Book Thoughts: Medjugorje: The Message

Medjugorje: The Message was a nonfiction story by Wayne Weible about his investigation of the supposed apparitions of Mary in the town of Medjugorje in the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia). Wayne was just a small-time journalist and reporter when a church friend gave him a videotape to watch about the apparitions. While watching it, he heard the voice of the Virgin Mary tell him his mission was to spread the message of Medjugorje. The rest of the book was his retelling of his investigation of Medjugorje, spreading the message, and growing in the faith.

Medjugorje is a small farming village. Back in the early ’80s, a few kids were walking home and saw a figure of a woman on a small hill near the village. They ran to their friends, inviting them to also look at the figure. The next day some of the kids felt an inner urging to go back to the hill. There they saw the woman again beckoning them to come closer. They climbed the small hill. When they got close they saw the Virgin Mary in detail and even heard her speaking to them. The ones that saw the apparitions and spoke to Mary are called the visionaries. In total there were six of them. Some of them only saw the visions in the beginning and now do not, while others still continue to see visions regularly.

The author, Wayne, visited Medjugorje seven times to investigate and interview all the people involved. Through the course of that time he wrote a multi-part column for his small local newspaper that went on to print millions of copies distributed at countless parishes around the country. Later he wrote this book, Medjugorje: The Message. He also went on several speaking tours around the world to talk about everything he learned as well as how Mary touched him through this work. He has since published many more books.

Wayne provided a good general overview of what happened in Medjugorje, but the format was not my favorite. I prefer to just read the facts and form my own conclusions. Because I didn’t know much about the story of these miracles, I found the book very interesting early on. About halfway through, I had enough information to make my own conclusions. I had to really work to finish the last chapters. There was nothing wrong with the later chapters. They were just reinforcement of what Wayne had already written before. I didn’t see the need for that repetition.

This book was really a story of Wayne’s conversion. It necessarily had many subjective statements based on the things he had witnessed. I am a skeptic, but I am also obedient to the Church. If the Church were to confirm Medjugorje as true, then I would believe it immediately. Since the Church hasn’t said one way or another, I remain skeptical. While reading, there were several things I questioned.

I felt Wayne got too wrapped up in the business of spreading the message that he neglected his family. I believe God wants us to work as hard as we can, but that work can never be at the expense of our family. With so much traveling and speaking, Wayne was pretty much never home for more than a week or two. That was unacceptable in my eyes. I can believe that he was called to spread the message of Medjugorje, but God would also not want that to harm his family. He needed to balance his calling with his vocation, which was marriage. One time he did invite the family with him on his speaking tour and visit to Medjugorje, but that needed to be the norm, not the exception.

On that same line, if Wayne felt he was called to neglect his family, the calling he got could not have come from Mary. Mary would never call someone to do something against God’s will. If the calling didn’t come from Mary, it could only have come from the devil. I was immediately concerned when Wayne said he heard a voice from within. I have felt that I heard an internal voice sometimes, but it has always been unreliable. Sometimes it said to do things that were good — they aligned with God’s will — but other times they were things that were bad. I just don’t think anyone can trust an internal voice. This is different than the Medjugorje visionaries. The voices they heard were external. They heard Mary’s voice right in front of them at the same time they saw Mary appear.

Another thing I questioned was Wayne saying that if something good happened it must be from God. I disagree. I believe the devil could perform miracles and actually help people but with an evil intent. He could use these miracles to wrap people around his finger, so at some later date when he tells them to do something bad, they don’t question it. He could also get people dependent on miracles to believe. Then later during a hard part of their life, they go looking for that miracle. When they don’t find it, they lose hope, stop praying, and abandon their faith. The devil is very subtle in his ways. He can fool people into thinking something comes from God when it is secretly the devil.

I was concerned with the message in this book because it didn’t mention anything about the Bible. Maybe Wayne just assumed everyone reading was religious and would know that the Bible is important, but reading the Bible was almost never mentioned. I think reading the Bible is just as important as praying the Rosary. In the Bible it is said many times that the faithful should be spreading the gospel. It doesn’t mention spreading the story of miracles.

Like I said above, focusing on the miracles can get people’s hopes up. God is not going to perform miracles for everyone. Only a very small percentage are lucky enough to experience, let alone witness, a miracle. We can’t rely on being blessed with a miracle to believe in God. A miracle is a good way to reinforce our faith, but we must be able to believe without seeing. I think Wayne should have written this in the book to not expect miracles to happen.

I also wish he would have made it clear that not everyone will be blessed like him for everything in life to just work out. Many, many times Wayne would give something away only to find he got something back that was worth even more. The reality is that most times we don’t get anything in return when we give. In fact, Jesus says it is better if we give without receiving. Reaching a point in our spiritual journey where we are able to give for nothing in return is the ultimate goal. The ultimate form of love is sacrifice, doing something for nothing. Wayne was very blessed in his life, but God calls the majority of the people to be sacrificial as Jesus was.

Despite my skepticism, I think Wayne’s life is a pretty good model on how people should go out into the world to help in the conversion of others. Wayne didn’t deliberately ask to tell his story. It naturally came out as he talked to people. Then those people spread the word, and he got invited to speak at events around the world. Like Wayne, I’ve never asked anyone to preach. Instead, I talk about the faith when it comes up naturally in my life. Here and there someone will ask me questions about the faith, or I will see someone do something wrong. I use those opportunities to the best of my ability to spread my faith, hoping everyone that hears me will be converted or become stronger in the faith. I know I will never be famous like Wayne, but I can spread the faith in my own way. This is basically about humility. I’m not better than anyone else. What I have to say is not better than what others have to say. I only speak when it is appropriate.

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