On Ash Wednesday, February 17, Catholic Church entered period of Lent, fourty days long period of preparation for Easter. What is important about this period of Lent is mediatation on Christ's passion, especially during the devotions of Way of the Cross. The schedule of Way of the Cross in the church of St. James is:
- Fridays: 2 p.m. on the Cross Mountain, and in the church after evening Holy Mass
- Sundays: 10.30 a.m., before central Holy Mass, and after evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m.
On the day when we remember beatified Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, February 10, we prayed in Međugorje parish for all murdered Franciscans who were born in Međugorje parish: Fr. Križan Galić, Fr. Jozo Bencun, Fr. Marko Dragičević, Fr. Mariofil Sivrić, Fr. Grgo Vasilj and Fr. Jenko Vasilj, who were amongst those 66 priests from Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, brutally murdered by Partisans during the II World War and at the very end of the same war. Fr. Karlo Lovrić celebrated Holy Mass at 6 p.m. in parish church of St. James, and there were also ten other priests that concelebrated with him. Parish priest, Fr. Petar Vlašić spoke before the Holy Mass and said that there isn’t a single family in Međugorje parish that did not have at least one person killed during that period. Fr. Karlo, in his homily, said amongst the other things, the following: “We should be praying for them, but at the same time, we should be praying to them. They were not frightened, they did not deny our Church, and on the contrary, they gave their lives for Jesus and for their country. We thank them for that!” (photos)
Vocal group “Nostalgija” from Zagreb came to Međugorje and with their harmony singing, made celebration of evening Holy Mass in the church of St. James even more special and beautiful. They performed “Holy Mass in Harmony-Singing” from the author Živko Ključe, Opuzen, 1955, which this men vocal group practiced and performed for the first time in 1998. These well-practiced men voices performed following songs: “Bliže, o bliže Bože moj”, “Signore delle cime”, “Divici Mariji”, song arranged by Šime Marović with original verses from one of the most famous Croatian renaissance writers, Marko Marulić, and at the end they sang famous “Ave Maria”. (photos)
Number of Holy Communions: 41.000
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 866 (27 per day)
On Sunday, January 31, we remembered 2nd International Day of Prayer for Peace in Holy Land, and Fr. Miljenko Šteko was the main celebrant during the Holy Mass celebrated for that intention in the church of St. James at 6 p.m. Međugorje, famous place of peace and reconciliation, was one of 1000 places throughout the world where faithful gathered to pray for peace in Holy Land. In the message of support, that is read on that day, Monsignor Mario Toso, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, emphasises how peace is always gift of God and encourages participants: Persevere in prayer for peace! Međugorje, along with Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Gaza, Rome, Moscow, Paris, London, New York and other towns of Europe, Asia, Africa and America, accepted the invitation of associations Young for Life from Jerusalem and Papaboys from Rome, actively participating in this whole day prayer programme opened by Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of Holy Land.
On Wednesday, January 27, Međugorje woke up under a snow layer, and children were the ones that were most excited because of that. Peace is part of Međugorje everyday reality, and under snow layer it is even more intense. This all gave unique opportunity to many photographers to shoot some of the unrepeatable scenes of Međugorje countryside.
Members of football club Dinamo from Zagreb, Croatia, together with their President Mirko Barišić and Coach Kruno Juričić, spent some time in Međugorje, preparing for the forthcoming spring season. Along with regular sports activities, members of this leading Premier league club were also participating in one day spiritual retreat that Međugorje Franciscans organised for them on January 22. First, they all climbed Apparition Hill and prayed Rosary, then talk was given to them and day finished with Holy Mass that was celebrated for them in Adoration chapel. As one of the most common sacraments in Međugorje is sacrament of Holy Confession, they also had chance for either confession or spiritual talk with one of Međugorje Franciscans.
Besides members of Dinamo football club, Međugorje is hosting other Croatian football clubs as well, and their members are also participating in regular prayer programme of this famous parish.
Members of Franciscan youth (FRAMA) of Međugorje parish had the ceremony of promises and incorporation into Franciscan youth that took place on Sunday, January 24th during the evening Holy Mass at 6 p.m. that was celebrated by Fr. Marinko Šakota. Fr. Danko Perutina, spiritual assistant of Medjugorje Franciscan Youth was present as well. 63 members of Franciscan Youth gave their promise for the first time, or repeated the promises given in the past. Franciscan Youth from Humac, Ljubuški accompanied this ceremony with their singing, and there were members from different parishes as well, such as Čerin, Čitluk, Drinovci, Gorica, Sovići, Ružići and others.
On Thursday, January 21, 2009 at 6.p.m. Holy Mass was celebrated in Međugorje parish church for late Međugorje parish priest and for all departed priests who used to serve in Međugorje parish. Concelebrated Holy Mass was led by Fr. Miljenko Šteko who, as he quoted verses of 56th Psalm, amongst other things said the following: “All is written in the Book of God. Even according to that Book, we ourselves are counting this period since we are no longer in the presence of our late priest brothers, and exactly today we celebrate eight years since our late Međugorje parish priest Dr. Fr. Leonard Orec died. He was born in Posuški Gradac in 1928, and met with his “Sister Death” in 2002 in Zagreb. His days were counted down in his 74th year of life, 55th year of ordination and 51st year of priesthood, little after his celebration of Golden Jubilee – 50 years of priesthood! His earthly remains are waiting for the resurrection of the death in Franciscan grave in Posušje.
From Vecernji List daily newspaper for Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina
“Medjugorje is again in the center of attention, church and public as well. Though the visit of Cardinal Shonborn is private, it did not leave anybody indifferent because he is the member of Congregation for Doctrine of Faith. We talked to Cardinal while he was visiting Medjugorje.
“We came here to be close to the Lord’s mother”, you said during the Christmas Eve Mass, Your Eminence. These words had a great echo. We would like you to explain them?”
Cardinal: “We cannot deny that pilgrims have been coming over here for the past 20 years, as we can not deny what they experience in Medjugorje and how close they feel to the Blessed Mother. This is my first visit, but since I’ve been a Bishop since 1991. I have simply noticed the fruits of Medjugorje.
Max Domej from Gebetsktion Wien spoke to Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, Archbishop of Vienna, during his visit to Međugorje.
Both in Lourdes and Fatima the events first ceased and than Church had its decision about that. Its final decision. Sooner or later that will take place here as well, but in this case we let Mother of God with freedom of choice...I think that Medjugorje can continue well on their journey, with full trust that Church, Mother and Teacher, in this case, is going to continue to monitor their journey.
Martin Pero Boras, aged 55 and born in Hardomilje, Ljubuski, died in Clinical Hospital Centre in Mostar on Wednesday, January 13, 2010 after being very ill for a short period of time. Prof. Boras was Music Professor to many generations of Franciscans in Seminary and Novice in Humac, he was also music teacher in many schools in the area, and many groups of Franciscan Youth FRAMA were under his guidance throughout Herzegovina, as well as in Medjugorje. He was especially famous and well known for his leadership and professional guidance of International Choir and Orchestra for Youth Festival and New Year’s Eve in Medjugorje. He was married and had four children.
His funeral will take place at 2 p.m. on Friday, January 15, cemetery Zabari, Humac parish.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace!
Dear brothers and sisters here in the church and on the squares in front of the church, and in the yellow hall... We are all conscious of the fact that it is a big privilege to not have to celebrate the New Year with champagne. (laughter) Maybe later. (laughter and applause)
But now we are allowed to celebrate the beginning of the New Year with Mary and Joseph and with the child that is lying in the manger and with the shepherds. These days, we have all come to Medjugorje to be especially close to the Mother of the Lord. To be more exact, we have to say that we have come here because we know that the Mother of the Lord wants to be close to us. With her, we want to begin the New Year. And the first thing that moves me when I think about the manger and the shepherds is that there were no angels present. Here there is an angel at the nativity set (points), but in the gospel there are no angels there. They were on the hills with the shepherds. An entire host of angels. But Mary and Joseph only heard about it. The shepherds told them. We also didn't see the Gospa. But there are people here who told about it. And we trust that the Mother of God really is close to us.
Kardinal dr. Christoph Schonborn - Medjugorje, 31. December 2009
This year as well as in previous years, more than ten thousand young people came to Medjugorje for New Year’s Eve from all over the world. Holy Mass of Thanksgiving for previous year took place at 6 p.m. and Fr. Svetozar Kraljevic was the main celebrant. Live Nativity scene followed and members of Cenacolo community recited parts from Gospel, sang and performed the events from Bethlehem. Adoration of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament followed from 10 to 11 p.m. and was led by Fr. Miljenko Steko.
Holy Mass began at 11.15 p.m. in Latin language and Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Dr. Christopher Schonborn was the main celebrant, while Fr. Ivan Sesar, Provincial of Herzegovinan Franciscan Province, concelebrated along with 120 priests. International Choir and Orchestra accompanied the whole programme with their music and singing.
Kardinal dr. Christoph Schonborn - Medjugorje, 31. December 2009
Number of Holy Communions: 62700
Number of priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses: 1271 (41 per day)
In the previous 2009 there have been 1 378 600 Holy Communions given in the church, and total of 33 302 priests that concelebrated at Holy Masses.