Evening Mass Homily on June 24, 2021 July 6, 2021 St. Maria Goretti Dear Family of Mary! Today I want to share another homily given in Medjugorje during the 40th Anniversary Celebrations. This homily was given from the perspective of one of the local people who was there from the beginning of the apparitions. A local boy who became a Franciscan priest! Fr. Miro Sego!! Fr. Miro shares from the perspective of someone who was present from the beginning of the apparitions, someone who grew up with the visionaries and has been present for the past 40 years. But he shares with a deeply spiritual perspective. It is a privilege to hear him speak words of thanks and praise to the Gospa! International Mass Homily by Fr. Miro Sego Thursday, June 24, 2021 Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist 40th Anniversary Celebration Dear Brothers and Sisters, In this celebration tonight, when we gather in this place of Our Lady, in her Shrine, we wish first of all to give thanks to God and to the Queen of Peace for these 40 Years of Grace; the Grace that has been poured out in this place, the Grace that has been poured out on all those who throughout these years have been coming here. Mary, in her Hymn of Praise, has been singing with her whole heart how God has looked down upon His servant in her lowliness, how the Almighty has worked marvels, how His promise protects Israel – remembering His Mercy, the Mercy promised to Abraham and his sons forever. We all, Brothers and Sisters, have been included in this Canticle of Mary, in this Hymn of Praise, in this Project of God throughout these years. Because God, exactly 40 years ago, this very day, sent her, the Queen of Peace, to this little, unknown place which God has looked down upon with His gaze, and to which God has given a special Grace. It was this place that God visited by sending Mary, the Queen of Peace. And in this way, this place has become one of the most famous places on the globe. God sends the one whom He had looked upon once, she who was little and humble, she who in her Canticle sings about the great deeds that the Lord had done for her. Brothers and Sisters, He sent her so she, today, with her gaze could penetrate deeply into our afflictions, into our misery, so we today could take her as our intercessor and our teacher and pray to her that she might give us eyes that would be light for the truth, that she may (make) well our gaze before everything that pollutes and stains and bedraggles human souls. That is why, dear pilgrims, Brothers and Sisters here in Medjugorje would like to share the joy of our faith that we reveal in the truth, that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, today is very much present in this place, that she is the one who gathers us, encourages us to the Life in Jesus Christ and to the Life in His Gospel. I believe, Brothers and Sisters, that each one of you in your families, has your own family album. Every one of our families, I believe, has a little book, you could say, where we keep all those photographs. And in that way, we keep memories of important events; maybe of individuals or of the entire family, too. So, in those little books, we can find various pictures, maybe the Baptism of our children or grandchildren, maybe the celebration of the First Holy Communion, of Holy Confirmation, of weddings – all those events, birthdays of members of our families. In the same way, different pictures of when we were having funerals, or perhaps, we can find various photographs of journeys and trips, places that we visited, but also we can find some other occasions that are connected to our life or the life of our families. We know that we keep memories there. This is the book that you take out only in different situations, in different encounters. In a special way when we wish to share time with our friends, then we will show them parts, or the moments, or the memories. There in those books we have photographs of important events. Therefore, Brothers and Sisters, in this encounter tonight; my dear friends, my dear parishioners, dear pilgrims, all of you who are present here, all of you who are spread all over the world; together with you I wish to open the book of events that our heart holds, as well as many memories that are there in the albums of our souls, of our love. Tonight, I am opening before you, and I am sending, and I wish to share the album about Medjugorje and the Queen of Peace. I was born in a village, in a village where all of our visionaries were born. I grew up with the Visionaries in the same graveyard, in the same yard, in the same playground. We visited the same church. We shared many things that were common in our everyday life. That is why today I wish to remind you about our album where we have the events of these 40 years. Those are photographs that were sealed in the memories of us, of our village, of our parish, of our Hercegovina, of Croatian people, of Europe, and of the whole world. The First Picture, the First Photograph: The Visionaries – six children; two boys, four girls. On the outside, they are no different than the others. They had been chosen. They were set before us. They were placed before the whole world; and for 40 years, we lived the history of heaven and the human camera that has been taking photographs of them ever since 24th of June, 1981, up till this day. Heaven, the Queen of Peace, chooses them for one of the greatest acts in our generations. Our Dear Heavenly Mother, Queen of Peace, Thank you for our visionaries! Their eyes are able to look at what is denied from us today. Their eyes look at your face. We listen and we look at them and they are passing on your words. They describe your beauty. They are moved and they showed your tears. Thank you, Our Mother, because you have chosen them. Somebody said that they wouldn’t be chosen for someone’s projects because they are so different and in many things they were the group that you couldn’t put together. And you have chosen them. As a Mother you called them by name: Ivanka, Vicka, Mirjana, Marija, (James, Jacob) Jacov, and (John) Ivan. Dear Visionaries, Today, from the depth of our hearts, we congratulate you for this anniversary. We thank you. We thank your families who in these 40 years were with you, who have been living, and still live everything that you were going through. And just as you, they were at the disposal to millions of pilgrims. The Second Photograph: Our Village, Bijakovici, and the Parish of Medjugorje. We will all admit, you are no longer the same. Our fields are nearly all given the disposal to pilgrims. Our old homes completely changed. Our old homes no longer fit these new events. So many pilgrims were seeking for accommodation, a roof over their head, and we were sharing with them both bread and the table, and the home, and the church, and our time. We were grateful in all of this time, because they prayed with us. We were amazed because they ate with us and they were with us. That is how we all here, parishioners, we gained new brothers from the far world; and they, as pilgrims, they gained the rich experience of our prayer, of our faith, of our Christian simplicity. This valley in Hercegovina, Brothers and Sisters, was filled with prayer, with hymns, that even Heaven accepted, that Heaven confirmed. Even though there were many foreign Christians, pilgrims – there were much more of them than of us – yet, we never lost our identity, our language, or our family. If we were not able to protect these fields from becoming hotels and pensions for pilgrims, we were able to preserve our faith, our traditions, and celebrations of our feasts. We were able to maintain our families. We raised children and raised sons that will be protecting the messages of Our Lady and Our Lady’s Medjugorje. My Dear Parishioners of Medjugorje and Bijakovici, As one of you, I am here before you at the altar, and I wish to invite you to fidelity. I wish to invite you to humble gratitude for everything that Our Lady, Queen of Peace did and gave to us. It is our task and our duty to protect these Holy Hills that were touched by Mother, where millions of pilgrims have been stepping on. We are responsible for everything that has been happening here, that is happening here. Our hearts, from the very beginning, were open to Our Lady, to her words, and to her plans. She surrendered those plans to us, and it is up to us, jealously, to protect those and to pass them on to young generations. Let us not forget, my Dear Pilgrims, my Dear Parishioners of Bijakovici and Medjugorje, that the church from the whole world is kneeling here in your village. The whole church is kneeling on your rocks just outside your home; therefore, you need to respect and appreciate that gift. Today, with all of your heart, give thanks to God for that. The Third Picture, the Third Photograph – the Church, and the Area around the Church. This sacred space of the parish church of St. James, this ground has been filled with so many prayers. This space has been consecrated and cleansed with the blood of our martyr, Fr. Križan Galić who was killed in a bed by bomb. And that blood shed and consecrated not just the parish house, not just the church, but the entire parish. The space around our parish church has been cleansed by the martyrs’ death of other Hercegovinian Franciscans Martyrs. Those who come from this parish, or those who were at a service in Medjugorje. Dear Brothers and Sisters, my Dear Parishioners, my Dear Pilgrims, This church before we stand today, this church is our cradle. It is our home, it is our clinic, it is our pharmacy. This is exactly at this place and this space, all those who were seeking for a cure and remedy found that here. In no other places, they were not able to find a cure, and here we received it from Our Mother, Queen of Peace. Starting with the Franciscans who were martyrs, the priests, and all those who were building this church and monumental cross on Cross Mountain; from the priests, parish priest – Father Jozo, assistant priest – Father Stanko without knowing, without being aware of that, but you, Mother, were preparing us for the encounter with Heaven and Earth. And exactly this day on June 24th, 1981, Our Lady started her program that thrilled everyone. Even though it was a great surprise, there was much more Joy and Gratitude because the Queen of Peace came to us. Therefore, before all of you present here tonight, I would like to express gratitude to all parish priests throughout these 40 years, as well as to all parish assistant priests, to all of the nuns, who were an important chain and who endured a very heavy burden in pastoral care of millions of pilgrims that visited this parish. They were the extended hands to all of the pilgrims in the project of the Queen of Peace. The Picture Four – Pilgrims. My Dear Parishioners, They are not here because of us. They came to us. We are here because of them and we need to serve them and really act towards them as our greatest friends. God gave to us both wine and grappa so we would be able to toast to them and say to them, “Welcome!” God has given us Grace, that on our grounds the entire Church is confessing; that in our Shrine, every knee bows down and adores our God. Every pilgrim, therefore, is invited and given to us. Just like the mother is responsible for the given child, in the same way, we are responsible for every pilgrim. Those pilgrims were given to us so we would teach them, as a mother, to speak and to pray, and to praise God, to talk to Him; that each one of our hearts may be wide and deep, that we may learn, teach everyone how to love, because we are one Church and one Family. Dear Pilgrims, We know what God and Our Lady have been asking from us to do to you. So many times we did not do that; our selfishness prevented us and really we were not able to make a step towards you. Today, on behalf of all of our parishioners, I ask you to forgive us. I ask for your pardon; forgive us, for we have scandalized you so many times and given you such a bad example so many times. Forgive us when we do not have time for you, when we did not have time to pray with you, to go to Holy Mass with you. Picture Five – the Queen of Peace. Our Dear Mother, You said, “I have chosen this parish.” And we have chosen you, too. We were patiently enduring all injustice, humiliations, and insults of so many journalists, politicians, and other enemies of these apparitions and of this place. It is hard to forget all those dramatic moments that were taking place in the first days of Our Lady’s apparitions. It is hard to speak about all those afflictions, all those obstacles that the Communist government gave the Franciscans, the Visionaries, the Parish, all people who were coming here. No one could have imagined what was to happen and how the events would continue. When the Communist regime was broken, the persecutions did not stop; rejections in the parish of Medjugorje did not stop. They still continue. In a human way when we observe everything that has been acting against these events, everything should have been stopped long ago and forgiven. However, despite all of that, the Hamlet of Bijakovici with the Hill of Apparitions of Medjugorje, with the Cross Mountain, lives and attracts more and more people from all over the world. All of us who believe that God sent Mary to help the world so the world would find its Peace, we have much reason to praise God with all of our hearts, with all of our souls, and with our entire life. We are all aware, and we all know, how many of those who knelt down humbly in Medjugorje before confessors and sought in repentance for sins by the power of God’s Mercy for their wounds to be healed, forgiveness of their sins, and ultimately their Peace. There are countless people who have discovered Jesus’ presence in the Holy Sacrifice of Holy Mass and returned to the Eucharist. Countless people have experienced in Medjugorje for the first time, and in that way they discovered what it means to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. There are countless people who have been climbing Cross Mountain and they encountered Divine Love that suffers for all, and they were returning ready to carry their life crosses for Jesus, and in that way, to find their peace in their suffering. Countless people on our Hill of Apparitions – the place of first apparitions – for the first time they said the Rosary, and they felt the beauty of this simple prayer. Our Dear Mother, Our Dear Mother who has chosen this Parish, and these Parishioners, Throughout these 40 years, we have remained faithful by receiving your messages. I know that as people in these 40 years, we also felt a certain fatigue. Unfortunately, maybe in our families, today we speak so little about you. The fervor of the family prayer that was so strong, that resounded outside our homes, as if that disappeared. Today, we pray so little and so shortly, Holy Bible and Fasting are hardly mentioned. Tonight, on behalf of all of these people of our parish, Our Dear Mother, I ask you, forgive us for those moments when our ears were shut and our hearts were closed. But what rejoices us is that you did not give up on us. Yet, you continued as a Mother to invite us, and to encourage us, as a Mother, by saying to us, “Dear Children, Thank you for having responded to my call.” Our Mother, I surrender to you tonight, and I consecrate and place under your Motherly mantle, all of these people gathered here in Medjugorje, as well as all those who in Medjugorje found Peace and found Joy in their hearts, found the desire to live, and who, because of these new circumstances, are not able to be in Medjugorje. Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Parishioners, Dear Pilgrims, These pictures, photographs from the album, and many others that have been deeply printed in our hearts, in the memories throughout these 40 years, all those are reason that tonight, we can Praise God! And from the bottom of our heart, we can say, “Thank You, Our Dearest Mother, for the 40 Years of Grace!” Amen! Click here to watch the Mass In Jesus, Mary and Joseph! Cathy Nolan (c) Mary TV 2021 P.S. Thank you to Stefanie H. for transcribing this homily!! Bravo!!