SHAKING THE BRANCHES
The Medjugorje message given this month (August 2018) to the seer Marija rang bells for me, particularly Our Lady’s advice to “pray more, speak less”. This archived article connects the message to something Pope Francis spoke about five years ago in 2013: the spirit of curiosity and speaking less.
You know how it works... You attempt to give witness or speak with some people about Medjugorje, and they start to back off, cross the street when they see you, avoid you at Church, put their fingers in their ears, even try and point you to all the mistruths and propaganda on the internet directed against Medjugorje. They just don’t want to know. It’s not their thing. “I’m for Fatima, I’m for Lourdes… the Church hasn’t approved it...” Fair enough. There is no binding on anyone to listen to our witness to all that we have seen, heard and experienced at any holy place.
But when there is news or a hint of anything in the media that portrays Medjugorje in a negative light the same people are usually waiting at the church door to ask if you have read or heard the reports. They can’t wait to tell you. I think many of us have experienced this type of “phenomenon” or attitude at some time!
There’s a lot of this happening lately because of two very recent reports circulating on the internet. The first phase of the recent negative onslaught against Medjugorje was a reaction to the content of a leaked letter sent by by the US papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to the USCCB on behalf of Cardinal Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. Yes, the leaked letter was confirmation of the Church’s current stance on the Medjugorje phenomenon. It wasn’t news. The directive has been operative since 1991. It was simply a reminder to the US bishops. But that didn’t stop most of the critics and opponents attempting to put their own spin on the content and presenting the information as a rebuke or rejection in some way of the Medjugorje phenomenon.
The second onslaught is still happening. Some of the words spoken by Pope Francis during his Mass homily yesterday morning are being presented in a way to try and suggest that the Holy Father was referring to Medjugorje when he said Our Lady was not a postmistress sending messages every day.
He may have had Medjugorje in mind, none of us know, But in a rush once more to try and portray Medjugorje in a bad light, the critics have simply grabbed the words out of context and implied a different meaning. In fact, their haste to make judgment, has confirmed the very attitude the Pope was condemning. Certainly they have shown a lack of wisdom, which was the theme of the homily and, secondly, seen something in the Pope’s words that has raised their curiosity, and in doing so missed the point the Pope was making. Their curiosity has led them into confusion.
The spirit of curiosity is not exclusive to Medjugorje. Pope Francis confirms this with these words:
“The spirit of curiosity distances us from the Spirit of wisdom because all that interests us is the details, the news, the little stories of the day. Oh, how will this come about? It is the how: it is the spirit of the how! And the spirit of curiosity is not a good spirit. It is the spirit of dispersion, of distancing oneself from God, the spirit of talking too much. And Jesus also tells us something interesting: this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, leads us to confusion.”
So in their attempt to distort the words of Pope Francis have the Medjugorje critics shown themselves also to be subject to “this spirit of curiosity, which is worldly, [and] leads us to confusion”?
These are the Pope’s words when he made reference to Our Lady not being a postmaster:
“Curiosity impels us to want to feel that the Lord is here or rather there, or leads us to say: ‘But I know a visionary, who receives letters from Our Lady, messages from Our Lady’. But, look, Our Lady is the Mother of everyone! And she loves all of us. She is not a postmaster, sending messages every day. Such responses to these situations distance us from the Gospel, from the Holy Spirit, from peace and wisdom, from the glory of God, from the beauty of God.”
Pope Francis is not saying that Our Lady does not speak to hearts every day. He’s actually pointing to the attitude some people have of expecting Our Lady to deliver some piece of information that is news or relevant to their situation or an event and are caught up in a spirit of curiosity.
If our faith stops at just reading the messages because of curiosity then we are treating Our Lady simply as a postmistress and not responding to her call. It becomes junk mail; a quick glance to see if there is a special offer of some kind or something new. If not, bin it.
Our Lady isn’t a postmistress in this sense but we are in danger of making her into one when we just sit back and wait for the delivery and don’t respond. Our priests who deliver homilies everyday are not postmasters in this sense either, but when we don’t respond to the message they deliver, if we bin it when we leave Church after Mass, then it is the same attitude. More junk mail to discard until next Sunday’s delivery. It shouldn’t be an attitude of “What has the priest got to say this week?” and then discarding the message if it doesn’t appeal or wake us up on a Sunday morning, and coming back the following weekend hoping to hear something more to our liking.
That’s what the Pope is saying: “She is not a postmaster sending messages every day.” She’s not sending us junk mail with the occasional item of interest that might just catch our eye. She’s the Mother of God delivering the word of God to people hearts and we should listen to her. She is the Seat of Wisdom who brings us Peace. She is a messenger sent by God. She is Queen of Prophets and what is a prophet but one who gives witness to God. Just as our priests.
Our Lady seeks our response. So do our priests. So does Pope Francis when he says do not look on your Blessed Mother or your priests, or anyone else that delivers the word of God, as postmasters. Don’t dump the message, don’t mark it “Return To Sender”. Respond to the call. “Do whatever he tells you.” And we know Jesus doesn’t tell us to sit back and wait with curiosity for the next message to be delivered. He says: “Fill the jars with water.” That’s an invitation to be active in prayer. And it is only when the jars are filled to the brim the miracle occurs. As Our Lady said in her message of October 25, 2013: “Prayer works miracles in you and through you.”
Our future has already been revealed. We have no need to be curious about wanting to know what the future holds. Mother Church guides us on our way with the help of Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. She points to our future, eternal life with Jesus, her Son and our Saviour. There should be no confusion about that, whatever opinions are held about Medjugorje – for, against or indifferent.
Dear children! Today I call you to open yourselves to prayer. Prayer works miracles in you and through you. Therefore, little children, in the simplicity of heart seek of the Most High to give you the strength to be God’s children and for satan not to shake you like the wind shakes the branches. Little children, decide for God anew and seek only his will – and then you will find joy and peace in him. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Medjugorje message, October 25, 2013
• First pubished October 15, 2013