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Old 11th September 2008, 12:09 AM
Rob Rob is offline
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Default Medjugorje Youth Festival

This was my second visit to Medjugorje, again during the youth festival; the first was nearly five years ago. Last year I tried to get there but there wasnít an organized trip from the area where I lived, and when I found a possibility, it was too late. This year the situation was similar, but providentially I found a group of people mostly young people (and some older ones), including a priest and two seminarians who organized the trip from a town that was nearly 50 miles further away from my parish in Slovakia. They told me that the coach was full, but on the last day one of the places was left vacant and so I joined. I am sure that Godís Providence played an important part in this. So I joined and met people who I didnít know before, but it was great.
For those who donít know Medjugorje I will try to explain the place a bit and the typical program of the youth festival, this was the 19th. There were nearly 40000 people present along with 440 priests this year, a record. Apparently it was the second largest gathering of young people after the World Youth Day in Sydney this year. Next year, that is 2009, it should be the 20th Youth Festival, and it is expected that there will be a lot more people, but we know that there is another reason why there will be a truly large number of faithful. The youth festival is held every year from the 1st to the 6th of August.
There are mainly three important places in Medjugorje; Krizevac, the mount overlooking the village of Medjugorje where the locals built a great white cross in 1933 to commemorate the 1900th anniversary since the death of Christ. Faith has always been strong in this area, for example during the communist regime some monks died as martyrs rather than give up their faith in the local monastery. The second place is Podbrdo, the mount of the first apparitions, which is shorter and located more to the left. The third place is the church of Saint James, the local church; behind this church there is a wide area where most of the program takes place.
Here is a map of the area:

The first day, before arriving to Medjugorje, we decided to go to the sea in Croatia to have a swim, we stopped in the meantime in a place which is a replica of Lourdes where we had a mass. I cannot recall the name of this place but is near the Makarska.



Early in the morning of the following day after our coming and settling in one of the pensions, we decided to go up on Krizevac and pray the stations of the cross. We were lucky in having a priest, which I can tell you is a great blessing. We went up at half past four for two major reasons, first it isnít crowded at this particular time in the morning and secondly the sun is still behind the horizon; you donít want to go down from Krizevac at midday with the sun burning above you.



For those who object that Medjugorje is not a place of pilgrimage, because the apparitions have not yet been approved officially, I say that Medjugorje is in fact a place of pilgrimage, since the great white cross on Krizevac has existed there long before the apparitions begun and many people have since made pilgrimages to this place.
About the youth festival the typical program begins at nine oí clock with songs of praise and thanksgiving. These are followed by testimonies from a variety of people, usually two or three in the morning from 9:30 to 12:00. At twelve there is a pause so that people can have lunch then the program continues from 4 pm to 6 pm with more testimonies. At 6 pm there is a rosary (in fact two) in different languages till 7 pm, followed by litanies and the mass. At 10 pm there is the Eucharistic adoration.
Here is a website devoted to the youth festival with the typical program:

http://www.mladifest.com/medjugorje/...stival2008.htm

Here are the testimonies we had during the week:

http://www.mladifest.com/medjugorje/.../festival2008/

I especially recommend this page with these magnificent songs which are sung during the festival, my favoritesí are the ones listed under ďadorationĒ, sung during the adoration:

http://www.mladifest.com/medjugorje/songs.htm
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Old 11th September 2008, 12:09 AM
Rob Rob is offline
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This is the front side of the church of Saint James:





And here is the statue of the Virgin Mary in the front yard:



And this is the backside where the main celebrations take place:

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Old 11th September 2008, 12:11 AM
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Have a look at the immense crowd gathered here:

You can imagine the heat especially when there are 38 C and you are sitting under the sun!!!!. The umbrella doesnít help that much, so many people sit under the shadows of trees. Translation in many different languages is guaranteed by translators which can be heard on a normal FM radio under different frequencies. There are truly many different countries and people from nearly every nation, that is so amazing that I even found not just people from Italy, but even from Sicily and my own city. Isnít that amazing?
In case you are wondering that is how the Sicilian flag looks like:


Anyway to sooth the great heat one is obliged to get some fresh water from one of the two fountains that are located in the courtyard in front of the church, needless to say that I had to get there at least six times during the day since the water begun to boil in the bottle as soon as I came back to my seat.


On the left side of the church (from the front) are the confessionals (highlighted as 2 in the map).
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Old 11th September 2008, 12:11 AM
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Now this is an amazing place. There are so many penitents and priest that the confessionals are not enough, so priest hear confessions on chairs placed near the wall of the church and all around this area.

You know what this picture reminds me of? The Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and to tell you the truth, if someone asks you where is the Wailing Wall, tell them that itís located on the left side of the church of Saint James in Medjugorje. You cannot imagine how many conversions and tears are shed near this wall, in fact confessions can last even 20 minutes and the queues are miles long. I imagine something similar will happen immediately after the Warning.
On the right side of the church there is a little place with a wooden cross for prayer and quiet meditation, where you can light a candle:

Back behind the area where the main celebrations takes place there is a long paved sidewalk, again used for meditation and further away a metal statue of the resurrected Christ.

You can see that many people queue here because there is always a little droplet of water that comes out continuously from a little crack from the left leg of Christ. People place a napkin on the water that comes outside and use it as a sacramental for various diseases or illnesses.


On another day during the week we went up on the second mount, that is Podbrdo, the site of the apparition again early in the morning to pray the rosary. There is a custom whereby some people walk barefoot up or down the mount; the ground is uneven and full of sharp rocks, but to be honest every person I met barefoot didnít get hurt. The first time I went to Medjugorje I descended Podbrdo barefoot and had no problems. This time I tried to climb without my slippers, but after some minutes I decided to climb with the slippers because I couldnít stay in equilibrium since I carried a heavy bag on my shoulders. Ironically I got hurt two minutes later with my slippers on while I stamped on a little wooden branch.
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Old 11th September 2008, 12:12 AM
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This is the statue of the Virgin located at Podbrdo. This is where the Permanent Sign should appear.





One of our mates was a blind boy, I just hope he will get his sight back on the day of Healing. He was so full of enthusiasm that he climbed both Krizevac and Podbrdo without any major help armed with faith and his staff. He had some problems descending so we had to help him and support. But if he can climb, then almost anyone can climb these mountains without any major problem.
As I have mentioned before, after the testimonies, rosary and mass, there is a time of Eucharistic adoration. This is my favourite part of the program. There is nearly total quietness and the atmosphere is spiritually so much charged that during every adoration there is always a hysteric or even possessed that cries in despair. I would say that there are usually two or three of them each night and at this point some people gather around them in circle and pray while a priest performs a prayer of healing or even an exorcism. Other people, like one from our group did, can experience a powerful indwelling from the Holy Spirit, so much that they fall to the ground in a state of ecstasy and peace. This I would say is the core of the day along with the mass. I wish we could have such masses every day or at least every Sunday at mass.



Sometimes during the evening the program changes so instead of adoration, there is a procession or even a play from the community Cenacolo. This community was found by an Italian nun, sister Elvira for the drug addicted. The people who enter the community live for about three years and have a real change of life, most of them are young people who come from different places around the world.
This year there was a play about the Passion of Christ and some moments of His public teaching:

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Old 11th September 2008, 12:13 AM
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On the last day we went to see the Cenacolo community. Interestingly the people who live in this community all have to learn Italian, since that is their official language. Usually there is a testimony given by one or two people of the community about how their life changes. Since there wasnít a Slovak translator I did some translation for our group, much to my surprise. People in the community have a real though day, with prayer, rosary, mass and community living. They donít have washing machine so they have to wash their clothes in the community wash-house.



I think this concludes my pilgrimage to Medjugorje, which was truly a great spiritual experience. I intended to make this trip just before the Warning, so I could prepare spiritually, and I must say that for most part my wish was fulfilled. I asked God to give me a providential sign about my future, because at this moment I feel I am on a crossroad. Truly I have never understood completely what the Lord wanted me to do, what kind of future, I only wish I could follow whatever plan he has prepared for me. I am still seeking answers and I know I will need to pray more to get a clarification; please pray for me so that the Lord can show me His way.

God bless you all

Roberto
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Old 11th September 2008, 01:08 AM
Climacus Areopagite Climacus Areopagite is offline
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thanks for sharing Rob!

Wow I've never seen more confessions and confessionals in one place.
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Old 11th September 2008, 02:20 AM
Arax Arax is offline
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Thanks Rob. People are always telling me about their trips to Medjugorje, but after your photo post I feel like I've made a visit there!
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Old 11th September 2008, 12:56 PM
MA MA is offline
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Thanks Rob for posting these amazing pictures. I feel just like Arax, that I already visit Medjurge.

Keep praying, God will show you the way.

God bless,

MA
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Old 11th September 2008, 07:28 PM
Mary's Child Mary's Child is offline
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Dear Rob,

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experiences and for sharing your photos. The picture of the confessions was beautiful and inspiring. As you mention, the Warning will replicate this scene in thousands of places! God Bless you and help you with your discernment.

Mary's Child
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