IN PAX ET JUSTITIA / ON 24 MAY 2018 AT 19:40 /
It was the summer of 1981, on holiday in Sardinia with some fellow students: eight of us in a rented Isola Rossa apartment. Every day someone bought the Courier and we passed it until the evening, exchanging at lunch the news we had picked up.
One day an article appears on the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje, and we comment on it. Then it happens that once back home, it was September, in the church square in the Feltre district (Milan), someone brings up the apparitions. We were just over twenty years old, the university was still closed, our curiosity so intense that, precisely then, we decided to make the visit.
“Come on tomorrow we leave!” Antonio said: Giancarlo loads the car, Silvana and Marina add their things.
And so on towards what for us was simply Jugo (Yugoslavia). We left late in the afternoon and we traveled at night. We found the hotel in Mostar where I was surprised to see that the red grapes were already harvested. We arrived in Medjugorje, in front of the church in the village. It was in the afternoon and there was almost no one there. Immediately we looked for the sacristy where the children had an appointment with the Madonna. I opened the church door to see what it was like and I discovered, with surprise, that it was crowded with people, as if it were Christmas night in our neighborhood.
They were peasants, women and men, standing and praying. And that already seemed to me a miracle. And I thought: “It is as if, in my town, Masio, which is in the Monferrato, all of a sudden everyone went to church: communists, Catholics, atheists. All. Everyday because that was a weekday. I closed the door and went into the sacristy with the other four. There were a few other people, another three or four, and on the floor, there was a wicker basket where people put a folded piece of paper with a thought, an invocation, an intention, intended for Our Lady. We did the same thing.
Suddenly some boys and girls arrived, I do not remember if they were four or five. One of them I had noticed, had been playing the ball before entering the sacristy. They were talking to each other, laughing, joking. And we were there, without even being able to speak their language. We looked at them amused and amazed (but am I really here to meet the Madonna?).
When we went out into the churchyard, before the mass ended, the people came out, and an Italian gentleman, who was as curious as we had been, was skeptical of what he had seen. The accounts did not return, it did not seem possible. Yet he was there with us, and he had seen that on his knees and that ecstasy, too. He went to dinner, like us, in a tavern on the road near the hotel, thinking that he was free not to believe.
And us? We returned home, thinking of that church full of ordinary people, with rough hands, who went to Mass every day, because something exceptional had compelled them. And then those kids, the same as all the other kids in the world yet called to get down on their knees. And she did not squelch their desire to play football, to joke, to act their age. She did not censure anything, on the contrary … in addition there was that attraction, that Presence that called them to their appointment.
In the life of everyone, then, I am convinced that miracles happen. In a different way in form … but the substance does not change. It is always the same friendly Presence that continues to enter into everyone’s normal life. There are those who realize it, who instead is a bit like that middle-aged Italian, who took home his pre-judgment, thinking in his heart that it was also worth the trip. And then who knows.