Saturday, 30 January 2016

How safe are you?

 
A new indoor mountaineering and abseiling center was featured on TV lately. It consists of a large hall wherein a 100 feet high “mountain” has been built with different routes one can climb to the top.

Some routes are just vertical walls with tiny crevasses for climbers to fit their hands and feet and pull themselves up to the top. Once at the top, you can walk from one peak to another on this false mountain via rickety bridges made from rope or wooden slippery logs tied together. Alternatively you can slide (abseil) down a vertical smooth wall all the way to the bottom and start again.

Youngsters as well as experienced climbers use this indoor facility to learn and practice before taking up the sport outdoors on real mountains. And it is perfectly safe. Everyone is tied in to elaborate harnesses and ropes which allow you to climb freely, and walk across unsafe bridges freely, yet, should you happen to fall the ropes would hold you and keep you suspended in mid-air until a supervisor pulls you back to safety.

One of the staff explained that it is a unique experience. The climbers know that they are safe because if they lose their grip or footing the ropes and harnesses will take over and save them from a fatal fall. Yet they are subconsciously nervous and fearful that they might fall.

This made me think about our relationship with God. We know He is there and that He loves us and cares for us. So, to that extent at least, we are safe.

Yet, sometimes our doubts and fears take over and play havoc with our Faith – especially when we face difficulties and troubles in our lives. We wonder whether He will help us or not.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 NIV.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lesson on Humanity

Human beings are very complex people indeed, compared to the rest of creations. Did you know, for example, that man is the only creature who would tear down trees to make paper and then print leaflets saying "Save the trees"?

Other creatures do not do that. Do you know why? Because they are too dumb to do anything, that's why. I mean, have you ever seen a parakeet bake a cake? Or a sloth make cans of beans to sell in the supermarket? The sloth just hangs there from a tree and sleeps for up to 18 hours a day waiting for humans to arrive and save him from extinction.

Let's face it, if you're going to sleep for all that long every day then we'd be waiting for eternity to have a sloth making cans of baked beans or cans of anything for that matter.

That's the problem with animals, birds, fishes and all other creatures. They do nothing. They are there just to eat or be eaten. Part of the food chain as I was taught at school.

We humans on the other hand are clever.

We can have children whom we educate and they grow up to have more children whom they educate and as education spreads and we all become experts at one thing or another we discover that there aren't enough jobs for all of us anyway and our education has generally been miss-spent because we are now educated and we know that we cannot use our education to good purpose because there are not enough jobs for all of us anyway because there are too many of us to start with.

Now try saying all that with a mouthfull of marshmallows. I bet you can't. But a parakeet can. Do you know why? Because he is too smart to eat marshmallows.

So there you have it. A quick lesson about humanity.

Whereas human beings multiply ever more and cry out save the planet not realising that it is mankind itself that is ruining the planet; the sloth sleeps for 18 hours a day and the parakeet does not eat marshmallows.

Which leaves one question un-answered.

Whilst the sloth is hanging upside down from a tree asleep for that long; how does he go to the toilet? It must be both uncomfortable and inconvenient to relieve himself whilst asleep.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Who's the Sower


When we read the parable of Jesus about the sower and how some seeds ended on the footpath, and others on rocky ground, and others among thorns and only a few on good ground, we think of the Word of God spread amongst many who would not listen.

But let's consider who is the sower? Is it God teaching us? Or Jesus preaching throughout the Holy Land? Or the prophets and Disciples?

The sower is of course all of these. But he is us too. Yes ... you and me.

We have a duty and responsibility to evangelise and spread the Word of God to everyone, far and wide. Not just Christians.

If the Word of God was meant for just Christians we would dig a long furrow and make sure that the seeds are planted one by one carefully in the furrow and none are wasted. But Jesus does not say that. He spread the seeds far and wide and if people do not want to listen that is their problem. Not yours.

Of course we're not all good at preaching from the pulpit, or standing in street corners, or knocking at doors telling everyone about Jesus.

But we could preach about Jesus in our actions and the way we live. Say for instance someone invites you to go fishing, or playing golf or whatever on Sunday. And you say you can't because on Sunday you're in church. That comment alone is your sermon.

If you're in a restaurant and do the sign of the Cross before eating. That alone is your sermon.

Then there's social media. How many opportunities we have there to give our own personal sermons.

We don't need to have University Degrees in theology, religion or whatever to tell others about God. There are many learned people out there with Christian Blogs and websites that would put you to sleep in the first sentence. Good luck to them. They're doing a great job curing insomnia.

Our Blogs need only be simple and speak about our journey hand in hand with Christ as simply as we can. We never know who might visit us and not leave a comment. To many, our Blog may be the only opportunity to learn about God.

Let your Blog be the one Jesus would want to read.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Quick One-Liners

RIDERE AD VITAM

As my regular readers will know, both of them, I often post humourous articles on here. They attract new readers world-wide who are looking for jokes, or something funny on their search engine. They are all welcome here, and hopefully, they will spend some time reading the more serious articles I post and get to know about Christ.

The source for my articles seem to be from nowhere. Sometimes, just out of the blue, some thoughts come into my mind for a story or a short joke or two. At other times it is just a one-liner funny thought that amuses me at the time and I have to remember it until it is convenient to write it down. Often the thoughts come so fast and quick that I have difficulty remembering them all. 

So I've decided to park all my recent thoughts here for now, and I shall be using them later on in some of my stories. Please promise not to read them otherwise you will have spoilt the joke should I use it later.

Mom ... mom ... I think I'm pregnant.
Are you sure the baby is yours?
***
What shall we call the baby?
We should call her after one of the grandparents. Either Denise or Clarissa.
But I don't like the name Denise. It's so old fashioned.
Yes, I agree. And Clarissa too, it is so not today.
Well ... what shall we call the baby then?
We'll call her Nana ... she'll grow into it.
***
Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Grand-dad.
Quick ... Stop the funeral!
***
A man sitting in a library reads the births and deaths statistics. After a few minutes he whispers to the person next to him: “Do you realise, every time I breathe in and out someone dies”. The other man replies: “Try a better mouthwash”.
***
A woman was admitted to hospital with two burnt ears. Apparently she answered the phone whilst she was ironing. The doctor asked her how she burnt the second ear. She replied that it happened when she phoned for an ambulance.
***
The party was very successful and everyone was rather drunk. One of the guests approaches the hostess and slurs: “Do lemons have feathers?” She says no. “In that case I must have squeezed the canary in my drink”.
***
Postman: Is this letter for you sir? The name's obliterated.
Man: No, my name's Peterson. 

***
Mother: "The man named Lot was warned to take his wife and flee out of the city, but his wife looked back and was turned into a pillar of salt". 
 
Daughter: "What happened to the flea?"
***
A man takes his dog to the vet and asks "Have you got something to cure fleas?"

"That depends" says the vet, "what's wrong with the fleas?"
***
Hey don't bring the dog in the house; it's full of fleas.

Thanks for telling me. I wouldn't want to bring the dog in a house full of fleas!
*** 
Archaeologists make the best marriage partners. The older you get the more interested they are in you!
***
In a survey conducted in London 95% of respondents said "I don't know". They were asked "What is the meaning of  Je ne sais pas."
***
 A man was told by his doctor to avoid all dampness because of his arthritis. He now sits in the bath and vacuum cleans himself.
***
When I die, I hope to do so quietly in a bed surrounded by my loved ones. Not like my uncle. He died with a lot of people shouting and screaming all around him as he drove the bus over the hill.
***
My neighbour is such a hypochondriac when he dies they'll bury him next to a doctor.
***
 I went to see my doctor the other day. The poor man was ill, and it's nice to visit the sick, isn't it?
***
Whilst I was in hospital they took a full head to toe X ray of me. They showed me the photo. It was strange. I don't remember eating all those bones!
***
Binoculars is in the plural. The singular of binoculars is telescope.
***
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Amos
Amos who? 
A mosquito
***
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Anna
Anna who?
Another mosquito
***
Knock Knock
OK ... who's there?
Werzie
Werzie? Werzie who?
Werzie heck all those mosquitoes coming from? 
***
 I took my first girl-friend to a French restaurant. She had frogs' legs. But the rest of her body was pretty.
***

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Just for you


IN CASE YOU NEED REMINDING
I PRAY FOR EVERYONE
WHO COMMENTS HERE

Here are two videos which I have made.
Enjoy!


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Brand New Product Available Soon



Please spend a couple of minutes considering this brand new product which I advertise here and which I am sure you will want to purchase.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

How's your brain wired?

There was a program on TV the other day that said that men's and women's brains are wired differently. Now, I didn't know there were wires as such in one's brains; perhaps they meant nerve endings or connectors as a friend of mine used to explain brain actions and reactions. Anyway, what they were saying on TV is that men's brains are wired from back to front on one's head, whereas women's brains are wired from side to side on their heads - they didn't explain whether it was from left to right, or right to left, or whether it matters. I hate it when TV programs are not precise in what they purport to teach you.

Basically the point they were making is that because of this different wiring men and women often misunderstand each other. Now I happen to know from personal experience, and from discussing this matter seriously in the pub with friends, that many men world-wide, after years of marriage, still fail to understand their wives. So there must be some truth in it.

The program also said that although women can have difficulty with spatial awareness, men are different. As an example, they mentioned an unhappy marriage where the wife constantly threw things at her husband when they were having an argument. Eventually, after many years, the husband went to a lawyer to seek a divorce. The lawyer asked him why it took him so long to decide to leave his wife. The man replied: "Her aim is getting better!"

Men on the other hand are different in that they can sometimes fail to see something that is obvious in front of them. Like seeing an elk in the fridge even though there are obvious footprints in the butter.

Personally, if this happened to me I would not know an elk, from a wapiti, or from a stag or reindeer. But I certainly know the difference between butter and margarine - it says so on the label. Maybe elks should have labels on them. And why would the wife put an elk in the fridge anyway? See ... women think differently and often put elks in fridges.

Another difference between the sexes is that whereas men can always be reasonable, women have this ability of making them feel less so and in need to apologise without even knowing what they are apologising for.

Apparently, men are also not able to use the eggs from the fridge from left to right, oldest first, rather than from right to left in reverse freshness order; even though they have been told to do so several times. Personally, I'll admit of never having had this problem. I take the eggs from anywhere haphazard; from middle, left or right. It doesn't matter to me. Anyway, did the hens lay the eggs in order when they put them in the supermarket boxes that we buy?

Oh, one more thing about men. They put the toilet paper wrong on the roll. Just like in the picture above. Apparently, the paper should unfold towards you not from the back of the roll. To be fair to men though, there are no instructions on the packet telling them about this.

So there you have it. Differences between men's and women's brains can lead to several domestic difficulties and we should learn to live happily with one another. Have you noticed any differences between men and women?

Now why are my cans of beer in the pantry next to the dog food when I remember well putting them in the fridge instead of the milk, yoghurt, cheese and other dairy products?

Monday, 18 January 2016

Thinking Aloud



MORE THINKING ALOUD TALES HERE

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Theodore Luxton-Joyce speaks his mind

Father Ignatius and Father Donald welcomed a visiting Franciscan priest, Father Randolph, to the Parish for the weekend to lead the Marriage Renewal Seminar.

The Seminar was held on the grounds of the Parish Gardens providing plenty of time for the participants to spend time together re-assessing their married life, in preparation for a Renewal of Vows Ceremony to be held after Mass on Saturday evening.

The two Parish priests were pleased that they managed to get twenty married couples to attend the weekend event and looked forward to a successful Seminar for all involved.

The same cannot be said however for Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric friend of Father Ignatius and very generous benefactor of St Vincent Church.

Theodore preferred to be well away from “organized love-ins”, as he called the Seminar and would not have attended for one moment had he the choice. But his lovely wife, Rose, convinced him otherwise and he, being an old romantic, albeit he hid it well, acquiesced to her request.

After lunch on Saturday the group met at the Church Hall and was addressed by Father Randolph.

He spoke about the necessity of working at a marriage to make it successful, and explained how very often couples tend to drift apart because of the pressures of modern living and having to work hard just to keep body and soul together. He went on to stress the importance of “being aware of the other person in your life”, the importance of “listening” to their feelings, and “showing love” by saying something nice every now and then, by holding hands, giving a hug every so often and not taking one’s spouse for granted.

“Love doesn’t end after the honeymoon” declared Father Randolph, “it’s a precious flower which needs nurturing and feeding every day if it is to flourish for a lifetime!”

At this point Father Randolph noted Theodore Luxton-Joyce raising his eyebrows and looking in the distance out of the window, no doubt wishing he was anywhere else but here.

“What do you think Theodore?” asked the visiting priest, “Do you think it’s important to tell your wife, Rose, that you love her?”

“Every day?” asked Theodore.

The Group laughed and Fathers Ignatius and Donald, sitting at the top table, looked at each other silently.

“Yes … every day … why not?” continued the Franciscan priest after the laughter died down.

“I don’t see the point …” replied Theodore, “Rose knows that I love her very much … (then looking at his wife) … you do know that don’t you?

“What’s the point of all this adolescent childish talk … it goes without saying that I love her … what?

“I wouldn’t have given up a weekend of good fishing and come here, if I didn’t love her … don’t you think old boy?”

The Group laughed again.

“Fifteen – love …” Father Donald whispered quietly to Father Ignatius.

But Father Randolph was not to be beaten so easily.

“No … it does not go without saying …” he responded quietly, “it is important to tell your wife, or husband, that you love them. That they are not taken for granted. It is important to say it … and say it often. It’s important to be nice and to compliment one’s spouse every now and then.

“Very often I’ve seen couples drift apart yet deep down they do really love each other. They just don’t bother, or don’t have time, to say it. With time, they forget what first attracted them to each other. And every time we forget … love dies a little!

“Let me challenge you Theodore if I may …”

“Fifteen all …” Father Donald whispered softly under his breath. “A good return from the visiting priest!” Father Ignatius sat quietly and said nothing.

“I want you to answer quickly without thinking,” Father Randolph challenged Theodore. “Are you ready? Without thinking … what first attracted you to your wife Rose?”

“She makes a decent steak and kidney pie … what?” declared Theodore.

The Group broke down into hysterics.

“Thirty – fifteen to your eccentric friend!” Father Donald said to his colleague Father Ignatius.

Father Randolph was astute enough to continue with his talk rather than get into a pointless debate with Theodore. Minutes later he asked the Group whether anyone had personal knowledge or experience of marriages breaking down after a long period together. He called them “mature divorces”.

Theodore raised his hand.

“I bet you regret inviting him …” Father Donald whispered to Father Ignatius.

“Years ago … when I was in the military, one of my people got divorced after twenty years of marriage …” said Theodore.

“I asked him why … and he said his wife was violent what? Apparently she threw things at him in an argument … Anything … Cups … saucers … cutlery … crockery … anything that came to hand.

“Turns out she threw things at him throughout the marriage … twenty years of it.

“I asked him why he took so long to decide to leave her.

“He said her aim was getting better … what?”

The Group burst into laughter to the embarrassment of Rose, whilst Father Randolph tactfully decided to call a short tea break.

“Game … set … and match!” declared Father Donald as he got up from his seat.

The rest of the weekend proceeded without further difficulties for Father Randolph, albeit Theodore was the most popular member of the Group.

As they drove back home he asked his wife, “You don’t think it necessary to say ‘I love you’ every day … do you?”

“It’s nice to hear it every now and then…” she said, “It’s reassuring you know. Women like reassurance!”

“Tell you what old girl …” he replied, “I’ll write it down big on a piece of paper. You can read it as often as you want when you need reassurance … what?” he chortled heartily.

She smiled; knowing full well that he was the world’s biggest romantic, yet his up-bringing did not allow him to show it.

More stories about Theodore Luxton-Joyce in the book of the same name. Download yours FREE - HERE

Thursday, 14 January 2016

TRUST

When we love someone we reach a stage where we totally trust them without any fear or doubt. We give a part of ourselves to that person; we share our very soul. And in doing so we become vulnerable and we weaken ourselves, willingly, for the sake of that person and the love we have for them.

Trust is natural. It is part of us as soon as we are born. A child trusts his parents to take care of him and to have his best intentions at heart. A parent will not give a stone to a child seeking bread, or a serpent when he asks for fish.

But there are times in life when our trust in someone is broken, wounded, even dead. And when trust is dead, it is very difficult to win it back and to go back to a situation where you trust that person again as if nothing happened. In the back of your mind, there will always be doubt and fear to become as trusting and as vulnerable as before.

So, if trust is such a delicate and fragile emotion when dealing with other human beings, how difficult is it to trust someone you have never seen?

We say we trust God. He will look after us, and care for us come what may. But how is it possible to trust Someone we believe in through Faith alone and without any proof or evidence whatsoever?

There are times in life when things go wrong, very wrong, and we feel alone, abandoned, and totally helpless as well as vulnerable. How can we possibly trust an unseen God when He has let us down so badly? Or so it seems. How can we continue to trust Him when trust itself in such circumstances seems to be an illogical solution to the problems we face?

It must be a wretched and lonely place to be in when we can no longer even trust the very God Whom we claim to believe in.

But then ... even Jesus reached that stage in life when hanging on the Cross. He believed His Father had abandoned Him.

If Christ, the Son of God, can reach such moments of utter despair, then we are to be forgiven, perhaps, when at times of great difficulty our humanity succumbs to its basic inherent weakness and loses trust in its Creator.

We should take comfort and encouragement from Christ's example on the Cross. He came to earth as a human to experience and share our every emotion, including trust or the lack of it at times of great sorrow and despair.

He overcame His doubts on the Cross through the grace and love of His Father in Heaven.

So should we, when things are really bad in our lives, turn to God and earnestly seek His help in re-building our trust, perhaps weakened but never destroyed.

May I recommend:

"I Am With You" by Father John Woolley. It is a series of one-page words of divine inspirations given to Fr John in prayer. You open the book at any page and it is amazing how often God is speaking to you there and then about the problem you are wrestling with at the time. ISBN 0-950-8840-7-3

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Spoon Theology

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there was a theologian and philosopher who knew a lot about religion having studied it all his life from an early age. Many people from far and wide came to him for advice and always lived according to what he taught them. He was well respected throughout the land.

However, unbeknown to everyone else, this very learned man struggled with a question which troubled his mind for many years. Try as he might, he could not resolve his problem. He searched in many theological books, and books written by philosophers and other great people of the time, and yet he could not find the solution to what irked him. Obviously, he did not want to discuss this with anyone for fear they might think less of him, and ruin his reputation as a man of great knowledge. He was after all the all-knowing sage of his town and district. He could hardly be seen seeking advice from anyone.

Far far away, on a remote mountain beyond the forest, lived a hermit in a cave away from society and civilisation. No one had actually seen the hermit, but word had got round that he existed and lived alone undisturbed by modern society of the day. Many thought the story to be a myth but they believed it all the same because they wanted something to believe in.

The wise theologian decided to visit the hermit on the mountain in secret in hope that he could help him solve his problem. He left his town early one morning and told no one where he was going. He travelled for weeks on foot through the forest and up the montain until one day he found the cave where the old hermit is supposed to live. He approached with trepidation and was somewhat relieved to find a man sitting there on a rock wearing very little and eating berries he had gathered from nearby bushes.

The philosopher greeted the hermit and explained that he had a problem on his mind which he had wrestled with for many years. The hermit nodded and encouraged him to continue.

The philosopher drew from his pocket three identical spoons; all the same size and made exactly the same. One spoon was made of gold, the other made of silver and the last was made of wood. He explained that the spoons were given to him by his grand-father years ago who told him that therein lies the mystery of life.

The philosopher said: "I don't understand the mystery of life. I can see that one spoon is more valuable than the other because of what it is made. So I think the gold one is the most valuable. Then the silver one and then the wooden one. Is that the mystery of life which my grand-father taught me? The value of something?"

The hermit asked the philosopher to close his eyes. The philosopher did so.

The hermit then hit him hard on the forehead with one of the spoons. The philosopher was startled and opened his eyes rubbing his forehead in pain.

"Which spoon did I hit you with?" asked the hermit.

"I don't ****** well know," replied the philosopher, "but it really hurt!"

"Exactly," said the hermit. "This is the mystery of life. We all have the potential to do harm in life. Regardless whether we are very rich and have great value, or whether we are poor and valueless as this wooden spoon. And also, we all have the potential to do good. Some more so than others. Which is what these spoons were made for. To help us eat our soup, regardless whether they are made of gold, silver or wood.

"So, as a theologian, you should know that, regardless of your religion, or what you believe or think you believe, God has put you on this earth to do good not bad.

"Have you understood the mystery, or do I need to hit you again?"

The philosopher got down the mountain much wiser that when he climbed up to see the hermit.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Lost Property


ASSISTANT: Can I help you Sir?

ME: Yes please. I wonder if anyone has handed in a glove at Lost Property. We were in this store about an hour ago and my son has lost a glove.

ASSISTANT: A glove, you say? No … no gloves handed in. But you can have a pencil instead.

ME: A pencil?

ASS: That’s right. You can choose any colour. Does your son like a blue one? Red perhaps?

ME: No thanks. We came in for a lost glove.

ASS: But, we have plenty of pencils. No one ever hands in a glove to Lost Property it is always pencils, or pens, or rulers or envelopes.

ME: No wonder people hand in pencils and pens. This is a stationery store after all!

ASS: Yes it is a stationery store … but we’re moving tomorrow. Just next door. It’s just to confuse the customers. We’ve been here as a stationery store for two years now. So we decided to move next door. It’s like they do in supermarkets. They move things around every so often to confuse the customers. You go in looking for soap in the usual place and instead they have put tins of beans there. The soap is where something else used to be. It’s to get customers to walk around the store and buy something else; like dog food, even though you do not have a dog. It’s called Retail Planning Layout. So we’re doing the same and moving next door.

ME: I understand. I only came in to check if someone had handed in a glove.

ASS: And one more thing. Did you know that no matter how much you push the envelope it still remains stationery? Unlike us. We're moving tomorrow.

(Voice from behind me): Dad, I have found it. It was in my pocket all the time.

ASS: Ah … I see your son has a glove. We do not encourage pickpockets or shoplifting in this store.

ME: But … it’s his own glove. He had it all the time.  

ASS: So you say. He most probably picked it up without paying.

ME: But it’s the same as his other glove. Look!

ASS: So you admit he has stolen two gloves? I must insist you see the manager or I’ll press this panic button down here. I don’t know what it’ll do; but I’ve always wanted to find out.

ME: I assure you, my son has not stolen any gloves. You can see they are worn out. Besides, this is a stationery store. You don’t even sell gloves.

ASS: I told you we are moving tomorrow so we're not that stationery are we? Besides, he could have stolen the gloves from another shop. How do you explain they were in his pocket?

ME: If he stole them from another shop; which he didn’t, it would hardly be any business of yours. Would it?

ASS: You’ve got a point there. And so has this pencil. Would you like a pencil? It’s got a point too. A pencil without a point would be pointless. But all our pencils have points; in many colours too. Blue, red, green, yellow, mauve … now that’s an interesting colour … mauve … rhymes with move, which we are doing tomorrow.

MORAL OF THIS STORY:

Life is complicated. More so than it was a generation or two ago.

Everyone thinks he has a point of view, no matter how badly thought-out, or perhaps not thought-out at all, is that point of view; or perhaps just borrowed from someone else so as to make it totally pointless.

Consequently, many people push their point of view forward at every opportunity regardless whether it is a good point of view or totally pointless.

And a pointless point of view is not worth the brain cells it is written on.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

I protest



“I protest … This is a sit down protest … I’ve been told to come out to the woods today for a big surprise barefaced protest … I’m not sure what we’re protesting about … No one has turned up and I feel silly … I won’t move though, otherwise all those people looking at me will think I’m silly … I’ll stay … I’ll protest alone!”

Sometimes we insist that we are correct and we stick to our point of view no matter what. We may realize that perhaps we’re mistaken, but we will certainly not admit it. We’d rather dig our heels and brazen it out regardless.

It takes real courage to admit one’s errors and learn from them than to progress blindly down the wrong road.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

The Perils Of Charitable Giving

 The original cast of Two and a Half Men - photo from Wikipedia

Almost weekly, but particularly more so during Christmas, we receive letters through the post urging us to donate to this and that charity. So much so that you end up feeling guilty if you do not respond to one appeal or another. They all have a sad tale to tell, with photos of people in difficulties, which you can alleviate with any donation you might give.

Some charities even suggest you sponsor or "adopt" as part of your donation. For example they would say that this or that animal is threatened with extinction and if you were to promise to donate a certain sum each month you would "adopt" such an animal. They would send you a photo of the animal, sometimes a cuddly toy too, and every so often a letter "from" the animal telling you how it is doing and how happy it is in the reserve where it is living.

OK ... I go along with this marketing ploy to get you to put your hand in your pocket and donate; each month, for ever more. They do need money after all and every marketing tactic will help.

I remember when I worked for a large company and we were preparing to launch a new product the Marketing Manager asked me: "And which tactic do you prefer?" I responded: "The orange ones!" I did not last long in that firm.

Anyway, back to "adoptions". They are in fact adoptions by proxy. You send the money, they look after the animal in question for you.

After all, it would be ludicrous if they sent you the animal to look after. Can you imagine opening your front door and finding a rhinoceros out there? What would you do with him? You can hardly walk him to the park or play fetch by throwing a ball and have him run to get it back. Even if he were to chase the ball, the chances are he would pierce it with his horn.

The only thing a rhinoceros is good at is running at your jeep, (or similar car), and hitting it hard with his head. Because that's what he has been taught to do in the wild. I have seen in on TV. The interviewer introduces the animal and explains what it's good at and the animal obliges by head-butting the jeep, (or similar car). He would not do it if it was a different type of car or a bicycle for instance.

Anyway, to continue what I was saying, these adoptions are always by proxy. Or so I thought.

They asked us during Advent in church to help with continuous donations to train new priests. I kindly obliged and filled in a form.

Three days before Christmas we had a new trainee priest standing at our door. He came to live with us.

I could not believe it! I never agreed to have a priest living with us. I read the form I signed, and there, in very very small print, it said so in Santa Clause 365 Chapter 366, sub-paragraph you'll be too tired to read thus far: "The priest will live with you until he qualifies as a fully working priest and has gained at least one A Grade in his exams".

Those Catholics had tricked me once again.

Apparently I have to have this priest living with us for I don't know how long. My lawyer said it is until he finishes his training. I hope he is not a slow learner.

Can you imagine what it's like having a priest living with you? I have to mind what I say and do. For a start, I cannot watch Two and a Half Men and the adventures of Charlie Harper on TV. The priest does not approve of that. And there's a limit to how much EWTN I can take. All this religion is doing my head in.

I have even stopped drinking my favourite whisky or can of Guinness. And yet again, there's a limit to how much coffee I can take. I am so wound up I'm likely to lose control soon. Coffee is making me run to the bathroom more often than I like to.

The trainee priest sits there quietly all day reading his books and praying all the time. Every so often he asks us, ever so politely, to test him by asking him questions from his revision books. Questions like "what does ora pro nobis mean?" And other Latin phrases which he has to learn by heart. Does anyone know how to say "Clear off!" in Latin?

Worse of all, since he has been here I have had to be very nice and very good indeed. I am not myself anymore. My family have noticed and liked the transformation in me. They say I am a much nicer person. That's what a lack of a good drink does to you and endless hours of EWTN. Even the cat now likes me and sits on my lap purring. It's really too much. Oh ... to be able to sin again!

I went to confession the other day and I had nothing to tell our regular priest. Ever since we've had this trainee priest living with us I have been turning into a Saint. I did not do one thing wrong or bad for ages. Not one impure thought, not one biscuit or chocolate too many, in fact none at all. Not one greedy piece of cake or my favourite cheese. In fact I am losing weight as well as being saintly - maybe it's all those sins washing away.

Can YOU imagine what it would be like having a priest living with you? Seriously now. Think about it. How would it change your life? Would it change you for the better?

Another thought - Jesus is with you right now and every day. How does this affect the way you behave?

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bull



When the people saw that Moses had not come down from the mountain but was staying there a long time, they gathered round Aaron and said to him, “We do not know what has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.”

Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold earrings which your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took the earrings, melted them, poured the gold into a mould, and made a gold bull.

The people said, “Israel, this is our god who led us out of Egypt!” Exodus 32:1- 4.



I can’t tell you precisely when this happened; but it must have been several years before Jesus was born.

And now … thousand of years later, thankfully we no longer worship golden bulls.

But we do have modern lifestyles, pursuit of wealth, fame and fortune, thirst for power and influence, love of materialism, abuse of the planet and the environment and several other golden calves to replace one golden bull !!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

60.


Father Ignatius was very observant. He knew most of his parishioners by name and he noticed their moods, habits and behaviors and he reacted to them according to circumstances.

One early evening he came out of the Sacristy and he noticed that Mrs Holingsworth was arranging the flowers on the Altar and by the numerous statues of Saints around the church silently. She usually hummed her favorite hymns under her breath whilst working; but not today.

“Everything OK Denise?” he asked with a smile.

“I suppose so Father,” she replied glumly, “I was just thinking that’s all …”

“That’s what I like about women,” he joked, “you can multi-task … we men cannot think and work at the same time …”

She said nothing.

“Is there a problem I can help with?” asked the priest tentatively.

“Well Father,” she replied as she stopped cutting the stems of the flowers to make them the same size, “I’ve received a letter from my doctor … and it upset me …”

“Do you wish to talk about it …” he asked gently.

“It’s nothing serious … the doctor said that as I am now over 60 she invited me for a medical check-up … just as a precaution …”

“Well … what’s the problem …” asked Father Ignatius, for once missing the point entirely.

“It just brought it back to me Father … I am 60 … or rather I was 60 four months ago, and I told no one about it … I’d put it at the back of my mind … and now here’s a letter reminding me once again of my age … I mean … who wants to be 60?”

“I’m sure there are many people under 60 who hope to reach that age some day …” said the priest gently, “and there are many others over 60 who wish they could turn back the clock … but that’s not the problem is it Denise?”

“Well Father … I look at my life and wonder …” she stopped for a while and bit her lip, “my dear husband used to say that I will be as beautiful when I’m 60 as the day he first met me … we married when we were 20 you know …”

“I’m sure you are as beautiful as you were then,” he said trying to comfort her.

“Oh Father … are you allowed to say beautiful to a woman … you being a priest and all …”

“I didn’t realize that some words are forbidden to priests …” said Father Ignatius jokingly, “all right, I take it back. I am sure you look as you did when you first met Daniel … in fact he is looking down from Heaven right now and he agrees with me …”

She smiled finishing the flower arrangements on the Altar, and packing the debris of stems and wrapping papers to throw away.

“Look Denise … we all get at some point in our lives when we look back in fondness and look forward in trepidation perhaps,” said Father Ignatius calmly, “this is only natural. It is part of our human emotions.

“The trick though is not to dwell too much on the past or dread the future. We should trust Jesus to see us through what is to come … just as He did in the past, even though we were not aware of it …

“We should aim to live for the present … and live it as fully as possible … that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to enjoy life … not endure it in dread and trepidation …”

“Thank you …” she said managing another weak smile.

“You know Denise … there are many people spending their lives staring at tomorrow rather than living today. You know the kind … people who have their favorite set of teapot, cups and saucers made of the finest china … yet they do not use it … they keep it for a special occasion … or their favorite dinner plates and cutlery or whatever … and they still wait for that special occasion … for the day when the Queen or the Pope might visit perhaps …”

Father Ignatius smiled and then went on.

“But I can assure you that the Queen or the Pope will never visit your house … they are far too busy … so enjoy your tea set, cutlery or whatever you have right now …

“Don’t fret about your age … or what the future might bring … celebrate your achievements today, and move forward hand in hand with God.”

He stopped again to gauge her reaction.

“Do you know what I do when I’m feeling a little down?” he asked her.

She shook her head silently.

“I go across the road and get some freshly fried fish and chips from the shop opposite. Nothing makes me feel better … and it improves my waistline …

“In fact that’s where I’m going right now … Mrs Davenport has asked me to get some fish and chips as she was too busy today to prepare supper for Father Donald and I … Care to join the three of us for a fish supper … with salt and vinegar?”

“Yes please …” she replied smiling broadly.

FREE Father Ignatius Books HERE.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Dear God please make it stop


Sing to the Lord a new song. (Isaiah 42:10) (But sing it well!)

In most churches there is a bit of singing during the service or during Mass. And this is good. Especially when the congregation sing with one voice, or when we have a well-trained choir singing well, and all is bright and beautiful.

In some churches I have visited, however, all is not as well and bright and beautiful. I have noticed there is often a tendency for one individual to stand in front by the microphone, Sunday after Sunday, sometimes accompanied by the choir, but more often than not just accompanied by the organ music, and regale us all with their voice.

Now I don't know if these individuals think they are Caruso, or Maria Callas, or such like singers; but they clearly are not.

In fact I have named one individual Caruso in my mind because of the way he stands straight and opens his mouth very wide when he sings; no doubt sucking in every passing fly for miles around. I have also named a certain singing lady, who alternates some Sundays with Caruso, "laryngitis" because she sounds like a cat making love to a hedgehog.

Why is it, I ask myself, that these two individuals, (and there are many similar others in other churches), somehow manage to get themselves in a position where they are supposedly leading the congregation in song, and more often than not they are only performing solo whilst the congregation sits there watching each other or watching down at their feet pretending to pray.

I noticed it today. Caruso went on and on singing alone whilst everyone in church was sitting there waiting for it to end, watching their watches and hoping that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would soon arrive and end it all.

And why does the priest allow this to happen Sunday after Sunday? Why does he not encourage the likes of Caruso or Laryngitis to sing "far away".

When Caruso gave us his rendition of some unknown hymn today, I looked up to Heaven and imagined Jesus handing out ear defenders to one and all, whilst God was reaching for the headache tablets.

I suspect some of you may think my views un-charitable and perhaps harsh; for which I ask forgiveness. But I feel we would all be better off with a little less bad singing and a bit more good deeds.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Is it real or surreal?

As we look forward to a New Year starting we also look back at the old year coming to an end and we wonder what happened, why it happened so quickly, and whether we have learnt anything from all the happenings that happened.

Try saying that with a mouthfull of marshmallows!

Anyway, one thing most people are talking about round here where I live is the weather. This is because in the UK we often talk about the weather when we have nothing else interesting to talk about. So let's stick to this subject for a while.

Apparently, we have had the warmest winter since records began.

Now, I often wonder, when exactly did records begin? Did it happen in some far off day in the past when someone picked up a piece of paper and wrote "It is hot today! Records have begun".

Did he on the next day write "It is hotter today. This is the hottest it's been since records began yesterday".

Anyway, whether it is real or not, it does seem that the trend is that the weather is getting warmer year on year. I believe scientists call this global warming; but what is global warming anyway, and what does cause it if it exists at all.

All sorts of people have different ideas at what is making the climate generally warm throughout the world. 

I think temperatures are higher these days because of candles. Can you imagine how many candles are lit at any one time in the world? In churches, in restaurants, at romantic dinner tables, in the bathroom - I mean; whoever thought of candles in the bathroom? Very dangerous if you happen to singe your hair. On birthday cakes too? Come on - admit it. How many candles are on your birthday cake each year? You and all these other candles are contributing to global warming.

That and cows farting apparently. It seems that all the gases coming out of cows float up to the sky and make a hole in the sky through which the warmth of the earth escapes and the sun rays get in through the hole in the sky and makes us warm again. 

By the way, did you know that kangaroos don't fart? Their digestive systems don't have the enzymes needed to cause farting like in cows and humans. No wonder they hop around so much. So don't blame global warming on the Australians! They're blameless about this.

One thing about the Australians though. They always want to be first. Have you noticed how on New Year's eve they are always the first to celebrate with fireworks? By the time we in England get to celebrate it is already tomorrow.

Anyway, as I meant to say before I derailed my train of thought. Because of this warm winter our tortoise woke up early and got out of its hibernation. So I put it in the fridge. The next day I found out it ate all our lettuce. As soon as I opened the fridge it rushed out in the garden to go to the toilet. It bolted so quickly we thought someone had kicked a football out the house. Why is a tortoise so shaped anyway with all those patterns on its shell? Is it meant to be aero-dynamic? What for, since it hardly goes very fast normally.

Apparently, the same thing happened at the local zoo. All the hibernating animals such as lemurs, squirrels, mice and other rodents woke up from hibernation because the weather has been so warm lately. But they did not put them in the fridge because it was full of bears hibernating.

Tortoises are slow though, aren't they. I wonder why. So are snails too. Very slow. Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would be at least two days before you said  "OOOH !!! What a surprise!"

It's an odd world we live in I think. It's getting warm when it's supposed to be winter and the whole of creation is confused. I read in the papers that an elephant in our local zoo got so confused that he climbed a tree and sat there right on top. They did not know how to get him down. Then an expert suggested we wait until fall and he'll come down with the leaves.

And that's the problem you see. Not enough lateral thinking - that's thinking when you're lying down in bed. I'm convinced what the world needs now is more experts. Whenever there's some bad news on TV, an economic problem somewhere, a medical situation that needs resolving, some difficult political situation, or whatever else you might see on the news - it's the lack of experts that holds us back from finding a solution. Where are all the experts on every conceivable subject when you need them? Why can't they explain why it is getting warmer these days?

If we had experts then we could all go to sleep happily at night knowing that all is well with the world and any global warming that may or may not exist can always be blamed on someone else and not you. Personally, I find the best way to combat global warming is by keeping our fridge door open.

DISCLAIMER - No animals or humans have been harmed in the writing of this Blog. No cow or kangaroo have been asked to emit any bodily gases, nor have any tortoises, lemurs, squirrels, mice or rodents been put in fridges (because of the bears who were there already). Nor have any snails been made to climb up your leg or elephants up trees. It all happened in the writer's imagination.
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