn’t my first time. My first opportunity had been in July of the same year, with a pilgrimage group that had first gone to Rome, then to Medjugorje and last to Fatima. We had heard about Medjugorje, and decided immediately to go as a family. Making the pilgrimage, we did not even know if it was possible that the Virgin Mary could really still be appearing there. From the moment I arrived, I was amazed at what I saw. A few thousand people were in the village that seemed to be still living in the Middle Ages. No modern conveniences were available. Many of the villagers still did not have indoor plumbing. But the atmosphere of the place was spiritually charged.


July 3, 1986

The above window was stared at in reverential silence by thousands kneeling in the gravel during the moment of the apparitions. To say that even the air felt electrically charged is an understatement. Those were beautiful, very beautiful days with Our Lady in Medjugorje.

We visited there on July 3, 1986, two hours before apparition time, and then the bus drove us back to Dubrovnik, three hours away. I was moved and was very excited but I did not know quite what to think of it. The next day, July 4, 1986, we traveled back to the old village with a wonder of what to expect. By some miracle, I was able to be present in an apparition, even though only priests were allowed in at that time. That experience in Medjugorje was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I was taken totally by surprise of how powerful grace can be felt in the heart, shaken to the depth of my being. As I came out of the apparition room, my wife and children and some members of my group began to ask me what happened. For some reason, I could not speak for nearly three hours. No words could be spoken. It was as if I lost the power of speech. I wept. All too soon, it was time to board the bus to travel on to Fatima. What was going on here? For what purpose was Our Lady appearing everyday for six years? I had to have the answer.


Being present the day before for the apparition, we saw and were told that only priests who had permission to attend the apparition were allowed. By some divine grace, I was included in their number this day. Marija and Jakov were the only visionaries present for the apparitions while we were in Medjugorje. They are pictured here just as the apparition began. The date was July 4, 1986.

Upon returning home to the U.S., I immediately booked another trip, with Medjugorje the only destination. I wanted to devote my full attention to the experience of this village that was attracting people from every corner of the earth. I was a very serious Catholic at the time. I was very involved in my faith. I knew satan existed and that he had strong powers in the world. I did not want to be deceived.

When I returned to Medjugorje in October 1986, I came with questions. I came with firm belief in the apparitions being supernatural, but could they be of the devil, I wondered? I kept my mind open to objectively look at the experience of the visionaries. If this was not from God, I wanted no part in it. But, at the same time, I was attracted by Our Lady, falling in love with Her. I was moved by the prayer, the impressive conversions, and the physical signs manifesting themselves in the village. Could all this be from satan?

Francesco's Bedroom

From Medjugorje, we flew to Fatima and among many other sites visited, the home of the visionaries Jacinta and Francesco Marto. After being present in a modern day apparition, one could not help but ponder the significance of the lives of the six visionaries in Medjugorje when seeing what has become one of the largest Catholic shrines in the world, Fatima in Portugal. And yet, the simple, plain bedroom of Fatima visionary Francesco, pictured above, points back to the humble beginnings of the three shepherd children who were among so few to ever have such an encounter with the Queen of Heaven.

I was able to be in another apparition on October 6, 1986. I knelt right next to Marija, the visionary, during the apparition. It was very moving to me, but at the same time, I wanted to be sure that this wasn’t a deception. Marija knelt, facing a couch which held all kinds of religious articles to be blessed. Above the couch hung a Crucifix the visionaries looked at as they prayed. When Marija went into ecstasy, I entered into a deep, fervent prayer. I was positioned at the end of the couch, with her next to me, in front of the couch. While Marija’s eyes were gazing upward, oblivious to everything around her, by some impulse, I leaned over in the apparition so that I was face to face with her. I looked right directly into her eyes, concerned this could be satan’s doing. I intensely prayed to God, asking Him to reveal to me if this was truly Our Lady appearing to Marija. During that moment that seems to have been outside of time, I felt something physically move in my body, that I can only describe as something electrical. It permeated me entirely, in a strange way, with physical peace. At the same time I was feeling this physically, a grace hit my heart so strong, so concretely, that I knew in that single moment I would spill my blood before ever denying Medjugorje. When the apparition ended, I knew Medjugorje was more than real. Our Lady is appearing there. I needed no more signs.

Some believe, as I did, instantly. Others believe with time, still others reject the notion altogether. Somehow I knew it was real before I went to Medjugorje. I believed it was supernatural. Yet I’m not inclined to believe such things or follow after so called apparitions. Only later did I wonder during the apparition, “Yes, this is supernatural, but could it be from the devil?” Everyone who goes to Medjugorje has to wrestle with these questions, and determine for themselves, is it real, is it from God? There is no question in my heart, even now, nearly 25 years after my first visit that the Virgin Mary has appeared and continues to appear to these six individuals. Scripture states, “Seek and you shall find, ask and it will be given, knock and the door will be opened.” For millions of pilgrims who have come to Medjugorje, and those who have not been able to come but still believe, the reality of this Scripture has born true in their own lives. They simply believed God would reveal to them the truth of these apparitions, and through their asking, they received the gift of faith. One example among the millions of pilgrims who have gone to Medjugorje is the story of woman who found herself in a crisis of faith on her pilgrimage.

She was troubled while on her pilgrimage in Medjugorje and started having some difficulty in believing in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Just before Communion, she sincerely prayed to Jesus and Our Lady, “Just show me, help me to understand if it is really You, Jesus, that You are truly here as King.” While the crowd was lining up for Communion, as they traditionally do in Medjugorje, and the two lines finished forming, from the other side a priest entered from 100 yards away, holding up the chalice with a Host held just above it. She was struck speechless, as she had just finished her plea to Our Lady to make her understand. She saw the Host majestically carried, with great dignity as due to a king, by a priest wearing vestments. The priest passed before hundreds of subjects who had formed a straight corridor, fifteen feet apart, and the woman watched as the people gave respect and honor that is only due a king. The thought then came to her, “It really is Jesus. This could not be if He were not present.” The priest never stopped, but passed up everyone and came all the way down to the end where she was the only one standing and stood before her with the Host. By then she knew, while others around her did not, that her prayer had been answered and she had received not only a miracle, but the King.”1


When the six young people began seeing Our Lady in Medjugorje, they repeatedly asked Her to give the curious crowds that were growing by the thousands as each day passed, a sign that would prove to them all that the visionaries were not lying, that they were truly seeing Our Lady. Our Lady repeated the words of Jesus, Her Son, that He spoke 2,000 years ago, “Blessed are those who believe who do not see.” In those beginning days, Our Lady spoke often about “faith”. When the Medjugorje visionaries asked Our Lady, “What do you expect of us”, She answered:

June 28, 1981

“Faith and respect for me.”

man praying

What brings millions of people to Medjugorje? Fundamentally, the desire, and many times the need, to experience the truth of our faith. Many of the cynics to Medjugorje would respond that you don’t have to go across the world to experience that truth – you can find it right in your own parish church. To that, we respond, that many had to go across the world in order to discover that truth. But we also say, if you haven’t been to Medjugorje, you don’t know what you are missing. Medjugorje is the spiritual center for the spiritual rebirth of the whole world.

She would eventually require the same from all those who would become Her followers from around the world. And so for those who approach Medjugorje, who wonder what Our Lady is asking of them, what should their response be, the first answer is simply to have faith. Anyone who has an open and willing heart to seek, to ask, to knock…then they will find, it will be given, the door of faith will be opened. This has been the experience of not one, not a hundred, not a thousand, but millions of people throughout the world, throughout the past nearly 30 years since the apparitions in Medjugorje began. It is because of this that I have often said that the tables have turned and that the greater burden lies with those who do not believe and who wish to disprove Medjugorje, rather than with those who believe, to have to prove that the visionaries are truly seeing Our Lady.

We end where we began. People from every race, religion, every walk of life, the rich and the poor, the simple and the intelligent, believers and atheists, those known by the world and those unknown have been to Medjugorje. Is the experience of the so-called visionaries real? Can reasonable people accept their testimony? Are the visionaries seeing what they say they are seeing? Can an average person discern for themselves if their experience is authentic? Millions of people from around the world, from their own individual and varied experiences in and with Medjugorje, discovered that the answer to each of these questions is “yes.” In the face of this magnitude of faith that has compelled multitudes of people to return to the Church, to change their lives, to pray and fast, to become active in living their faith in all aspects of their life, the burden to disprove their experience is great indeed. 
Caritas of Birmingham
Operated by the Community of Caritas

1. Medjugorje 2001-2002 Pilgrimage Brochure, Caritas of Birmingham

6 thoughts on “First, Discern for Yourself”

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  1. Field Angel - Brother Raymond

    Dear Friend Of Medjugorje: – Program On Enraged: – The 20th Century Began THE TOTAL ENRAGEMENT We All See In Todays World! We All Have Begun The EFFECTS; Caused By The LIES Of Gov,t.;Media;Business Selling;School Endoctrination Of Students;High Technology Effects;MODERNISM;Etc.;Etc. – ALL For Monetary Gains Of Materialistic Populations;To Aquire Worldly Goods;And Pleasurable LIVES.! – Weve Been Brainwashed By T.V. Commercials Into Mentally Lusting After Pleasures;And Comforts;For Such Things As The American Dream(‘s);(ers)!;A Long Life;Rather Than A Good Life!The 1960’s Cry Of “Sex-Drugs;And Rock;And Roll Penetrated Many A Mindset!Our Lady Of Fatima WARNED Us Of What Would Happen If Russia Was Not Converted By 1960;And Then All Of This EVIL Havoc Began!Russias ERRORS;As Prophesized;And Russias EVILS WERE Spread Worldwide;(ABORTION);(DIVORCE);(FAMILY BREAKUPS);(FEMINIST REBELLION);Etc.With The Catholic Church Collapsing With Corruption After Vatican II;And Chastized By God As RESULT!

  2. As someone living in the UK, I am very concerned for my fellow Catholics in the States, should Joe Biden become president. Even from this side of the ‘pond’ it is obvious he and Kamala Harris are working for darkness. If elected, I believe Christians would be persecuted and certain freedoms taken away. satan is stirring up trouble in your cities because the restrictions President Trump has placed on abortion are a threat to the evil one. Thank you Caritas for shining a light in the midst of the darkness. We need strong leadership at this time. We need our shepherds to speak out in truth. Over here, there is concern about shepherds not speaking out against a Covid vaccine being produced by Oxford University which uses a cell line from an abortion. The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales said such a vaccine could be acceptable for the ‘common good’ and Catholics could receive it in good conscience. Heaven help us. God bless.

  3. Mt: 24:24 states: “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.” and Mt: 24:22: “And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” Wow! This gospel seems to be coming to pass in our time! So many of my friends and family, who are “good” Catholics seem to be so easily manipulated and brainwashed by the main stream media and the “demoncratic” party. I praise God that the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph have obtained for me the grace to continue on the path of truth. There, but for the grace of God, go I! I thank God for the witness of A Friend of Medjugorje and all of the Caritas Community for guiding us and encouraging us to continue on Our Lady’s way through all difficulty and opposition. May those close to us who are blinded receive the same grace! May we all reach the finish line victorious. Thank you!

  4. Lord’s message is Redemption. Heaven sings at every Conversion. Our Lady’s plan is Conversion of all sinners, to Son’s great Love. Trump sees individuals witness their faith around him now. If we believe in efficacy of Prayer, & Faith Witness, who are we to judge, conversion isn’t happening within the White House at this time. Rosemary, it’s great that your impassioned by your faith & wonderful that you experienced a sign, but there are many who once believed as you do, who recognize now God uses the “Base, the Unlikely, the Caste Away, and the Little” to show the folly of the elite. Some examples are charming in this manner such as Mother Teresa, while others not so much. Consider God said King David, had a heart unto His, yet David was an Adulterer & Murderer. King Xerxes, is example of a horrible King, used by God. God uses Trump & Left’s mad because they considered him one of them. Medjugorje is Special because of Their Love for Jesus. Be Special By having the same Love!

  5. Thank you for speaking the truth and giving us courage to speak truth. I went looking for the “naughty and Nice” list it is American Family Association site. God bless and thank you Caritas for all your sacrifices.

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