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Former pastor sees Medjugorje as a call to stand up for values forgotten by society and church 

Looking back at almost 20 years of daily apparitions Father Ivan Landeka sharply sums up the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary as a crucial counter-culture at a time when the world has lost its direction and focus. Piety and spirituality are not to be ashamed of, says Landeka who served nine years in Medjugorje. 

(c) Spirit Daily

By Jakob Marschner in Bosnia-Hercegovina 

MEDJUGORJE – The Medjugorje apparitions are a call to stand up for genuine Christian piety and spirituality at a time when both are being set aside by the Church as well as by the world. This sharp angle on the body of messages given by the Blessed Virgin Mary is coined by the former Medjugorje pastor, Father Ivan Landeka, in an essay aimed at summing up and reviewing the events of Medjugorje before next month’s 20th anniversary of what many Catholics consider to be by far the most important and significant modern apparitions. 

“One of the main elements in the messages of Our Lady is that piety and spirituality are not to be hidden or to be ashamed of. Our Lady underlines this at a time, which is unfavorable for expressions of piety and of spirituality, which are indispensable for life. Let us not forget that these themes are very poorly and shyly represented in the preaching of the Church,” Father Landeka writes in the latest issue of the parish news bulletin. 

In the essay Father Landeka, with nine years in charge between 1991 and last year the longest serving Medjugorje parish priest since the apparitions began in 1981, draws on his experience and intimate first-hand knowledge of events in attempting to get to the essence of the messages given by the Virgin throughout all of the years: 

“Twenty years since the beginning of the events of Medjugorje is enough time to give us a sufficient distance to observe the beginnings and the ensuing development. A greater chronological distance facilitates a sober distinction between what is central from what is secondary, and allows the focusing on what was essential all the time, without ever being questioned. What is the permanent content of the events of Medjugorje throughout all these years? What can be considered as central, permanent and generally valid for the life of Christians today? In discerning the phenomenon of Medjugorje, this has to be continuously examined and underlined,” Father Landeka writes before going on to answer the questions. 

This he does in a way that clarifies Medjugorje as clearly counter-cultural at a point in history more and more dominated by strictly secular forces and powers. Over the years the Virgin has never ceased repeating that the focus and direction of the world is blind and false, and that true happiness is only found in God: 

“While we hear more and more about renouncing food for the sake of bodily beauty, Our Lady speaks of renouncing food – fasting – as an exercise in the imitation of the life of Jesus, and finding inner peace. While the opinion prevails that prayer can be replaced, as it is supposed to be just demanding and asking, Our Lady calls to prayer, without necessarily saying why or for whom,” writes Father Landeka. 

Singling out regular confession as a third dominant theme next to prayer and fasting (frequent Mass attendance and daily Bible studies complete what the Virgin Mary called “the five stones against Goliath” needed by Christians at this point in time), Father Landeka stresses that the understanding of the very term of “reconciliation” is currently distorted when compared to its true significance and meaning. 

His thinking calls to mind the words of local visionary Vicka Ivanković who has often repeated that peace as well as war originates in the hearts of all individuals – both before materializing as events on the surface of life. Therefore Vicka has kept on underlining that peace of heart has to be established before going on to pray for peace on family, community and global levels as well. 

“While speaking of reconciliation, we strongly think about its underlying political, social and public aspect. Our Lady speaks of reconciliation with God and with oneself. Integral reconciliation means reconciliation of inner tensions and enmities within a person, because these tensions and enmities remain within man even when political, social and public peace is assured,” writes Father Landeka. 

“All this says that Medjugorje and similar movements in the world are a real need of Christianity today, and that – if we approach them with faith –  they will fulfil their role in a period of the life of the Church. They will fulfill it also because, in their way, they underline principally what is essential in the Gospel,” the former Medjugorje pastor concludes. 

In Medjugorje much focus is currently placed on preparing for Pentecost through the Holy Spirit novena. Though this would be the case no matter what, it also represents a response to the Virgin’s latest message of May 25th. Obviously still not satisfied with the current outlook and choices of mankind, the Virgin Mary here continues to deal with her children’s priorities in life, the common theme of her three latest calls from Medjugorje: 

“Dear children! At this time of grace, I call you to prayer. Little children, you work much but without God's blessing. Bless and seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to lead you at this time so that you may comprehend and live in the grace of this time. Convert, little children, and kneel in the silence of your hearts. Put God in the center of your being so that, in that way, you can witness in joy the beauty that God continually gives in your life. Thank you for having responded to my call,” the message says in its entirety. 

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