On the last day of 2021, pilgrims from Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Austria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Slovenia, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Mexico and Croatia visited Medjugorje.
Prayer vigil in the church of St. James's in Medjugorje a day before the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary and World Peace Day began at 10 pm, followed by a Mass at 11:30 pm, which marked the beginning of a new civil year, and Holy Mass was presided over by General Massimo Fusarelli, General of the Order of Friars Minor, with the concelebration of about a hundred priests. The Provincial of the Franciscan Province of Herzegovina, Fr. Miljenko Šteko, welcomed him to Medjugorje, and the parish priest of Medjugorje, Fr. Marinko Šakota, thanked him for coming, and in the end wished many pilgrims a Happy New Year in their languages.
"May the Lord turn his face to you and grant you peace. On this first day of the year, annually dedicated to the Mother of God and to prayer for peace, the words of the blessing of Aaron give us light for the new time that is opening before us: it is the face of God that shows us the way and gives us peace. Let us not begin the year trusting in ourselves and in our own ability to sow and obtain peace. We know that peace is a gift from above, a blessing addressed to us, a promise of good: Christ is our peace - it is a gift that comes from above, it is a blessing to us, it is a promise of good", were the words with which Fr. Massimo Fusarelli began his homily and called on everyone to "accept this gift of peace."
"In this solemnity which completes the octave of Christmas, we are allowed, as we prayed at the beginning of the Mass, to taste the first fruits of his merciful love. For peace is truly a gift of God and not the result of our own poor efforts'', Fr. Massimo explained.
''I have come as a pilgrim to this shrine to begin the New Year and to bring here with joy and faith especially all the brothers of the Order of Friars Minor, the Poor Clares and the many members of the Franciscan Family. I have made myself a pilgrim here in order to invoke on behalf of all of us a more living faith in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the centre of the cosmos and of history. I am a pilgrim here as the successor of St Francis, who "surrounded the Mother of Jesus with an unspeakable love, because she had made our brother, the Lord of majesty. To her honour Francis sang special praises, raised prayers, offered so many and such affections that human language could not express them." Thomas of Celano tells us this.
In this place, for many years now, many people have seen the flame of faith rekindle as they listen to the word of God and celebrate the sacraments, especially those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
And it is here that freedom opens up to discover the gift of prayer, especially through silence and adoration. And this is why so many have been able to taste the gift of reconciliation and peace in this place. Do we not find all this in the Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our sister in faith?
As St. Francis said we can truly become with Mary the house, the palace, the tabernacle of God in the midst of the world. As on her, so on us the Spirit of the Lord will rest and make his dwelling and abode with us. And we are children of our heavenly Father, and spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this way we can generate him through the holy work that must shine as an example for others.
This is the new life, the fruit of the peace that comes from welcoming Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary: this is the gift that many have experienced in this place and that many others will be able to receive. Let us pray that this work of God may continue and grow according to his will.
As on Her, the Spirit of the Lord will rest on us, and will find a home and abode in us", said Fr. Massimo Fusareli, and then concluded :"Our Lady, Queen of Peace, who made the Supreme Lord our brother, may continue to bless us and accompany us in peace. Happy New Year! Amen.''