Mauro (M): Father Tomislav, in these days there is a lot of discussion about Međugorje, about the apparitions of Our Lady. Several years ago together with some believers, together with some friends, we have founded the Foundation Fortress of the Immaculate whose purpose is to promote the human person and the Christian values in the spirit of the Queen of Peace of Međugorje. You have been in Međugorje from the beginning, so for us you are a living testimony, for us you are Father Tomislav, beyond what happened to you, because we have always seen in you the father, the priest. You have given positive testimony regarding Međugorje several times; we have also published the book “In Međugorje Our Lady is alive”. Today I would like to ask you: what is your opinion about Međugorje, about these events?
Tomislav Vlašić (T.V.): My opinion is the same as at the beginning: Our Lady is alive. I witnessed the phenomenon of the apparitions of Our Lady in Međugorje, I understood the greatness of the grace God offered the Church and the whole humanity through Our Lady. It is difficult today to talk about how powerful the event was at the beginning; not only did I welcome it within me, I also understood the living presence of Our Lady as well as the significance of the people: all the people, 99% of the people of the parish and of the neighbourhood perceived the presence of Our Lady – a great event. This profound impression remained in my soul and I have continued to live and develop this grace in me on the path of Our Lady. Today I must say that Our Lady is alive, I repeat it. I am not in Međugorje, I am far away from Međugorje; that’s why I am not able to say anything about the chronology, about what is happening, what the visionaries are living in this moment, but I can testimony two facts in particular: every time I go there and stop to pray, I feel the living and powerful presence of Our Lady. Now I live withdrawn, and I feel the living and powerful presence of Our Lady in these times, and I am grateful to God for this grace.
(M): Father, why are the Marian apparitions so important in these days, I would even say for the past century, even if we are speaking about Međugorje now?
T.V.: The importance of the apparitions of Our Lady – especially if we follow the grand apparitions of the past century beginning from Lourdes, Fatima and Međugorje – is that Our Lady appeared in difficult moments for humanity. At the moment of the apparitions of Our Lady in Lourdes massive atheism oppressed Europe; at the moment of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima a war threatened the Earth; yet, not just a war on the Earth but, as we have explained, also an interplanetary war was imminent. That is tangible today in the sense that all data we can read today shows that the Earth is involved in a situation of complicity in the low universe. Therefore God sends a more powerful instrument to Earth. Why does Our Lady come? She comes to lead the people back to Jesus Christ. Why Our Lady? Because She is the Mother of God, because She is our Mother, because no one else than Our Lady may lead man closer to God, to Jesus Christ, and her apparitions also indicate what the future of the Church, of the people of God and of humanity will be: the Church of Heaven must unite with the living Church of the Earth and not just of the Earth but of the whole universe. This is what the Scriptures say, and the Scriptures speak about the Woman, the Woman of the Revelation, and the Church believes that this woman is the Church, but at the same time it is Our Lady because She is the Mother of the Church. At the same time She is an excellent instrument, an excellent member of the Church and no one can manifest the life in God like Her who is assumed into heaven in soul and body.
(M): Which are the particularities of the apparitions of the Queen of Peace?
T.V.: The particularity lies precisely in the theme we can see in the apparitions of Fatima and in the earlier ones of Lourdes: to prepare the whole Church, the whole of God’s people to a correct, immaculate relationship with God, but what does this mean? It means that the content of our baptism must reach its maturity, as also Saint Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians when he speaks about the mature man, and on this journey Međugorje with its apparitions comes as a preparation for these eschatological times that lead towards the new creation, towards the manifestation of the glorious Lord; and this is a process and Our Lady wanted to guide God’s people towards this reality. That’s also why the apparitions of Our Lady have lasted for so long; God has allowed them to prepare the people, not to leave the people alone in these difficult days and tomorrow when bigger trials are awaiting us.
(M): These apparitions are also strongly opposed, especially many people are outraged by the daily messages. What do you think about that?
T.V.: This question is very important but it does not only refer to the apparitions of Our Lady or to the visionaries, this refers to all Christians. The true Christian should open the Gospel every day to receive the word of God; the consecrated people, the priests, recite and pray the Psalter every day, they pray and read the words of the Bible; but why every day? I believe that elderly priests may say that they have read the same words a thousand times, but in the end all words are concentrated and reduced to the essential. That’s why the words of the Beatitudes, which are brief, may change the life of men if they welcome them every day and allow these words of the Lord to transform them. Then, when we speak about the word of Our Lady who is sent by God, it is not a word read in a book; because in a book – even in the Gospel – the words can be dead or nearly dead when the people, the atheists or the superficial people, read them. When we talk about the word Our Lady utters, it is a word with incredible power. If the souls are open for it, they can be changed, transformed. Our Lady presents herself with few words because we are deaf, we do not want to go any further. In this time Our Lady wanted to prepare, really prepare, humanity for the times in which we are now and which will manifest themselves in their full extent and put man in front of a choice: either with God or against God. You can see well how the people have responded.
(M): Help us understand the conditions to enter the grace of Međugorje, to deeply understand it, to live it.
T.V.: The conditions are the same for every grace not just for the apparitions of Our Lady. We have received a bigger miracle that God has operated through Jesus Christ: the Eucharist; as you know, it is possible to participate in the Eucharist in a superficial way or to betray the Eucharist. Let’s remember the words of Saint Paul who says: «To participate in the Eucharist in an unworthy way means to consume death, to hurt oneself». That means that our response is valid for all graces, for the apparitions of Our Lady as well: we can understand this only if we give ourselves up completely. To strip himself of everything was necessary for the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He had to stand upright before God, so to say, as the slaughtered Lamb standing upright in all trials, stripped of Himself; we have to strip ourselves of everything that is the shadows of our selfishness and that prevents us from understanding the presence of Our Lady; there is envy and jealousy. I remember very well one of my encounters with von Balthasar in Basel when he said: “For the way we humans are, Our Lady could not appear in any place, to no one, … envy, jealousy, fights for territory, for parishes are everywhere …”, and yet Our Lady appears and it is necessary to strip oneself of everything to be able to see the presence of Our Lady. Therefore the condition for the journey of the people who want to receive all the power of the grace that comes through Our Lady is to strip oneself of everything.
(M): You have often spoken about the prayer group guided by Our Lady. What have you learned for your life from this experience?
T.V.: During the time I followed the prayer group I sensed the profoundness; I would say that I understood certain things; it was important for me for the steps to follow, but now I see that it was fundamental. This prayer introduced us into the life of the Holy Trinity in a simple way, through a visionary, a little girl, without any theological terminology, she introduced with simplicity. I still remain amazed of what Our Lady said: “Many pray but very few enter the prayer”. To enter the prayer means to enter into a living relationship with the One and Triune God. The Church defines herself and says that she finds her identity in the Holy Trinity, in the Eucharist, and Our Lady wanted to introduce every member and the whole group into this dimension with simplicity. My experience now is: the more I withdraw from my abandonment, which I need to enter into the relationship with the Holy Trinity, the more I remain on the surface; when I am in a living relationship with the Holy Trinity, then life flows. This is what the whole journey, all the commitment of every group, every religious community, every nucleus and the whole people of God should consist of. If God’s people do not walk on the pathway of offering their life to Mary Most Holy and through Her to Jesus Christ, then they follow the wrong way. You reach Jesus through her Heart because She is the Mother of the people.
(M): Do you expect the recognition of the apparitions?
T.V.: I suppose you refer to the juridical recognition by the official Church?
T.V.: This is one aspect of the service of the official Church, that is, to accompany the people; however, the real, authentic recognition of the apparitions happens within the people who welcome Our Lady. From this point of view I say that Our Lady has already been recognized in Međugorje by the people. This expression of faith, on which the Church based and measured herself when she proclaimed the truths, the dogma, is very, very important and I tell you that Our Lady, the Queen of Peace has entered a lot of hearts and there is a sparkling people that carries this spark and carries this life; this people recognizes Her. Do I expect the recognition? I expect the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. She will triumph and I would like to tell the people who have chosen Our Lady, who have welcomed Our Lady not to be afraid; Our Lady will triumph but remember well that Our Lady has already triumphed in the resurrection of Jesus by uniting herself to His sacrifice first. That means that the whole people must pass through the trials to be completely faithful to Jesus Christ and here the Mother herself appears to accompany her people.
(M): In your preaching the offering of life through Mary to Jesus has always been basic, from the beginning and since we have known you in Međugorje. What can you tell the people who follow Međugorje and want to enter the life of Our Lady, which pathway to take, how to set out in the best way?
T.V.: This is not just my preaching it’s the truth. God asked a woman, Mary of Nazareth, to welcome Him. She welcomed Him and She did not only welcome Him in her body but She welcomed Him also in her soul. She gave her life to God and continued to give life to his Son and She offered Him in her Heart. There is no other way to let go of the selfishness that formed in man when he separated himself from God. There is no other way to fully participate in the Eucharist. How can we understand the Eucharist if we do not fully participate in the life of Christ? And who may help us to live immaculately, as Saint Paul says, if not the One who has been immaculate from the moment of conception? We all have to walk on this pathway and She is among us and wants to help us, we just have to open ourselves to Her; we have to welcome Her and live with Her.
(M): In some messages Mary says that she wanted to appear on the face of the parishioners, of the pilgrims. Help us understand that.
T.V.: This too confirms the Christian truth: the Christians call themselves Christians, christs and Christ should appear on their faces. Who welcomes Our Lady is transformed in another person; every Christian, man or woman, should manifest the creativity of God and has to carry inside the paternity and maternity of God. Without that the power of God cannot act in man. We cannot reduce our Christianity to a theory because Jesus came, incarnated in Mary and must be incarnated in His people, in all His people. And the one who welcomes Jesus Christ will be transformed. This is the testimony of all saints.
(M): As far as I have understood, the profound sense of the apparitions of Međugorje does not only consist in the fact that it is a place of prayer where many miracles take place and many people are healed and consequently change their life: it is in fact the transformation of their lives into the image and likeness of Our Lady who is in the image and likeness of God.
T.V.: The Gospel speaks about this; Saint Paul speaks about this when he talks about the Christians, and we who worship the Mother of God and call Her the Mother, the Queen of the universe. Please let’s not pronounce these words like numbers of a game, like Bingo. These words have a profound meaning in God: She is the Mother, She is the Queen. If She is the Mother, then the grace of God generates us; She is the Mother of the Church.
(M): Would you like to greet the people as we are approaching the anniversary of the apparitions, and as it seems that something will be said regarding their truthfulness – since the Pope expressed himself in this respect while returning from Sarajevo – would you like to say something?
T.V.: I would like to say just this: I would like the people to welcome Our Lady with all the awareness of the Christians, to welcome the life of Our Lady and the life of the saints because the Church of Heaven is going to manifest herself and because the liturgy of the Church that celebrates every day the presence of the Lord is not a ritual: it is the celebration of the communion with the universal Church, with the Church of Heaven, in communion with Mary Most Holy to be united with Christ. There is no other way. Do not fear, do not fear, Mary’s people, do not fear. Mary will triumph because her Son will triumph. Go ahead with confidence. I would also like to say that hard trials are awaiting humanity, the Church as well. God will bring forward everything, and He cannot bring forward everything if He does not push the people to the full acceptance of God’s life which passes always through trials. This means that also the daily trials we encounter prepare us for the big events because in the big events also inner confusion will be created: fear, insecurity, uncertainty; and we are called to wait for those days deeply-rooted in God, standing upright, even if we have to suffer, even if we are tried. Never betray Jesus Christ; never betray Our Lady. When I say: do not betray, I mean, be alive together with Jesus Christ, be alive with Our Lady and manifest the face of Our Lady and the face of Jesus Christ to everybody.
(M): Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your explanations, and we ask you, Father, to continue to pray for us and to accompany us. We know that you have offered your life for Međugorje so that the plan of Our Lady may be fully revealed, and also for that we would like to thank you.
T.V.: And I bless you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
 Cfr. Rev 12, 1
Cfr. 1Cor 11, 28-29
Cfr. Rev 5, 6
Cfr. Phil 2, 15
Cfr. 2Cor 3, 18