An Exorcist tells his story.
This photo is one of many purported to be miraculous photos of the Virgin taken in Medjugorje. In the late '80's I was given a similar photo. The person was photographing a burning bush - burning yet not being consumed. When they returned to the States, the image of the Madonna appeared. The photo was much like this one, I still have it.
I was impressed because it hearkened back to the liturgical antiphon used in the Office for the feast of the Mother of God, January 1st. "In the bush seen by Moses, as burning yet unconsumed, we recognize your glorious virginity, O glorious Mother of God." It is an ancient praise offered to Our Lady. It fits the archetypal image of the Virgin of the burning bush at Sinai, as well as the more ancient image of the Virgin of the Sign, rooted in the passage of Isaiah, "Behold the Virgin shall conceive." If it is an authentic photo, then it is rather substantive, scripturally and theologically.
I'm not opposed to Medjugorje nor attracted by it. I am more disposed to wait for Church approval. Unlike others, I would never dare claim it is false or of the devil. This morning's Gospel reminds me of some who claim it is a deception. The crowds claimed Jesus cast out demons by the power of the devil, by "the prince of demons, he drives out demons." That's a serious charge to make.
I recently read a piece on Spirit Daily concerning an interview with Fr. Gabriel Amorth while he visited Medjugorje. As many know he is the chief Exorcist of Rome and has written several articles and books on the subject of exorcism. His opinion and discernment is highly regarded by many in the Church. It seems to me, if anyone would have some perspective regarding supernatural activity, it may be him. Here are a couple of statements he made in the interview:
Interviewer: In her messages in Medjugorje, Our Lady says often that Satan is strong and she invites us to pray, to fast and to be converted.
Amorth: Yes, this is true. In an Italian magazine, I had the occasion to comment on Our Lady’s messages where she speaks about Satan. She often spoke about this.
Interviewer: She underlined that Satan is powerful and that he wants to destroy her plans. She invited us to pray, to pray, to pray. In her messages, Our Lady spoke about the Rosary, about the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, about prayer before the Cross, and she said even that through prayer wars may be stopped.
Amorth: Yes. Through prayer, we can even stop wars. I always understood Medjugorje as a continuation of Fatima. According to Our Lady’s words in Fatima, if we had prayed and fasted, there would not have been World War II. We have not listened to her and therefore there was a war. Also here in Medjugorje, Our Lady often calls to prayer for peace. In her apparitions, Our Lady always presents herself under another name to show the goal of her apparitions. At Lourdes, she presented herself as the Immaculate Conception, in Fatima as the Queen of the Holy Rosary. Here in Medjugorje, Our Lady presented herself as the Queen of Peace.
Interviewer: We all remember the words “Mir, mir, mir” (peace, peace, peace) that were written in the sky at the very beginning of the apparitions. We see clearly that humanity is running the risk of war, and Our Lady insists on prayer and on Christian life to attain peace. In her messages, the Queen of Peace also underlines fasting, which is a bit forgotten in the Church. She speaks about fasting according to what is written in the Gospels - that through fasting and prayer we can eliminate all influence of Satan.
Amorth: This is true. First in Fatima and now here in Medjugorje, Our Lady speaks often about prayer and fasting. I think that this is very important, because contemporary men are following the spirit of consumerism. Humanity searches how to avoid any kind of sacrifice and so it exposes itself to sin. For Christian life, except prayer, we need a certain austerity of life. If there is no austerity of life, there is no perseverance in Christian life. I will give you an example - today, families fall so easily apart. They celebrate the wedding, but the couples divorce quickly. It happens because we are not used to sacrifice any more. In order to live together, we have to be able to also accept the deficiencies of others. The lack of spirit of sacrifice leads to the fact that we do not live Christian life in fullness. We see with what facility abortion is being committed, because of the lack of readiness to make a sacrifice to educate children. This is how the first reason of marriage is being destroyed. This is because there is no practice of making sacrifice. Only if we are used to sacrifice ourselves, we will be able to live Christian life.
Interviewer: The fruits of Medjugorje are numerous. Conversions are numerous. A theologian says that here, heaven came down on earth. Our Lady invites us to abandon ourselves totally to her so that she may lead us to Jesus. Isn’t this the essential for Christian life?
Amorth: No doubt! Medjugorje is really a place where one learns to pray, but also to sacrifice oneself, where people are converted and change their lives. The influence of Medjugorje is worldwide. It is enough to think about how many prayer groups came about thanks to the inspiration of Medjugorje. I also lead a prayer group, which was founded in 1984. This group is already 18 years old. We live one afternoon as it is lived in Medjugorje. There are always 700 or 750 people. We always meditate on Our Lady’s message of the 25th of the month and I always read this message in relation to a sentence from the Gospel, because Our Lady does not say anything new. She invites us to do what Jesus thought us to do. Groups like mine exist all over the world.
Interviewer: Is it true that Medjugorje is a “big mouthful” for Satan?
Amorth: Surely. Medjugorje is a fortress against Satan. Satan hates Medjugorje because it is a place of conversion, of prayer, of transformation of life. - Spirit Daily
A few days ago, when in the Gospel Jesus held up the Samaritan as an example of holiness, it reminded me of Our Lady of Medjugorje signalling out a Muslim woman as an example of holiness. I think the apparitions at Mejugorje should not be brushed aside, the faithful should keep an open mind, at least until the Church decides. A Vatican commission is currently studying the events once again.