Thursday, June 01, 2006

A rant for this month

This month's extended rant is on-line again for anyone interested.

The internet is curious. Loads of people giving their all by way of uncensored comment.

I have found two good fora for this:

It is useful for me to have a longer piece to publish this way even though the heavily-worked "Fr Ted's Newsletter" seems so well received.

So here is this month's extended thoughts on our common apostolate:


ON THE 25TH MAY 2006

"Dear children!

Also today I call you to put into practice and to live my messages that I am giving you.

Decide for holiness, little children, and think of heaven. Only in this way, will you have peace in your heart that no one will be able to destroy.

Peace is a gift, which God gives you in prayer. Little children, seek and work with all your strength for peace to win in your hearts and in the world.

Thank you for having responded to my call."

Fr Ted’s Newsletter

Practice makes perfect

We’ve been reminded this month to put into practice what we have learned. In some ways I learned to sail by correspondence course. That was not strictly true however. What I did was to take a correspondence course and use it to illuminate what I was learning out on the water, sometimes by myself, sometimes with an instructor. Reading about it, or paying lip service would never have been enough. This month’s message asks us to go beyond just hearing the messages, and to build on what we have learned.

Perhaps the biggest problem facing today’s churches is that it is easy to spout a lot and do very little. Indeed, mostly the members don’t even spout, they just sit there, listening and hoping something will happen. The Da Vinci Code experience caught many Christians completely unaware, largely because so many of us were talking about the faith and not demonstrating what it is about. It is certainly not about the sort of affair portrayed in the Da Vinci Code. A vibrant active and informed church would not be shaken by the kind of fictional nonsense the book contains.

Here is a list of other ways in which these expert spouters distract us from preaching, teaching and displaying practically the Gospel:

Homosexuals and lesbians need the Gospel but seem to get either a lot of political activity on their behalf whether they want it or not, or a lot of hate. The Church has to show it loves them;

It is the same with:

Those in favour of women priests
Those against women priests;
Both sides need to love, trust and appreciate each other.

Those in favour of women bishops;
Those against women bishops;
The welfare of the Church and its ability to demonstrate the Gospel should be enhanced, not hindered by whatever decision is taken.

Those for a Third Province;
Those against Third Province;
Clarity and good management should dictate what sort of province we have.

Those who like happy-clappy hymns;
Those (like me) who find happy-clappy hymns wanting, especially the words!
Didn’t St. Paul say something about not giving or taking offence?

Those in favour of …
Those against …

The list seems endless,

People are in prison for their beliefs;
People are killed for their beliefs;
Thousands, perhaps millions are starving;
Thousands are on the poverty line (maybe even millions even in the UK);
Thousands are homeless, living on the streets, sleeping in doorways or under hedges;
Children and teenagers are left to themselves, deprived of the support they need;
Drug addicts are dying, horribly and often very lonely;
Debt is increasing;
Divorce is hugely on the rise, and hurting more and more people;
Teenagers are getting pregnant in greater numbers;
Illegals are made to work for a pittance, ruthlessly and cruelly treated by criminals acting as gang-masters (should we, therefore, boycott British Farm goods. That would be an innovation but “Fair Trade” applies in the UK too! By the way, I buy local produce as often as I can).

And so the list could go on.

Does anyone care?

Yes, most Christians do, deeply but find it difficult to show it.

The Church to which I belong has a “General Synod.” It is, in theory, the governing body. However it is hi-jacked regularly by pressure groups whose actions have very little all influence on society even if carried out! General Synod is perhaps the prize example of “all talk and no action” in the Church of England. Maybe that is it what should really be, a talking shop where people can get their hang-ups dried out and aired, leaving the work to the people and pastors in the pews.

Back to our knees then.

Changing the world for good

There is a story about Pope John Paul II meeting a group of Bishops and Cardinals from a particular country. “Oh” he said “I gather there are lots of people hurting in your country especially about [such and such a problem].” “Yes” replied the visitors. “Then go and help them,” the Pope said. The visitors went away chastened, because they were trying to avoid the problem! Mind you I suspect the scene was repeated fairly often with groups from different parts of the world.

The underlying problem is the restless desire so many have to make themselves more comfortable. It is too easy to intone things such as: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Church had more/no lesbians or homosexuals, more/less women priests, to spend nothing on buildings, had/had not women bishops …?”

And so on.
Too many of us we want to make ourselves comfortable by changing others. Most counsellors and psychotherapists find out very quickly that never works. You have to change inwardly before you can change anything outwardly. In Medjugorje we are taught to begin by changing ourselves. There was a motto used by a commercial enterprise which ran “Changing the world for good, one by one starting with you!” In Medjugorje the message is to change the world by changing ourselves and our communities.

Remember the old saying “If you’re not beautiful at twenty, it’s not your fault; if you’re still not beautiful at forty, it is”! Our Lady has insisted throughout the events at Medjugorje that everything starts with inner peace. This gives us the solid base on which we can stand and begin to reshape the world around us.

Peace is a gift, so accept it

So we have to work for this better world beginning on our knees. It involves acknowledging our faults before God, and rejoicing and relaxing into that “Peace of God which passes all understanding” as the great Prayer Book Formula suggests.

Then, having prayed - and this means using proper approaches as well as meditations. By proper approaches I do mean something like the Daily Office, or the Breviary, or the Rosary, and including a goodly piece of Scripture each day with a commentary or “Bible Study Notes.”
Only then, I believe, are we set free to get up and go out and accomplish great things for Christ. Why! Because we have filled the resources cupboards of our minds with good stuff. There is an excellent organisation based in Sydney, Australia called “Fighting Fathers” made up of church people with experience of martial arts, and boxing or fans thereof. Such “Fighting Fathers” are ready to fighting the good fight using their experience of the pain, conflict, and discipline of the ring to enlighten their ministry, whether as a lay member or one of the clergy. They have discovered that when you’ve got ammunition, and ploys, and tactics, and a properly thought-out strategy - all in reserve, we deal with conflict and struggle much better. To borrow from the sales people - we’ve got petrol in the tank and we can “put the pedal to the metal” and drive out there and fight to provide more and more people with what they need.

Coming shortly ...
So I’ve had a good rant today. It’s Pentecost very soon. We need to be spirit-filled again. All I’ve written above is about the approaches we need to adapt to our own situation and the places we need to be, and the ways we need to help, the directions we need to go. However, above all we need to be in that “upper room” together with the other believers, praying and ready to go, willing and able to work with the Holy Spirit when it arrives!

Every Blessing

Ted Baty
The regular (shorter) newsletter is 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