Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Morning Warning


The laminated edge on the bathroom cabinet had come loose and last night I put a drop of super strong glue on it to fix it and left the tube on the shelf.

This morning, waking up early in the dark, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth and wash. By mistake in my hurry I picked up the wrong tube and put glue on my toothbrush.

Immediately, my toothbrush got stuck solid to my teeth!

No matter how much I tried I could not budge it. The bristles on the toothbrush and my teeth had become one. United in marriage until death do them part.

No matter how much I tried to pull, push, or move the brush left or right; it just did not move. It remained stuck to my teeth and protruding from my mouth.

In a panic I yelled for “hlp” but the vowels in my words were stuck to my teeth and would not come out, since you normally require your lips to pronounce your syllables and vowels, and my lips were held permanently open by the protruding toothbrush.

I picked up the tube and read: “Sticks anything to anything permanently regardless of conditions. Works instantly on wet and dry surfaces just as effectively.”

Great!

There are quite a few words here which I don’t like at all. “Anything … permanently … instantly … and wet.”

What am I to do now?

I can hardly go to work with a toothbrush sticking out of my mouth.

I could poke someone’s eye out standing on the crowded bus. That would make an interesting injury compensation claim.

“I hurt my eye!”

“How did you do it?”

“Someone with a toothbrush out of his mouth poked me in the eye on a crowded bus!”

The Insurance people would never believe it.

And what if as I walked down the street a bird happened to perch on my toothbrush?

What do I do then? Do I shoo it away or leave it there? What if it pooed all over my shirt whilst perched there?

My imagination did somersaults somewhere within my brain whilst the toothbrush remained stuck there anticipating my next move.

What if I rinsed it with soapy water? Soap tastes awful and is ineffective. How about bubble bath liquid? Tastes just as bad. Shower gel? Shampoo? Aftershave lotion? None seem to work.

I look in the mirror and in desperation I get an idea.

What if I wedged the toothbrush in the bathroom cabinet’s door and pulled back sharply? One strong hard pull back with my head, whilst holding the door in position with both hands should do it.

Well … nearly.

The toothbrush handle broke and all I have left in my mouth is the end bit with the bristles. Still stuck fast to my teeth and refusing to consider divorce.

I can now pull my upper lip down slowly and stretch it over the toothbrush end to cover it from view. It looks as if I have a thick lip as happens when you’re punched by a boxer.

I eventually go to the dentist who somehow manages to free me from my ever so clingy toothbrush.

Monday, 27 June 2016

The Sorry Ass


One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing.

He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Enough of that ... The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.

The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

MORAL OF THE STORY

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Meanwhile here in the hood ...

Something very strange has been happening round our neighbourhood recently. It is most disconcerting and it has baffled both the local population and the police.

There has been a spate of window robbing in clear daylight. The robbers have been so quick that no one has seen them and they cannot therefore be identified.

One moment you have a window in your house, and the next someone has stolen it.

The way it happens, apparently, because no one saw it happen; is that the robbers arrive quickly on your premises and whilst you're not looking they brick up your window. They are super fast; or so it seems. They get a load of bricks and cement and they quickly brick up your window blocking all light, and indeed your vision to the outside world.

That's how they have never been identified. One moment you have a window in your house, and the next, you haven't. Sometimes they rob or block more than one window without you noticing. So far they have not stolen any doors, or chimneys.

The Neighbourhood Watch people asked us all to be on the look-out; but this is very difficult if you have no window to look out of.

I sat at my window watching the three houses opposite in case anyone comes along and tries to steal, or brick up, their windows. I must have dozed off a little, because one moment I was watching the three houses and the next my own window was blocked. I was staring at a brick wall.

It was terrible. I switched on the TV and the screen was totally blocked too. All I could see on the screen was a load of bricks filling the whole screen.

A voice from the TV said "You are watching the 6 o'clock news!"

How did she know? Could she see me through the bricks? Or was it her who bricked the TV screen? Maybe she is the window robber having moved on to something else to steal.

I am typing this Blog post very quickly in case this news reporter woman decides to steal computer monitors too and then all I can see is brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ... brick ...

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Too Heavy



Father Ignatius was not necessarily orthodox when it came to delivering a sermon. If there was something he could say or do to make his point forcibly he would certainly do so.

One Sunday before Mass started he left a suitcase by the lectern where he was to deliver his sermon.

At the appropriate time he looked at the children sitting up front in church and asked: “Who knows what it means to have a chip on your shoulder?”

A few hands were raised high. He pointed to a young girl who said: “It means moaning all the time and feeling hard done by.”

“Exactly …” said Father Ignatius, “how clever of you. It means feeling over-sensitive and badly treated. And some people I know don’t just have one solitary chip on their shoulder, but they have a whole super-sized packet of chips and a large hamburger and a milk-shake too!”

The congregation laughed.

“And that’s the problem you see …” continued the priest, “many people in this world live life carrying heavy baggage from the past rather than rejoice in what God is doing for them right now.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a moment and looked down at the suitcase by the lectern.

“Which brings me to this item here …” he said, “I need two strong men to help me please.”

He looked up and waited until two men left their pews and joined him by the lectern. He asked one of them to carry the suitcase a few paces down the center aisle. It was fairly heavy, but the man managed it. He then asked the second man to return the suitcase to him; which he did with some difficulty.

“I think we have shown here how difficult it is to carry such heavy baggage with you for the rest of your life,” said Father Ignatius as the two men returned to their seats.

“Imagine carrying this with you always. You’ll soon get tired and it will certainly slow you down. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of it altogether?

“Let’s see what’s inside.”

He opened the suitcase and revealed a number of bricks. On each one he had stuck a label which he read out loud:

“Now these heavy bricks represent all the troubles and worries, or excuses even, which we may carry with us throughout our lives. Let’s see what they say …

“This one reads ‘it’s my up-bringing that holds me back, I grew up in a broken family when my parents divorced, it’s scarred me for life’

“And this one says ‘I left school with no education, my parents didn’t send me to a good school, what chance have I got?’

“Let’s see this brick here … ‘my health has always been poor, I can’t help it,’

“As for this one, I like this one, it says ‘I must have been born unlucky, nothing ever works out for me! I’m destined to fail.’

“There’s a few more bricks here,” continued Father Ignatius, “you can read them afterwards if you wish.”

He put the bricks down by the suitcase and looked gently at the congregation.

“Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not in any way making light of people’s difficulties. I do accept that some people have genuine and very difficult obstacles to overcome every day of their lives. And I am often inspired by their fortitude and great Faith as they go through life despite such hardship …

“The problem I’m addressing now is where people, for a variety of reasons, still cling to something in their past as a crutch or prop to explain away their present state in life.

“And they continue to carry this heavy weight, real or imagined, like this suitcase here beside me. Their issue could be their up-bringing, their education, their background … or a great hurt they suffered in the past, which still gnaws deep inside them and goes unforgiven.

“It could be anything … a heavy weight which they carry for ever because they just can’t let go.

“This heavy weight slows them down throughout life and hinders their progress towards God.

“Let us have the courage to let go the heavy baggage in our lives.

“Let us trust God to help us as we go on in life.

“Jesus carried a heavy Cross on His way to Calvary. He asked us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

“Let not the weight of your Cross crush you down; but instead use it to climb up to Heaven to Christ’s welcoming arms.”

Monday, 20 June 2016

SPACE - THE FINAL FRONT EAR

I do realise that a number of my readers are sceptical and don't believe a word I say when I describe things that have happened to me. To be honest, sometimes I have difficulty believing them myself.

This time however it is different. This is a very serious and true story. There is no easy way to say this apart from saying it as it happened.

I was yesterday evening abducted by aliens.

It happened just like in all the stories you hear and read about alien abductions.

Usually you don’t believe such stories and you suspect they’re all made up. Well. For me reality actually happened. I saw a UFO and I was abducted by its occupants.

I can imagine a few of you sniggering already, but I wish you wouldn’t, because I have not quite recovered from this horrendous and frightening experience.

I was out in our garden at about midnight, having finished viewing a movie on TV, and I was there counting the stars as I usually do whilst the dog does his last business for the night.

I had counted up to 976 when suddenly; out of nowhere, there was this huge cigar shaped thing up in the sky, about 50 or so feet above me. It appeared from no where and it was totally silent. Just a big cigar shape hanging some fifty or so feet above me.

It was glowing red at first, then an orangey colour, then it turned green, and then after a while it turned red again.

It took me a while before I realized it was the reflection of the traffic lights nearby.

The dog didn’t seem to have seen it and continued sniffing around as he often does.

Then a little white aperture appeared on the underside of the cigar; like some door opening. Then a light from the aperture shone on me, like the spotlight you get in the theatre when it shines on a performer on stage.

I was very frightened and I must have cried a little because tears ran down my legs.

I felt myself rise up from the ground, as if I was being lifted gently by my whole body. Not like having a belt tied to your waist or a harness on your chest and shoulders; there seemed no upward lifting pressure on my body whatsoever. I was just floating gently upwards. Almost flying upwards, I would say. Slowly and very gently.

It lasted a few seconds and then I was inside this large room with bright lights everywhere.

I was led gently towards a large bed by two humanoid shapes dressed in white gowns. They must have been females because they had well developed chests.

I moved along, almost gliding with them, and next thing I was lying on my back on the bed. I did not know what to expect as one of the creatures lent towards me revealing the open décolleté of her gown.

Suddenly, I was tied to the bed by these big metal clamps. Clamps round my arms, wrists, legs, waist, chest and neck. I could not move and a bright light shone above me.

They placed a metallic helmet with lights going on and off and a lot of wires and tubes attached to it on my head.

“Let’s test for signs of intelligence,” said a female voice which sounded knowledgeable and authoritative.

The process took a second or two and then the lights above me went out and the clamps set me free.

Everyone left what must have been an operating theatre or lab and I was alone with just one individual.

“Hello” he said, “I am Captain Fragment. The Captain of this ship. We have just studied you and analysed every biological, physical, mental, emotional, psychological and every other possible detail about you. Now would you like a tour of the spaceship?”

I always wondered why in most stories one reads in the newspapers about alien abductions, people say they were analysed and then given a tour of the spaceship. Now it was happening to me.

It wasn’t long in my tour when I realised why they called him Captain Fragment. Apparently whenever things went wrong or a little difficult the Captain always fell to pieces and burst out crying uncontrollably.

This was somewhat disconcerting for the crew who relied on strong leadership, decisiveness and courage to thrust them ahead to new frontiers where no man had ever gone before. It seems that aliens from outer scace have a delicate and fragile personality; which explains why they are too shy to make themselves known to our world.

Soon enough one of the crew announced that there was a vortex up ahead, leading to a black hole with a singularity several times stronger than the ship’s warp drive engine could withstand before imploding on itself.

I didn't know what all this meant so I asked the Captain to explain.

"We're done for!” he cried. “We'll be crushed like a nut in a ... in a ... whatever crushes nuts!"

It was then I noticed Captain Fragment begin to sniffle as he pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and raised it to his eyes.

"Number One ... You have the bridge!" he said mumbling in his handkerchief as he left for his Ready Room.

I never understood why he called the other man Number One. I looked at his uniform and noted that the badge on his chest said "Happy Birthday - Now you're 1".

"How long before impact?" Number 1 asked an anaemic faced android who knew everything there is to know in the whole universe except how to boil an egg.

"There is no such thing as impact, Commander", replied the android, "technically speaking we are due to get drawn in at great speed inside the vortex and go round and round several times before we travel through the black hole to our eventual destiny at the other side. It is a bit like going down the bath tub hole when you empty your bath and the water goes round and round and ..."

"I get the idea ..." interrupted Number 1, "how long before all this happens?"

"I estimate it will be three hours, twenty minutes and thirteen seconds, Sir!" replied the android, "Give or take an hour or so either side depending on which way the wind is blowing!"

Then suddenly, just as he was talking, the threatening vortex vanished from the big screen in front of us. All was normal again.

Captain Fragment came out of his Ready Room with a cup of Darjeeling tea in his hand and suggested that since all was now well again we should take some souvenir photos together with him and the crew. We grouped together, the Captain and I, with Number 1, the anaemic android and the two humanoids with large chests, whilst a photographer with a camera took a few photos.

“You’ll be able to show these photos to your leaders,” Captain Fragment said. “You humans never believe that we exist unless you have well developed photos to prove it. That's why the legends of the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot live on. Well, this time you will have photos to prove our existance!"

I didn't answer and confirmed in my mind Bigfoot's existance. I am after all married to her daughter!

After the photos were taken, we said our goodbyes and the next thing I was in my garden and the cigar shaped space ship had disappeared.

I rushed to the authorities and told them what happened. They did not believe me.

I pulled out the photos out of my pocket. Those clever aliens had magically turned them into square pieces of toilet paper.

I have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t believe me either!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Forgiveness YES - Reconciliation NO

 “Father … I have a problem with forgiving” said Sonia as she folded the last of the vestments and put them away in their cupboard in the Sacristy.

Father Ignatius was checking some paper work at a small desk in the corner of the large room. There was a tray there and parishioners were invited to place their messages, notices and sundry bits and pieces of information intended for the weekly Church Newsletter. The priest was reading through them in preparation for printing the Newsletter that evening. He stopped what he was doing and asked:

“What do you mean? A problem with forgiving …”

Sonia hesitated.

“I know you’ve always said we should forgive with all our heart … unreservedly … if we want God to forgive us our sins. I understand that … and I try as best I can to forgive wholeheartedly …”

“I can foretell a ‘but’ coming up …” smiled the priest, “but in this case …”

She smiled back.

“But in this case it is different …” she continued.

“There’s this woman at work who has hurt me really bad. She lied about me Father. And as a result I was severely reprimanded by our manager and I was made to lose a day’s pay … which I cannot afford.

“We used to be friends and all … but she lied to cover up her mistake and I got unfairly punished. This happened about two weeks ago.”

“This is terrible,” said Father Ignatius frowning at the unfairness of what he’d just heard. “Is there not some sort of appeal procedure at your workplace? Someone to talk to about it perhaps."

“No … that’s not the problem Father.” Sonia said.

“The thing is, this woman came to see me yesterday and apologized profusely for what she had done. She cried her heart out and said she could not have been found out to have made yet another mistake. She was on her last warning and another mistake would mean losing her job. That’s why she lied and put the blame on me. She begged me to forgive her … which I did straightaway Father. I told her to think no more about it and that all was now OK.”

“That’s very generous and loving of you … so what is the problem?” asked the priest.

“She wants us to be friends again, as before. We used to visit each other at our homes … and we’d shop together, or pick up each others’ children from school and so on … she wants everything to be as before.

“I find that very difficult … I just can’t trust her anymore and I want us to keep our distance. I forgive her as I said; but I can’t go back as before. My husband agrees and says I should no longer speak to her. I think I can speak and be nice to her at work but that’s as far as it goes; I can’t be friends again.

“Is my forgiveness worthless?”

“No … it is not worthless,” replied Father Ignatius gently, “when we forgive someone else, we touch their very soul with the merciful love of Jesus Christ our Lord.

“You’ve been hurt Sonia … hurt and punished unfairly and undeservedly.

“When we forgive people it means that we no longer hold their wrongdoings to account. We no longer bear them any malice or ill-feelings or ill-will.

“We acknowledge that we forgive them and we let them go their own way free from any fear of punishment or retribution on our part.

“This doesn’t mean however that we forget the pain caused to us. How can we? The hurt is imprinted in our memory and try as we might the chances are that we’ll remember it time and again. It’s only natural … it’s human nature. You forgave her and told her so …”

Sonia nodded; holding back her tears.

“And that’s all that is expected of you …” continued the priest gently, noticing that she was very upset at the mere thought of the event.

“We all have a right … a duty even … to protect ourselves and to protect our loved ones …

“If we feel uncomfortable about a particular situation or relationship, we have every right to distance ourselves from it.

“For very understandable reasons you feel uncomfortable at being friendly with this person as you were before; visiting each other and picking each others’ children from school and so on.

“There’s nothing wrong with that … tell her politely that you’ve forgiven her and that you feel both of you should leave it at that. An amicable relationship from a distance …”

“But …” Sonia interrupted, “how can that be forgiveness? By keeping my distance implies that I’m still holding something against her. She knows that … you and I know that … and God knows that …”

Father Ignatius smiled.

“Oh yes … God knows that all right … and He knows the reason behind it too …” he said.

“Let me tell you a story …

“Jesus once taught His disciples and His followers about Himself.

“He said, ‘whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him’

“A number of His followers found this difficult to understand. What does He mean … eat His flesh and drink His blood … Many today, find this very concept difficult to understand; so you can imagine how it was in those times.

“So a number of Christ’s followers decided to leave and no longer follow Him.

“What did Jesus do?

“He didn’t call them back. He didn’t say, ‘Wait, let me explain … this is what I meant to say …’ He didn’t compromise His position in any way …

“He just let them go … and He even asked His twelve disciples, ‘How about you … do you want to go as well?’

“You see Sonia … Jesus forgave them and let them go … He didn’t curse them and send plagues and pestilence on them and their families for generations …”

She smiled again feeling a little calmer.

“He just forgave them and let them go …

“Which is what you should also do …” said Father Ignatius serenely.

ADDITIONAL REFLECTIONS

Often we tend to confuse the real meaning of forgiveness.

Let us remember that we are humans. We can't help it ... that's the way we are, the way God made us, with a multitude of various emotions, fears, hopes and ways of interpreting many situations in our lives. We're complex creatures. He had His reasons to create us this way.

Being human, one of our first instincts is to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Another feature of our humanity is the ability to remember ... the good times, but more specifically the bad times.

The worse the bad times, the more terrible they've been, the more they are imprinted in our memories.

Anything can and will trigger these memories again ... visiting a place, seeing a photo, hearing a particular song ... anything ... and the bad memories come flooding back again. That's the price we pay for being human.

Christ said: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who hurt us."

Thank God that He does not hold us to the strict letter of this particular contract; otherwise we'd all be taking the fastest elevator going down!

Yet ... He does hold us to the intent of that particular contract we recite in the Lord's Prayer.

He asks us to forgive ... that's the important thing. Not just seven times but seventy times seven … and many times more than that as well.

Forgiving someone means that we no longer hold a grudge, or any ill-will or ill-feelings towards them or the hurt they have caused us. We let them go in peace free of fear of any revenge or retribution on our part.

This applies whether we tell them that they are forgiven, or whether they have moved away, or perhaps never asked or sought our forgiveness, and perhaps they don’t even care about our feelings.

What matters is that in our hearts we have truly forgiven them; and, here’s the difficult bit, … we can prove it to God should He ask us to.

Of course the memories will come back … we can’t help that. But let’s use them positively by forgiving once again. Let’ us use them as a reminder to pray for the ones who hurt us. Let us say to God : “Please look after that person. Enlighten them and lead them to find your love as I have found it too.”

Would it not be wonderful if as a result of our hurt … and our prayers … someone finds God, perhaps for the first time.

Christ has His memories too when He sees the scars in His hands, feet and side. I believe He uses these memories to forgive us yet again.

I doubt very much that the Virgin Mary has forgotten the Crucifiction. But she forgives again and again.

Having truly forgiven, it is our right and duty to keep our distance from that person if we feel they create a threat to us or our loved ones. Keeping our distance is NOT a sin, and it does not mean that we haven’t forgiven or that our forgiveness is worthless.

Being human we can only forgive as humans. We cannot possibly forgive as He has forgiven, no matter how hard we try.

He was human, but He was/is God too … and that’s a level of forgiveness we can never achieve.

We can only hope to live by the intent of that particular contract in the Lord’s Prayer.

God bless.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Our Father ...


"Our Father who art in heaven....."

“Yes. How can I help you?”

”Hein? Who’s that?”

“You called me. I’m listening …”

”I didn’t call anybody … I was just praying … The Lord’s Prayer! Our Father who art in Heaven …”

“That’s me … Your Father in Heaven … now carry on praying …”

“Eh … Hallowed be Thy name …”

“Ha … Do you remember when you were very young you used to say ‘Harold be Thy name’? For a long time you were convinced my name is Harold; until someone put you right. What does it mean anyway … Hallowed be Thy name?”

“Eh … hmmm … does it mean you are Holy?”

“That’s right … carry on …”

“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

“Hold it just there … Do you really mean what you just said?”

“Sure, of course I do …”

“Or do you mean ‘Thy will be done’ as long as it is what you want? Do you really accept my will all the time? Even when it’s not convenient for you, or when life gets a little difficult?”

“Well … sometimes when things get really bad I get very worried …”

“At least you’re honest. Remember this always; when things are really bad for you it is still my will. I allow it to happen but I never abandon you. I’m always close to you … all you have to do is trust me.”

“Gee … thanks.”

“Carry on …”

“Give us this day our daily bread …”

“Let’s stop again … This means that I will provide for all your needs. It’s good of you to ask; but rest assured that I will always provide you with what you need. Go on with your prayer …”

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us …”

“Even your neighbour?”

“What?”

“You never forgave your neighbour after that argument you had a few days ago … In fact you still hope that you’ll get even some day …”

“But … but … You know it was his fault!”

“Of course it was … and he did apologise. But unless you truly forgive him, you truly no longer hold a grudge and have no ill-will or ill-feelings towards him; it doesn’t count does it?”

“That’s not always easy …”

“I agree … But true forgiveness means that you no longer wish any retribution or revenge against those who have hurt you. Sure … you’ll always remember the wrong done to you, but let that be a reminder to forgive them once again and to pray for them.”

“Can I go on now?”

“Yes …”

“And lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil.”

“This bit is a reminder that Satan is always there trying to take you away from me. He tried to tempt my only Son Jesus, so you’re not going to be much of a challenge to him. Whenever he tries to lead you astray repeat those words over and again and I will come to your help.”

“Thank you …”

“It’s getting late … go to sleep now!”

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Can Women Multi-Task Like Pigeons?

It has long been held as a theory that women can multi-task better than men. Apparently, men cannot do two things at the same time, like walking and chewing gum, for instance. Whereas women can do two or more things at the same time quite easily.

Now I am not sure whether this is true, but I have often been in situations where a woman is sitting beside me reading the road map and at the same time telling me that I am driving too fast, too close to the car in front and to watch out for that cyclist. So it is true, I suppose, that women can read maps and check my driving at the same time.

However, there is now a new thoery by some research professors that we humans, when we attempt to multi-task, we are liable to make more mistakes than a pigeon.

Why is it, I ask myself, that there are so many scientists and professors wasting so much time researching things that are of no value at all to life as we know it. Why compare our ability to make mistakes to that of a pigeon and not, for instance, a fish or a blindfolded skunk wondering where the bad smell is coming from?

Anyway, as it happens some scientists have discovered that we make more mistakes than pigeons. For instance, if we were writing an e-mail or typing on a computer and someone speaks to us and we engage in conversation we are more liable, than not, to make mistakes in what we are typing.

In comparison, a pigeon could be on the ground foraging for food or gathering small twigs to make a nest yet at the same time he, or she, is able to keep watch for any predators and listen to any sounds which might spell danger, like a cat lurking in the grass.

Scientists admit, however, that pigeons are unable to send e-mails or texts and engage in conversation or cooing at the same time. Thus proving that their research was not only a waste of their time but that of the pigeons as well. After hours of having several pigeons sitting on keyboards the scientists had nothing to show for it other than keyboards covered with pigeon droppings ingrained in between the keys.

They released the pigeons in the wild before releasing their news releases proclaiming their discoveries.

Which goes to prove that we should never under-estimate the intelligence of a pigeon. They all agreed not to type one word with the keyboard but to make a more obvious statement instead.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Why no one asked Jesus

While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an ababaster jar full of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus’ head. Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” And they criticized her harshly.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me.” Mark 14 3-7.

It is perhaps significant that no one asked Jesus, “Why? Why will we always have the poor with us?”

Is Jesus saying that God will always allow poverty in this world? Is He saying that all our efforts to help the poor are in vain?

Of course not. He is not saying this.

Could He perhaps be talking about something more than just material poverty?

Is He maybe reminding us that there will always be someone worse off than us? Someone who is poor in material things, someone poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in education or even poor in Faith. This may be miss-interpreting Him perhaps but still worth considering.

We all have a responsibility towards those in poverty in one way or another. No matter how their poverty manifests itself.

We should always readily recognize our blessings and share them with those less well off than us.

If we are fortunate to be financially rich, we should give to those who have not.

If we are in good health, we should help those who are sick. Visit them at home or in hospital, and give a hand when needed.

If we are clever or intelligent we should be more tolerant towards those not as bright as us and help educate them where we can.

And if our Faith is strong, we should help and pray for those who falter and fail in their walk with the Lord.

So I suppose Jesus could be referring to poverty in the wider sense, as well as physical poverty of course. And such poverty, whatever it may be, will continue with us as a permanent reminder of our responsibilities towards others as well as towards God Himself.

And with this responsibility comes a greater and more onerous one. That is to answer to Him when He asks us: “And what have you done with the riches I gave you?”

Our talents are to be used for His glory to help others.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Air That I Breathe

As I got out of my London taxi and made my way to the big apartment block, a luxurious car drew by, and the uniformed man at the entrance of the apartment block came out on the sidewalk and opened the door.
 
Out came a bejeweled woman carrying a small poodle in her hands and a small man carrying her handbag. They were both in their late fifties or early sixties, I would guess. She was somewhat large and what could euphemistically be described as rotund; whilst he was somewhat diminutive in stature and obviously submissive to her demands.
 
I let them go through into the building first; out of politeness of course. As I followed them in, the other security type person checked my credentials before letting me in. What a cheek!!! Just because I was wearing my red tartan trousers, green jacket and cowboy hat with large feather; there’s no need to suspiciously ask why I was there.
 
Anyway, moments later we were waiting by the elevator doors and we were joined by a pretty young lady also obviously well to do.
 
“Hello Stephanie!” said the rotund woman.
 
“Good morning Mrs Flabbergast,” replied the young lady, “how is Bijou this morning?”
 
“Bijou?” I thought, that’s a stupid name for one’s husband.
 
“Oh he’s all well again,” replied the rotund woman, “Mr Flabbergast and I have just been to the vet for his injections!”
 
“Why did her husband go to the vet for his injections?” I thought, “maybe he’s caught something from the dog!”
 
The elevator arrived and we all got in.
 
“We’re going to the penthouse, young man” said the rotund woman to me looking down her nose.
 
I smiled and pressed the buttons as the young lady said “17th floor for me please!”
 
The elevator went up smoothly for a minute or so and then stopped with a jolt.
 
“Perhaps you didn’t press the buttons properly!” accused the rotund woman.
 
I mean … what an insult … There’s only one way to press an elevator button, and I did just that. I pressed 17, Penthouse and 21, the floor I was destined to. And now here I was stuck in an elevator with high society looking down on me.
 
The diminutive man said “They’ll soon let us out dear … these elevators automatically inform the engineers when something is wrong!”
 
“Oh do be quiet Gilbert …” she responded, “Bijou is getting upset!”
 
“There’s an opening in the ceiling” the young lady pointed out, “if you lift that flap there you can go through, and there’s a lever that opens the doors. I’ve seen it done in the movies!”
 
I looked up and said nothing.
 
“You don’t expect me to get up there?” said the young high society, “not in my mini skirt, I won’t!”
 
“Gilbert suffers from vertigo” said Mrs Flabbergast, “and I certainly will not climb up there in this new dress. So it’s down to you young man!”
 
“Or up to you …” said Gilbert with a smile pointing upwards.
 
“I am not going up there.” I said authoritatively. “I may press the wrong lever and things would get worse. I’m sure the engineers will soon let us out. Let’s be patient for a while.”
 
We remained patient for about five minutes or so. Silently looking at each other nervously and smiling politely. And then it happened …
 
Someone … (cue in dramatic music) had cowardly broken wind!
 
It was one of those silent wind breakers that turns the air a darker shade of grey as it slowly suffocates your every breath and presses your eardrums outwards.
 
I don’t know about you … but I think breaking wind in an elevator is totally wrong on so many levels.
 
They all looked at me accusingly. I resented that. I knew it wasn’t me but how could I prove it? If I objected it would have been taken as admission of guilt. I said nothing and looked at my watch, pretending not to notice their accusations or the distinct lack of air in this suspended cage.
 
“Would you like some chocolates?” said Mrs Flabbergast trying to deflect the silent conversation to another subject.
 
She opened her handbag and brought out a packet of chocolate drops which she handed round to the young miss and her husband. Neither took any.
 
I took a couple, out of politeness of course, and to show there were no hard-feelings regarding the false un-spoken accusations.
 
She pulled a couple of drops out of the bag and gave them to Bijou.
 
“Chocolates can be harmful to dogs,” said the young lady with a smile.
 
“Oh … they’re not chocolates!” replied Mrs Flabbergast, “They’re specially formulated chocolate substitutes for dogs. The vet just gave them to us!”
 
Before I could say anything the elevator smoothly moved upwards and took us to our destinations.
 
Lately I’ve often had this urge to scratch my ears violently with my feet. Very embarrassing … especially when on a bus!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Consider Others

Many years ago when I was young I had to drive from my office to a town some miles away for a meeting. I took a colleague with me.

He was gregarious, always joking and telling stories and was fun to be with.

Our journey took us through narrow winding country lanes, up and down steep hills, and at one point near the sea with beautiful mountains in the background. It was a warm and sunny day and I enjoyed the drive ahead.

My passenger was unusually silent and I surmised that he was rehearsing in his head the important speech he was about to make at the meeting.

When we arrived at our destination he got out of the car and said in a loud voice: “I will never, ever, get in a car with you again!” then he stormed into the building.

That evening he took the train back home and I drove alone.

I was to learn later from other colleagues that my driving was too fast – “almost reckless” he had described it. Yet he was too polite (or frightened?) to say anything during the journey.

I apologized to him of course. But the problem was that I had totally miss-read the situation and took his silence for what it wasn’t.

How often do we fail to consider the feelings of those close to us as we rush speedily through our busy lives?

Monday, 6 June 2016

Blessed are the Cheese Makers

Matthew 5:1-12
When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to him. Then He began to speak, and taught them, saying:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Unfortunately ... since Jesus walked this earth, many people have gone out of their way to deliberately miss-quote Him, to miss-interpret Him, and to discuss and debate every thing He said, and change it to suit and justify their own selfish and self-centered lifestyles.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

I am losing my Faith

 
Father Ignatius was in the Sacristy tidying up after morning’s Mass when one of his parishioners came in and asked if he could have a quick chat. Being quite approachable, the priest glanced quickly at his watch and agreed to spend a few minutes with the young man, in his mid-twenties.

“Father … I’m losing my Faith …” was the abrupt introduction.

Father Ignatius said nothing, encouraging the young man to continue with a nod. “I’ve been a Christian all my life, but there are times when I’m totally confused. I ask myself whether God really exists … whether it’s all real … or just some invention. I wonder whether God … Jesus and the whole of Christianity have just been invented over the years by society … just to regulate itself … I sometimes find it a real struggle to believe that God exists …  but the more I try to believe the more I doubt.”

“I don’t blame you,” replied the priest, and this had the desired effect of gaining the young man’s full attention.

“We’re living in difficult times,” continued Father Ignatius, “times of confusion, half-truths and miss-information. The world is in financial crisis and turmoil. People are losing their jobs and their livelihoods. They fear for the future. Nothing seems as it should be. It is no wonder people get confused and don’t know what to believe anymore. And in their confusion and daily worries they can’t keep their focus on God. They hear and read so many conflicting stories they don’t know what to think anymore … to the point where they even start doubting God’s very existence.  

"You’re not the only one who came to me recently saying what you’ve just said. That you doubt God exists.”

“Oh …” said the man.

“When the Jews left Egypt, they were confused too …” the priest went on, “they had left the relative safety of slavery behind them, where they were fed and watered, and here they were, going round in circles in the desert following a man promising them jam tomorrow … or was it milk and honey?”

The young man smiled.

“So they rebelled against Moses. They didn’t want to believe in his God, leading them to safety. Despite what they had seen that God did for them … dividing the sea so they could cross safely, sending food from Heaven and so on … they still doubted and rebelled. They were more interested in placing their Faith in a statue made of solid gold. At least this was something they could see and touch and admire!

“Years later we read in the Bible about other people doubting and in confusion … just as you feel right now.

“Peter had been with Christ for at least three years and had seen His miracles and heard His sermons. He witnessed the healings, the raising from the dead, walking on water, feeding the thousands. He of all people had no reason to doubt. Yet when it came to the crunch he too doubted and denied knowing Christ … not once, but he denied knowing Him three times.

“How does that compare with you … hmmm?

“As for the disciple Thomas … well he just refused to believe period.

“So you’re in good company young man. You’re not alone in doubting about the very existence of God your Creator.”

At this the young man was totally confused and didn’t know what to ask next.

Perhaps he had expected some magic formula to restore his ailing Faith, a wave of a wand, or some soothing words from his priest … but alas no … the priest just confounded his thoughts by affirming that his doubts are neither unusual nor unexpected.

Father Ignatius smiled and said, “That didn’t help did it?”

“Well …” hesitated the young man.

“There once was a man whose son was very ill, and he came to Jesus for help” continued Father Ignatius, “ ‘Help us if you can,’ he asked Jesus. Jesus replied ‘Everything is possible if you have Faith,’ to which the man said ‘I do have Faith, but not enough, help me to have more.’

“Jesus healed this man’s son. He saw that the man was struggling with his Faith, as you’re doing right now. So He helped him.

“We don’t all have the same strength and vigour of Faith. Some, like you’ve admitted, are a little weak and waver from time to time. Just like Peter and Thomas did.

“But don’t tell me about it. Tell God, in your own words. Tell Him you’re struggling to believe; ask Him to help you.

“Say over and again I believe, Lord; help my unbelief.

“The good Lord will help you … but only if you are willing to believe … if you’re willing to fight your doubts, and your fears, and your confusion.

“God loves you, and He does not wish to see you go astray, away from Him. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your capabilities. He is not in the business of losing souls you know …”

Father Ignatius paused for a while and then continued in his gentle voice.

“There’s an old Cherokee Indian legend about a youth’s rite of passage, when he becomes a man so to speak.

“When the child is of a certain age his father takes him to the forest where he has to sit blindfolded overnight. He shouldn’t take off the blindfold but sit there, in the darkness, hearing all the noises of the night … animals howling, the rustling of the trees and so on, and conquer his fears.

“The next morning, at sunrise, he takes off his blindfold and looks around him only to find that his father had been sitting with him all night, protecting him from danger. He shouldn’t tell what happened to anyone else, so others may experience the love of their fathers too.

“You are now blindfolded and confused. But God your Father in Heaven is right beside you, protecting you at all times. Because He loves you, more than any earthly father can love his children.”

The young man smiled and wiped his eye with the back of his hand.

“OK … I think you’re already on the first steps towards recovery … I suggest you pray time and again … especially when you feel doubts coming on … recite the Rosary … have you got one?”

The man nodded.

“Our Lady will always protect you if you ask her. Don’t be afraid to tell her how you feel.”

As the man left the Sacristy much relieved than when he first came in Father Ignatius added, “and whilst you’re praying, don’t forget to say one for me!”

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Love Thy Neighbour

“Jesus answered, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ ”

Father Ignatius stopped reading from the Gospel of St Matthew Chapter 22 and looked up at the congregation sitting there.

“And that’s where the problem lies,” he said, “love your neighbor as you love yourself.

“It’s almost too difficult for some people; and do you know why?

“It’s because too many people just do not love themselves.

“Yes … that’s right … they don’t really love themselves.

“They find faults with themselves and see no reason to like or love who they are. Many have a problem with their self-image or about their character in some way.

“They think they don’t look pretty enough for today’s society.

“And it is not just our physical appearance that some of us find cause to dislike; the shape of our nose, or our ears or whatever else we think is wrong.

“Some people don’t love themselves because they feel inadequate in some way or other. They feel they’re too shy perhaps, or not bright or clever enough like their friends, or not successful as others at work or in business.

“Many people sadly conjure up any reason they can think of which erodes their self-confidence, their self-esteem, and leads them not to like or love themselves.

“When Jesus said ‘as you love yourself’; He did not mean we should all have a Narcissus complex and be totally self-centered and self-obsessed.

“He was teaching us to appreciate who we really are. Not the outer part of ourselves, the visible body which we may find fault with, but our inner self. Our very soul!”

Father Ignatius paused for a while.

“We are the Creation of God. Each one of us different and unique. Each one of us beautiful in our own way and worthy of love,” he continued with a smile, “God does not make mistakes. There are no rejects off His production line …

“Every one of His Creations is different, unique, and perfect in every way. And certainly worthy of love.

“And with your help, I will prove it to you.”

He looked up at the congregation in anticipation. They were intrigued and he definitely had their full attention.

“I want you to promise me you’ll do as I ask … will you do that?”

They nodded and some said yes and agreed.

“When you get home after Mass I want each one of you to take a piece of paper and write down two or three things about yourself which you like.

“It could be anything. Your ability to play the piano perhaps, or the fact that you’re a hard worker, or maybe you’re a good cook, or you are good at drawing, painting or writing.

“Or it could be that you sing so well that the neighbors have broken all your windows to hear you better!”

They laughed.

“And when you’ve written down your list of two or three items, I want you to consider them as gifts from the Good Lord especially for you.

“Whatever is good about or within you is from His making, and not from your own efforts. He gave you the ability to sing, dance, and play music or whatever else you are or can do. These are gifts He gave you when He made you as a baby all those years ago.

“And as you learn to thank God for these gifts, as you begin to appreciate these gifts from Our Lord, especially and uniquely for you; then slowly and in time you’ll learn to appreciate yourselves.

“You’ll start to like yourselves as you really are; a gift from God.

“Whoever you are today is a gift from God. Whatever you do with your lives is your gift back to God.

“And as you learn to love yourselves a little better, then will you be able to appreciate and love your neighbors as Jesus commanded.”

Other Father Ignatius stories HERE
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