|File Photo from 2011 Confirmation|
After reading what amounted to a propoganda-piece (in particular, the headline; and, for what the body of the article omits, specifically the part about Ananias and Sapphira*) that exploited the 2012 Confirmation homily of Bishop Ratko Perić in Medjugorje, I decided to ask Fr. Philip Pavich, OFM, for a complete translation.
There is much to take into consideration with regards to context. No one can read the mind of the bishop to know for certain what his exact concerns are. These things came to my mind as I read the homily.
- The area surrounding Medjugorje has become commercialized and with that can come greed. Certainly, this can happen anywhere there is competition with commerce. This would also be a concern regardless of the status of Medjugorje and it is true that people can exploit even approved apparitions for their own gain. However, I think there could be much greater problems in the face of any judgment that might include or reinforce a prohibition on the marketing of anything with reference to "Our Lady of Medjugorje." As I discussed in my last post concerning the CDF's recent release of the 1978 Norms for Discernment of Presumed Apparitions and Revelations, it is illicit to make medals and market prayers (even given away free) with the name of a presumed apparition, prior to explicit ecclesial approval.
- Few pilgrims probably know that in this small diocese several parishes were usurped in the 1990's by nine, rogue Franciscans not wanting to comply with a 1975 decree of the Holy See that the bishop was attempting to implement. More than 20 other Franciscans from the Herzegovina Province refused to sign a declaration of obedience to the bishop (and the Franciscan Generalate in Rome was involved). Those Franciscans remain without faculties even today. The usurped parishes continue to operate with men who suffered severe canonical penalties for their deeds and removal from the Franciscan order. They create disunity among Catholics in the region. They even brought in a fake bishop to perform "confirmations" some years ago. There have been requests by at least one of those parishes for the bishop to come and do Confirmations. Since they are not in communion with the Catholic Church, the bishop cannot go there. Those confirmandi, I believe, end up in Medjugorje, which is one reason why there are always hundreds being confirmed. Hence, the local Church has been dealing with a parallel "church" for many years - something of great concern for the Holy See. You can read more on this situation with all the detailed background in a post offering a full translation of the Holy See's decree, Romanis Pontificibus.
- The Holy Father stated through the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Allessandro D'Errico, on March 17, 2010, that he considered Medjugorje, "a question for which he feels responsible as the supreme head of the Church to pronounce a clear message." He acknowledged the, "great good that is being done in this region by the priests, the Franciscan friars, and the laity. And on the other hand he asks himself how come there is information in such opposition to this phenomenon." Many Catholics are anticipating a judgment from the Pope on Medjugorje before the end of 2012 so this was probably the bishop's last Confirmation homily before that takes place. Regardless of the outcome, people need to meditate on this excellent homily about Babylon, Jerusalem, and the story from Acts of the Apostles about Ananias and Sapphira.
Here, for the sake of truth and justice, is the full text of the 2012 Confirmation homily of Bishop Ratko Perić in Medjugorje. There is absolutely nothing to support the claim that he has softened his position in any way. He is a shepherd encouraging his people to avoid sin and live virtuously.
PEOPLE OF MEDJUGORJE: GET RICH IN gOD, NOT IN wealth THAT PASSes AWAY
The Bishop's sermon
Brothers and sisters, dear confirmandi!
BABILON Babylon. The Bible in the first chapters describes for us a strange undertaking of the citizens: "Let us go build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches to heaven! Let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the earth "(Genesis 11:4). The people, far away from God through original sin, intended to build a city with a tower reaching to heaven. In proud independence from God they were not able to make a rational decision. They began to build: the foundation, bricks, walls, enviable progress. But at a certain time the masons are not understood. They look for bread, and they get a stone instead, a hammer instead of a trowel. Babel or Babylon means confusion, chaos. God was not able to tolerate human conceit and "goes down to see the city and the tower that the sons of men built" and he jumbled their words "so they could not understand each other's speech". (Gen 11,5.7).
Sons of the same nation and language, of the same intention and crafts, as one till yesterday, now can not understand each other's words or signs. Someone might say that this is not a historical fact: how can you build a tower up to heaven? The Bible gives far more instruction on salvation than on historical data. But we do know that a tower of sin in human hearts can be built to the pit of hell. And the more that people think of living without God, of throwing his name out of their system and society, of bypassing God, wanting to create a common union or region, of making a name for themselves in this world, all the more do economic and political accounts embroil them.
- The heaviest blow that strikes the Church is disunity of the faithful, especially fragmenting of its servants. God expects us to everyone dutifully performing his task, and be their responsibility. Who is this elusive and works on his own, by the Church against the Church, this city of Babylon tower. God expects each of us obediently to perform his duty and bear his own responsibility. Anyone who dodges that and works on his own, bypassing the Church, against the Church, is building a Tower of Babel. He can even speak in various languages, but he is not uniting, he is rather tearing down and scattering.
JERUSALEM. In the early days of Christianity the Holy Spirit is revealed not as an invisible power, power from on high, but as a person. Like us, the Holy Spirit through Mary gave Christ, the incarnate Son of God, so we are risen and glorified Christ, together with the Father gave the Holy Spirit through the prayers of Mary, the same apostolic community in Jerusalem.The Spirit: Comforter, Paraclete, advocate, introducer into all truth. At the beginning of Christianity the Holy Spirit is no longer revealed as some unseen power, as strength from above, but as a Person. He is the Father's and Son's Gift to the believing world. Just as the Holy Spirit through Mary gave us Christ, the incarnate Son of God, so the risen and glorified Christ, together with the Father, gave us the Holy Spirit through the prayers of the same Mary, in the Jerusalem community of Apostles. He is the Spirit: the Advocate, the Comforter, the Intercessor, the Leader into all truth.
The historical "Apparition" of the Spirit was with an audible "roaring sound" and visible "tongues of fire." And the consequence of that Apparition was perfect understanding of each other, despite the diversity of nations and languages (Acts 2:2-6). That's the result of the wisdom of Pentecost. A consequence of this phenomenon was perfectly understand each other, despite the diversity of peoples and languages (Acts 2.2 to 6). That results Pentecost wisdom.
In Babylon the fruit is from the human spirit: incomprehension of speech, breaking down of unity, loss of name, ruin of the city, destruction of the tower. Misunderstanding and chaos! Misunderstanding and fuss!
In Jerusalem the fruit is from God's Spirit: unification, diversity of human gifts, respect of every language, nation and gift. Understanding and harmony.
All the efforts and services flow into one organism. The Church is put in order like the visible Mystical Body of Christ. Three thousand people were baptized that day. So that day of the Holy Spirit is the supreme sensation of God on earth, the manifestation of God's power among us humans beings. Only by the power of that Spirit are people able to build "a tower whose top reaches heaven," that will not be destroyed, and will "get a name for itself," that will last forever.
- Are we as Christians building a city of unity according to the plan of Christ at the Last Supper when he admonished his apostles: "Till now you have not asked anything in my name"? (Jn 16:24). Are we praying in His name for the gifts of the Third Divine Person, whose primordial attribute is unification and mutual understanding? The Second Vatican Council emphasizes the power of the Holy Spirit, the one who enlightens, sanctifies, vivifies, unites, rejuvenates, teaches and purifies us. The Holy Spirit gives us his seven-fold gifts, the seven basic qualities of his Kingdom.
Whoever says that they renounce the devil, as you, confirmandi, will now say, let them no longer even mention him, either by way of swearing or of cursing. Whoever has the devil in his mouth and on his tongue, will soon have him in his heart.
Whoever says that they believe in God, let them humbly revere him, and not blaspheme!
Whoever respect their body and preserve themselves in chastity and all those with whom they keep company, will have virtue grow in them and yield the fruit of life. Do not live in dire want and misery, but be heroic, chaste and honest, healthy in heart and body, strong in spirit.
Whoever's heart and hands cleave to earthly things, and forget God, will not go money-grubbing just to have more of it, but will also utilize frauds and defamations and thefts, jumping from bad to worse, to achieve his heart's desire. .
BOGAĆENJE, ALI NE U BOGU GETTING RICH, BUT NOT IN GOD. The Acts of the Apostles tell us (5:1-11) Peter exposed the hypocrisy of a husband and wife in the first community. The Bible honestly portrays even the most dishonest actions, wherever they may be.
Ananija, Ananias, one of the first Christians in Jerusalem, sold a piece of his property and in agreement with his wife brought the apostles only a portion of the money from the sale, the other part he kept for himself, yet he wanted to live from the community table. Peter called him for an interview:
- Ananias, where were you this morning? - I sold my property.
- For how much did you sell it? - For so and so much.
- Did you give all the money for the community purse as agreed? - Yes (but he didn't. He kept part of it for himself). And Ananias trembled before Peter's tribunal.
- And how much did you bury in the ground behind the house? Peter looked into the double-dealing eyes of Ananias. - I buried so and so many shekels, stammered Ananias, lowering his eyes in shame.
- Look at me! - Peter looked around him with a sharp voice: "Why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the Holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3), and said that you brought it all?
- I was afraid of sickness and old age for myself and my wife, said Ananias.
- Does not God care for you in your old age and in your illness? And for your wife Sapphira? While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours? Could you have left all the proceeds, since it was yours? - I could have.
- It means, you not only stole, but you have also lied. A Christian, and he lies. Not only does he lie, but he steals, he cheats. Do you see that sin always produces sin. "While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours: And when it was sold, was it not still under your control? (Acts 5:4). Had you sold it and kept all the money, it would still all be yours. You could have sometime even come to the community meal. Had you even sold it and kept a portion for yourself and said that you had done so, everything would have been in order. But this way: "Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings but to God" (Acts 5:4). You have not stolen from the community but from God. At these words, Ananias fell before the Apostle Peter and died. "And great fear came upon all who heard of it" (Acts 5:5).
Safira Sapphira. After about three hours, his wife Sapphira came in, unaware of what had happened with her husband. Peter was waiting for her at the entrance.
- Madam, tell me, did you sell the piece of land for so and so many shekels? - We did, the woman admits right away.
- How much did you bring for the community purse? -About half, so it seems to me.
- And did you say that you brought all the money? - Yes, we did.
- But where is the other half? - The wife stood trembling, the blood froze in her veins.
- They carried out your husband a while ago. As soon as the grave diggers get back, they will carry you out too. And at once she fell to the ground. And she died.
Brothers and sisters, what kind of punishments these are! Those who stood around were struck with great fear. God in the beginning let the people learn a lesson and start on the right path. "And great fear came upon the whole Church" (Acts 5:11). In a charismatic way Peter disciplines the whole community. If we will live according to God's commandments, then the seventh and eighth are of equal value, and the fifth and the sixth and every commandment of God!
What is actually the most painful thing in this event? Well, it seems to us to be that this couple - Ananias and Sapphira - did not have time either to repent or to seek forgiveness. It is sudden death. "Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself, but is not rich in what matters to God" (Luke 12:21).
Dear faithful, confirmandi! You have the opportunity to turn this Medjugorje into Babylon, confusion and chaos; to show a false pride up to the clouds, to give in to the race for foreigners and their money, to allow tourism to flood and defeat you with a multitude of languages, to compete over who will build the most Babylonian floors and villas, over who will open a profitable business and get richer.
You have the opportunity to make Jerusalem out of this parish, a place of action of the Spirit of God, where a multitude blends into unity, where each one understands everyone in God, and not in false wealth: where Peter's word is heard: "Repent ... and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit "(Acts 2.39).
You have the opportunity to live devoutly, not in pride, but to crush it in wisdom: not being selfishly avaricious, but advancing in good sense, not losing yourself in the immorality of your body, but gaining a true knowledge of God's saving law: not permitting a measure of envy, but rejoicing at true advice; expressing strength of spirit, all in the fear of God, and not weakness and a painful end like that of Ananias and Sapphira.
* Post edited to include comment that points to what is missing in what I allege is a propaganda-piece.
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