(c)Mateo Ivankovic 2018
February 19, 2018
Dear Family of Mary!
May 1, 1986 “Dear children! I beseech you to start changing your life in the family. Let the family be a harmonious flower that I wish to give to Jesus. Dear children, let every family be active in prayer for I wish that the fruits in the family be seen one day. Only that way shall I give you all, like petals, as a gift to Jesus in fulfillment of God’s plans. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Today I want to share with you a long but powerful testimony given at the National Conference on Medjugorje at Notre Dame in 1991. It is a testimony by Fr. Gianni Sgreva, the founder of the Oasis of Peace Community. He shares about Our Lady’s presence in Medjugorje in a very important way. He talks about the roots of the phenomenon in Medjugorje, the tree from which Medjugorje is a fruit! Sorry for its length, but, hey, its Lent!
Address by Fr. Gianni Sgreva at the National Medjugorje Conference, 1991
Dearest Brothers and Sisters and dear Friends! “You will recognize them by their fruits.” I see this word of Jesus being fulfilled today in you, in all of us!
Be on your guard against false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath are wolves on the prowl. You will know them by their deeds. Do you ever pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from prickly plants? Never! Any sound tree bears good fruit, while a decayed tree bears bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit any more than a decayed tree can bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. You can tell a tree by its fruit.
I found that it was very important to begin with the reading of this text from the Gospel, because with these words of his, Jesus here points to the plan of this conference itself. “You will recognize them by their fruits.” In this text of Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 7:15 – 20, we find the plan that Jesus wants to give to this conference. The text from the Gospel begins with these words: “Be on your guard against false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath are wolves on the prowl.”
Now the title of this conference starts off from this important saying of Jesus, which has to do with prophecy itself. The fruits of true prophecy will be recognized. Therefore, prophecy – according to Jesus- is the tree, the true tree from which are born the fruits. It is important, then in this moment to establish what might be the prophecy that is confronted in Medjugorje. I have been asked to present a testimony on the new Marian Community, “Oasi della Pace” (Oasis of Peace”). And you understand well that this raises a theological problem – not just a theological problem alone, but a juridical problem alone, but a juridical problem as well, connected with the theological one. And the theological and juridical response derive from the fact the we succeed in understanding what the true prophecy of Medjugorje consists in.
We all know quite well how the events in Medjugorje are still under the judgment of the Church, and the Church is now examining the facts of Medjugorje with great responsibility, with great conscientiousness. I myself spoke with the Holy Father, John Paul II. It was April 14, 1985. The Pope said to me, “Father, I pray every day for a good outcome from the events of Medjugorje.” And July 31, 1985, finding myself in Mostar, I met there the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio in Yugoslavia, Msgr. Francesco Colasuono, the representative at the time of the Holy See in Russia. And he said to me, “Father, Medjugorje represents the event of the century. And we need to study it very well from the theological and scientific points of view.” You know that currently the commission of the Yugoslavian Bishops’ Conference is studying with great competency the problem of Medjugorje. But the work of the Commission is not yet finished, not only because the apparitions are not yet ended, but precisely because the amount of theological work that this examination requires is truly great.
But you all know well about the document that the Yugoslav bishops released April 11 of this year, which documents reads thus: “On the basis of the investigation accomplished until now, it is not possible to affirm that we have to do with supernatural apparitions and revelations.” And after having affirmed this, the Yugoslavian bishops admit the presence of a great fruit, which is Medjugorje itself. When the bishops of a country speak, it is all the particular (local) churches of that country that are speaking. Now, the Church of Yugoslavia, the communion of particular (local) churches of Yugoslavia, have recognized on their own soil the presence of this great fruit. But not only this: from this text it is evident that the bishops have opened the eyes to the entire worldwide movement that surrounds Medjugorje.
What was it then that happened on April 11, 1991? The Yugoslavian bishops, without anticipating the conclusions concerning the events of Medjugorje, have set forth a document with which they have declared that there truly is the presence, both national and worldwide, of the fruit which is Medjugorje. If we are present here during these days for this conference, it is precisely because we put into act for the bishops of Yugoslavia that Medjugorje is a worldwide fruit, in itself.
But pay attention to the language that I used! The bishops admit the presence of a fruit, of a fruit nationally and of a worldwide fruit. But they have not yet spoken of the tree that produces this fruit. And it is from here that the theological and juridical problem is situated. I think that all of you understand that it would be very important to me to clarify the question of the theological and juridical basis of the prophecy that Medjugorje is. A new consecrated family could not be born or recognized in the Church, if the tree from which this new reality comes is not understood. Then, how is it possible that a new community exists of consecrated life within the Church, if the tree is not recognized from which this ecclesial family derives?
On March 10, 1991, the Pope went to Portugal. And before arriving in Fatima, he pronounced these prophetic words. Now there follows, a literal translation of these very important words of Pope John Paul II:
Confronted by the upheavals that shake the different continents here and there, confronted by the insistent rhythm of the subversion of things and of values which undermines the security and even the life of nations, I make my hope that of St. Augustine, when confronted by the attack from the Vandals of the city of Hippo, in response to an alarmed group of Christians from his church who had sought him out. The Holy Bishop reassured them saying, ‘Don’t be afraid, dear children. This is not an old world that is ending. It is a new world that beings. A new dawn seems to be rising in the sky of history, inviting Christians to be light and soul to the world that has enormous need for Christ, Redeemer of man.’
Brothers and Sisters, this is the tree. This is the prophecy. The tree is identified with this prophecy of our Pope John Paul II. “don’t be afraid, dear children! This is not an old world that is ending. It is a new world that begins.”
Brothers and Sisters, this is the solution, the theological and juridical solution of the problem of Medjugorje. We stand not before apocalyptic evil. We stand before a new world whose dawn is arriving! “A new dawn,” says the Pope, “seems to be rising in the sky of history, inviting Christians to be light and soul of world that has enormous need of Christ, Redeemer of man.”
Brothers and Sisters, we must understand the profound significance of these words! We have two great workers in the history of man today. The first worker is the Holy Spirit. The second worker is called “Mary.” However, both, the Spirit and Mary – do not work without the great prophet of the new times, Pope John Paul II. This is the reason, because the Pope is completely connected with the events of Medjugorje.
You may know well, I found myself in the Piazza of St. Peter’s when this Pope began his pontificate. On that day the Pope said to the whole world, to all the social systems, to all political systems: “Open the doors to Christ!” Within a few days it will be ten years since the time when the Madonna in Medjugorje said exactly these words, “Open the doors to Christ! Open your hearts!’
Already in his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, John Paul II spoke of the year 2000 of the Jubilee Year 2000. He said that all the years in preparation for the year 2000 are years of an Advent. Therefore, we are in the years of Advent. We are in the years of the great dawning. We are in the years that are preparing for the coming of the great Sun of Justice – Christ the Lord.
Brothers and sisters, they asked me to speak to you of the Marian Community “Oasis of Peace”. But you must understand well that one can’t speak of this community if he has not within him the story of this Advent. In the encyclical dedicated to the Holy Spirit, Dominum et Vivificatem, the Pope about twenty times invites the entire Church and the entire world to look toward the year 2000, the jubilee year of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. In one passage of the encyclical, the Pope says, “I see all the Church in a Cenacle.” This means that the Church is preparing to be born. And you here during these days are the Church that is being born.
The Pope underwent the attack on May 13, 1981. One month after this assassination attempt on the Pope, you know that these events in Medjugorje began. There have been ten years of profound collaboration among the Pope, Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. There is an important word in the Prophet Isaiah.
Lo, I am about to create new heavens and a new earth;
The things of the past shall not be remembered or come to mind.
Instead, there shall always be rejoicing and happiness in what I create;
For I create Jerusalem to be a joy and its people to be a delight.
This is the time, Brothers and sisters. We are preparing the New Pentecost that Pope John XXIII spoke of already in 1959, the prophecy of the prophet Joel: “Men and women, young and old, from every social condition will prophesy,” said the prophet Joel. These are the words that the apostle Peter took up in his first sermon in Jerusalem. But the Pope has given the prophecy of a new world, of the dawning of the new Church. The Pope represents the Magisterium of the Church. And therefore in the Pope this prophecy already receives its discernment, its authenticity.
Brothers and Sisters, let us be sure; we are in the presence of good fruits, because these fruits are caused by this good tree, which is the prophecy already subjected to the discernment of Pope John Paul II. And this is how the problem of Medjugorje is resolved. Medjugorje itself is not a tree. You know that Our Lady is appearing in many parts of the world, in so many parts that we know and in so many parts that we don’t know of yet. Then Medjugorje itself is a great fruit of a tree already approved in itself by the Church. This tree is the prophecy of the new heavens and the new earth, of a world that will not end, of a world that is beginning in these days of the Advent of the year 2000. Then the trees from which springs forth the great fruit of Medjugorje is the New Pentecost.
The evening of December 4, 1985, I was taking off my priestly vestments in the sacristy of Medjugorje. Marija Pavlovic approached me and she said, “Father Gianni, the Madonna spoke of you this evening.” Immediately I answered, “What did she tell you?” “No, I won’t tell you right away. You have to put yourself in prayer and recollection.” I was left a little upset in the face of Marija’s words. But I agreed to go with her together in prayer the following day. Then Marija gave me the message of the Madonna. Our Lady said: “Tell Gianni that I want to speak to him personally.” I did not believe it. I told her, “If you see Our Lady again this evening, say to Our Lady that Fr. Gianni wants only facts and signs, and few words.” But there was one thing that I liked right away. It came to my mind immediately that Our Lady said my name then.
Both fruits and signs began right away. On June 6, 1986, Our Lady spoke for the second time, because I asked Marija Pavlovic to ask Our Lady if all these signs that I was meeting were coming from her. In fact, Our Lady answered affirmatively. She said now active prayer is necessary, and in the future her Lord would think of everything. And thus in friendship with Marija Pavlovic, that which she desired to make more and more clear, her eventual calling with the coming together of various brothers and sisters from various nationalities, after going on for about two years, in 1987 the experience of the Marian community “Oasis of Peace” began physically.
Now the community is recognized by the Church. On December 25, 1990, you know that Canon Law requires that when a community is begun, the members sign a private contract among themselves. This private agreement was signed March 25, 1987. We all know that this is the Feast of the Annunciation to Our Lady. The community was supposed to be recognized by the Church on December 8, 1990. Instead, the bishop decided all of a sudden to place it as dated December 25, 1990. You know very well that there are nine months from March 25 until December 25, from the Annunciation to Christmas, between conception and birth. This too is a sign, wanted by Our Lady.
Why is this community too, a new Pentecost? Or why is it situated in the great prophecy of a new Pentecost a first response: Because it represents a model of the new Church. The consecrated life is offered to all the components of the Church. The community itself is a model, a small model of the entire Church – mem and women, celibates and married couples, lay people, deacons and priests – all the Church, united and traversed with the consecration of their vows, and in its turn, offered to God through Mary: a new community that represents a new Church.
When the Lord made me understand this inspiration, I didn’t know of any similar experience in the Church. I remember that September 9, 1986, I had a long conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger. I submitted this inspiration to him. And he encouraged me to follow it, pointing out to me the Church’s juridical formula. And it is exactly at that occasion with Cardinal Ratzinger that he told me there must be no fear of a community whose vocations are born from Medjugorje. For it is always necessary to distinguish the fruits from the tree that the fruits eventually come from.
A second reason for the newness of this community; it represents a new humanity. Number 12 from the Rule approved by the church says that in the community the purity of communion is loved – man and woman, celibate and married, together to realize the true image, of that which is the image of God represented both by man and by woman. With respect to the integration of the charisms of celibacy and marriage, two vocations, two charisms stirred up simultaneously by the Holy Spirit, two charisms that ought to be consecrated by the radicality of baptism. Imagine the married couples who live the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to live out the intercession for pace. Truly it is a new way to live out the Christian sexuality in the maximum respect for God’s original design. The new image of the woman herself, who lives the originality of her spirituality at the side of the man without losing her psychological identity, which is different from that of the man. A new humanity, exactly because the specific aim of this new mixed and contemplative community is the same preoccupation of the Virgin for the peace of the world, for peace in our hearts. How we lived out this petition in the months of the gulf War this year! How the brothers and sisters of this community intensified their prayer, so that the peace plan of John Paul II could be followed! And thanks be to God, it came about. After two months there is no more suffering.
In fact, the community lives this intention for a new humanity through a peace founded on God, on the primacy of prayer, against spreading atheism and materialism. In all the ideologies, as the Holy Father has called to mind in his most recent encyclical, Centesimus annus, whether in ideologies of Marxist origin or the ideologies of the liberal stamp, God is God before everything, as the absolute point of the new life of man.
The third reason – there is represented a new Church and a new humanity. This new community inspired by the message of Our Lady at Medjugorje not to be an enclosed (cloistered) community, but open to receiving, as a cardiac clinic for those who are sick for peace. The parable of the Good Samaritan: When Jesus alone bent down to him on the road to receive with him all those who had been marginalized. See! Jesus takes the brother or sister wounded in his heart. He takes him to the community where there are brothers and sisters, already for their parts, were just as wounded, in a community where precisely with those who have been wounded and who have lived as much experience of distance from God, precisely by a special grace from the Lord and from Mary, which is the true guide of this community, they can become true good Samaritans for their own brothers and sisters who are seeking peace. In fact, if the specific aim of the community is with the intercession for peace and to live the experience of peace, the first method of receiving is exactly that of living expiation for everything that impedes peace in the human heart.
On December 25, 1990, this little child, which is the Marian Community, “oasis of Peace,” fruit of the fruit of Medjugorje – Medjugorje for its part is a fruit of the tree of the great prophecy – was recognized and inscribed in the Church’s registry as a newborn babe.
Brothers and Sisters, we are living in a New Pentecost, giving thanks to God – all of us who are here this evening. Each one of you present in this arena this evening is a member of this New Pentecost, that is arriving in the world and in the Church. Every one of us come from this fruit that is Medjugorje.
So we receive this evening our task. The Marian Community, “Oasis of Peace,” has started its path, its road, its life. But each one of us must follow the life Our Lady wishes of him in order to be a collaborator of this New Pentecost that is arriving…. God bless you! (Fr. Gianni Sgreva – talk at Notre Dame National Conference on Medjugorje, 1991 – Denis Nolan. A Time for Truth,A Time for Action. Queenship Publishing. 1993 P. 157-163)
Medjugorje is the fruit of the new times, the new humanity, the coming of the Lord!! Wow!!
In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
(c)Mary TV 2018
PS. Mike Nolan heads up pilgrim-medj.com, taking groups to Medjugorje. He has two pilgrimages coming up – April and June. He says the airfares are good right now, time to book tickets!!
Here is the link to his site:
You will be in our prayers – Going to Medjugorje is life changing!!!!