The following is part of a talk given by Jelena Vasilj, one of the inner locutionists of Medjugorje.
My name is Jelena Vasilj. I use to speak English. I don’t know if I do anymore. I haven’t been speaking to English-speaking pilgrims in a while. I’ve had four babies in five years. I’ve been doing other things. So, we will see if I remember anything. Please pray for me so that I say something which is of use to you.
I was born here in Medjugorje. I was a very small child when Our Lady appeared. I was only nine years old. I remember very well when Our Lady came here. It was the most beautiful news I had ever heard in my life. I felt immense joy in my heart when I heard that Our Lady was appearing to the visionaries. My heart, my soul recognized immediately that this was a very important event for my life. I remember still some people discouraging that joy. Some people doubted right away. I really tried to practice with all my life what Our Lady was saying to the visionaries. I still do. I was just like every other child here in Medjugorje, attending the parish evening program, going to the mountains. It was incredible to see how many people Our Lady called. On the second day, the mountain was full. There was so much joy and enthusiasm in this parish, just like now. To me, when I see Medjugorje today, it seems like the first and second day. Our Lady is still doing wonders among those who want to listen, among those who want to open their hearts. So I was basically trying to put into practice what Our Lady was saying to the visionaries.
I believe that what I received was a gift, and you know that there are so many gifts in Medjugorje. The visionaries, of course, are the center of the happenings. We are all grateful for their ‘yes’ because through their ‘yes’, you are all really able to receive so many gifts that Our Lady is giving to all. I feel that Our Lady is really calling many. She calls for the opening of the heart, and I see that She is calling people…I see that Our Lady really uses us as instruments. If we say ‘yes’ and it is a very small ‘yes’, it is a very small step, but that small yes can really open a path to grace for other people. This is what the visionaries did. This is what we did as children because Our Lady, when She came to Medjugorje, She didn’t talk to the wisest of the town…She used children. She used young people. She said that young people are Her hope and young people are open to God. Often times we complain about young people when we say that they are not listening, they are not following. But young people probably don’t have very strong models. They don’t hear a very strong voice.
When Our Lady comes among young people, young people are following immediately because young people need to see that people are faithful. If adults are teaching certain things but not living it, it can be very misleading for young people that either way are not very stable. So this is why they need a stable adult in people because I’m an adult now too. But when Our Lady came to us as a teacher, we were all so powerfully drawn to Her. We really felt that we were in Her heart, that She brought us together with Jesus in Her womb. We were really learning about the love of God. We were really experiencing God’s mercy. She really was teaching us what it means to know God as a person because somehow we, our faith, for us is always left out somewhere in the margin and it doesn’t sink deep within. Young people probably have a greater ability to open their heart. Why am I repeating this, because Our Lady chose young people and those were the ones evangelizing the parish. Our Lady was telling us in the prayer group. These words sound impossible for a young person, but they really were true. She would say ‘get up at 5:30 a.m. in the morning and pray (this is for young people of thirteen, fourteen, fifteen). It is almost unbelievable that young people would do something like that, and these were all very normal young people.
I was just talking to a friend that was in our prayer group. Our Lady didn’t have problems thinking that someone was mature, that someone was able to understand, that someone was deeply spiritual. She basically invited all. All young people were invited. Then She said, after you have prayed by yourself, then call your family for prayer. So people were praying personally and then we would get up and pray together with our families at 6:00 a.m. For Our Lady, this was the best time for family prayer. These were the miracles Our Lady was working among us, changing hearts, changing families, bringing hope, bringing joy, bringing union, bringing tremendous peace. We still have to be faithful to this call, even within our own (my family). I see that if I start doubting, if I become, lets say ‘irrational’, I’m trying to maybe overuse my reason which means seeing peoples’ faults and becoming discouraged, saying “no, this is not possible. People are just not responding. They are not ready, etc.” After I become so tired of reasoning, I realize I just have to pray. I start praying and I see the family blooming again. I see the effects of grace again. I don’t know how many times Our Lady makes me understand that if I try to change my family, if I try to do something within my family, it won’t work. I can really exhaust myself, trying to change other people but the only thing I can do is change myself. The only thing I can do is find God within my own heart. I see how, just like She says, if you find peace in your heart, then that peace overflows. It goes into your family, and then from your family it goes out into the whole world. I think this is really the heart of Her message; that we all encounter Her love here. Our Lady said that Medjugorje is a place of prayer, but it is also a place where hearts meet…
…I was here with this prayer group for about eight years. We prayed with Our Lady for about eight years. She was teaching us what it means to be in Her heart, to pray with the heart. Then I went on and studied theology in the states where I learned my English. For 4 years I studied at Steubenville, building my heart. It was a wonderful, wonderful gift. I feel that I was brought from Our Lady’s womb into the Mother Church’s womb or better to say I found another womb within the womb of Our Lady. Our Lady is Mother of the Church, as well, and this was a beautiful and an incredible experience, growing in faith and growing in understanding of the communion of saints…I must say study good theology (there is a theology that can also lead us away from God), so we have to be careful that we stay close to the Holy Father, then we will know which direction to go. This was a great, great opening for me. I really am grateful that God gave me this great experience, but even after having studied all these wonderful things, after experiencing my faith also in a, if we want to say, in a rational level, I still feel a deeper call for entering into deeper prayer, because unless there is a personal meeting with God, who is a Person, God Who is more than a doctrine…but unless there is this inner encounter with God, the road becomes very hard. We can become very cynical. We can also lose ourselves on the way.
Fr. Slavko always asked me this question. We would talk about these things and he would say he understands that the greatest problem was motivation because we seem to know what to do, but for some reason, we just have a hard time putting everything into practice. The words from the Acts of the Apostles come into my mind when St. Luke talks about compunction of the heart, in English, touching of the heart. I mean this is what actually the Spirit does in us. The Spirit is the Great Mover that moves the soul. It is not just our own will, but it is something really above us. So when the heart is moved, which is love, it is not difficult to do all these things. When we talk about love, we are not trying to give an easy way out to people, but we are trying to give them a strong motivation, and try to help them understand the true meaning of our path because we come from the love of God. We come from His womb as St. John tells us and this is our destination. Our Lady’s coming to us, and especially during the Mass, Heaven is coming to us. I once had the opportunity to see a piece, it I might say, of Heaven, which is a reality in the Holy Mass. I saw lots of angels and Our Lord and Christ. Our Lady made me understand that actually the Holy Mass is Heaven coming to us. So whenever we go there, we actually are immersing ourselves into the Presence, the Eternal Presence…
Our Lady said to me that unbelievers are people who don’t know the love of God. In this way, being in love with God now, we will always remain very humble and we will let many people come to God. Because this is what usually happens. We think we know something, and then we become obstacles for other people who want to join the Church. They see our sins and say ‘no, this is not for me.’ But if we stay very humble and we really mirror God’s love and God’s mercy…
…When She appeared on the Hill, She appeared with the Baby Jesus. I was just talking with Marija’s sister, Milka*, and said to her that people don’t know her and people don’t know her experience. As if only seeing Our Lady once is not a great experience. I mean, how many people would like to see Our Lady only once? It would be an experience that would really mark our lives. I see in Milka’s face her gentleness which I am sure comes from Our Lady, because Our Lady is a very feminine and gentle being. Milka was explaining how Our Lady was continuously covering Baby Jesus with great affection and love. She was showing to the visionaries Baby Jesus and She was constantly trying to cover Him, which for me was a gesture that Our Lady was taking great care of Baby Jesus. She is of us and She is our Mother. I really hope that here in Medjugorje you can meet this Mother.
I must say that I have understood these things through my own motherhood. I am mother of four, and it has been a great gift for me, to understand better what Our Lady was saying here, to my own motherhood. I believe that women are especially called to talk about God’s love. We should not be convinced that our message is weaker and the people who do a lot of activities in the Church are better people and have more effect. I mean, I’ve been meditating on these days and I’ve been thinking to myself, do I really believe that so many activities that I can do can be more powerful than my prayer. I really believe that when we pray that has a lot more effect than anything else we can do. As I was telling you before, often times we try with human efforts to change things, but I’ve witnessed in so many situation that the hardest hearts can melt when we truly pray with the heart.
You will probably wonder after this talk, what is this prayer of the heart? I’ve been trying to convince you to pray, but I’m not telling you what it is. I will try in a few words to explain how Our Lady was teaching us to pray with the heart, and then I will stop because I know with my mellow voice you are all falling asleep, or at least you are starting to pray with the heart. Actually, what I saw later on was that Our Lady was following the pattern of the Holy Mass. We all have a moment of recollection. We all try to purify our thoughts and our hearts from everything that is an obstacle, and we ask God’s forgiveness. Of course, if there are grave sins, then we have to go to Confession, but if there are smaller sins that are not grave matters, then we can simply ask God to purify our minds, because what happens usually is that if God doesn’t purify your mind, then we are very distracted in prayer. And the prayer becomes very shallow. Simply, it means to transform our distractions to prayer. We pray for whatever comes to our mind. Often times, we have all these impressions in our mind and our eyes. We are talking to people. We have been seeing things, and all these things are in our mind. We can’t find peace. Our Lady said open your hearts to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to come into your heart and to visit you and to really purify the eye of your heart so that you can truly see. I must say that this takes effort. It can sometimes be five, ten minutes. I’ve heard some people are never able to avoid their distractions, but it is something we really at least try to do so that our prayer can bear fruit. Then Our Lady said when your heart is abandoned, She used this term, ‘abandoning yourself to God’, then you can meditate. You can read the Scripture, and almost like light, a light comes within your soul because the Word of God is like a light, as if you were walking in a very dark room and all of a sudden you light a light. This is a deep experience you have of the Word of God because the Word of God gives us direction, meaning and understanding. Our Lady said after you meditate, then you pray. What we usually mean for prayer is the prayer of intercession. So we pray for different needs. Prayer is more than just asking for our needs but is first trying to open our soul to God, trying to really encounter Him before we actually start asking for things. Our Lady also recommended that we never forget to make a proposal, something to do. So prayer is suppose to bring fruit. There should be a change. She said that we always have to experience a conversion in prayer. Our hearts should be touched, and we should become different people. Otherwise, prayer has no effect in our lives. Also, always end prayer with thanksgiving. If there is no thanksgiving, usually prayer has been very, very hard. So basically this is the pattern Our Lady gave us with prayer of the heart.
A last thing that I would like to say, also fasting is very important for all of those who feel they have kind of gone astray. They can’t find peace in their spiritual life. They are just going off the road. Fasting is a good way to come back. Fasting is a good way to reorder your soul, your passions. It really is the prayer of the body. We know that our bodies are also important in our prayer. This is why we kneel. This is why we do so many gestures in prayer. So fasting and prayer, together with family prayer, community prayer, prayer groups, with the Holy Mass at the center of our spiritual life, with spiritual direction, Confession. These are all the pearls that Our Lady is giving us, and I must say that they really are just forming our lives. I believe that if you, and I’m sure if you believe in the words of Our Lady, that your lives will be transformed too, as I am sure many of you already are so. I will stop here.