Our Lady of Medjugorje said on June 16, 1989:
We live in a relatively comfortable world compared to the kind of lives people lived hundreds of years ago. We have running water, sewer systems, air conditioners, heaters, etc. A Friend of Medjugorje has often offered the reflection of what it used to take for a king to enjoy a warm bath. Much labor was needed to haul the water from the creek or the well to the king’s bath tub. Much labor was needed to cut and haul the firewood to light the fire that would warm the water. Because of all the time, labor, and resources it took to have just one warm bath, only a king could do it. Yet we have at our fingertips what kings did not even have. Most people today step into a shower and with the simple twist of a knob, they have a hot shower every day without ever giving it a thought.
How important is penance to Our Lady?
Our Lady said on April 20, 1983:
A story that Medjugorje visionary, Marija, shared with a Friend of Medjugorje about a penance Our Lady requested of a prayer group in the early years of the apparitions sheds light on the reality of the importance of our penance for Our Lady’s plans.
During the course of Our Lady’s Medjugorje apparitions, She has asked for special penances from the visionaries, prayer groups, Medjugorje villagers, and other individuals. In this particular instance, Our Lady asked a penance of a prayer group, conveying that She needed the penance to help Her accomplish a specific intention. Our Lady said She needed them to climb to the top of Cross Mountain one night.
It was winter time. Freezing cold. Dark. The bone-chilling Bora winds that course across the region in the winter time were blowing. When the prayer group started the climb it was raining, turning the dirt on the paths into slippery mud. If you have ever been on Cross Mountain in Medjugorje, you will know that these kind of conditions make it not only difficult to climb, they simply make it dangerous. And yet Our Lady said to do it. To top it all off, it was a school night, and Our Lady told them not to take any flashlights. How many mothers today would ask their children to do that? What would you say if you heard that your neighbor had told her children to do such a thing?
When the prayer group neared the Tenth Station on Cross Mountain, Our Lady appeared and gave a special grace. Everyone in the prayer group got to hear Our Lady’s voice when She told them that the penance the prayer group had done to this point was sufficient, and they could return home without completing the rest of the climb. Our Lady had accomplished Her objective through the penance of the prayer group.
A Friend of Medjugorje said that apparently their willingness to say yes to such a penance was like the effort Abraham made in climbing up the mountain to slay Isaac. While what Abraham did was a much bigger sacrifice than what the prayer group did, the effort of his obedience and his yes parallel what happened with the prayer group – with the cause of saying an obedient “yes,” there is always an effect. In the case of the prayer group, the “yes” had an effect of grace just by their willingness to do the will of God when Our Lady presented Her request for them to go up the mountain. When God asks you to go up the mountain, GO, no matter how hard it may be. A Friend of Medjugorje, on many occasions, has gone up the mountain. The experiences were not pleasant, but they gave birth to a more pleasant life. Our Lady said on July 25, 2017:
Through passing on this story through a Friend of Medjugorje, Our Lady was revealing a teaching about Her call for penance. Penance is necessary. Penance is concrete. Penance is often not as we think it should be. And penance works.
A Friend of Medjugorje incorporated teachings about penance into all the pilgrimage groups he began to lead to Medjugorje as the founder of BVM Caritas Medjugorje Pilgrimages. He taught the pilgrims that the more you push yourself while on pilgrimage, the more you get out of your comfort zone, the deeper you will enter into prayer and your experience with Our Lady. Since the first time he established this teaching about penance on the pilgrim groups, every group that pilgrimages to Medjugorje with BVM Caritas Medjugorje Pilgrimages receives the very same instruction to help unlock the power of their pilgrimage. We see the fruit of this truth about penance manifest in each and every pilgrim group. The discipline of penance lets the spirit be free and helps one conquer the flesh.
After hearing about Our Lady’s call to penance, many still wonder just exactly what they should be doing. We have the examples from history of the saints, and we have the witness of what Our Lady has required on specific occasions. But aside from physical penances, what other kind of penance is Our Lady wanting from us? A Friend of Medjugorje has received private messages from Our Lady through visionary, Marija, and undergone unique and difficult trials that have given him a deep understanding of Our Lady’s message of Penance. He gave a talk in the year 2000 titled, “This is Her Time,” during part of which he spoke specifically about the penance that Our Lady requires of us today. We close this section on Our Lady’s main message of penance with an excerpt from this talk.
An encounter with a Friend of Medjugorje in 2000 – “This is Her Time”:
“The third secret of Fatima, when it was released, said, ‘ We saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand…’ Of course all this is official. This is the secret long awaited for, ‘ …we saw an angel with a flaming sword in his left hand, flashing. It gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire, but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from Her right hand. Pointing to the earth with his right hand, the angel cried out in a loud voice,’ ‘Penance! Penance! Penance!’ ”
Our Lady has said in Medjugorje:
“What does this mean? What do you think Our Lady meant by this penance? Probably everybody has heard of the third secret because we watched in such anticipation. The day before this message was released I was in Medjugorje, and Marija and I were talking about it, and the message that Our Lady gave was June 25th, 2000, a Sunday. And Our Lady said:
“The very next day the Vatican released the third secret of Fatima. And that’s where the angel shouts to the earth, ‘Penance! Penance! Penance!’ ”
“What kind of penance is Our Lady asking of us? This is the real surprise. Lucia goes on and says… the Lord said directly to her, ‘The sacrifice required of every person is the fulfillment of his duties in life and the observance of My law. That is the penance that I now seek and require.’ ”
“This is what Our Lady is asking. Simply that you live your state in life in accord with God’s precepts…”
“The penance Our Lady is asking of us is to live God’s precepts, and somehow, some way, this modern society has been so cleverly orchestrated by satan that we have forgotten those Commandments. Oh, we may know them, but do we live them?…”
“What are God’s statutes? That’s the penance that Our Lady is asking from you, both in Medjugorje, continued from Fatima. I dare say that if a wife lives her duty, her call perfectly, if a father lives his duty, his call perfectly, all the societies across the world and all the problems will clear up. It’s that simple…”
“Are you choosing light in every situation? Do you love God above everything? In your hundred choices a day that you come across, are you choosing God? And I know most of you, really all of us, are not always doing that. It is not that simple. Our world and our society have got us in a choke hold. Check yourself. Out of all the decisions you have to make, ask yourself in every instant, ‘Ok, am I choosing God in this situation? Or am I not?’ Then we can begin to understand that this is penance. This is really difficult.”
[End of an encounter with a Friend of Medjugorje in 2000 – “This is Her Time”]
The other three Basic Messages of Our Lady are explained in greater detail below: