Marija Bistrica, (IKA) – On September 10, the 286th Votive Pilgrimage of the Faithful of the City of Zagreb to Marija Bistrica and the Pilgrimage of the Young People of the Archdiocese of Zagreb assembled over 10,000 of the faithful at the Shrine of Our Lady of Bistrica (Marija Bistrica).
At the beginning of the main Eucharistic celebration, Auxiliary Bishop and
Episcopal Vicar Mijo Gorski of Zagreb, informed the pilgrims that the Archbishop Cardinal Josip Bozanić of Zagreb was unable to be physically present, owing to health issues, but was there in spirit and asked the faithful to keep him in their prayers.
The Mass was led by Auxiliary Bishop Ivan Šaško of Zagreb, in concelebration with Bishop Gorski; the Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Bistrica, the Most Rev. DomagojMatošević; and approximately 60 priests of the Archdiocese of Zagreb.
Every pilgrimage is a spiritual renewal, in which we open ourselves to God’s grace, but we also encounter the reality of sin and error, began the cardinal’s homily, which was read to the faithful by Bishop Gorski. A pilgrimage, continued the cardinal, is first of all a path that recognizes human limitation, wounded by sin, and the need for God and His goodness.
Commenting on the Gospel reading (Mt 18, 15–20) concerning brotherly rebuke, the cardinal pointed out that from the Christian viewpoint, every warning to another to correct his sins should emanate from love toward the other, from love toward the person.
Looking at life’s circumstances at the present time, we feel that we are being subjected to that which is contrary to the truth, beauty and goodness. What are violence, deceit and exploitation of neighbor if they are not opposed to life and the fundamental values of our existence? Asked the cardinal, adding: “If someone sees that another is in danger, because he has chosen the opposite of life, because he is going against the truth, beauty and goodness, why not warn him with love?”
Nevertheless, said the cardinal, this pilgrimage of ours says something else: “Here we are bearing witness to our closeness to each other, particularly in prayer. We are living faithfully in fellowship and in a way we are saying: It is nice that you exist.”
It is wrong to think that when we correct someone, when we send him on the correct path, that we are distancing him from us. Our objective must always be to attempt to bring him closer to us, for us to be closer to each other. Brothers and sisters, there is no more profound bond among people than through prayer and the sacraments, said the cardinal to the pilgrims.
In the continuation of the homily, the figures of Mother Mary and her fiancé Joseph were placed before the faithful. Those two, open to the Word of God and obedient to the Will of God, are role models for building relationships and mutual commitment to each other—said the cardinal, pointing out Joseph’s taking of responsibility for those close to him, permeated with love: “Love for someone is easy to verify by the measure of assuming responsibility for the other in his entirety; in concern for him and in seeking happiness and joy with God together.”
The cardinal emphasized that today in Croatia, our faithful love, which cares, which takes what is important to heart, is needed, so that we do not live in distress and tension.
Indeed, we must ask: To what are we prepared to pledge ourselves today, to incorporate ourselves into?Where is our delight, when we see how easy it is to twist the truth about a person, about the Croatian past, how the sacrifices of those who gave themselves for the Homeland are transformed into cheap goods for political trade-offs. As believers, we cannot remain silent if we see that the greatest treasures of our people are dissolving, thus calling the existence and meaning of love into question. As believers, we must not remain silent before those who do not act toward the person, the Church or Croatia with love but are constantly making accusations, sowing the seeds for the destruction of what is beautiful, true and good. It is not the worst thing to make a mistake. The worst thing is if there is no heart, no will, if there is no feeling of love and ardor for what has been entrusted to us. Then meaning is trampled and eventually there is emptiness, warned the cardinal.
At the end of the cardinal’s homily, he urged the pilgrims first of all, before our heavenly Mother of Bistrica, to thank God and to bring to her those whom they love;to distance themselves from the spirits of accusation and judgment that poison with their bitterness, trying to show everything as corrupt and meaningless, in order to take away our will to work toward the good. God calls us to take responsibility in our lives, to take responsibility in the family, in the Church, in our jobs and in the Homeland.
We often think that responsibility is left to others, some duties and services. No, the key is precisely in those called the “little people.” If we believers do not permit ourselves to be drawn into the trading of truth, beauty and good; if we are not part of corrupt and selfish plans, if out of love for the family, Church and Homeland we contribute to the goodand reject alliance with evil, the chains of evil lose their power, concluded the Archbishop of Zagreb, praying for the intercession of Our Lady of Bistrica, St. Joseph, St. Mark Krizin and Blessed Alojzije Stepinac.
The Mass was enhanced by the choir of the Church of St. Peter the Apostle from Zagreb.