You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back. (Isaiah 38:16-17)
June 25, 2023, marked the 42nd anniversary of the reported apparitions of Mary, the Mother of God, to six visionaries in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Hercegovina, which began in 1981 and continue to this very day. My pilgrimage to Medjugorje began unknowingly years before I arrived in the little village of heaven on earth.
My Spiritual Advisor, Fr. Francis Michael Bednar, died unexpectedly in 1999.
There was a darkness to come that would soon overshadow my entire being.
I had a very vivid dream the same week that Fr. Francis passed away. I was in a pitch black hallway. Fr. Francis had his hand on my right shoulder. I walked by faith in the darkness through a door into a brightly lit chapel where I knelt before Jesus in the blessed tabernacle. A statue of our Blessed Mother was to the right. Without a spoken word, I understood that Fr. Francis was telling me that no matter how dark things may become, I must remain with Jesus and Mary. I didn’t know at that time that there was a darkness to come that would soon overshadow my entire being.
Descent Into Darkness
I gradually became consumed by an unfamiliar and almost constant sense of impatience and irritability. Joy and happiness eluded me. I lost interest in the beauty of life around me. I felt detached. I couldn’t sleep when I so desperately needed to sleep. I was angry, I was raging. I was extremely unpredictable and emotionally unstable. Tragically, I couldn’t imagine that that I was worthy of being loved by another human being.
Ironically, the only place I felt functionally normal was in prison where I worked as a Correctional Peace Officer (prison guard). It was nearly a year before I was diagnosed with chronic depression and Bipolar 1 disorder. I embarked on an exhaustive roller coaster ride of intensive therapy. My daily pharmaceutical intake included a mood stabilizer, an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication.
I wanted to be better. I was doing everything I possibly could to be better.
Uniting my suffering through Mary to the suffering of her Son on the Cross didn’t take away my illness, but it did sanctify my illness.
Through St. Maximillian Kolbe and the Militia Immaculata , I joined spiritual forces with other consecrated members as a Knight at the Foot of the Cross (KFC). The Catholic Church teaches that no suffering is meaningless. Be it physical, psychological, emotional, chronic or incidental, all suffering has supernatural power when united to the Cross of Christ. This is called Redemptive Suffering. It’s our suffering freely united to Christ’s suffering as an offering to God for the sake of others. Uniting my suffering through Mary to the suffering of Christ on the Cross didn’t take away my illness, but it did sanctify my illness.
At the Foot of the Cross
Apart from the Cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven. – St. Rose of Lima
I believed with all my heart that I would find strength and healing through Mary at the foot of the Cross. I believe there is healing by the mingling of our suffering with the inconceivable agony of Jesus. This is an astounding paradox of the Cross. This is what we know from Calvary. God can take the most horrific scandal in the history of humanity – the crucifixion of Christ – and draw the greatest good from it for humanity. I was hanging for my life and the life of my family to this thread of hope.
My family had endured this darkness for seven years. Helplessly witnessing their suffering, as its cause, was far more painful than the illness itself.
My wife and I were crushed. The wounds of emotional scourging were gaping and unsightly. If our marriage was rolled into a hospital emergency room, it would have been declared mortally wounded and beyond saving.
I had lost count of the number of times I slumped before our Lord, present in the blessed tabernacle or exposed in the monstrance for adoration, pleading that my family be spared the misery of my misery.
God’s love and mercy would be made manifest when I received an unexpected phone call from a brother-in-Christ inviting me to join him on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje.
Široki Brijeg and the Blood of Martyrs
During this pilgrimage, our small group visited the Shrine of the Assumption of Our Lady in Široki Brijeg.
On February 7, 1945, at 3PM, Communist soldiers invaded the shrine, rounded up the brothers and priests and said to the Franciscan Friars, “God is dead, there is no God, there is no Pope, there is no Church, there is no need of you. You also go into the world and work.”
You are my God and my all. – Franciscan Martyrs
The communists soldiers ordered them to remove their habits. The Friars refused. One angry soldier took the Crucifix and threw it on the ground. He said, “Now, you can choose either life or death.” In response, each of the Franciscans knelt down, one by one and embraced the Crucifix and held it to their heart saying, “You are my God and my all.” They sang the Litany of Our Lady as they were being executed by firing squad. Their bodies were doused with gasoline and burned in a war shelter on the church grounds. Today they are buried inside the shrine.
Mercy Made Manifest
Fr. Jozo Zovko, of the Order of the Friars Minor, is a living member of the Herzegovina Franciscan Province. He was the pastor of St. James Parish in Medjugorje when the reported apparitions began in 1981.
It was on the holy ground of the Franciscan martyrs and in the presence of Fr. Jozo, as he quietly led us in the prayer of the Most Holy Rosary, where I received the most incredible gift from Jesus and Mary.
I was miraculously healed of seven years of depression and emotional instability.
I recall sobbing uncontrollably though, when looking to either side of me, it appeared as though no one could see me in this state. My fellow pilgrims were unaware of the miracle taking place in their midst.
Healed and Restored
It was no coincidence that my psychiatrist was previously a pilgrim of Medjugorje. I was prayerfully and carefully weaned off all medication without complications or set backs. My spirit was healed. My mind was healed. The heart of my marriage and family was restored.
I returned to Medjugorje in 2007 on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving.
In 2013, I organized a conference in honor of the Queen of Peace, through whom I received the miracle of healing and restoration.
In 2016, I was blessed with the invitation from Shalom World to share the testimony of my miraculous healing in a season 1 episode of Mary My Mother.
For those who believe no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation is possible. – St. Thomas Aquinas
It is my prayer that through our loving Mother and this testimony, many who do not yet know the love of God will come know Him and to believe in Him as the God of unconditional love, unfathomable mercy and abounding miracles.
Medjugorje Hollywood Movie News
“Our Lady has been waiting for you to make this movie.” – Fr. Jozo Zovko to producer, Holly Carney
Between the Mountains, a major motion picture about Medjugorje, is in development with the well-known Hollywood producer, Lucas Foster, and you are invited to help make it happen.
In this video, Christine Watkins speaks with the executive producer, Ann Vucic, and producer, Holly Carney, regarding the phenomena, fruits and miracles of Medjugorje and the great importance of making the movie and making it known.
Email Holly Carney at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help bring this worthy endeavor to fruition.
© 2023 Brian Kravec
Brian is a cradle Catholic, husband and father. He’s a writer, speaker, and the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Possibility Productions, a 501(c)(3) faith event evangelization apostolate in service of the Body of Christ.