A CONVERSION OF HEART
A few years ago someone kindly sent me a CD of photographs taken during the early years of the Medjugorje phenomenon. They were duplicates made of colour transparencies and so of high contrast. Nevertheless they were of special interest. I was never able to trace the photographer Ian Macdougall, despite his name appearing among the photo credits in several Medjugorje publications. More recently I came across a personal testimony by Ian in an early UK edition of the Medjugorje Messenger, and reproduced below with some of Ian’s photographs. (BG)
Medjugorje is a deep affair of the heart
by IAN MACDOUGALL
Since my first visit to Medjugorje two years ago in 1985, everything in my life has been turned literally upside down. All those cherished worldly plans, ambitions and hoped-for successes have become simply so much dross and weary grievance to the spirit. For me, Medjugorje is a deep affair of the heart; it is where my heart was made anew and, for the first time in my life, truly open to God.
It would take too long to recount the blessings and graces which I received, despite great unworthiness. But six visits further on, I can honestly say that I have not the slightest doubt that the Blessed Virgin Mary is appearing there. The collective evidence of personal experience, both in Medjugorje and at home in Scotland, give me firm grounds for belief in the apparitions and, in consequence, all that Our Blessed Lady is telling us through the visionaries.
As a recent convert to the Roman Catholic faith, after years of agonising as an unhappy Anglican, it was Our Lady, first at Walsingham, who finally brought me to the truth. And, if I look back over the years, I now see that Medjugorje stands for me as a great confirmation of all the events of past pilgrimages to Mary’s Norfolk shrine. Most importantly of all, however, I can now relate to Mary as a real mother who is very much alive! And it is her role to keep us close to Jesus.
The inexpressible joy of being present in the room of apparitions with the young seers during their evening apparition in Medjugorje constantly leads me to the words of the Nunc Dimittis – perhaps I can appreciate a little of how blessed Simeon must have felt at Our Lord’s presentation in the temple. But no words can ever adequately describe the moment and no other experience in life can ever compare with that mysterious grace. With that fleeting moment of awe, I felt called to a new life in the Lord’s service which, please God, will continue to inspire and prompt me all the days of my life. The cross, however, is a real one – and I am sure that many pilgrims who have been to Medjugorje will know only too well what I mean when I say the road becomes harder in consequence of the blessings. And this is surely the way it must be: that our lives begin to focus more and more on the cross “out of which many graces are coming”.
To pray with the visionaries, to climb Mount Krizevac in the Christmas dawn, to harvest tobacco with a poor family in August heat, and to give the Lord four hours daily in church in prayer, word and sacrament – these are among the most precious moments in Medjugorje.
My prayer for you, the reader, would be that you have, or perhaps soon will have, experienced these joys for yourself. If you have not yet visited Medjugorje, do try to do so, even if it involves hardship and sacrifice. You will never regret the pilgrimage, but most important of all, you will bring home and indelible experience of the grace of God which you can share forever.
Ian MacDougall pictured with the Medjugorje visionary Vicka.