With the kind permission of the Most Reverend Charles Jason Gordon, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain an invitation was extended to Fr. Leon Pereira O.P., a Dominican Priest, and Chaplain for English speaking pilgrims in the parish of Medjugorje in Bosnia & Herzegovina, to visit Trinidad & Tobago during the second week of Lent March 9-13, 2020.
Medjugorje is a small village in Bosnia & Herzegovina where the Virgin Mary first appeared to six (6) small children on June 24, 1981. The core message Our Lady conveys in Her own words, “I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God”. Fr. Leon, (as he is referred to) continues to minister to pilgrims from all over the world about the messages of Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of “The Queen of Peace!”
Fr. Leon, Snježana Zovko, the pilgrimage guide and native of Medjugorje along with Roland Patzleiner, an Italian musician resident in Medjugorje provided Lenten reflections on the theme “Encounter Jesus through the Queen of Peace – the Five (5) Stones!” Just as God gave David stones with which to defeat Goliath in that time, the message here is that Our Lady Queen of Peace, reminds us of the 5 Stones or “weapons” available to us for the current times. This message holds even during these challenging times amidst the current pandemic of Covid-19. Our Lady’s mission is one of peace that guides us to her Son, Jesus.
· Pray with the heart
· Emphasis on the full rosary to be said daily
· Fast strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays…all year long
· The best fast is on bread and water
· With fasting you can stop wars and suspend physical laws (i.e. work miracles)
· No one is excused from fasting except the sick, who should make sacrifices
· Many addictions can be overcome with prayer and fasting i.e., drugs, gambling, alcohol, pornography
· Fasting is also needed for conversion of ourselves and for sinners
3) The Holy Bible
· Place the bible in a prominent place in your house
· Let everyone read from it even little children
· Read especially the gospels
· Memorise it, root it in your heart and live by it
4) Monthly Confession
· Go to confession at least once a month
· Confess all your sins, hide nothing and trust in God’s mercy
5) Holy Mass
· Go to Mass regularly, daily if possible
· Go to Mass early and prepare for Mass in silence
· Never leave Mass without making your thanksgiving
· Treasure the Mass as the best gift to God’s people
Fr. Leon explained that it is not important to focus on the apparitions themselves as we are not obliged to believe any apparitions at all, and it is not strictly necessary for our faith. Apparitions though tell us what we need to do for our present time, for e.g. the messages to St Faustina about Divine Mercy (this is a time of mercy, because after this comes the time of Judgement). The message being repentance and conversion through daily prayer, especially the Rosary.
Fr. Leon continues to impart the messages of Blessed Mother and visited the Seminary of St. John Vianney & the Ugandan Martyrs; St. Finbar’s, Four Roads Diego Martin; Assumption Church, Maraval; St. Ann’s Church, St. Ann’s; Church of the Holy Spirit, Malabar; Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando; Holy Cross College, Arima; Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain; Queen’s Royal College, Port of Spain and the Centre for Peace, Port of Spain.
Fr. Leon reminds us that Our Lady loves us and that we should believe that she loves us all. “If you knew how much I love you you’d weep for joy”. June 24, 2021 marks the 40th anniversary of Our Lady’s appearance in Medjugorje.