Come Home To The Father

For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." LUKE 15:24 Have you strayed from Him? Come home to the Father. He loves YOU and will forgive you. He will grant YOU his mercy.

Daily Grace: The Hand of Mercy

Daily Grace: The Hand of Mercy: "He sat off in the corner watching a crowd of people that had gathered around the teacher. Unable to speak, he sat alone; he was always alone..."

Fr. Peter Kim Woo--My Life was Changed in Medjugorje

Fr. Peter Kim Woo

The priest from Korea: My life was changed in Međugorje
date: 29.03.2011.

The young Franciscan Peter Kim Dae Woo visited Međugorje for the second time. He comes from the parish Incon in Korea, where he serves as the assistant parish priest. He was ordained in 2009, despite his great desire to become a singer. He studied at the University for electrical engineering, but he dreamt of music, and that had even reduced his student’s performance at the university. “I studied for four years, but I was not interested in that at all. I would spend most of my time playing and singing, the music was my whole life. I was student only up to the moment when I got to know music a bit better. At one point, I was no longer attending classes. Back in those days, I used to have a nick name “factory of curses”, because all of the words that were coming out from my mouth were bad, but I did not care for that at all. I only cared for music and lived in its world completely. I socialised with ‘so-called musicians’”

He came to Međugorje in September 1998, for the first time. He heard about Međugorje in February 1998, when he read a book about the phenomenon of Međugorje. Fr. Peter continues: “Up to that time, I used to go to Holy Mass only on Sundays. But, after reading that book, I started going to the Holy Mass on a daily basis. I felt desire to start praying the Rosary and I started doing that every day as well. I began to live the five main messages of Our Lady of Međugorje.

 At the time when I started reading that book, my life was not very bright and easy. I was even depressed. My mother suffered a lot because of my condition. To help me, she suggested that I come to Međugorje. I came, and my spirituality started changing. The change was huge, but yet I had burning desire to become a famous singer one day. In those days when I arrived to Međugorje, I used to cry every day, especially during the Adoration, after hearing the sound of violin.”

Fr. Peter returned to Korea and started reconsidering the choice of music in his life. He was not sure whether that was a profession worth for the whole lifetime. Upon his return, he met a person that he prayed a lot with, and that person told him that he had a religious vocation. He continued with his everyday duties, but deep in his heart he was able to hear the Lord calling him: “Dae Woo”

He felt a fear from accepting that call, thinking that if he answered Lord’s invitation, that his music days would be over. He used to cry often in front of the Lord, begging Him to help him change his life.

This young priest told us how he decided to enter the Franciscan Order: “I prayed to the Lord and to Our Lady saying to them – ‘If it is your will for me to have a religious vocation, please help me, give me an obvious sign so I would know whether to persist in that decision.’ I prayed in those moments and the Holy Bible opened at the Psalm 110 that says: ‘You are a priest forever for ever, in the order of Melchizedek’

I closed the Bible and felt as if my heart was going down in those moments. After so many inner struggles, I put the other things in my regular life in the order and I knocked at the doors of one Franciscan monastery. I decided to become a Franciscan in 2000.”

*He said that Međugorje is a place of great grace, a special place that enabled him to change his life. He never thought of becoming a priest prior to his visit to Međugorje.
source-Medjugorje Official


Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?

Lord, forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;

Forgiveness: The Litmus Test
Dan 3:25, 34-43; Matt 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?
As many as seven times?” (Matt 18:21)

One of the most powerful stories of forgiveness unfolded in October 2006. A gunman, Charles Carl Roberts, entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He killed five girls, ages six through thirteen, and critically wounded five others before taking his own life. What shocked the country and the world was not only the killings but also the fact that the Amish community immediately offered forgiveness. Before the sun set on that fateful Monday, October 2, a member of the Amish community went to the parents of the killer and offered condolences. The Amish community also reached out to Marie and her three children, the family of Charles Roberts.

Here is grace in action. Jesus came to reconcile all creation back to the Father and that ministry of redemption has been entrusted to us. The basic message is that since God has forgiven us more than seventy-seven times, we are not to withhold forgiveness from one another.

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, offers this reflection of forgiveness: “In a world and a culture that is full of wounds, anger, injustice, inequality, historical privilege, jealousy, resentment, bitterness, murder, and war, we must speak always and every­where about forgiveness, reconciliation, and God’s healing. Forgiveness lies at the center of Jesus’ moral message. The litmus test for being a Christian is not whether one can say the creed and mean it, but whether one can forgive and love an enemy.”

Peter pondered the question of forgiveness by asking how often that grace must be extended to others. Jesus again uses a parable to demonstrate that God’s mercy is unlimited and that we, made in God’s image and likeness, are to emulate that quality. It is quite obvious that, given the deep pain of being hurt, only by the grace of God can we do what the Amish community did.

How often has God forgiven you? What do you understand by the Lord’s imperative that we are to forgive “from the heart?”

Lord Jesus, help us to be good instruments of your redemptive love. We find it so difficult to forgive; we find it so easy to harbor grudges and resentment. Send your Spirit into our world that we might cooperate with you to reestablish the unity you desire.

Not by Bread Alone, from Liturgical Press, is available in print, eBook, and App format.


To The Samaritan Women Jesus said, Whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty.


"The woman then left her water jar and went off into the town." -John 4:28

A Samaritan woman brought her water jar to the town well to fill it with water (Jn 4:7). Jesus, sitting by the well, offered her living water instead (Jn 4:10). Jesus told her: "Whoever drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty; no, the water I give shall become a fountain within him, leaping up to provide eternal life" (Jn 4:14). The woman, filled with the flowing water of the Spirit, forgot all about well water, and simply left her water jar sitting by the well. Her only concern was to tell others about Jesus (Jn 4:28).

God created human beings to be physically and spiritually thirsty. We need to physically drink every day, and need to spiritually drink even more frequently. Even the most hard-hearted are thirsty for Jesus' living water, whether or not they recognize it. Once the Samaritan woman drank of Jesus' living water, she couldn't help but bring that water to others. Likewise, it's up to us to give God's thirsty people a drink of Jesus' living water.

*The Samaritan woman teaches us that when we drink fully of the water Jesus offers, we will start evangelizing. We'll be so filled with living water that we won't be able to help it. If we're not evangelizing, it's likely a symptom that we're getting spiritually dehydrated. Jesus says: "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me; let him drink who believes in Me. Scripture has it: 'From within him rivers of living water shall flow' " (Jn 7:37-38). Come to Jesus; drink deeply; tell the world about Him.

Prayer: Jesus, immerse me in your living waters. "Water from the side of Christ, wash me."
Promise: "Doing the will of Him Who sent Me and bringing His work to completion is My food." -Jn 4:34
Praise: Praise the risen Jesus, the River of Life, Who fills our deepest needs.
I Thirst---http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZPKOvlYdfY&feature=related

Local diocesan priest explains message of Our Lady of Akita

'OUR LADY APPEARED IN JAPAN 38 YEARS AGO': Local diocesan priest explains message of Our Lady of Akita

CONTRIBUTED The statue of Akita in tears.

March 26, 2011 12:00 AM

Ninety miles from the Diocese of Sendai in Japan, the hardest hit area by the 8.9-magnitude earthquake, is a Catholic pilgrimage site, the convent of the Handmaids of the Eucharist near Akita on the island of Honshu.

"Our Lady appeared in Japan 38 years ago," said Father Edward A. Murphy, a priest in the Diocese of Fall River who is knowledgeable about the approved apparitions of the Catholic Church. "Our Lady is very real. She is trying to help us. This is a time of grace."

The miraculous events reported in Japan from 1973-1982 were determined to be "reliable and worthy of belief" in June 1988 by the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Vatican City, Cardinal Ratzinger, who is now Pope Benedict XVI.

Thousands of healing experiences and conversions are attributed to the apparition of Our Lady of Akita.

According to the EWTN Apparition Archives, the extraordinary events began on June 12, 1973, when Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa saw brilliant mysterious rays emanating from the tabernacle at the convent. On June 28, a cross-shaped wound, the stigmata, appeared on the inside of her left hand, which bled profusely and caused her much pain. On July 6, she heard a voice coming from the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the chapel where she was praying. On the same day, a few of the sisters noticed drops of blood flowing from the statue's right hand. The wound in the statue's hand remained until Sept. 29, when it disappeared; but then the sisters noticed the statue had begun to "sweat", especially on the forehead and neck. On Aug. 3, Sasagawa received a second message, and a final third message on Oct. 13. Two years later on Jan. 4, 1975, the statue of the Blessed Virgin began to weep. It continued to weep at intervals for the next six years and eight months. On April 22, 1984, after eight years of investigations and consultation with the Holy See, the messages of Our Lady of Akita were approved by the bishop of the diocese.

Sitting in the chapel at Morton Hospital in Taunton where he serves as chaplain, Murphy, a native of Cork, Ireland, worked 16 years as an industrial chemist at a large pharmaceutical company headquartered in Philadelphia before he decided to study for the priesthood.

"After going to Medjugorje 21 years ago, I entered the seminary through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother," he said.

Ordained in 1998, he spent six years at Holy Name Church in Fall River and the last eight years in the chaplaincy at Morton.

Murphy said that it is difficult to get people to focus on their faith.
"We live with the media, TV, and the Internet constantly bombarding us 24 hours a day with very little to do with God — the God who made us, the God who loves us," he said. "People have been more or less hypnotized by the media and gradually slipped away from practicing their faith."

He explained that the link between Our Lady of Akita and Our Lady of Fatima is that the third message was given on the same day, the 13th of October, when 70,000 people witnessed the sun dance.
"We can link this apparition with many others," said Murphy. "Our Lady has called for the prayers of the Rosary. Outside of the Mass, the greatest prayer is the Rosary."
The purpose of the Rosary is to help keep in memory certain principal events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. There are twenty mysteries reflected upon in the Rosary, and these are divided into the five Joyful Mysteries, the five Luminous Mysteries, the five Sorrowful Mysteries, and the five Glorious Mysteries.

Murphy said that the remedy for life's ills is to pray the Rosary and turn back to God.
"There is no true peace without Jesus Christ in our lives," he said. "But the world we live in today would try to tell us otherwise. It is through prayer and sacrifice we can ward off evil. Our Lady wants to bring us back to her Son."

The message of Our Lady of Akita is for all humanity, according to the priest.

"You look at the signs of the times, and the message is to live now and pray now," he said. "Disasters wake us up to realize what's important in our lives, letting us know how fragile life is and what we are most worried about is of least importance. The only thing we go out of this world with is our good deeds."


Hosea-Come back to me

John Michael Talbot-Come back to me.

Our Lady's Medjugorje message to Marija of March 25, 2011

Apparition Hill

Dear children! In a special way today I desire to call you to conversion. As of today, may new life begin in your heart. Children, I desire to see your ‘yes’, and may your life be a joyful living of God’s will at every moment of your life.
 In a special way today, I bless you with my motherly blessing of peace, love and unity in my heart and in the heart of my Son Jesus. Thank you for having responded to my call. March 25, 2011

Mary TV - The Solemnity of the Annunciation

March 25, 2011

The Solemnity of the Annunciation

Dear Family of Mary!

* "Dear children! I call you to work on your personal conversion. You are still far from meeting with God in your heart. Therefore, spend all the more time in prayer and Adoration of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, for Him to change you and to put into your hearts a living faith and a desire for eternal life. Everything is passing, little children, only God is not passing. I am with you and I encourage you with love. Thank you for having responded to my call." (March 25, 2008)

As we await the message from Our Lady for today, let's ponder these words she gave us in 2008. She gives us such good counsel. We want to meet with God in our hearts. Let's pray all the more intensely and spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. This time is for us!

A prayer for the Annunciation:

Oh most holy Virgin Mary, to whom God sent the Angel Gabriel to announce that you should be the mother of His Only-Begotten Son, pray for us who have recourse to you. Holy, lovely Mary. We give our all to you, what is past and present, and the future, too. Blessed be the holy and Immaculate Conception of the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Amen.

In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
Cathy Nolan



WEB: http://www.mariavallejonagera.com/: oficina@mariavallejonagera.com
Telefono: +34678646626---In English---http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7DUxYo8OCU8&feature=related

I am strengthened by my foundation of faith.

Daily Word


I am strengthened by my foundation of faith.

Even in the midst of a storm, I know God is with me. I affirm, "I am never alone. I am fully protected. I am safe." My faith is strong, because of the foundation I have laid.

When winds were calm, I strengthened my faith with prayer, gratitude and meditation. Like a builder, I laid a foundation of faith deep within myself--and then I built on it.

Putting God's truth into practice daily has strengthened my faith. When a storm or crisis hits, I have an inner knowing that all is well. I have experienced God's loving and peaceful presence. God is with me, and I am always protected.

*That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.--Luke 6:48


Daily Grace: A Call for Prayer

Fr. John Corapi

Daily Grace: A Call for Prayer: "He was 44 years old when he was ordained, a late bloomer, much like ‘Autumn Joy’. To say he had a colorful past would be an understa..."


Today We Pray to the Holy Spirit

In today's Gospel (Mt. 23:1-12) Jesus tells His disciples not to follow the example of the scribes and Pharisees. He tells them to observe what they say, but not to follow their example. The reason being is that the scribes and Pharisees talked a good talk, but when it came down to it, their example did not coincide with their teachings. They weren't practicing what they were preaching. They placed great demands on others, but would not subject themselves to the same demands. They did not want to accept any responsibility. Instead, they wanted to be recognized for the noble positions they held and the wisdom they passed on to others.

These are dangerous waters to be in when it comes to the spiritual life. We are all called to lead lives of holiness by being a good example to others. The example we are called to follow and embrace is Christ the Lord. He shows us the proper way to do things and He lived His life following the teachings He gave to others. He practiced what He preached. He was preparing all of us to be faith-filled people and not hypocrites. This teaching of Jesus must not be thought of as reserved for Church leaders. Certainly, the clergy has an important role to play in helping shape the faith lives of those entrusted to their care and they must lead by example. However, Jesus' teaching is for all of us. This is a universal call to holiness. It is a reminder of who we are and how we are to live our lives. We must not be hypocritical either. We cannot place expectations on others and yet not deal with our own sins or areas for improvement. We have to be open to conforming our lives to the will of the Father. After all, Lent is meant to help us do such a thing.
*Today we pray to the Holy Spirit to reveal those areas in which we need to improve in order to become a better disciple of Jesus. Let us not be prideful in performing this exercise, but allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten us as to where we need to grow and improve. Once we recognize such areas may the Holy Spirit then help us go about making the necessary changes. As we do so, we will notice significant changes in our lives and we will feel closer to Christ. That truly is the goal of this spiritual exercise. As the Lord said to the prophet Isaiah, "Come now, let us set things right" (Is. 1:18).

God bless you always,
~ Fr. Michael J. Slusz ~


The Sun Dances Before Our Lady's Apparition to Marija Today


About 20 minutes to 6:00 P.M. many of the pilgrims broke into applause and exclamations as they pointed to the sun. The sun had begun to “dance”, strongly pulsating and sending out bright rays. It sent a ripple of excitement throughout the crowd. Many burst into tears and others began to pray out loud, still others stared in awe at the sight.....


Bad Blood

*Alter at Saint Anthony's Church, in West Warwick, R.I.*

Ezek 18:21-28; Matt 5:20-26

“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matt 5:23-24)

The expression “bad blood” refers to a disposition of vindictiveness or ill-feeling. Within our family systems and communities, feuds can exist for years, even decades. We see this on the international level as we watch what is happening in the Middle East, in southeast Asia, in the cold and hot wars that crisscross our planet. But we need not look that far for bad blood: it exists sometimes in our own hearts.

The kingdom of God is about union and unity: union with God and unity with one another. Sin breaks that unity; feuds and bad blood injure the union that God desires for all his children. Thus, we are in a constant state of reconciliation, attempting to mend broken relationships, asking forgiveness for our sins, seeking peace with those who have hurt us or those whom we have injured. St. Paul constantly reminds the early Christians that they have been entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation

As we come to the altar to hear God’s word and receive the Eucharist, we are challenged to examine our conscience to see if reconciliation is needed. Jesus is clear and emphatic: if someone has something against us, we are to seek unity in that relationship before we celebrate it at the altar.

Sometimes that is impossible. The person we are in conflict with may have died. Or, there is no openness on the part of the other for healing. All that can be done is to make a sincere effort, and then we leave the rest to God. Even Jesus at the Last Supper and on the cross had to deal with bad blood as Judas betrayed him. The lack of union and unity was as painful as the physical torture.

John Macquarrie, the Anglican theologian, writes: “By ‘reconciliation’ is meant the activity whereby the disorders of existence are healed, its imbalance redressed, its alienation bridged over.” He might have added: “When bad blood dries up.”

How can you be a minister of reconciliation this Lent? Is there any bad blood in your relationships?
Lord Jesus, as we come to the altar give us the grace to deal with the disorders in our relationships. Remove the bad blood from our communities and world. Then we shall worship you in spirit and in truth.

Not by Bread Alone, from Liturgical Press, is available in print, eBook, and App format. Find out more information.

Medjugorje: The Annual Apparition of Our Lady to Mirjana on March 18, 2011

The annual apparition of our Lady to Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo on March 18, 2011 from tunin tunin on Vimeo.


Daily Grace: The Reflection of Jesus

Daily Grace: The Reflection of Jesus: "If I am worthy, I am ready to give up my life, without hesitation and most willingly, for Christ's name. – St. Patrick Dear children, ..."

Our Lady's Annual Apparition to Mirjana

Annual Apparition to Mirjana

Today, March 18, 2011, the visionary Mirjana Soldo experienced her regular annual apparition.

In the early days of Medjugorje, when Mirjana received the tenth secret and her daily apparitions ceased, Our Lady promised that she would appear to her every year on March 18, which also happens to be Mirjana's birthday.

Today, amidst cold and rain, Our Lady appeared to Mirjana at the Blue Cross area near the base of Apparition Hill in Medjugorje. She gave the following message:

*“Dear children! I am with you in the name of the greatest Love, in the name of dear God, who has come close to you through my Son and has shown you real love. I desire to lead you on the way of God. I desire to teach you real love so that others may see it in you, that you may see it in others, that you may be a brother to them and that others may see a merciful brother in you. My children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. With Motherly love, I will show you what I expect of each of you, what I expect of my apostles. Set out with me. Thank you!”

*According to Mirjana, Our Lady asked all of us to pray for the priests, adding "Again, I emphasize that I will triumph together with them."


Sr. Agnus Sasagawa of Akita, Japan

The Nun Sister Agnus Sasagawa heard this prayer:

 "Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, truly present in the Holy Eucharist, I consecrate my body and soul to be entirely one with Your Heart, being sacrificed at every instant on all the altars of the world and giving praise to the Father, pleading for the coming of His Kingdom. Please receive this humble offering of myself. Use me as You will for the glory of the Father and the salvation of souls. Most Holy Mother of God, never let me be separated from your Divine Son. Please defend and protect me as your special child. Amen."

 It is a prayer we should circulate urgently.

Jesus' Gentle Touch: Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Jesus' Gentle Touch: Gifts of the Holy Spirit: "Gifts of the Holy Spirit"

Ask and You shall receive

Ask, Seek, Knock!

Esth C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Matt 7:7-12

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Ask and it will be given to you;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt 7:7)

In 1942, Warner Sallman painted the scene of Jesus knocking at the door, a door that had no outside handle. If the door were to be opened, it had to be opened from the inside. The painting was a rendition of Revelation 3:20, a verse in which the Lord is seeking entrance into our lives. A great Lenten question: will we allow Jesus to come into our souls and dine with us?

When Jesus tells the disciples to ask, to seek, and to knock, we must realize that Jesus is always the one to take the initiative. He first knocks at the door of our life before we knock on the door of heaven; he seeks out the lost sheep long before the flock seeks the Good Shepherd; he asks us to share our gifts with others before we ask him for renewed grace. Again, we are to emulate the God in whose image and likeness we are made.

So, what will you ask for this Lent? Better health? A deeper prayer life? The healing of relationships? Greater wisdom and compassion? The gift of tears, tears of repentance? A world of justice and peace? These are noble requests. Yet, too often we ask for greater personal recognition, more possessions or control, an increase in comfort and security. We are co-opted by our culture and it is only through the grace of the Holy Spirit that we request what is best for others and for ourselves.

So, what do you seek? The widow sought her lost coin; the shepherd, his lost sheep; the father, his prodigal son. We are all searchers and everyone seeks some form of meaning to life. Most people seek integration in a broken world. Many are looking for depth in a world of superficiality. Such goals are noble. Yet, we can also chase after rainbows and waste our time looking for that nonexistent pot of gold

So, where do you go to find the Lord? In what sacred geography does God dwell? All we have to do is turn toward the mystery of creation and there, in the starry, starry night, in the flight of the eagle, in the beauty of the ocean and mountain, we are immersed in the “divine milieu.” And we can be assured that if we knock, the Lord will open.

What does your heart seek? In what ways does God take the initiative in your life? Have you opened the door to our “pilgrim” God?

"Come Holy Spirit, teach us your ways. Give us the wisdom to ask and to seek and to knock in all the proper places. Prevent us from wasting our time and energy on things that do not matter. Instruct us in your ways, the ways of love, peace, and joy.
A Special Thank You to Esther of http://hicatholicmom.blogspot.com/ 


Charismatic Priest Fr. John Randall speaks to the Youth Group - Part.1

Youth Explosion Ministry Youth Group Meets Every Friday at 7:30 Located at Saint Charles Church, 178 Dexter Street, Providence, R. I. 02907 Tel. 401-421-6441. Meeting In The Church Basement. All  Are Welcome.  Prayer- "Come Holy Spirit"

Fr. John Randall speaks to the Youths Pt. 2

Youth Explosion Ministry Youth Group Meets Every Friday at 7:30 Located 178 Dexter St. In The Basement All  Are Welcome.

Fr. John Randall speaks to the Youth Group - Pt. 3

Fr. Randall speaks to the Youth Group- Pt. 4

Youth Explosion Ministry Youth Group Meets Every Friday at 7:30 Located at Saint Charles Church, 178 Dexter Street, Providence, R. I. 02907 Tel. 401-421-6441. Meeting In The Church Basement. All  Are Welcome.  Prayer- "Come Holy Spirit"


Our Lady's Medjugorje message to Mirjana of (January 25, 1993)

Dear children!
Today I call you to accept and live my messages with seriousness. These days are the days when you need to decide for God,  for peace and for the good. May every hatred and jealousy disappear from your life and your thoughts, and may there only dwell love for God and for your neighbor. Thus, and only thus, shall you be able to discern the signs of the time.
I am with you and I guide you into a new time, a time which God gives you as grace so that you may get to know him more. Thank you for having responded to my call."
Our Lady's Medjugorje message to Mirjana of (January 25, 1993)
Message of Our Lady....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbV6oMXkUKk&feature=related


Pope John Paul II

Jesus is no lover of haft measures,and he does not hesitate to pursue us with the question:
 " Will You Also Go Away? "


“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

… These words of Peter, in his conversation with Christ at the end of the discourse on the “bread of life”, affect us personally. In these days we have meditated on John’s statement: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). The evangelist has brought us back to the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God, the Son given to us through Mary “when the fullness of time had come” (Gal 4:4).

… In today’s Eucharistic celebration, Jesus helps us to come to know a particular aspect of his mystery. In the Gospel, we listened to a part of his discourse in the synagogue at Capernaum after the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves. In it he reveals himself as the true bread of life, the bread which has come down from heaven to give life to the world (cf. Jn 6:51). These are words that those who hear him do not understand. Their outlook is too material for them to grasp what Christ really means. They are thinking in terms of flesh, which “is of no avail” (Jn 6:63). Jesus’s words, instead, have to do with the unlimited horizons of the spirit: “The words that I have spoken to you–he insists–are spirit and life.

But his hearers are hesitant: “This is a hard saying, who can listen to it?” (Jn 6:60). They consider themselves to be persons of common sense, with their feet on the ground. For this reason they shake their heads and go away muttering, one after another. The initial crowd gradually grows smaller. At the end, only the tiny group of his most faithful disciples remains. But with regard to the “bread of life” Jesus is not prepared to back down. Rather, he is ready to lose even those closest to him: “Will you also go away?” (Jn 6:67).

“Will you also?” Christ’s question cuts across the centuries and comes down to us; it challenges us personally and calls for a decision. What is our answer? …

…You are thinking about love and the choices it entails, and I imagine that you agree: what is really important in life is the choice of the person who will share it with you. But be careful! Every human person has inevitable limits: even in the most successful of marriages there is always a certain amount of disappointment. So then, dear friends, does not this confirm what we heard the Apostle Peter say? Every human being finds himself sooner or later saying what he said: “To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life”. Only Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and of Mary, the eternal Word of the Father born two thousand years ago at Bethlehem in Judaea, is capable of satisfying the deepest aspirations of the human heart.

In Peter’s question: “To whom shall we go?” the answer regarding the path to follow is already given. It is the path that leads to Christ. And it is possible to meet the divine Master personally: he is in fact truly present on the altar in the reality of his Body and Blood. In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we can enter into contact with the person of Jesus in a way that is mysterious but real, drinking at the inexhaustible fountain that is his life as the Risen Lord.
This is the stupendous truth, dear friends: the Word, who took flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist. …

The Eucharist is the sacrament of the presence of Christ, who gives himself to us because he loves us. He loves each one of us in a unique and personal way in our practical daily lives: in our families, among our friends, at study and work, in rest and relaxation. He loves us when he fills our days with freshness, and also when, in times of suffering, he allows trials to weigh upon us: even in the most severe trials, he lets us hear his voice.

Yes, dear friends, Christ loves us and he loves us for ever! He loves us even when we disappoint him, when we fail to meet his expectations for us. He never fails to embrace us in his mercy. How can we not be grateful to this God who has redeemed us, going so far as to accept the foolishness of the Cross? To God who has come to be at our side and has stayed with us to the end?

To celebrate the Eucharist, “to eat his flesh and drink his blood”, means to accept the wisdom of the Cross and the path of service. It means that we signal our willingness to sacrifice ourselves for others, as Christ has done.

Our society desperately needs this sign, and young people need it even more so, tempted as they often are by the illusion of an easy and comfortable life, by drugs and pleasure-seeking, only to find themselves in a spiral of despair, meaninglessness and violence. It is urgent to change direction and to turn to Christ. This is the way of justice, solidarity and commitment to building a society and a future worthy of the human person.

This is our Eucharist, this is the answer that Christ wants from us… Jesus is no lover of half measures, and he does not hesitate to pursue us with the question: “Will you also go away?” In the presence of Christ, the Bread of Life, we too want to say today with Peter: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).

…set the Eucharist at the centre of your personal life and community life: love the Eucharist, adore the Eucharist and celebrate it, especially on Sundays, the Lord’s Day. Live the Eucharist by testifying to God’s love for every person.

I entrust to you, dear friends, this greatest of God’s gifts to us who are pilgrims on the paths of time, but who bear in our hearts a thirst for eternity. May every community always have a priest to celebrate the Eucharist! I ask the Lord therefore to raise up from among you many holy vocations to the priesthood. Today as always the Church needs those who celebrate the Eucharistic Sacrifice with a pure heart. The world must not be deprived of the gentle and liberating presence of Christ living in the Eucharist!

You yourselves must be fervent witnesses to Christ’s presence on the altar. Let the Eucharist mould your life and the life of the families you will form. Let it guide all life’s choices. May the Eucharist, the true and living presence of the love of the Trinity, inspire in you ideals of solidarity, and may it lead you to live in communion with your brothers and sisters in every part of the world.

In a special way, may sharing in the Eucharist lead to a new flourishing of vocations to the religious life. In this way the Church will have fresh and generous energies for the great task of the new evangelization. If any of you, dear young men and women, hear the Lord’s inner call to give yourselves completely to him in order to love him “with an undivided heart” (cf. 1 Cor 7:34), do not be held back by doubts or fears. Say “yes” with courage and without reserve, trusting him who is faithful to his promises. Did he not assure those who had left everything for his sake that they would have a hundredfold in this life and eternal life hereafter? (cf. Mk 10:29-30).

… I look with confidence to this new humanity which you are now helping to prepare. I look to this Church which in every age is made youthful by the Spirit of Christ and today is made happy by your intentions and commitment. I look to the future and make my own the words of an ancient prayer, which sings the praise of the one gift of Jesus, the Eucharist and the Church:

“I give thanks to you, Father of us all,
for the life and the knowledge
which you have revealed to us through Jesus your servant.
To you be glory in every age!
Just as this bread now broken
was wheat scattered far and wide upon the hills
and, when harvested, became one bread,
so too let your Church be gathered into your kingdom
from the far ends of the earth...
You, O Lord almighty, have created the universe
to the glory of your name;
you have given people food
and drink for their comfort,
so that they may give you thanks;
but to us you have given a spiritual food and drink
and eternal life through your Son...
Glory be to you for ever!” (Didache 9:3-4; 10:3-4)
August 21, 2006


Pope: Priests Must Teach The Truth In Its Entirety!
Posted: 13 Mar 2011 12:06 PM PDT

“Priests Must Not Preach Christianity ‘A La Carte’!”
From the CNA, By: Alan Holdren

Pope Benedict said in a meeting with priests this week.In a meeting with priests and religious from the Diocese of Rome on March 10, the Pope led a Scripture meditation as the “pastor of the pastors.”
He based the meditation – called a “lectio divina” (sacred reading) – on a chapter from the Acts of the Apostles in which St. Paul leaves the faithful in Ephesus with instructions on how to continue preaching the Gospel after his departure.

Paul’s advice to be humble and vigilant in preaching the faith, to make themselves completely available in service to Christ and the Church, and prayerful as they protect their “flocks” are all relevant characteristics of priests nearly 2,000 years later, said the Pope.
He implored priests to show “full-time” fidelity to their vocation as priests, “being with Christ and being ambassadors of Christ.”

The Pope also called on priests today not to shrink from proclaiming “the entire plan of God.”

“This is important,” said the Pope. “The Apostle does not preach Christianity ‘a la carte,’ according to his own tastes, he does not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas; he does not take away from the commitment to announce the entire will of God, even when uncomfortable, nor the themes he may least like personally.
“It is our mission to announce all the will of God, in its totality and ultimate simplicity. But the fact that we must instruct and preach is important – as St. Paul says – and really proposes the entire will of God.”

In a world where people are curious to know everything, “so much more should we be curious to know the will of God,” said Pope Benedict.
“What thing could be more interesting, more important, more essential for us than to know what God wants, to know the will of God, the face of God?”
He called on priests and religious to respond to this curiosity and awaken it in others, assisting them in “knowing truly all the will of God and knowing then how we can and must live, which is the path of our lives.”

*Let us pray for our priests so that they will have the courage to preach the fullness of faith without compromise!

Akita Japan, Apparition of Our Lady

Statue of Our Lady of Akita


Mary is the Woman stated in the book of Revelation 12:1-12 as the Woman cloth with the Sun.

In 1973, the Blessed Virgin Mary gave Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa in Akita, Japan three messages through a statute of Mary. Bathed in a brilliant light, the statute became alive and spoke with a voice of indescribable beauty. Her Guardian Angel also appeared and taught her to pray. The wooden statute from which the voice came wept 101 times over a course of several years. It also perspired abundantly and the perspiration sent out a sweet perfume. Its right palm bled from a wound having the form of a cross. Hundreds of people witnessed many of these events. Scientific analysis of blood and tears from the statute provided by Professor Sagisaka of the faculty of Legal Medicine of the University of Akita confirmed that the blood, tears, and perspiration are real human tears, sweat, and blood. They come from three blood groups: O, B, and AB. Sister Agnes also has stigmata on the right palm. A Korean woman with terminal brain cancer received immediate healing while praying before the statute in 1981. The miracle was confirmed by Dr. Tong-Woo-Kim of the St. Paul Hospital in Seoul and Fr. Theisen, President of the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Seoul. The second miracle was the complete cure of total deafness of Sister Agnes.
April, 1984 - Most Rev. John Shojiro Ito, Bishop of Niigata, Japan, after years of extensive investigation, declares the events of Akita, Japan, to be of supernatural origin, and authorises throughout the entire diocese the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita. He said: "The message of Akita is the message of Fatima."

*June, 1988 - Vatican City - Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gives definitive judgement on the Akita events and messages as reliable and worthy of belief.

*Apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje beginning on June 24, 1981 on the feast day of John the Baptist, which continue to this day......http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbV6oMXkUKk&feature=related


Japanese Quake's Epicenter Located Near Marian Apparition Site:

Our Lady of Akita

* The shrine of Our Lady of Akita *

  Pacific Japanese Quake's Epicenter Located Near Marian Apparition Site:

Niigata, Japan, Mar 12, 2011 / 07:17 am (CNA).- The epicenter of the earthquake that caused a deadly March 11 tsunami is located near the site of an apparition in which Mary warned about a worldwide disaster that could afflict humanity.        

Japanese church officials have confirmed that the Diocese of Sendai, in the north of the country, was hit hardest by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake – the worst in Japanese history – and the resulting 23-foot waves.
Hundreds of people have already been confirmed dead in the city of Sendai, located less than 90 miles away from the apparition site of Our Lady of Akita in the town of Yuzawa.

The city of Akita, which experienced fire damage and flooding along with many parts of northern Japan, is a place of veneration for Catholics.

In 1973, the Virgin Mary was said to have predicted a number of future events – including natural disasters even more serious than Friday's earthquake and tsunami – during three appearances to a Japanese religious sister, Sr. Agnes Sasagawa.

The purported appearances of the Virgin Mary in Japan were reviewed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in 1988. During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prior to his election as Pope Benedict XVI, he let stand the local bishop’s judgment that the apparitions and the messages were acceptable for the faithful.

The messages warned of chaos within the Church, and disasters which could afflict the world.

“If men do not repent and better themselves, God the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity,” Mary reportedly told Sr. Agnes. “If will be a punishment greater than the (biblical) flood, such as never seen before.”

“Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful,” she said. “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church, in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops.”

“Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.”

“Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary,” she told Sr. Agnes. “With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the bishops and priests.”

Two years after the last message, the statue of the Virgin Mary in the chapel where the apparitions had occurred began to emit tears and drops of blood. The occurrence continued for more than six years.

Reports from Akita following Friday's earthquake indicate that the city received significantly less damage than other parts of northern Japan, despite its proximity to the epicenter. However, residents did report power outages, burst pipes, and fires.

Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Niigata, whose territory includes the Akita apparition site, is also the president of Caritas Japan, which will be working to assist victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The relief organization is accepting contributions to its emergency fund at www.caritas.org.

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast.” (Matt 9:15)

Forms of Fasting

Isa 58:1-9a; Matt 9:14-15

Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them?

The days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them, and then they will fast.” (Matt 9:15)

Common sense tells us that on joyful occasions we celebrate; common sense tells us that in times of tragedy and loss we mourn. So when it comes to a wedding or a significant anniversary or some major achievement, we pull out all the stops and rejoice. When death comes or some form of illness or major loss crosses our path, we grieve and lament. Such is the manner in which we deal with the joys and sorrows of life.

Two days ago, on Ash Wednesday, we were given the imperative to fast. Just as there is a time for everything—a time to be born and a time to die—so too is there a time to fast and a time to refrain from fasting. It is inappropriate to fast at a wedding banquet. To do so would simply make one a killjoy. But in times of suffering and loss, or in seasons of discipline, fasting is not only appropriate but also necessary.

Isaiah the prophet shares with us the forms of fasting that God wants: “Setting free the oppressed, / breaking every yoke; / Sharing your bread with the hungry, / sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; / Clothing the naked when you see them, / and not turning your back on your own” (Isa 58:6b-7). Fasting is for the sake of life, not death; fasting is about liberation, not incarceration. While on the one hand fasting can involve mortifying ourselves by less amounts of food or keeping night vigils, a deeper form of fasting leads to a fuller life for oneself and others.

Our gospel verse reads: “Seek good and not evil so that you may live, / and the LORD will be with you.” Jesus is the bridegroom; Jesus is always with us. Our fasting in his presence is not a form of mourning. Rather, our discipline of seeking good and refraining from evil is our attempt to be disposed to recognize the Lord’s presence, a presence often manifest in the oppressed, the poor, and the hurting. The call here is to be better agents of God’s life and love.

What kind of fasting is meaningful to you? What specific form of fasting is the Lord asking of you this Lent?
Jesus, our bridegroom, you continue to invite us to your table. As we rejoice in your presence, help us to be conscious of all those who live on the margins of society. May our fasting draw them more closely into your presence and into your love.

Not by Bread Alone, from Liturgical Press, is available in print, eBook, and App format.


Hugh Japan Quake and Tsunami Kills Hundreds



Hundreds dead after quake, tsunami slam Japan
8.9-magnitude earthquake off northeast coast is fifth largest since 1900 worldwide

A 23-foot tsunami swept boats, cars, buildings and tons of debris miles inland and prompted a "nuclear emergency." The tsunami later reached Hawaii - but there are only reports of minor damage there. All nations bordering the Pacific have been put on alert, as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast.

Medjugorje: Our Lady's message to Mirjana of March 2, 2011

Dear children!
 My motherly heart suffers tremendously as I look at my children who persistently put what is human before what is of God, at my children who, despite everything that surrounds them and despite all the Signs that are sent to them, think that they can walk without my Son.  They cannot!

 They are walking to eternal perdition. That is why I am gathering you, who are ready to open your heart to me, you who are ready to be apostles of my love, to help me; so that by living God’s love you may be an example to those who do not know it. May fasting and prayer give you strength in that, and I bless you with the motherly blessing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Thank you. Medjugorje messages, March 2, 2011

*Mirjana said that Our Lady was very sad.*


Jesus, You Are My Healer

Jesus you are my strength and my shield, I put my trust in your name.

The Lord Says, return to me with your whole Heart.


"Even now, says the Lord, return to Me with your whole heart, with fasting, and weeping, and mourning." -Joel 2:12

As we begin this Lent, God's word for today is "now." "Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!" (2 Cor 6:2) The Lord wants us to complete through repentance and healing the unfinished business of the past and to live in the present, now. He also wants us to quit putting off important decisions to a future time. Let's live for God now.

As we begin this Lent, God's word for us is also "even now" (Jl 2:12). What seems hopeless to you? Where is the destruction so great and the time so late? Jesus promises: "Even now," your marriage can be restored. "Even now," you can recover your health. "Even now," our country can be freed from the curse of shedding the innocent blood of aborted babies. "Even now," our lukewarm and sinful loved ones can be renewed. "Even now," Jesus can free us from years of compulsive behavior. "Even now," we can repent of the sins we have always rationalized. "Even now," we can accept God's grace to forgive.

The ashen crosses on our foreheads are not marks of passivity or despair, but signs of hope. We believe that "now" is "new" and that "even now" there is hope. Lent means "springtime." Repentance evokes rejoicing (Lk 15:7, 10, 32). Fasting leads to freedom (Is 58:6). The cross is the tree of life. Therefore, "now" and "even now," let us return to the Lord with all our hearts (Jl 2:12).

Prayer:- Father, I commit to empty myself by fasting for forty days. Fill me with hope.
Promise:- "No one can see you are fasting but your Father Who is hidden; and your Father Who sees what is hidden will repay you." -Mt 6:18


Medjugorje: Our Lady's Apparition to Mirjana, March 2, 2011

"Dear children; My motherly heart suffers tremendously as I look at my children who persistently put what is human before what is of God; at my children who, despite everything that surrounds them and despite all the signs that are sent to them, think that they can walk without my Son. They cannot!
 They are walking to eternal perdition. That is why I am gathering you, who are ready to open your heart to me, you who are ready to be apostles of my love, to help me; so that by living God's love you may be an example to those who do not know it. May fasting and prayer give you strength in that and I bless you with motherly blessing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Thank you."


Heal me O Lord

Better Late Than Never, Come, Holy Spirit


"On our festival of Pentecost, the feast of Weeks, a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat." -Tobit 2:1

Today's first reading mentions the feast of Pentecost. In two days, the season of Lent begins, followed by the fifty-day Easter season, which culminates in Pentecost, the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Possibly your Pentecost celebration last year left something to be desired. Tobit had a similar problem. When Tobit celebrated Pentecost, he lived in exile. Tobit's Pentecost meal was interrupted when he found the body of a strangled, murdered man and hid him in his house so that he could bury him in secret after nightfall (Tb 2:3-4). Under these conditions, Tobit's Pentecost was turned into mourning (Tb 2:6). He ate his food in sorrow and wept (Tb 2:5, 7). Then things got worse, as Tobit was blinded in a freak accident (Tb 2:10).

Your Pentecost was probably not as bad as Tobit's, but was it very good? Were you filled with the Holy Spirit? Have you led or even tried to lead many others to a saving love for Jesus?

 If not, start preparing now for a new Pentecost. This Wednesday is the beginning of Lent. Repent in ashes, and fast as Jesus fasted. Renew your baptismal promises as the Church did on Easter Sunday. "Then you will receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

* Pentecost does not have to be lost; we can do it over. Come, Holy Spirit! *

Prayer: Father, may I not settle for anything less than Pentecost.
Promise: "The Stone rejected by the builders has become the Keystone of the structure. It was the Lord Who did it and we find it marvelous to behold." -Mk 12:10-11
" Come, Holy Spirit ">>   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQPcrH0y1P0


Two Suns seen in China


'Two suns' spotted in China defy explanation
The dual sunset comes just weeks after rumors of a second sun flooded the Net

Related Story:
I saw two suns in Medjugorje in 1993    Posted on January 23, 2011 by
Fr. Jay Finelli's Medjugorje page---http://www.medugorje.com/


"Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time." -Sirach 44:1


"Now will I praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time." -Sirach 44:1

Think of your godly ancestors. Think of the person that taught you to pray, of Grandma who "prayed all the time," of Dad's holy boldness, and of Uncle Joe, who loved the Church (see Eph 5:25) and died with Jesus' precious name on his lips.

Remember the virtues of the godly men and women in your life (Sir 44:10). Recall Dad's honesty, courage, justice, and love. Think of Mom's purity, kindness, faithfulness, and love.

Thank God for every Christian you've ever met. Thank God especially for the Christians in your ancestry and in your more immediate family. "Their wealth remains in their families, their heritage with their descendants; through God's covenant with them their family endures, their posterity, for their sake" (Sir 44:11-12). You are blessed because of those who have gone before you. "Their bodies are peacefully laid away, but their name lives on and on" (Sir 44:14).

*What spiritual heritage are you giving to the next generation? Will your children, grandchildren, friends, etc. retell your wisdom at family gatherings and proclaim your praise at church? (Sir 44:15) Will God and your family be proud of you and your holy life?

Prayer: Father, may ages to come call me blessed (see Lk 1:48).

Promise: "When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance so that Your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your faults." -Mk 11:25


Miracle Prayer--Lord Jesus, I come before You just as I am.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved:


""He began to call out, 'Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me! " - Mark 10:47

It's hard to admit weakness, sin, or even sickness. The blindness of pride often prevents us from being healed of other kinds of blindness. After Bartimaeus began calling out, "many people were scolding him to make him keep quiet, but he shouted all the louder" (Mk 10:48). After we humble ourselves, the next obstacle to healing is often worrying about what other people think of us. Often, to receive healing; it is necessary to look like a fool in the eyes of the world.

"Then Jesus stopped and said, 'Call him over' " (Mk 10:49). Bartimaeus "threw aside his cloak, jumped up and came to Jesus" (Mk 10:50). His jump was a great leap of faith. Blind people don't make sudden movements. If they jump up, they don't know what might happen since they don't know what's above them. Jesus said to Bartimaeus: " 'Be on your way. Your faith has healed you.' Immediately he received his sight and started to follow Him up the road" (Mk 10:52).

"What's standing in the way of your healing? Are you too proud to admit you need help? Are you too proud to confess your sins? Are you too "cool" to be healed? Are you paralyzed by the thought of being laughed at? Are you unwilling to become a fool for Christ? (1 Cor 4:10) If you jump up or down, do you believe Jesus will catch you? Don't let anything or anyone prevent you from receiving your healing and your Healer, Jesus.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, "I want to see" (Mk 10:51).
Heal me O Lord and I will be healed.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeUPu4y59pw   


We are Called to Serve, Not to be Served, Come as a Servant of the Lord.

Plan Revealed

In today's Gospel (Mk. 10:32-45) Jesus makes it known to the Twelve what is going to happen to Him in great detail. Jesus has often talked about His death and Resurrection, but here He goes into more detail of what the future entails. He is revealing to us, through His own sufferings, the necessity of humility and sacrifice. In order for Jesus to rise from the dead, He first had to suffer the pains of the Cross along with all the sufferings He endured to Calvary.

After revealing this to the Twelve, it's interesting that James and John become concerned with sitting at Jesus' left and right in heaven. As a result, the other ten Apostles begin to argue amongst themselves. Jesus quickly reminds them that they must follow His example, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many" (10:45). They are being called to serve the Lord through their faithful witness to Him.

*Friends, we are being challenged to do the same. We are called to serve, not to be served. Today we pray for the grace to come always as a servant of the Lord by placing God above all things and our neighbors before ourselves. Let us always remember that the more we give of ourselves, the more we receive from the Lord.
God Bless Always, Fr. Michael Slusz


Pilgrims flock to Medjugorje while Vatican studies alleged apparitions

A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje. A Vatican-appointed commission is studying the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, which began nearly 30 years ago. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden

Catholic News Service
MEDJUGORJE, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS) -- A Vatican-appointed commission is studying the alleged Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, but pilgrims keep arriving in the small town.

As the 30th anniversary of the alleged apparitions approaches, the town is experiencing a building boom with new hostels, restaurants and shops that cater to pilgrims.

The 11 Franciscan friars assigned to the town's convent and its sole parish -- St. James -- are assisted by visiting priests in ministering to the pilgrims and the town's 3,500 residents, who pack the church even in the winter when pilgrim buses are few and far between. A few hotels and dozens and dozens of family-run hostels offer more than 10,000 beds for pilgrims.

Individuals and members of organized groups climb the craggy Apparition Hill where six village children said they first saw Mary in June 1981. The pilgrims pray the rosary as they trudge up the hill, careful not to twist their ankles on the slices of rock jutting out of the hillside.

Most of the Medjugorje "seers" have said the apparitions have continued every day for years. Three say they still have visions each day, while the other three see Mary only once a year now. All six are now married and have children.

Ivanka Ivankovic-Elez, Mirjana Dragicevic-Soldo and Jakov Colo still live year round in Medjugorje or a nearby village; each of them was contacted in late February but declined to be interviewed.

On the second of each month, Dragicevic-Soldo says Mary shares with her a prayer for unbelievers and on the 25th of each month, Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti, who now lives with her husband and children in northern Italy, says she receives a public message from Mary.

For years the local bishop, Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, has said he believes nothing supernatural is happening in Medjugorje. In an e-mail to Catholic News Service in late February, he said he would no longer comment about what is happening in Medjugorje out of respect for the Vatican commission.

While the Vatican has said dioceses should not organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, it has said Catholics are free to visit the town and pray there, and that the Diocese of Mostar-Duvno and the Franciscans should organize pastoral care for them.

Franciscan Father Svetozar Kraljevic, who runs pilgrim-funded social projects on the edge of town, said, "We are all a commission" -- the local Franciscans, the townspeople and the pilgrims, who by their presence continue to study the claims about Mary's appearance in Medjugorje and to judge the authenticity of the messages the young people say she gives them.

At least 1.5 million pilgrims came in the past year and their judgment is clear, he said, although the formal commission members "have been given a special responsibility" for discernment.

Offering an introductory session Feb. 25 for a pilgrim group from St. Louis, Franciscan Father Danko Perutina told them, "Everything Our Lady has been talking about here is already in our tradition -- it's nothing new -- pray, read the Bible, recite the rosary, go to Holy Mass, go to confession."

Father Perutina told the St. Louis group that official church bodies, particularly bishops' conferences, have been investigating the Medjugorje visionaries' claims for years and whatever the Vatican commission decides, "we must accept."

"There weren't as many investigations of Lourdes and Fatima," the Marian apparitions in France and Portugal respectively, "but everything must be tried by fire. Only the good things will remain," he said.

Father Perutina told the pilgrims, "Apparitions are one expression of God's acting in the world and they are helping people."

The Franciscan friar is collecting stories of priests and nuns from around the world who say their vocations are connected to Medjugorje and he said he already has more than 500 such testimonies; Father Rodger Fleming, one of the priests leading the St. Louis group, said his is one of them.

The associate pastor of St. Clement of Rome parish in St. Louis said he was making his 20th visit to Medjugorje, which he first visited with his parents and siblings.

In late February, his group was the only organized English-speaking pilgrimage in Medjugorje; there were several Italian groups, but things were pretty quiet in the little town.

Wandering around the church grounds Feb. 26 were four men in their 30s carrying plastic souvenir bags. The four friends work in Switzerland, but two are Armenian Orthodox from Turkey, one is Italian and one is Croatian.
Jakob, a 37-year-old Armenian, said, "Whether the Vatican says it's true or not really doesn't matter. What counts is what you believe inside, and I believe people need this."

The Italian, who said he has changed his name to Omar, said he agreed to join his friends on the roadtrip to Medjugorje "because I believe. It attracts me. You don't have to have more of a reason than that."