Fr. Slavko's book, Pray With The Heart
It is a book that was specifically written for pilgrims while in Medjugorje. Whether you are by yourself, with a few friends or part a group during your pilgrimage, Pray With The Heart is an ideal prayer manual.
I have partly based my recommendation on my own pilgrimage experience while in Medjugorje. This book proved to be a much needed prayer companion that greatly enhanced my prayer time and helped me to encounter the Holy Trinity and Our lady anew.
This book is available in Medjugorje at the Franciscan Book Store, which is next to the Information Center and Pošta (Post Office).
Prayer is essential in our daily lives and even more so during a pilgrimage. Father Slavko noted that all pilgrims in Medjugorje are called to prayer in the morning and the evening, to individual and common prayer, but to prayer with the heart as well. To pray with the heart requires time. As Fr. Slavko stated, every prayer can be recited quickly without having met Jesus and Mary. This runs the risk of not only wasting time, but of never coming to like prayer; therefore, it is necessary to find time for prayer in order to pray with the heart.
Father Slavko's book is not about prayer, but is itself a prayer. It does not deal with how it should be prayed, but "...[I]s prayed as every Christian believer should pray - from heart to heart, from soul to soul, and from the painful cry of a miserable man to the merciful response of the God-man." (5) To pray with this book will greatly assist each pilgrim to enter into the spirit of prayer and enrich the pilgrimage experience.
To give you an idea of how rich this "prayer manual" is, here are some of the prayers it includes: prayers to prepare for Mass and thanksgiving prayers after Mass; a thorough examination of conscience and prayers before confession; Stations of The Cross for the climb up Križevac (Cross Mountain); the Rosary while ascending up Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill), and while at the Blue Crosses; prayers for fast days; prayers while in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Holy Cross; healing prayers; prayers to the Holy Spirit; a consecration prayer to Our Lady; and morning and evening prayers that help pilgrims begin and end their days with peace, hope and in the love of the Father and Our Blessed Mother. A common thread running throughout all the prayers is Our Lady's messages, urging each pilgrim to devote himself/herself to God through the Virgin Mary.
Father Slavko provided the perfect pilgrimage guidelines upon arrival in Medjugorje. In the chapter, The Places of Prayer in Medjugorje, he stated that whether you come alone or in a group, when you arrive in Medjugorje, go to St. James Church and pray, and pay homage to Jesus. Father Slavko stressed that this is the "...[F]irst step you can take in Medjugorje, to pray in the church and to meet Jesus like the shepherds in Bethlehem did." (13) He encouraged each pilgrim to open their heart completely. He also stated that a good pilgrimage beginning should also include confession. In addition, he noted that it is essential to take part in Mass and gives thanks afterwards.
|At the peak of Cross Mountain (Križevac)|
From St. James Church, Fr. Slavko recommended that pilgrims head for Križevac. Regardless if you are alone or within a group setting, strive to pray immediately as you leave the church. The walk from the church to and up Križevac will be like the road from Bethlehem to Calvary. Upon arrival at Križevac, the Stations of the Cross awaits you. Take your time to unite yourself to Jesus, which this book's Stations of the Cross prayers will be in great aid of. At the top, regardless of the weather conditions, Fr. Slavko encouraged everyone to:
Take courage. Pray your fullest under the Cross. Cry your heart out because of your sins. Open your heart before the Cross and you will know what it means. In this booklet you will also find a prayer of adoration before the Cross. Pray. Never mind the time. Whoever perseveres under the Cross, can go further, receive new assignments and have new experiences. (14)Father Slavko noted that the view from the top of Križevac opens wide in all directions, especially toward Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill). He encouraged pilgrims to climb it as well and to open their hearts again. He recommended that pilgrims repeat the climbs to both locations, as with each new climb there is a new experience.
|Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja)|
For those of you who do not know Father Slavko Barbarić, he is a legend in the Medjugorje community, and one of Medjugorje's most beloved Franciscan friars. He began working with pilgrims in Medjugorje in 1982, conducting numerous spiritual exercises and provided many talks about Medjugorje all over the world. His written contributions include many articles for different publications as well as books on the spirituality of Medjugorje, translated in more than twenty languages and sold in the millions.
Father Slavko died on November 24, 2000 on Križevac after having completed the Way of The Cross with parishioners. On Križevac, there is a commemorative boulder and plaque marking the spot of his passing. To view this location, please visit my other post, An Introduction To Father Slavko Barbarić's Book - In The School of Love.
May Our Lady Queen of Peace, clear the way for your pilgrimage to and guide you in Medjugorje.