The Presentation of the Crucified Christ at Medjugorje
“The real Madonna is the one who generates Jesus in our hearts, a Mother.”
So spoke Pope Francis to the 88th General Assembly of the Union of Superiors General (USG) on November 25, 2016.
But it wasn’t this remark that grabbed the headlines when part of the Pope’s address was published on Thursday in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera. It was his comment about the Madonna not being a postmaster sending daily messages. Not unexpectedly, this was interpreted by some journalists as a disguised reference to the Medjugorje phenomenon.
The Crux website was first off the mark and ran with the headline: “Pope denounces ‘restorantionist’ orders, pokes fun at Medjugorje”, although its url address suggests it originally went with “takes shot at Medjugorje”. Catholic commentator Raymond Arroryo preferred to Tweet: “Swipes at Medjugorje”
But in what context did Pope Francis speak about Medjugorje?
Firstly, he never mentioned the word ‘Medjugorje’. That’s been slipped in by others reporting his comments. Here’s what Pope Francis actually said in response to the question:
Why did you choose three Marian themes for the next three World Youth Days leading up to the Youth Days in Panama?
Pope Francis replied: “It wasn’t me that chose Marian themes for the next three World Youth Days! This is what they asked for in Latin America: a strong Marian presence. It is true that Latin America is devoted to the Virgin, and to me it seemed like a very good thing. I didn’t have any other proposals, and I was happy with this. But the real Madonna! Not the Madonna at the head of a post office that every day sends a different letter, saying: ‘My children, do this and then the next day do that.’ No, not that Madonna. The real Madonna is the who generates Jesus in our hearts, a Mother. This fashion for a superstar Madonna, who seeks the limelight, is not Catholic.”
‘Madonna is mentioned five times, ‘Marian’ twice. But not Medjugorje. Not even ‘apparitions’. So we have commentators interpreting the reference to “daily letters” as the Medjugorje messages. But we know that the Madonna does not issue daily letters at Medjugorje. The message to the world is given through the seer Marija on the 25th of each month, to another seer, Mirjana, on the 2nd of the month. But there are no daily messages. There are daily apparitions to three of the seers, Marija, Ivan and Vicka, but the Pope was speaking about letters and not apparitions.
However, had the commentators got beyond the Pope’s words “No, not that Madonna” and taken in the next sentence: “The real Madonna is the [one] who generates Jesus in our hearts, a Mother” then they may have understood that the Pope’s description of “the real Madonna” is also revealed in the Medjugorje messages, the Madonna generating Jesus in hearts. It’s what she speaks about. She calls us to Jesus. At her first apparition in Medjugorje on June 24, 1981, she appeared to two of the visionaries, Ivanka and Mirjana, revealing the Child Jesus in her arms.
Yes, there is always the danger of the Madonna being promoted as a ‘superstar’, when the enthusiasm of some devotees place her ahead of Jesus, but this can happen at any Marian ‘shrine’ or with any devotion. This is not Our Lady’s desire and speaks more about the devotee’s needs than anything else.
Alongside are just a few of the Medjugorje messages where Our Lady speaks of wanting to “generate Jesus in our hearts”. There are so many more. Perhaps Pope Francis has read them all – hence his comment about the real Madonna – and he may even be actually hinting at holding a more positive view on the phenomenon than some detractors would hope for, if and when he decides to make any announcement on the outcome of the Medjugorje Commission.
For sure there have been no steps taken by the Holy See to restrict the publication of Our Lady’s messages, to warn the faithful the messages present a danger to faith and morals, that they are false messages and therefore generated by a false Madonna – even after 36 years.
On February 13, 2017, when questioned by the media on the return papal flight from Fatima, Pope Francis expressed a personal view saying he doubted the alleged current apparitions at Medjugorje (and so therefore the messages) and added “these alleged apparitions do not have much value.”
Dear children! Rejoice with me! My heart is rejoicing because of Jesus and today I want to give Him to you. Dear children, I want each one of you to open your heart to Jesus and I will give Him to you with love. Dear children, I want Him to change you, to teach you and to protect you. Today I am praying in a special way for each one of you and I am presenting you to God so He will manifest Himself in you. I am calling you to sincere prayer with the heart so that every prayer of yours may be an encounter with God. In your work and in your everyday life, put God in the first place. I call you today with great seriousness to obey me and to do as I am calling you. Thank you for having responded to my call. December 25, 1987
Dear Children! This time also I am inviting you to prayer. Pray that you might be able to comprehend what God desires to tell you through my presence and through the messages I am giving you. I desire to draw you ever closer to Jesus and to His wounded heart that you might be able to comprehend the immeasurable love which gave itself for each one of you. Therefore, dear children, pray that from your heart would flow a fountain of love to every person both to the one who hates you and to the one who despises you. That way you will be able through Jesus' love to overcome all the misery in this world of sorrows, which is without hope for those who do not know Jesus. I am with you and I love you with the immeasurable love of Jesus. Thank you for all your sacrifices and prayers. Pray so I might be able to help you still more. Your prayers are necessary to me. Thank you for having responded to my call. November 25, 1991
Dear children, these are special times and, therefore, I am with you to love and protect you; to protect your hearts from Satan and to bring you all closer to the heart of my Son, Jesus. part message, June 25, 1993
Dear children! I want you to understand that I am your Mother, that I want to help you and call you to prayer. Only by prayer can you understand and accept my messages and practice them in your life. Read Sacred Scripture, live it, and pray to understand the signs of the times. This is a special time, therefore, I am with you to draw you close to my heart and the heart of my Son, Jesus. Dear little children, I want you to be children of the light and not of the darkness. Therefore, live what I am telling you. Thank you for having responded to my call. August 25, 1993
Dear children! Today i rejoice with the little Jesus and I desire that Jesus' joy may enter into every heart. Little children, with the message I give you a blessing with my son Jesus, so that in every heart peace may reign. December 25, 1993
Dear children! I invite you to open the door of your heart to Jesus as the flower opens itself to the sun. Jesus desires to fill your hearts with peace and joy. You cannot, little children, realize peace if your are not at peace with Jesus. Therefore, I invite you to confession so Jesus may be your truth and peace. So, little children, pray to have the strength to realize what I am telling you. I am with your and I love your. Thank you for having responded to my call. January 25, 1995