Some years ago when I was first a bishop in Louisiana, it must have been 1988, I was making my first "ad limina" visit to the Holy Father in Rome.
The other bishops of Louisiana were with me and, as what the custom of John Paul II, we were invited in to enjoy a lunch with him. There were eight of us at the table with him. Soup was being served. Bishop Stanley Ott of Baton Rouge, La., who has since gone to God, asked the Holy Father: "Holy Father, what do you think of Medjugorje?"
The Holy Father kept eating his soup and responded: "Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things are happening at Medjugorje. People are praying there. People are going to Confession. People are adoring the Eucharist, and people are turning to God. And, only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje."
That seemed to have ended the discussion and we went on to another topic. But, I will long remember the very skillfully cautious response of our Holy Father.
Just two weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit Medjugorje. A good friend for more than 50 years, Jim McHale from Connecticut, has been wanting to go to Medjugorje for some time. His wife was not inclined to go at this time for many reasons but mostly because she is preparing for the marriage of their daughter in New York City.
I just walked and around and looked at the lines. There were 26 confessional stations in which there was a priest and then 20 more priests hearing confessions in temporary stations. This happened also on Sunday afternoon from 5 p.m. until about 8:30 p.m. I heard confessions in English, and it was a great grace for me and a wonderful experience.
The Chapel of Adoration was most edifying. People came in quietly to adore the Eucharistic Lord and to pray. Everything seemed to have been so orderly and quiet, as were the groups of people in the streets and on the hills saying their Rosary and praying.
I celebrated the noon Mass on Sunday in English. The church was packed to overflowing. There are pews outside on all three sides of the church in which people can hear the Mass but they cannot see it. Once again the faith of so many people touched me deeply.
There is something of that yearning in all of those pilgrims who visited Medjugorje. Somehow there is something deep within them which keeps crying out, "Come to the Father."
They do this through devotion. They do it through their love for Mary. They do it through their love for Jesus Christ. "Come to the Father" is deep within each of one us.
On Monday morning, our pilgrimage was coming to a close. I celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Eucharist for the pilgrims who were led by Stephanie Percic. So many of them were from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and I was impressed by their strong faith and their promise of prayer for the entire archdiocese.
...All in all, after the journey to Medjugorje, I keep pondering the words of John Paul II as he was eating his soup on that day sometime in 1988:
"Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Medjugorje? Only good things seem to be happening at Medjugorje. People are turning to God." Spirit Daily
Tip O' the Hat to Terry from Abbey-Roads