“LET HOLY MASS BE LIFE FOR YOU”
A reflection on Mary's call at Medjugorje to Live the Mass
— by Fr. Al Winshman, S.J., Director
Marian Renewal Ministry
319 Concord Rd
Weston, MA 02493-1310
“The Mass is the greatest prayer of God. You will never be able to understand its greatness. That is why you must be perfect and humble at Mass, and you should prepare yourselves there.” This message of our Mother Mary at Medjugorje in 1983 [undated] puts us into the heart of her call to prayer, penance and conversion. For Mary the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most perfect prayer, and in living the Mass we will be converted. For in the Mass we come to the cross of Jesus with our Mother to share in His sacrificial love. “Yes, God so loved the world (everyone conceived into this life) that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.” [Jn.3:16]
Just one week into the daily 5:40 evening apparitions, on July 1, 1981, the pastor, Fr. Jozo Zovko, established an evening Mass to follow immediately at 6:00. The people flocked to the church for Mass and came early to prepare for Mass with the Rosary. The Blessed Virgin told the children, “The evening Mass must be kept permanently.” [10/6/81] When the six visionaries proposed coming to the church for the apparitions, she responded, “I invite you very specially to participate at Mass. Wait for me at church, that is the agreeable place.” [1/11/82] From January 1982 to April 1984, the young visionaries prayed and visited with Our Lady in a little side room to the right of the sanctuary, now known as the Apparition Chapel.
Now more than eleven years later, when under attack this past year as well as in peaceful times, every evening the full fifteen decade Rosary is prayed and Holy Mass is celebrated. Mary, as a Mother, has had to teach the visionaries, and through them us, a deep respect for the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament. Marija tells us that once she lingered with friends from her religious instruction class to answer their questions about the apparitions, and in doing so missed Mass. Our Lady scolded her, “You would have done better to attend Mass rather than to satisfy human curiosity.” [10/8/81] Another time she told the seers, “Listen attentively at Holy Mass. Be well mannered. Do not chat during Holy Mass.” [2/19/82] At the end of one apparition [2/3/82] Mary instructed them, “Open the door (of the side room) well, follow the Mass well!”
Mary, as always, has been sent by our Heavenly Father to lead us back to Jesus and His teaching. She weeps over our lack of prayerful presence to God and our indifference to the Mass. In October 1984 our Blessed Mother confronted us on our inattentiveness and taught us how to grow in truly celebrating the Holy Mass. “I would like to guide you spiritually, but I would not know how to help you if you are not open. It suffices for you to think, for example, where you were with your thoughts yesterday during Mass. When you go to Mass, your trip from home to church should be a time of preparation for Mass.” Rather than trivial talk, gossiping or fighting in the car on the way to church, we should desire and long for the Mass and perhaps share on the day's Scripture readings. If we long for the Mass we will come early to prepare with prayer, rather than expressing our disinterestedness by regularly coming late and leaving before the celebration is completed.
The Blessed Virgin continued, “You should also receive Holy Communion with an open and pure heart, with purity of heart, and with openness. Do not leave the church without an appropriate act of thanksgiving.” How she weeps at the sacrilegious Communions of so many today receiving in a state of sin, with hearts and souls neither pure nor open. The following year [1985, undated] Mary told us how important frequent confession is in preparing for Mass, “You do not celebrate the Eucharist, as you should. If you would know what grace, and what gifts you receive, you would prepare yourselves for it each day, for an hour at least. You should go to confession once a month. You should consecrate three days to reconciliation, each month: the first Friday of the month, followed by Saturday and Sunday.” This is now done in Medjugorje. Such are the profound and incomprehensible graces offered us at Mass.
Our Blessed Mother's October 1984 message concluded: “I can help you only if you are accessible to my suggestions; I can not help you if you are not open. The most important thing in the spiritual life is to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit comes, then peace will be established. When that occurs, everything changes around you. Things will change.” As always, she respects our freedom, and needs us to chose God's ways with her, rather than Satan's ways that are destroying so many today. We must start young. In calling families to renew family prayer, she said, “Encourage the very young to prayer and the children to go to Holy Mass.” [3/7/83] We must always invoke the aid of the Holy Spirit in celebrating the Mass. As Mary has told us, “I call you to a more active prayer and attendance at Holy Mass. I wish your Mass to be an experience of God. I wish especially to say to the young people: be open to the Holy Spirit because God wishes to draw you to Himself in these days when Satan is at work.” [5/16/85]
Seeking our growth in the Spirit, our Mother invites us not to be caught up just in our jobs, but to “work on your own self personally! Come to Mass..., show me your love by coming to Mass, and the Lord will reward you abundantly.” [11/21/85] “Dear children, I wish to call you to a living of the Holy Mass. There are many of you who have sensed the beauty of the Holy Mass, but there are also those who come unwillingly. I have chosen you, but Jesus gives you His graces in the Mass. Therefore, consciously live the Holy Mass and let your coming to it be a joyful one. Come to it with love and make the Mass your own.” [4/3/86]
Through interior locutions received by Jelena, our Blessed Mother has been instructing her special prayer group in Medjugorje. She encourages them to participate in the Holy Mass daily, even, if possible, for those working or going to school. [6/16/83] Mary told them, “Before Mass it is necessary to pray to the Holy Spirit.” [11/83] Now they have resumed praying “O Come Holy Spirit” daily before Mass. “I wish that the Holy Mass be for you the gift of the day. Attend it, wish for it to begin,” Mary told Jelena. “If people attend Mass with lukewarmness, they will return to their homes cold, and with an empty heart.” [3/30/84]
The Mass is a school of love. “Always have the love of God in you, because without this love you are not able to convert yourselves completely. Let the rosary be in your hands in memory of Jesus. Dear children, strive to go deep into the Mass as you should.” [6/1/85] This profoundly becomes, “Let Holy Mass be for your life.” [4/25/88]