Because of their parish namesake, the parishioners there have come to regard the statue as the Immaculate Conception. And what’s more, this image of Our Lady is also referred to as Our Lady of Tihaljina and Our Lady of Medjugorje. This is because many of the pilgrims who visited Medjugorje also visited the village of Tihaljina in order to hear the pastor, Fr Jozo Zovko, speak. Fr Jozo was the pastor of St James in Medjugorje in 1981 when the apparitions began.
In 1988 George, too, made a pilgrimage to Medjugorje that included a trip to Tihaljina. It was an over-whelming experience for the 21 year old, one that led him to stay on in Medjugorje for a few months. < br />
The artist’s attempt was to make the image of the statue more alive and thus lift heart and mind to encounter Our Lady in prayer. He offers prints and gift items of his painting as opportunities for moments of grace.
The basic messages given in Medjugorje are the call to peace, to conversion, to prayer and fasting with the heart, to faith, hope and love in keeping with the more radical demands of the Gospel.
Some of the basic requests found in the messages have been to pray the full Rosary everyday, to daily participation in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass, to make frequent use of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to pray with the heart, to Adoration, to fast on Wednesday and Friday of each week, and to surrender or abandon yourself to God.
I, like most of the 30 + million others who are said to have gone there on pilgrimage, humbly await those in the Church who have been commissioned to study the events and ultimately the Pope to make a decision concerning Medjugorje. Though I may personally believe and there are those who personally don’t believe, I should hope that we all would be faithful to what the Church asks of us while we await those who in their God-given authority make a decision concerning Medjugorje.
In the mean time, I do not error in believing and living the basic messages and fulfilling the basic requests because it is all very Catholic. Practically speaking, just a short look inside ourselves (not to mention taking a look at the world today) should move any Catholic of goodwill to live in such a manner as found in these basic requests.
However, there is one very interesting and important piece of evidence for my believing. In the Gospel Jesus uses it as an argument to the the chief priests and the elders of the people for believing St. John the Baptist: “John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him; and even when you saw it, you did not afterward repent and believe him” (Mtt 21:32). But why is that a valid argument and an evidence of authenticity? I heard Father Slavko Barbaric use a similar argument for those coming to Medjugorje. Who are they that have come? A short look will tell you that huge numbers are coming from every corner of the globe, every creed and walk of life. And what’s more, the the ‘tax collectors and the harlots’ of our day are coming in droves and are are having radical conversions. Later I heard St. Pope John Paul II explain that such radical conversions like those seen in Medjugorje can only happen by the grace of God. I was in Medjugorje for a total of 6 months and I personally cannot deny what I’ve witnessed. For many millions Medjugorje has been a well-spring of grace upon grace bringing them back from death to life in Christ and in the Church as they line up for the largest Confessional in the world at Medjugorje.