Published May 6, 2020 A.D.
Today is the third release of a new Medjugorje book. Again, this is the first time this story is being told. Each day, there will be a new chapter released. Each chapter is about a 20 minute read. Spread this to all your friends and family, to your prayer group members, mail lists and all your social media.
· Chapter 1: Turn Back the Clock…
· Chapter 2: Extinguish the Flames
· Chapter 3: Missing the Messages
· Chapter 4: March 18… Trust the Plan
· Epilogue, by a Friend of Medjugorje
Chapter 3: Missing the Messages
Those who have followed a Friend of Medjugorje’s witness translated through his writings from early on, know that, he has given his life to the messages of Our Lady and their propagation. When many in the Medjugorje movement were more involved in organizing conferences and similar events, which served to introduce Medjugorje to many new people as well as brought about conversions, Our Lady was, however, showing him that was not Her plan for him. While the conferences were fruitful and had merit, Our Lady was calling him to give his life to prayer and sacrifice to understand Our Lady’s words and put them into life.
Once, in the late eighties, while in Medjugorje for a month, a Friend of Medjugorje went up Apparition Mountain and Cross Mountain every day, praying for one intention: the grace to understand Our Lady’s messages. It was during this period of time that he began to see contradicting paths that Medjugorje believers were taking. One path, being propagated by many, believed Medjugorje was just another Fatima or another Lourdes. Also, in this time, many were leaving Medjugorje to follow other supposed visionaries, placing Medjugorje in a line, side-by-side, no more or no less important than other visionaries who claimed to also have “a plan for the salvation of the world.” There was a long period of time in which people had grown bored with Our Lady’s “simple” messages from Medjugorje. It was common to hear Medjugorje priests and visiting priests say from the pulpit that all Our Lady was doing was simply repeating the Gospel and that there was nothing new being said by Our Lady than what She had said in Her past apparitions. Messages from other alleged visionaries in other locations around the world were, on the contrary, full of apocalyptic warnings and coming chastisements which drew people through their sensationalism. Today, most of those alleged visionaries have proven to be false voices and when they faded away, many who had first followed Medjugorje never returned. The devil’s tactic had been successful.
A Friend of Medjugorje never swayed from Medjugorje; he never gave his ear to other voices. For him, it went against common sense to think God needed to establish a hundred separate “plans to save the world”,1 especially when often what it did was cause division in prayer groups over what “voice” to follow while at the same time diluting Our Lady’s voice from Medjugorje, the central command post established by God for the salvation of the whole world. Our founder continuously called out warnings not to be swayed by “lying voices,” and drew both praise and resentment for his stance; praise from those who appreciated someone willing to go against the current tide to say what they discerned to be truth, and resentment from those who were putting all their investment into other alleged apparitions. In the end, many Medjugorje centers ended up closing, having lost their bearings as they drifted further and further away from Medjugorje, the source of grace God had established from the beginning. While, under the leadership and strong conviction of a Friend of Medjugorje, Caritas of Birmingham kept growing and prospering. This happened despite constant attacks on him for daring to challenge ideas and beliefs that while popular with many people, were really deceptions from the devil whose aim was to divert as many people as possible from the conversion waters of Medjugorje. But because a Friend of Medjugorje was never trying to win a popularity contest and he was willing to weather the negative consequences that came to him for speaking unpopular truths, those who appreciated hearing the truth, even difficult truths, became loyal followers of Our Lady through a Friend of Medjugorje and these numbers continually were rising.
Regarding the messages of Our Lady, reason, prayer, fasting and common sense gave clear discernment, leading a Friend of Medjugorje to believe that Our Lady would not be giving so many words and messages without a deeper meaning to them. While many today would not admit it, virtually everybody left the messages behind because they believed they had spiritually “outgrown” them, or they were too repetitive, or they said nothing. A Friend of Medjugorje discerned differently. He prayed many years for Our Lady to help him understand the “profoundness” of the messages, as She said in an apparition to Marija in his home:
December 4, 1988
His heart told him that Our Lady was here for a reason, and She was giving words for a reason, and in the message above Our Lady confirmed this to him. Slowly, Our Lady began to show a Friend of Medjugorje how to break open the messages and unlock the beauty, wisdom and profoundness contained within them. He started looking intently at Our Lady’s words and perceiving within them a wealth of knowledge and inspiration that was different from what She had done through Lourdes or Fatima. In fact, he saw that Our Lady was revealing truth in a new way that She had never before expressed in Her other earlier apparitions.
While many were passing over Our Lady’s words as insignificant, a Friend of Medjugorje was deeply struck by certain messages Our Lady had given, such as Her message of May 2, 1982, when She said:
Or, when on August 2, 1981, Our Lady said:
The more a Friend of Medjugorje delved into Our Lady’s messages, the more he recognized the purpose of Our Lady’s coming. For instance, he saw that Our Lady kept referring to a “plan” in Her messages, but never revealed it. Our Lady would say, “pray for the plan,” without giving any indication of what the plan was. A Friend of Medjugorje prayed to understand what Our Lady’s plan was. Finally, on January 25, 1987, Our Lady revealed it:
Our Lady confirmed to a Friend of Medjugorje, that Medjugorje was indeed, different and unique among all Her other apparitions.
Many today who are entering into the Medjugorje world for the first time, come in with the understanding that the messages are important and that they should be paying attention to Our Lady’s words. But, back in 1986 and into the early 1990’s, there was little attention given to Our Lady’s words. From the beginning of the apparitions, great excitement and great yearning for what Our Lady said. In time, it became routine. Then a phase that only the committed villagers sought the message. They were the older people. Then the message went through long periods of little interest even to pilgrims. As the mission of Caritas of Birmingham grew and while a Friend of Medjugorje was forming the Community of Caritas, he deeply imprinted the importance of Our Lady’s messages upon this mission and Community. Whenever Our Lady gave a new message, everything else stopped in the mission until the message was received, printed and sent out. And today, it is the same. Nothing else is more important than getting Our Lady’s words out to the world. This remains the priority of a Friend of Medjugorje, and through him, the mission of Caritas.
The Founder of Caritas of Birmingham Before He Became Known as A Friend of Medjugorje
A Friend of Medjugorje initiated a practice early in his involvement with Medjugorje that has spread worldwide over the years. While promoting the messages is the priority of Caritas’ mission, the foundation of our founder was and is to put the messages into his own personal life and family first, which is also how he formed the Community of Caritas. It is only then when one could promote and propagate the message. Thereby, it is something living and not just ink on paper. One’s live witness brings the message to life in others. Being very practical in how he approached Our Lady’s messages, he began to randomly pick a message to read and live each day, as Our Lady would later confirm:
December 25, 1989
His practice of picking a random message went back to the middle to upper 1980’s. As he did this, he began to see that Our Lady was speaking to him through Her words and the circumstances of his life. He then brought this “way” into the mission and the Community of Caritas—while being inspired how to guide both through the inspirations Our Lady gave in Her words each day.
Seeing success come through Our Lady’s words chosen in this manner, he began to propagate this “way” outside of the mission, but when he did, he was ridiculed, mocked and slandered for doing so. It was ridiculous, many said of him, for expecting Our Lady to speak to someone through randomly picking a message. So much resistance came against him, so much ridicule with the purpose of making him out to be a simpleton for his simple but strong faith in using this method to discern God’s will, that he prayed to Our Lady to validate this “way” he believed She had led him to discover. Within days of this prayer, he was looking for a book to read out of his library and picked out a book on St. Francis. Opening up the book at random, he was amazed to find the story of how St. Francis’ first convert became convinced that God was calling him to join Francis in his way of life of poverty:
Bernard, one of the wealthiest young men of Assisi, became intrigued by reports about one of his peers—Francesco di Bernardone, previously known as something of a dandy and carouser—who had recently aroused wonder, as well as ridicule, by his ostentatious embrace of poverty. His curiosity piqued, Bernard invited Francis to dine with him and spend the night in his home.
During the course of the night, Bernard was so moved by the sound of Francis’ ardent prayers that he confronted Francis the next day and asked his help in discerning God’s will. Opening the missal at random, Francis alighted on the text, “If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all you own, and give it to the poor.” A second time he opened [Scripture] and found, “Take nothing for your journey.” On a third attempt [again, opening up Scripture at random], he found, “If anyone would follow me, let him deny himself.” “This is the advice that the Lord has given us,” Francis proclaimed. “Go and do as you have heard.” Taking these instructions to heart, Bernard disposed of his property and adopted Francis’s way of life.
Undaunted by the persecution, especially after reading about St. Francis, our founder continued to place the messages in a primary position of importance. Through his commitment of constantly lifting the messages up out of obscurity and pointing to them as essential to not only understanding the purpose of why Our Lady is coming to Medjugorje, but essential in living the new life Our Lady is calling everyone to, he started a revolution of the messages, showing that the messages were not mundane, but filled with deep meaning. Now, 34 years later, the messages of Our Lady are seen as having an important part in Our Lady’s plan. It is hard to believe, for anyone who has joined the Medjugorje world in the past 10-15 years that there was a time that Our Lady’s messages were not only seen as unimportant, but, were suppressed or minimized. Many today may find that hard to believe, but that was exactly the case.
History of the Second of the Month Apparitions
A Friend of Medjugorje often urges us to meditate on the time when the messages will stop, when the apparitions will end, in order to lead us to become more fervent in the time we still have with Our Lady. Yet, even so, we know we will all be shocked when Our Lady’s apparitions end. We were all given a preview to this when Mirjana’s second of the month apparitions ended on March 18, 2020. A Friend of Medjugorje was just as shocked and saddened as everyone else. Looking at the history of the messages Our Lady gave on the second of the month, this is what we know:
• On January 2, 1997, Our Lady announced Mirjana would receive an apparition on February 2, 1997, instead of an inner locution. On February 2, 1997, Our Lady changed this permanently. From this day, Mirjana began receiving regular apparitions of Our Lady on the second of every month. On March 2, 1997, when Our Lady appeared, She gave the first message on the day of prayer for nonbelievers.
• But after March 2, 1997 until January 2, 2000 there is no public record of Our Lady giving a message to Mirjana in her second of the month apparitions. We are not sure if Our Lady did not give messages, or if they simply were not made public. Many people who were following a Friend of Medjugorje’s writings through the Caritas Newsletters were contacting Caritas, wanting to know more about praying for nonbelievers, but there was no information to pass along. But then suddenly, on January 2, 2000, at the turn of the new millennium, Our Lady came with a heartfelt cry to Her children:
January 2, 2000
• After this plea and the words, “pray and wait,” Our Lady again went silent with no public record of any messages given in Her second of the month apparitions with Mirjana until October 2, 2002, followed by another gap.
• In 2003 and 2004, there were more messages with gaps between many of them, and sometimes Our Lady would appear but give no message. From 2005 and 2006, the messages of Our Lady through Mirjana were more regular, with fewer gaps between messages.
During all these years, it was very difficult to get a hold of Our Lady’s messages from the second of the month apparitions, even if you were in the village when the message was given. It was not uncommon to have to wait one day, two days, or even longer to get Our Lady’s second of the month message. We would have to turn away hundreds of disappointed pilgrims from the Caritas Mission House without being able to give them the message. “Come back tomorrow,” we would say. “But, we’re leaving the village tonight,” they would respond. It was extremely frustrating and a cause of indignation for a Friend of Medjugorje in seeing how Our Lady’s words were being purposely delayed. There were always people who were seen to have the message in hand several hours after the apparition, but for those not considered to be “in the family of Medjugorje,” such as a Friend of Medjugorje and the community members, Our Lady’s messages were often kept from them as long as possible. Month after month it was the same. A Friend of Medjugorje would direct Caritas community members in Medjugorje to go hunt down the message. Secret alliances had to be formed with individuals in the village to “sneak” the message to us. They did not want to be known as the one giving the message to Caritas because they were afraid of being persecuted by “the powers that be” in Medjugorje.
It was June 2006, when a Friend of Medjugorje was in the village for the Anniversary of Our Lady’s apparitions that he had finally had enough. Having lived through the same scenario for years with Ivan’s prayer group apparitions and messages, he had taken it upon himself to set up an infrastructure to get Ivan’s messages translated into English and then distributed through the Caritas Mission House in Medjugorje—the only place, now for decades, that the prayer group messages are made available for pilgrims. It was being said that the prayer group messages on the mountain were only meant for those who were present at the apparition, and therefore, they shouldn’t be distributed to anyone who wasn’t on the mountain. Yet, some of the most profound messages Our Lady has given over the years have been through Ivan’s prayer group on the mountain. A Friend of Medjugorje knew this was a ruse to diminish Our Lady’s messages. He defied those who suppressed Ivan’s prayer group messages.
When every avenue became closed to him in getting Ivan’s messages, a Friend of Medjugorje instructed Caritas Community members to record Ivan when he relayed the message after the mountain apparitions and bring the recording to a translator who translated the message directly from the Croatian into English. From there, community members went back to the Mission House that same night the message was given, printed the message on special message cards designed by a Friend of Medjugorje, and began distributing them free to pilgrims passing by the Mission House and on the streets of Medjugorje. Many times it was long after midnight before they went home, which was not until the streets were empty. The reaction of the people was surprise and joy that they were receiving the message, and shocked that they were receiving it so quickly.
Since this worked so successfully for Ivan’s prayer group apparitions, a Friend of Medjugorje was undaunted in establishing the same infrastructure to get the second of the month messages out and distributed. But, as soon as a Friend of Medjugorje established a way to get Mirjana’s messages into the hungry hands of pilgrims, circumventing the “circle” of those who did not have to wait for it, “the powers that be” suddenly decided to make Mirjana’s messages more easily available to everyone in Medjugorje. The motivation to give to everyone happened only after many people started coming to the Caritas Mission House when they learned they could get Mirjana’s messages there. Once the messages were finally being made available to “everyone”, there wasn’t a need for community members to have to record and get the message translated. A Friend of Medjugorje said it was a good thing that others took this over, since the Caritas Community was not in Medjugorje during the winter months. He has often commended those who work to get the message out, even if he has sometimes publicly called them out for not being timely about it. On February 2, 2012, a Friend of Medjugorje wrote, after there was a 9-hour delay in getting the message, “February 2, 2012 Message Not Released Don’t Blame Us.” Here is a short excerpt from that writing:
“When a message date approaches, Caritas has preplanned who will be involved and where they will be. On the 2nd of the month in Medjugorje, we are preparing all night. At Caritas in Alabama, we have 4-6 people up at 3:00 a.m., preparing to receive the message, and working on the description and writing to get the message out immediately. It goes out on Medjugorje.com, put on our phone system, and goes out in print through our mailing list. When we are with Marija, no matter where in the world, plans have been made, even days in advance, to have the message immediately sent back to the parish office in 10-20 minutes, to give to the translators who are ready to go to work immediately, and from there a network of communities, Medjugorje Centers and other media programming receive it, who spread it to the whole world… Those responsible after receiving the message first are irresponsible in grasping what this delay causes around the world… There was a snowstorm in Medjugorje, but this does not excuse the delay as contingent plans should always be in the works for whatever happens. The mail runs, despite snow or rain, and this message from Heaven is too important for this laisse quasi approach to get it out…”
Some in the Medjugorje movement, at the time he wrote this, thought he was being a little too hard, but, Caritas, being the largest Medjugorje center in the world, was on the receiving end of the phone calls from people rightfully demanding to get the message.
In the timeline of second of the month apparitions, what we can now see from when a Friend of Medjugorje set up an infrastructure to get the second of the month messages out, and when others took this over, is that from 2007 onward, Our Lady had words for us every month. Was it that Our Lady saw a hunger for Her words and responded accordingly? If She did not give messages before, and was now giving them regularly every second of the month, one would be led to think so. Again, we do not know whether the missing messages were apparitions without messages, or whether Our Lady gave a message and it was never released publicly.
A Friend of Medjugorje has several encounters with the messages being slowed down, suppressed and sometimes efforts to stop them. satan hates Our Lady’s messages and that should be enough to believe these words that there has been serious efforts to stop the messages. A Friend of Medjugorje has been instrumental in many messages being released and preserved. If you are a pilgrim in Medjugorje, the Caritas Mission House is the only place today where you can receive the 25th of the month messages, the 2nd of the month messages, Ivan’s prayer group messages, and the annual messages given to Ivanka, Jakov and Mirjana—all free for pilgrims on beautiful gold embossed keepsake cards.
Our Lady’s plan continued to move forward with Her apparitions and messages to Mirjana on the second of the month, until Our Lady told her on March 18, 2020, that She would no longer appear to Her on the second of the month. It is sad to think of that part of Medjugorje’s history is over, but as Medjugorje has always been called and known as “Our Lady’s School of Holiness”—every school education ends with a graduation. After graduation, every student is expected to take what he has learned and apply it in real life. It is up to all of us to take the lessons Our Lady has taught us over these many years to open the hearts of nonbelievers and lead them out of their darkness into the light and love that is waiting for them through coming to know Our Lady and Her Son.
– Caritas of Birmingham