''Dear brothers and sisters, this pandemic has deeply influenced our lives. It is also an opportunity for witnessing our faith, encouraging the hope and being active in charity through physical and spiritual acts of mercy. In this experience, we feel like the first Christian community, described in the Book of the Acts with a beautiful expression: “The whole Church was fervently praying to God” (Acts 12,5). In the same way, we in the month of May, in the communion with the Holy Father, wish to pray to God wholeheartedly so He would hear our prayers for the end of this pandemic.
Today in the special way, from this parish of St. James, in the absence of the Apostolic Visitor Henryk Hoser, due to his health condition, we wish to pray along with the Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Luigi Pezzuto, and the prayer intention is to pray for the immigrants, for all those who have left their own homes, countries and families in pursuit of the safety.
May this light, lit at the lamp in front of the Statue of Our Lady, here in our church, enlighten and transform this moment of darkness into the dawn of the new light”, said the Provincial of Herzegovinian Franciscan Province, Fr. Miljenko Steko, at the beginning of the Rosary from Medjugorje on May 15, 2021, and invited all those who followed the Rosary through media to unite with their families with us here.
The Initiative behind which the Pope has thrown his support, is organised by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization and it will involve 30 Shrines of the world in a special way, so that they might encourage the faithful, families, and communities to recite the Rosary to pray for an end to the pandemic and Medjugorje is among those shrines.
The Initiative under the theme “The whole Church was fervently praying to God,” (Acts 12,5) includes daily prayers in the shrines all over the world. Pope Francis opened the Marian month of prayer on May 1st with a Rosary in the Vatican Basilica broadcasted across the Vatican Media’s platforms, and the Marathon will finish on May 31st in the Vatican Gardens.
The Rosary in Medjugorje was led by Fr. Miljenko Steko and Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, while the novices from Herzegovinian Franciscan Province assisted in this prayer. Parishioners of Medjugorje parish led the prayer and the whole event was more solemn thanks to the singing of the Choir of the Queen of Peace from Medjugorje parish. The Rosary was broadcasted live on the official channels of the Holy See.
The prayer consisted of the glorious mysteries of the Rosary, and before every decade an excerpt from the Holy Scripture was read, as well as Holy Father’s letter given on the occasion of the World Day of the Refugees and Displaced Persons from September 27, 2020.
We prayed for brothers and sisters who were forced to leave their homes due to the war, poverty and unfortunate circumstances and went to seek better future as refugees in some other places, so that they may find within the Church a refugee worthy of each human being. We also prayed for all the people, especially for the Christians, that in the noise and multitude of information they do not forget to hear the cry of all those who suffer, all displaced persons, all those in need. We prayed for the doctors, nurses, and all medical staff, that they may never get tired to witness the evangelic purpose of serving the sick and those most in need. We prayed for Pope, bishops, priests and religious – that in the difficult moments of the mankind they may always be the witnesses of God’s love and mercy, carriers of hope to all the people, and that through God’s grace we may all be opened to mutual love, responsibility, and cooperation in prevention of coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the final blessing of the Apostolic Nuncio to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Msgr. Luigi Pezzuto, Fr. Miljenko Šteko, OFM said that in the “current dramatic situation full of suffering and anxiety that affected the whole world, we flee to Thee, Mother of God and Our Mother, the Queen of Peace.”
“O Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes on us in this coronavirus pandemic and console all those who are lost and cry over the lost of their loved ones. Console those who are anxious over their sick ones and they cannot be close to them. Pour trust on those who are worried over the insecure future and consequences for the economy and their jobs.
Mother of God and our Mother, fervently pray to God for us, to the Father of Mercy, so this severe trial would be over, and the horizon of hope and peace may be restored again. As in Cana, intercede with your Son Jesus, asking Him to console the families of all those who are sick and of all those who died, so their hearts may be opened for the new trust.
Protect all the doctors, medical nurses, medical staff, and volunteers who are exposed in the first line of the battle in this extraordinary condition, all those who risk their own lives to save the lives of the others. Guide their efforts, grant them strength, goodness, and health.
Be close to those who assist sick day and night: all priests and consecrated persons, who with pastoral care and the evangelic commitment try to help and support all they can. The Most Holy Virgin, enlighten minds of all men and women scientists so they would find real solutions to conquer this disease”, said Fr. Miljenko Steko at the end, and then the blessing of the Nuncio followed, and then he began the celebration of the Holy Mass with 19 priests concelebrating.
“We celebrated the Solemnity of the Ascension last Thursday. This Sunday, the Gospel profoundly strengthens the message of the Ascension – the message of salvation. This is the first profound message of the Ascension – Jesus is returning to the Father, but we talk about only one impression that Jesus is leaving. Jesus is leaving, but He does that so He would be more present among us. He said, if I do not go my Father, I cannot send the Holy Spirit on you, and the Holy Spirit is the profound presence of Jesus among us. Jesus is leaving, but He stays among us. Peter and the Apostles understood that very well on that occasion.
When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the Acts say that the Apostles returned to Jerusalem full of joy. We have all had the experience, when someone among us departs, we are sad. However, Jesus is ascending into Heaven and the Apostles are joyful. It is because the Apostles understood that Jesus was leaving, but in the way that makes His presence ever more alive among us. The fear that sometimes imbues us, the fear when we have impression that Jesus is far from us, this is hard to explain. Exactly this feeling brings us to profound living of our faith and surrendering to God. I am sure that hardly anyone among us did not cry out in this time of pandemic, ‘Lord, where are you? Can’t you see what is going on?’ I am publicly professing before you that I have said that on some occasions, and I am sure you have done the same. Am I right?, asked Msgr. Pezzuto, and added that there were certainly some resistances against God in this time of pandemic.
“Tonight, in this Eucharist we need to say, not just speaking about fear in this pandemic, but for any fear: ‘May the fear depart from my life, for the Lord is near to us.’ The Lord knows, the Lord sees, and we are not alone, we are not left to ourselves”, said Nuncio Pezzuto, and Fr. Marinko Šakota, thanked him and said “we are all grateful tonight since Medjugorje was chosen among 30 shrines in the world where faithful pray for the end of pandemic.”
“I am very content how Franciscans organised this event, and how you as the community responded to it, so we would all be part of the Marathon of Prayer that was initiated by Pope Francis. It is evident that Rosary in this parish is such a strong pillar, and this community is founded on it. To my knowing of Pope Francis, if he was here, I am sure he would have told you the same”, said Msgr. Pezzuto and invited all not to forget to pray for the Apostolic Visitor Henryk Hoser and his recovery, so he would be back again at his work in Medjugorje among us. (PHOTO)