Bishop Victor Phalana from South Africa
September 30, 2016
Dear Family of Mary!
“Dear children! Today, I am calling you to prayer. May prayer be life to you. Only in this way will your heart be filled with peace and joy. God will be near you and you will feel Him in your heart as a friend. You will speak with Him as with someone whom you know and, little children, you will have a need to witness, because Jesus will be in your heart and you, united in Him. I am with you and love all of you with my motherly love. Thank you for having responded to my call.” (September 25, 2016)
This week on Fruit of Medjugorje, we have a powerful witness from Bishop Victor Phalana, about Medjugorje and how it impacted his priesthood. He shares from his heart and it is a wonderful example of how Our Lady has created Medjugorje as a place of prayer and conversion. Here is an excerpt from his testimony in the Fruit show, Episode 233. You may want to watch for yourself at this link: https://marytv.tv/?page_id=167
Rosie Zubac interviewed Bishop Phalana. She asked him several questions:
Is there something different about Medjugorje, that encourages conversions?
: Yes the environment is quite different and that is what makes it different. I keep on asking myself, “But why?” “But why?” “But why?” The people who come here (Medjugorje) – you can sense – they are seeking. We realize we are all pilgrims. And we are searching for something. And when you come here, if you are searching you will become a bit more focused and you will give yourself to the experience. And what makes it different is that people come here, and maybe they have had a little bit of preparation. Many of them understand that they are not here so much as tourists but as pilgrims. Many feel that this is a holy place.
And whatever one can say about the apparitions, we all are listening together with the Church, and we are discerning with the Church about the apparitions. But all the popes, from St. John Paul to Pope Benedict XVI to Pope Francis acknowledge that it is a holy place. This is where people come to meet God and encounter God. And this encounter leads to so many conversions. So while there is no conclusion, no conclusive statement concerning the apparitions, the Popes have not discouraged pilgrims from coming because they know that it is a place where there are so many fruits!
Do you also witness this with the people you have accompanied from South Africa, that the fruits are unique?
The fruits are quite unique. I brought an old priest, who is 87 years old, to Medjugorje two years ago. Just before we left [for Medjugorje] he fell sick. But he wanted to come. So we came. We started in Poland with a pilgrimage, and he was admitted there to the hospital. And he came out of the hospital before he was well enough. But he said “I have to go to Medjugorje.” Then he came here, and we took him to Mass, and for just a few spiritual exercises because he wanted to rest.
Then we also took him to the clinic run by the Maltese. And there he met a very young doctor who said to him, “You know I think you are taking too many antibiotics. Then she went down and brought some probiotics, and she said “Please take these.” And then for Mass and the encounter we had to push him in a wheel chair. He was so weak. But when he returned home, he was strong! As I speak, he is celebrating his 89th birthday next month. He is walking straight. He attributes his health to Medjugorje. He says that Medjugorje helped him. He narrates an encounter with Vicka where she held him for 2 or 3 minutes, she prayed with him. And he was sobbing just like a child. And he said that is why God wanted me to go to Medjugorje. And now he is strong. He says he is going ahead with his life.
So for me personally, on my first visit, like any other priest, you go through your own moments of personal crisis where you are wondering, “Am I really called? Is this vocation for me?” You may be 20 years in the priesthood, but the questions still come at certain moments. And when I came here those questions were really going on in me.
So I went to confession, and it was a beautiful experience. You know, for us who are confessors, we also need that moment of confession. After that, we were walking around here and I saw the priest who was my confessor. I greeted him and I thanked him, and I said, “Look, that was a beautiful experience!” And he said to me, “Go to any of the shops here and buy yourself a ring, and bring it and let me bless it for you.” That was about 2005.
I went and bought the ring, and then he blessed it, and in his prayer…I think he was a priest from the United States… he said, “Lord, I pray that your priest may rediscover your love, that it is a covenantal love, that it is a spousal love.” He went on, but I can’t remember it all. But those words I remember from the prayer. I wondered why he wanted me to buy a ring!! (Laughter) Then he said, “This ring reminds you that as a priest you are married to God.”
I said that this was providence. I came here and I didn’t know what to expect. And here I am, and I meet somebody, and he said something that was medicine for my soul. Something that I just needed to know. And when I did confessions here many people kept coming back to me after confession, and they wanted to meet me and they wanted to talk to me. “This confession was different. Your prayer before absolution was clearly saying so much about what was going on in my life. How did you know?” And I would say, “No, no, no…it was just the grace of the Sacrament.” It is the grace of the moment. And so when I was praying for you, I was cooperating with the Holy Spirit in guiding you.”
When you sit there you have to give a little spiritual direction. You cannot just listen and then give absolution. And I am so grateful for the generosity of the priests who come here. There was a time when I had been in the confessional for about 5 hours. People didn’t stop. It went on and on. And I was wishing that somebody could come and rescue me! But this is a ministry that is needed. And I had to go on and do it. It is a moment of grace.
So when I was made a bishop, I had to look at my ring, my Medjugorje ring. And I said to myself, do I have to take it off now, because I will have my episcopal ring! But I said no I can’t, because for me this is not a ring I just bought. This is a ring that connects me to this place in a special way. This is the ring that reminds me of my call, of my vocation. How precious it is.
Even though you may go through a crisis as a priest, go and ask for help. You may ask family and friends for help. But it is not better than Confession. Yes, ask for advice and spiritual direction, but you can’t run away from Confession. And Medjugorje reminds us of that.
That is why I say, this is a blessed place. It is a beautiful place. When I was appointed bishop, I had just come from a pilgrimage here. And I said to Our Lady, “Why? Why me?” And up until now I still don’t know, but it is God’s choice and I have to accept it. I was taken to a diocese that had been without a bishop for 2 years and there were some painful things there. And so I asked Our Lady again, “Why me, why now? If you really wanted me to be a bishop, in the heart of your Son, according to the will of God, then why bring me here where I have to pick up the pieces and start from scratch.” And I received positivity, I received peace. You don’t have to worry; you don’t have to be anxious!
Bishop Phalana then shared about the help he got for his diocese from Medjugorje. They now share Mass stipends with his diocese. And we can support Bishop Phalana by going to this website.
Bishop Phalana also was happy to know about Mary TV. He will share about it in his diocese! And he blessed our work!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
©Mary TV 2016