Friday, 31 August 2007

Methodists and Medjugorje Story pt 9

I was pretty alarmed by what we had found at the Baptist church and having also recently learned that the Presbyterian arm of the URC were happily anti-Semitic I was looking at protestant churches with more of a wary eye than previously.

Just before we left the baptist church we attended a retreat with them. We could only attend for the day but that was more than enough!!
The ministers in a desperate attempt to save the imploding community had booked a weekend in which they offered confession to individuals and then a prayer service complete with exorcism!
They had decided to use the book "Pigs in the Parlour" by a baptist minister as their guide. It just so happened I had already read that book and knew it was poisonous nonsense. Essentially the man who wrote it was a control freak who used 'Satan-is-everywhere' scare tactics to keep his little flock in line. He shows off in the book about an appalling-and quite abusive-exorcism he performed on a little girl. Her parents were having problems with her behaviour that was all.

He also insisted that mental illness, particularly Schizophrenia was a sign of possession.

When we arrived we were immediately told this book was the whole guide for the weekend (though I don't remember it recommending confession).

My husband had already had a bad experience in a church where they had taken it upon themselves to perform exorcisms wherever they thought it needed. A young man with schizophrenia had been treated to a terrifying ordeal during a service that had caused him to rush to find an escape in his fear and confusion at what was being inflicted on him.
Needless to say my husband never went back.

I too had come across exorcism. Sr Mary Kate had sent me on a retreat some years earlier and during the weekend the priest leading the retreat was called away.
When he returned my friend and I asked if all was okay.
He explained quietly that he was the appointed exorcist and so got called out frequently to various hauntings and so on. He explained that he very very rarely needed to do much. If someone genuinely appeared to be possessed then they had to have been through proper psychiatric assessment and the whole thing had to be agreed by the bishop before an exorcism could be performed.
He had been called out that day to a haunted house. Three girls living together reported swinging lights, thumps and flying objects and were frightened. He went to see them. He did not perform even a blessing.
"I told them to get rid of the ouja boards, the cards and that shelf full of books on witchcraft and if it didn't stop after they had rid themselves of the invitations I would go back and bless the house." he told us.

I realised with this baptist church attempt at exorcism that they had no authority-no real guide to how to go about recognising real demons let alone getting rid of them.

The question of authority began to bug me.

Methodist church
I was heavily pregnant with son#2 when we began attending. I hoped to find some answers.
The minister was a woman and this gave me a lot of hope. I really thought a woman would be better-more understanding and better able to answer me.
I longed for the Catholic Church to ordain women-it was wrong (I had decided) not to.

But it soon became apparent that this minister was more confused about her faith than I was. She made contradictory statements and missed out chunks of Scripture that she seemed either not to like, or not to understand.
She was often away.

The little community of Methodists consisted of mainly old ladies and a few older couples. There were no children other than my toddler there. The old women were over the moon to see a family attending and pounced on me demanding to know why we didn't come every week and whether we should set up a creche (for 1 child!!) and so on.
We explained I was Catholic so we went to Mass the other weeks and no we didn't need a creche but thank you all the same.
They harrumphed over my Catholic status but no one said anything overtly anti-Catholic.

Then they invited a guest speaker a few weeks later and he spent the entire service telling us how evil Catholic priests were and how terrible the Catholic Church was.
To this day I don't know why I sat there and did not simply get up and walk out. Bizarrely I thought it would be rude!!

So that was the end of our trip into Methodism.
We went back to going to Mass every week.

Meanwhile at my own church I had come across magazines all about the events at Medjugorje.
I began to get the magazine on a regular basis.
It taught me to say the rosary and so I took up the beads again and tried again.

More importantly the magazines said that Our Lady was telling the seers that the Mass was the most important prayer in the world. Nothing was more important than the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
I really wanted to go there and see for myself and prayed about it a lot.
But I got a very strong answer that I was not to go. Why go all the way to Medjugorje when I had a Catholic Church with Christ truly present in the Tabernacle just around the corner?

Medjugorje did not help me answer the questions of authority I was forming; not challenge me on contraception or women priests -my biggest problems with the Church, but it certainly helped point me back to the Eucharist.

I don't have anything to do with it now. The Bishops have condemned it and obedience is importance if we are to grow spiritually.

My husband then discovered another church near where we lived. It was a combination of three churches who had come together to form a new community; URC, CofE and Methodist. We decided to give it a go and we were to stay there for the next 9/10 yrs.

There was little conformity of belief here, and as each minister preached or other people made announcements about faith and Scripture the question constantly on my mind was "How do you know? Why should I believe you and not the other guy?"


Ttony said...

This story remains fascinating. I have never heard of "Baptist Exorcism" before: it sounds frighteningly bad.

Esther said...

Very good post. BTW, I don't think Medjugorje has been condemned.

MMajor Fan said...
The bishop whose diocese includes the Bosnian village of Medjugorje has urged six alleged Marian visionaries to stop claiming that Mary has been visiting them for 25 years.

Bishop Ratko Peric of Mostar-Duvno, Bosnia-Herzegovina, said the church "has not accepted, either as supernatural or as Marian, any of the apparitions" said to have been witnessed by a group of people from Medjugorje.

"As the local bishop, I maintain that regarding the events of Medjugorje, on the basis of the investigations and experience gained thus far throughout these last 25 years, the church has not confirmed a single apparition as authentically being the Madonna," he said. He then called on the alleged visionaries and "those persons behind the messages to demonstrate ecclesiastical obedience and to cease with these public manifestations and messages in this parish.

Since June 24-25, 1981, the alleged visionaries together claim to have received more than 30,000 messages.

But Bishop Peric said in his homily that "so-called apparitions, messages, secrets and signs do not strengthen the faith, but rather further convince us that in all of this there is nothing either authentic or established as truthful."

He said in February that Pope Benedict XVI expressed similar doubts when they discussed Medjugorje during the Bosnian bishops' visit to the Vatican.
I've repeatedly told people that anyone who thinks that the Virgin Mary checks in with a message on the 25th of every month is being sadly deluded. It is OCD attention seeking.

Philip Andrews said...

Thank you, again, for sharing this story.

White Stone Name Seeker said...

Ttony-It was frightening. I think what was so bad was the sense they were playing at it, believing they had the power to use exorcism and could use it as an excuse for the bad behaviour of church members. It was patently unsafe and absurd.

on Medj: as the local bishops have condemned it I am now very cautious. I think there is to be further investigation but as things stand -its a bit in the air.

Thank you Philip

God bless

Hugh Graham said...

I'd like to hear the reason for your assertion that the "Presbyterian arm of the URC" (which I wasn't aware existed) is "happily anti semitic". I ask in all seriousness being from the URC, from a presbyterian background and a member of CCJ

HomeSchool Families said...

graham I was told by a member of my FILs congregation. She said I must not say anything pro-Jewish in front of the presybterians. She was horrified I might put my hoof in it.
There have been comments even from my FIL. I love him very much-but I do find this side of him difficult.

HomeSchool Families said...

Hugh-the above comment was me,
but because I've set up another blog I seem to have lost my sig as WhiteStoneNameSeeker.

Must work out how to be WSNS here and a homeschool mum there. Oh the double life!

Joyful Catholics said...

Exactly my question..why believe so and so and not the other so and so?

I'm so very thankful and GRATEFUL for the Catholic Church! TO no longer be adrift in the wild sea of "so and sos' out there preaching every wind of doctrine to tickle itchy ears and assuage our 'fickle hearts.'

Great post and also, glad you're now driving! I'm going through a "soul housecleaning" of sorts, so I ask your prayers. I've posted my last post for a while, but I hope to be back sometime, God willing.


WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I will offer todays rosary for you.
And keep you in my prayers.
God bless you.

Joyful Catholics said...

Thank you so much for your rosary and prayers, WSNS. I do believe they were heard and felt very much yesterday at the Holy Family Shrine where I volunteer. I shared with a delightful young woman who is from St Paul Minnesota, and who is very Catholic at heart. She said she will be back to the Shrine again and come to Mass! She didn't say what denom she is, but it was a very nice conversation.

Also, I ask your readers to please stop by my blog and read my last post on it (until God directs me to blog again)

I would ask you all to consider purchasing the book I've posted of Father Kevin Fete's photography. It is stunning. I have been praying to him since he passed on last Summer and it's been phenomenal.

Thanks so much WSNS for your prayers. Bless you and all your readers. Come to Nebraska sometime, there's much happening here! Pray for our priests!