Over 23 years ago the Founder of Caritas, known as A Friend of Medjugorje, began taking people to Medjugorje. His advice and the way he led those early pilgrims formed the structure for the BVM/Caritas Pilgrimages that is followed still today.
Today’s pilgrims who travel with BVM/Caritas to Medjugorje can experience a signature pilgrimage of the early days when holiness abounded, peace was everywhere, and conversion was deep. Almost a quarter of a century later, we still put pilgrimages in a position where they can experience what those of yesterday experienced so easily. Today the only thing different is that it takes experience, prayer, and an understanding of the history of Medjugorje to continually trail back to the early days of the apparitions and to know the graces that are still available today; graces as they first became available in the village.
The stories and life experiences of over two decades of pilgrimages, of taking literally thousands of pilgrims to Medjugorje, gives the Community of Caritas a great wealth of grace, information, history, and personal experiences that are shared with BVM/Caritas pilgrims. We say a “signature” pilgrimage as in the beginning days because still, after all this time, “A Friend of Medjugorje” continues to oversee that those guiding the pilgrims lead them in the way that he was inspired by Our Lady to do in the beginning. Caritas pilgrimages are the longest running pilgrimages without interruption, even during former Yugoslavia's civil war from the continent of the Americas.
12 Stars - Advice To Caritas Pilgrims
From A Friend of Medjugorje
• 1. Get your shopping done early in your pilgrimage and don’t take sidetrips. It is recommended to finish your shopping in the first two days of your time in Medjugorje. With that out of the way, you can place your full attention towards prayer and entering deeply into the grace found in Medjugorje. If you are not disciplined in this, you will fall into the temptation of entering shops on the way to prayer. It will be a distraction that will keep you on a superficial level throughout your pilgrimage. Free yourself from this temptation by simply getting your shopping done early.
• 2. Don’t be creatures of habit at the dinner table. Mix with and share a meal with different members from your group. Even if you have traveled with friends and family, split up at times and sit with people you haven’t met yet. You may learn things about yourself or even be healed from things that others say to you. The Holy Spirit has been active in bringing you to Medjugorje—as well as all those in your group. The more you meet those in your group, the more you will see that God’s hand has brought you together.
• 3. Separate from family and friends during your time in Medjugorje. It is important that you make time to pray alone, go to the mountains by yourself, and give Our Lady the opportunity to have your full, undivided attention so that She can speak to your heart. Many times family and friends will distract each other and prevent each other from going deeper into the pilgrimage. Discipline yourself to break away from each other at times so that God can deal with you one on one. Remember, even Jesus went to pray in solitude to encounter His Father.
• 4. Avoid restaurants and too much socializing. You were on your way to climb Cross Mountain. You pass by a restaurant and friends from your group invite you over for a coke. Two hours later, you wave good-bye to the group, but now it is too late to climb the mountain. These are the snares that catch pilgrims unaware. There are plenty of opportunities to share and socialize with your group during the course of the day, especially at the regularly scheduled meal times. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted from your commitment to prayer. If invited, politely refuse, and continue towards meeting your appointment with Our Lady, wherever She had inspired you to go.
• 5. Walk, walk, walk. We can’t emphasize this enough. You will not experience the grace of Medjugorje from the backseat of a taxi. These conveniences weren’t here 20 years ago, and pilgrims survived without them. Our Lady wants to lead you towards a profound life of simplicity. During your week in Medjugorje, don’t go towards conveniences and comfort, but offer all these little sacrifices and inconveniences for Our Lady’s intentions for your pilgrimage. You will be glad that you did by the end of the week.
• 6. Visit the mountains as often as possible. Make an effort to go up both mountains, Apparition Mountain and Cross Mountain, several times if not everyday during your time in Medjugorje. Get up early a few mornings, or make a midnight climb. We have never heard anyone regret the special efforts made to do so, as the grace received far outweighs the sacrifice. You cannot comprehend what you will receive, nor will you be able to fully explain it. There are no words that can.
• 7. Push yourself, but if you’re going to take a rest, do not do it in your room, find a shady spot in the fields. Our Lady has given many messages about experiencing God’s creation. Taking a rest out in the fields instead of in your room gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to use God’s creation to move your spirit. These mountains, fields, grapevines, and trees are part of a village that has been chosen to bring healing to the whole world. Soak up the sunshine from the sun which dances in the sky every evening. You could bring back with you a lasting memory of an encounter with the Living God.
• 8. Be on your knees at apparition time. Man knows how to give honor to earthly kings, dignitaries, and presidents. Everyone would agree that certain etiquette is required and expected of us when we are invited into the presence of royalty. If this is true of human creatures, what must then be our response to an invitation to be in the presence of the Queen of all Heaven and Earth? Is it too much to bend our knee to this Woman who bore the world its Savior? There would be no question of receiving Our Lady on our knees if we truly understood Who She is in the eyes of God.
• 9. Be at church for the Evening Services. Even if you have already been to the English Mass in the morning, we strongly encourage you to participate in the Evening Services at St. James Church, which encompasses the Rosary, the Apparition of Our Lady, Confession, Croatian Mass, and the Creed, 7 Our Father’s, Seven Hail Mary’s, and 7 Glory Be’s (7,7,7) prayer, known as the Peace Rosary.
• 10. Our Lady calls for penance and sacrifice. During your time in Medjugorje, move your spirit towards sacrifice. Go up the mountains barefoot. Get up early in the morning to go up the mountains. Spend the night on the mountain. Try fasting on bread and water, as Our Lady asks us to on Wednesdays and Fridays, if you haven’t done it before. There is a special grace, while in Medjugorje, if you fast. The more you give of yourself for Our Lady, the more open your heart becomes to receive the grace She desires to give you.
• 11. Come with a spirit of abandonment and surrender. Accept inconveniences and irritations with peace and offer them up to Our Lady. In fact, you should be prepared to have your patience tested. There will be moments that satan will strive to destroy your peace and tranquility. A spirit of abandonment on your part will prevent his success.
• 12. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation while in Medjugorje. Confession is a large part of Our Lady’s plans in Medjugorje. Priests are readily available to hear your confession and are often moved by the grace of Our Lady’s presence to be inspired in the confessional. We encourage you to go more than once, even if just a few days apart from the other.