This has been an almost overwhelming task to delve into Medjugorge. From the politics of the region, the internecine strife, the commercialization, the debunkers and defenders, the visionaries, the Franciscans, and the Church itself have all contributed to the avalanche of available information. For a good overview read this article.
Because I had no intention of doing a scholarly dissertation, I'm going to concentrate on the few articles of the dozens and dozens I read, which struck me as highly pertinent to the various view points which swirl around Medjugorge.
The first article I found useful was a scientific review of some of the testing the visionaries have collectively or individually undergone. This testing has been on going from the beginning of the apparitions--1981--and have been conducted as recently as spring of this year. Whatever the visionaries are seeing, their brains process it as a three dimensional vision, although it is not being produced by the usual optical pathways. In essence this means, that the apparition, or the energy around the apparition, is bypassing normal visual channels and directly effecting the brain in order to produce the effects of three dimensional sight. This is in keeping with information I've read about other visionaries, and the behavior associated with these inner dimensional visions.
Although science can rule out deception, psychosis, or hallucinogenic drugs, it needs to be kept in mind that science can not rule on the validity of the interpretation of the visionaries. In other words, while these six Catholic Croatians are apparently given a Catholic interpretation of the apparition, an Indigenous spiritual practitioner may see the same apparition and be given an entirely different interpretation. Both groups of visionaries might see very much the same person, but their interpretations of that vision will be colored by their own personal and cultural contexts. I'm not saying that the Medjugorge visionaries are not in fact seeing the Mother of God, but I am saying that the identity Catholics rightly call Mary, may also be the same inner dimensional identity that the Assiniboine call Traveling Day Woman. If Mary is truly the Queen of Peace and Queen of the World it would make sense that she be seen within different cultural and spiritual contexts.
Another facet of Medjugorge apparitions that I found intriguing is the fact they took place in Medjugorge. This is an area of brutal and vicious attempts at genocide. Here's a synchronistic fact. Five months after the Marian visions began at Medjugorge, similar visions started for a group of similar aged girls in Rawanda. In both cases the Marian apparition predicted an ugly brutal war in which various factions would attempt to liquidate the other. In both cases this came horrifically true in the nineties. Mary seems to be appearing in geographical areas which are both historically dripping in blood, and bent on producing more of the same. It's as if she's targeting specific geographical areas.
Over the years, I too have gotten many messages from beings of light. Like the vast majority of Marian messages from Medjugorge these messages have repeatedly stated the ontological importance of love, and the necessity for total conversion, purification of ego, self denial, and a consistent prayer life. As I am a Catholic, they have repeatedly stressed Mass attendance and reception of the Eucharist. I have never been given the impression that anything I've been asked to do as a practitioner of Catholic spirituality is more 'truthful' than any other spirituality. It is for me though, as it's the spiritual 'matrix' in which I have had my spirituality grounded.
Interestingly enough, the messages coming from Medjugorge also emphasize that the love of Jesus is for all people and that faithfully practicing a spirituality different from Catholicism does not preclude one from life with Jesus. The issues are LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, seeing one's brother in the other, the inner connectedness love brings to all things, and the need for conversion to that understanding. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that the kind of conversion Mary asks for is the kind that tames the ego and subordinates it to the Spirit. This is after all, the core message of Jesus Christ. It also appears though, that her message of universal salvation is one of the reasons the Church has so far failed to approve the site as an official Marian shrine. Tell that one to the millions of people who have experienced it's power.
And then of course, there were the Medjugorge inter net sites which seem to be political in nature and making fortunes for their founders. In some cases individual Medjugorge visionaries are associated with these organizations. One such organization is Caritas of Birmingham, an American organization based in Birmingham, Alabama and led by Terri Colafrancesco. Caritas seems to attract rabid devotees and equally rabid enemies. There is no question that Caritas makes a great deal of money off pilgrimages and planned events in Alabama which occasionally feature one of the visionaries, Marja who is the last of the visionaries to claim almost daily visions.
Reading the Caritas site, and the writings of Colafrancesco makes one wonder just how much his 'conversion' has effected his understanding and living of Mary's core messages. He writes under the pseudonym A Friend Of Medjugorge and his editorializing of the message seems to come right from the worst of right wing political advocates. One day he is writing about the 'feminization' of American culture and how satanic it is, and two days later he writes a glowing piece about Sarah Palin and how the hand of God is in her selection just as it was when God singled out Joan of Arc to save France. It was jarring to read Mary's universal messages of peace and brotherhood and then Colafrancesco's interpretations.
To end this installment, I guess what I've found is that the truth of Mary's appearances and messages are being sadly exploited by any faction which thinks their particular axe can be sharpened on the fact she's appearing--excluding the people who have experienced real conversion. Medjugorge represents human nature at it's most enlightened best, and it's unenlightened worst. On well, the truth is, in the final analysis it's about choice. It always come down to choice, and the balance necessary in which to make informed choice.
Tomorrow I'll grind my own axe, because I happen to think what's happening in Medjugorge is important, that it's real, and that I've been given the same messages, but in a slightly different caste. If I've learned anything working with dozens of different psychics and spiritual practitioner's it's that the message is tailored to the messenger but the core message never changes. To paraphrase a political pundit, "It's about the love, dummy."