Sunday, March 26, 2006

Monthly news from Medjugorje

As Easter approaches It looks good to me to publicise some new insights which may help us understand it better.

Where better, for instance, than in Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina where a group of children and teenagers began to experience visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the summer of 1981?

It is a phenomenon which has continued to the present day, inlcuding regular messages which the visionaries report the Virgin telling them. This is month's given to the visionary Marija Pavlovic-Lunetti "for the village of Medjugorje and the world" on the 25th March 2006 runs:

"Courage, little children!
I decided to lead you on the way of holiness.
Renounce sin and set out on the way of salvation, the way which my Son has chosen.
Through each of your tribulations and sufferings God will find the way of joy for you.
Therefore, little children, pray.
We are close to you with our love.
Thank you for having responded to my call.


Every month the Camberley Medjugorje Centre - run by my wife and I - publishes a brief newsletter for its members and colleagues. The current issue is published below slightly adapted for the international readership.
A Gulf Revisited

The gulf between Christian and non-Christian is most acute at the great feasts. As we approach Easter I have become very aware of the huge gap in understanding which re-asserts itself at each great feast.

First, then, a look back to Christmas

For the Christian preparing for Christmas, there was a huge expectation on the way, which the secular world around missed. The joy in Bethlehem at Jesus’s birth was massive in terms of eternity and largely hidden. Despite the shepherds and the wise men, and the nastiness of Herod, It would have been a very minor entry in the society columns had they had newspapers in those days! Certainly the “celebrity” magazines would have taken no notice at all.

But for those involved it was huge. The expectation in the hearts of Mary and Joseph was surely particularly so? The astonishment of the shepherds and wise men must have been equally so!
In Advent we may not have got as far as that. What we had was something just as big, if not bigger - meeting not just the baby but the grown-up, risen-up, Jesus Himself! And that is most certainly the difference between us and the Christmas parties and booze-ups which went on around us. There was a real sense in which Advent was not just a simple run-in to Christmas. It was a bridge between November and All Saints and Christ the King celebrations and the end of the world. How enormous are the implications of the Bible readings for Advent and for Lent, those twin periods of special thought and preparation for the two greatest Christian Festivals. We are going to meet Jesus. Yes! That is absolutely huge. And we need to be ready!

Looking at Easter
In this allocation of time to sacred explorations, Easter comes about half-way.
Again as we prepare through fasting, and a good look at our lives, the secular world around is missing the point once more. We are going to remember and meet the Risen Jesus once more on Easter Day, just as we meet every Sunday when "two or three" (plus a lot more!) are gathered together in his name.

The very heart of Lent is our times of repentance. Forget the fasting for a moment! It's only done to help us concentrate on what God requires of us. A lot of people outside the church regard repentance as some kind of infringement of their "Human Right" to live sinfully! In North America and Canada, even our sister churches have had their knuckles rapped by the senior Anglican bishops. Let's not make that kind of mistake. Of course God loves us however much we may sin. That is what the Cross is all about. We must not make the mistake of assuming that we bhave as we like without it having an effect. God still will love us, but our lack of repentance creates a void between Him and us preventing that lovefrom acting fully.

"Verse John"

I cannot think of a better way to finish this than by quoting the famous verse which I hope is still taught to every Sunday School child and every candidate for Adult Baptism and Confirmation:

"God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16)

Every Blessing!

Ted Baty

This newsletter published by:
Camberley Medjugorje Centre, 25 Martindale Avenue, Heatherside, Camberley,
Surrey. UK. GU15 1BB.Telephone and Fax: 01276 20315 E-mail:
The Reverend Doctor Edward Baty, IMM, and Mrs. Hannelore Baty, Directors

Friday, April 07, 2006
The Guidance We Need?

The way I start each monthly newsletter is to bring the various website details up to date. This year, having done all that I realised, looking at the final, weblog, site that I had missed out a word. The word was “set” in “set out”. The message still made sense. After all we do want to “out” our sins before God and have them “straightened out”! It gave rise to a few thoughts.

How set we are in our ways, and how we need to re-set ourselves from time to time, rather as the captain of a ship has to check his course and make the necessary alterations.

Setting out - we need a map, or a chart if we are at sea, and a guide or pilot. Let’s start with the guide or pilot required:

Our Lady promises to lead us along. We have also the Bible and the Christian tradition to help us. The map: the Rosary, the Ten Commandments and the two great commandments set by Jesus out of the Old Testament for our guidance. Also the five headings, or perhaps “filling stations” - Peace, Prayer, Penance, Fasting and a Firm Faith. These are way markers which guide us like a constellation of stars, and each with its own nebulae of smaller stars and constellations.

Another analogy is to regard the two “dominical” commandments which Jesus gave us as the “Rule of the Road”, the Highway Code as it were, and the Ten Commandments as the fence or ditch on either side.

Go through the fence or into the ditch and you may find yourself in some trouble! For instance at a rather sharp bend on a fen road, careless drivers sometimes found themselves with the front and back wheels on either side of the ditch, and only a drop into ditch-water to look forward to. It sounds far-fetched but happened regularly. Equally odd was the same road a few miles away at a right-angle corner next. Drivers faced the River Ouse at this point. Occasionally drivers, having driven at top speed along the approaching straight, made it to the opposite bank.

All of which underlines the comment made to me by a County Councillor shortly after my arrival in those parts, “There are only two kinds of driver in the Fens - those who can swim and dead ones!”

Again driving through these flat lands along straight roads could be a curiously hypnotic experience. More than once I have had to ask my co-driver which towns we had driven through. The view through the wind-screen didn’t help - a straight featureless road, with wide ditches either side, and a distant misty horizon!

Another way is to think of the “Two Great Commandments” - to love God and love our neighbour, as the “Rule of the Road” in terms of seamanship. The Ten Commandments the become the buoys to port and starboard defining the channel to be taken, and the five features of the apostolate - Peace, Prayer, Penance, Fasting and a Firm Faith - as the way markers explaining the junctions, those places where we have to decide the next direction. Like any ship’s crew, we will need a pilot with knowledge of the locality to help us through.

The analogy with life is closer than we might think. We need guidelines, and we need assistance. We are promised this. With Jesus and Mary as our co-pilot and his assistant, we can find our way through the most featureless landscapes of our spiritual life as well as the tough and exciting ones!

Ted Baty
posted by Fr Ted at 12:53 PM 7th April 2006