It used to be that we would send a written message to a person by way letters or notes. But many of us have replaced bulk of our letter and note writing with emails and even texting. Because now we have more quantity than quality, we focus on efficiency--how can I reduce the number of words that write yet convey the same message. So in texting we use cryptic letters like, HAK. If you googled this term, you'll find that it means, "Hugs and Kisses." Even in our emails, we are becoming more terse and brief. There is one word that we typically leave out, the word, "Dear." It was a typical way for us to start a letter, acknowledging with that single word, the one to whom the message is intended for is, beloved or loved, cherished, heartfelt, and precious in one's regard. Does our omission of this word, 'Dear,' say something about us and how we convey message to another?
Our Lady who has been appearing since 1981 in a little Croatian town of Medjugorje, has not followed this modern trend. When she gives messages to the visionaries and to us, she always begins with the words, "Dear children." Her messages are meant not just for the visionaries or the people of Medjugorje. It's meant for the world. So in these two simple words, "Dear children," what is she telling us? That all of us are her children, and all of us are beloved, cherished, and precious. But how many of us earthly children realize that we are cherished and precious?
Several years ago, I was on a summer youth trip sponsored by the parish which took us 9 hours to reach by bus. I sat next to a young man who was graduating high school and thinking
about entering military. He handed me headphones to his CD player and said, "Here, I want you to here this song. It really reflects what I feel and believe." The song was called "Numb" by a rock band called 'Linkin Park.' And the lyric goes like this:
I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
(Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow)
Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
What feelings did you get when I read this lyric? Anger, frustration, disappointment. It's reflective of a young person who feels like rebellion, wanting to get out of the shadows of his parents and drop everything he was taught to believe, including God. To this young man, his parents and God were like strait jacket. I knew where he was coming from. When I was his age, that's what it felt like for me. As an act of rebellion, one thing that I could do at his age was to drop whatever I learned about religion. The ultimate freedom, I believed at that age, was to believe only in myself. That was the surest fact I knew. For those of you who took philosophy classes, this is reminiscent of Descartes' "I think, therefore, I am" axiom. But rugged individualism can only last so long. I quickly found out that I could not survive on my own. For one thing, I needed my parents' help to pay for college bills. I didn't like the feeling that I was dependent on someone else, yet I needed someone else. The beginning of my conversion was when God helped me to realize that He has placed my parents to take care of me from the very beginning. How much more, then, God took care of me from the beginning, I wondered.
When I arrived in Medjugorje during Thanksgiving weekend of 2001, I was already faithfully going to the church and was familiar with Blessed Mother's messages from Medjugorje. At that time I have been working for 3 years as an engineer and had a 3-year relationship that almost became an engagement. But providentially, engagement never materialized. I was again proud of being an independent adult, knowing with certainty that I would marry a devout Catholic girl and have a beautiful family.
I wondered at that time why she addressed all her messages with, "Dear children." By the time I arrived in Medjugorje, I was already calling Blessed Mother, 'Mom.' So I understood in some way that she was addressing me as her son.
But, I was an adult; why not address all of us as, "Dear all," or "Dear people"? When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico City in 1531, Juan Diego was already 57 years old. Yet Blessed Mother addressed him with, "Juanito," which meant 'My dear little Juan.' There is so much affection and motherly tenderness that shows in Blessed Mother saying to us, "Dear children," isn't it? We are still her little children whether we have become high and mighty in the sight of the world or have advanced in age. When we are children, we are still docile to our mama and daddy's requests. And these requests are not for our harm, but for our good.
The greatest grace I received in Medjugorje was receiving the gift to be able to be a little child. When Blessed Mother suggested priesthood to me in Medjugorje, I replied with docility of a little child, "Okay mommy." When we are little, we don't feel that our parents' requests are strait jackets like the song "Numb" sang by Linkin Park. When we are little, we respond with trust of a little child. Thus, Blessed Mother ends every message given in Medjugorje with the following words, "Thank you for having responded to my call." If we believe that through our adult eyes our efforts to Blessed Mother's call has been unsuccessful, she on the other hand believes other wise. Those of you with little children know how long it takes for them to finish a meal--forever. We encourage them when each spoonful bite has been placed in their mouth. Likewise, Blessed Mother encourages us with messages like this:
May 24, 1984 "Dear children! I have told you already that I have
chosen you in a special way, just the way you are. I, the Mother,
love you all. And in any moment that is difficult for you, do not
be afraid! Because I love you even then when you are far from me
and my Son. Please, do not let my heart weep with tears of blood
because of the souls who are lost in sin. Therefore, dear
children, pray, pray, pray! Thank you for having responded to my