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Who was Mary speaking to?

On Saturday, there was this sobering message reputedly given by the Blessed Mother to a seer named Mirjana Dragivecic Soldo at the famous apparition site of Medjugorje:

"Already for a long time I am giving you my motherly heart and offering my Son to you. You are rejecting me. You are permitting sin to overcome you more and more. You are permitting it to master you and to take away your power of discernment. My poor children, look around you and look at the signs of the times. Do you think that you can do without God's blessing? Do not permit darkness to envelop you. From the depth of your heart cry out for my Son. His Name disperses even the greatest darkness. I will be with you, you just call me: 'Here we are Mother, lead us.' Thank you."

Was she speaking to the world -- as she did when the apparitions first began? Certainly, such a message would be pertinent to the way the world is going.

But few outside of the Catholic Church -- and more specifically, the Marian movements within the Church -- pay any attention to the apparitions, which have been going on since 1981.

Millions have gone there. Tens of millions. Was she speaking to them?

Was she speaking to Europe, or Bosnia-Hercegovina, where Medjugorje is located? Or specifically the village itself?

We ask because it's not a message that would reach the entire world -- as would have been more likely during the massive international publicity in the 1980s -- and seemed oriented at junctures to the faithful, raising a question:

Are those who were once devoted falling back into the ways of the world? Are they sinning? In so doing, are they "rejecting" this heavenly visitor who has caused massive conversions, perhaps their own? Is this the message?

It was like she is calling back her flock; it was as if too many have strayed.

There was the peculiar allusion, most of all, to "discernment" and that makes it seem like a message to the inner circle, which has often strayed into strange, dubious apparitions and messages from questionable other places.

Or did she mean discernment of the "signs"?

"My poor children, look around you and look at the signs of the times," she said. "Do you think that you can do without God's blessing? Do not permit darkness to envelop you."

This is fascinating because many priests at Medjugorje and lay activists have long discouraged the association of Medjugorje with "signs of the times" or prophecy. But now the Blessed Mother herself seemed to be admonishing us to do precisely that (as she has several other times recently).

Which brings us to the next question: what did she mean by "signs"?

Most would take that to be events in the world, and one can guess that a sign in the way she put it means a nudge from the Lord before events intensify.

Oil jolts, economic gyrations, swerving weather, fears of a pandemic -- none qualify as major chastisements (as predicted in certain secrets allegedly granted at Medjugorje), but all could foretell of larger similar events in the future.

A sign can be an omen or a pre-figurement. The message also confirmed what she said in the early days of the apparition, when she said that this is a time when "darkness reigns over the whole world" and "the present hour is the hour of Satan."

"Do not permit darkness to envelop you," she said -- in a way that could only be taken as pleadingly, and indicates that more and more are falling into that darkness -- perhaps within and outside her own circles. Is there massive "backsliding"? Is it because so many who once searched out Medjugorje through curiosity allowed her message to tickle their ears but not plunge into the depths of their hearts? Are we living as we wish or as she does -- for her Son?

The Blessed Mother was described as "very sad." According to the seer, "She only gave a  message and blessed us." It was particularly interesting in that Mirjana, who receives only a monthly apparition, was the first to obtain all ten of her secrets -- including ones she has described as containing very serious events for the world.

Are they approaching? Are we in a lull right now -- due to God's mercy? If nothing else, the "signs" could be seen as alluding to the evil around us -- since that was how it was juxtaposed in the message.

We acknowledge that the Church has not yet ruled on this apparition. We will obey the Vatican's discernment, when it comes.

But heed these words: "From the depth of your heart cry out for my Son. His Name disperses even the greatest darkness."

[resources: Queen of the Cosmos: incredible interviews with the seers]

[Michael Brown retreat, Toronto: prophecy and our current times]

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