Sunday, 26 March 2017

Praying/Speaking for/to the dead.

This Blog has never shied away from controversial topics. My intention is not to upset or offend my loyal and supportive readers, but to open to discussion certain subjects which have often crossed our minds and perhaps left us guessing.

As a Catholic, I realise that not all my readers are of this Faith; and I welcome them because sometimes what they say gets me thinking and helps me re-assess my position. That is why I have always allowed anonymous comments on my Blog; even though at times I have received rude comments. I have deleted such comments so as not to offend my polite and much appreciated audience.

Some anonymous comments have suggested that as a Catholic I am not a Christian. This has left me puzzled and amused because I always thought I was a Christian; albeit the current Pontiff, Pope Confusion, has perhaps succeeded in obfuscating what our religion stands for. But let's not go there in case he reads my Blog and he'll send round the Spanish Inquisition.

One more thing; I always welcome comments and discussions here, and I pray for all who take the trouble to write in, including anonymous abuse. So the illogical logic to this is that if you are in need of a prayer send in a rude anonymous message!

OK ... preliminaries over, let's get on with today's topic.

We have all had relatives or friends who have passed away; parents, siblings, uncles and aunts and so on.

My question is: Where are they now?

We believe in eternal life after death. So where are our relatives?

Are they in Heaven with God? Or are they in a Waiting Room somewhere reading out of date newspapers and magazines until the final resurrection?

I know the Catholics and other denominations believe in Purgatory. A Purification Centre, like a car wash, where our sins are washed away. But let's not go there right now, (metaphorically as well as literally - I'm not dead yet!).

So ... my first question is where are they now?

Now, assuming that their fate has already been decided by God at the moment of death, and assuming that they are in Heaven, (let's not discuss those who are in the other place for now), my next question is:

Can they hear us when we "speak" to them? Or have they somehow lost the sense of hearing or are too busy learning to play the harp?

You can see where I am going with this.

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man somehow manages to communicate with Abraham. So from this, I guess, that when we "speak" to our dead relatives they somehow hear us. You know what I mean? After a difficult day we sit down and tell our dead parents how we feel. Or when we visit their graves we somehow remember them and tell them how we're doing?

If that were not so, then I ask my third question:

Why bother visiting the grave?

They are dead and gone. By placing flowers or candles by the grave side it will hardly matter to them. But we do these things. Why do we do so unless we believe that somehow, they are looking down upon us from above?

Are you confused yet? Because I know I am.

Next we come to the controversial matter, (SPOILER ALERT) of praying for the dead. Catholics do it all the time, you know!!!

Why do we (Catholics) pray for the dead? Surely their fate has been decided by God on death; or else they are in the Waiting Room reading magazines.

Will our prayers in any way influence God to change His mind?

Surely if He has judged them, will He say, "On second thoughts, come into Heaven because Vic has been praying for you and you know how he goes on and on!"

Now some people believe that the whole idea of praying for the dead and offering Masses for them is a Catholic ruse in order to get money from the faithful.

NOTE TO POPE: I am quoting peoples' beliefs. It doesn't mean I believe it. So hold back the Inquisition please.

Where does this idea of praying for the dead originates anyway? 

Praying for the dead dates as far back as the Old Testament. In the Second Book of Maccabees, Judas and his soldiers prayed so that the sins of their dead comrades may be forgiven. (II Maccabees 12:39-45).

In the New Testament, we read that Paul prayed for Onesiphorus, who had died, that “may the Lord grant him His mercy on that Day!” (II Timothy 1:18).

There is also evidence in the catacombs under Rome that the Roman Christians gathered there to pray for their fellow followers of Christ who lay buried there.

By the fourth century prayers for the dead were already a longstanding custom.

So there seems to be a Biblical connection, if we call it that, about praying for the dead.

Let's now look at another angle.

When I pray for you, (or you for me - and boy do I need it?), I am putting in a good word for you with God. I am asking Him to help you, be with you, at a time of need.

Now I presume He is listening; and sometimes, in His time and in His way, He responds to my prayers, (and yours), and we are grateful for the outcome.

So my final question:

When I pray for a dead relative; is it possible that He listens to me and He has pity and mercy on that person because I asked Him to?

Or is He putting His hands on His ears and saying, "La la. Lalla. La la. I can't hear you. It is too late for those who are dead. Your prayers are a waste of time and effort!"

Over to you.

What do you think?

Anonymous comments welcome.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Much Ado About Mary

Once upon a time there was an old priest who became rather forgetful and tired of giving sermons at Mass on Sunday.

He used to write down his sermons and then read them at Mass; but more often than not he used to forget bringing his sermons to church; so at sermon time he had nothing to read anyway.

He reasoned that if he had to write down his sermons in order to remember them, then how could the congregation be expected to remember them after leaving church.

With such impeccable logic he decided to do something about it.

One Sunday morning at Mass he announced: “I’m getting old and forgetful. I really can't be bothered anymore with writing sermons I instantly forget. So from now on there will be no more sermons at Mass!”

His congregation was very disappointed and some even complained to the Bishop.

The Bishop called the old priest in for an explanation. Somewhat pensively the old priest explained that he could no longer remember what to say in his sermons, and even though he prepared sermons in writing, he often forgot to bring his writing to church, which meant he had no sermon to deliver.

The Bishop sympathised with the elderly colleague and said: “Here's something you could try. Next time you have to give a sermon say in a loud voice ‘I have an announcement to make!’

“This will ensure you have everyone’s attention. They will hang on to your every word.

“Then say just as loudly ‘I have fallen in love with a woman’.

“Now this will certainly have them all listening very carefully and remembering your every word.

“And then calmly tell them about the Virgin Mary, and all the good she did for us. It will be easy. Just speak from the heart of your love for Our Lady”.

The old priest was overjoyed and the following Sunday he stood proudly at the lectern and said loudly:

“I HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT TO MAKE!”

And sure enough everyone sat up in their pews to listen very carefully. The old priest then continued just as loudly:

“THE BISHOP HAS FALLEN IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN …”

As the congregation stirred in their seats the old priest went on:

“I can’t for the life of me remember her name …”

Many non-Catholics perhaps don't understand our devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and often believe that our love for her is wrong and somewhat sacrilegious. They quote bits of the Bible like: 
 
"Christ said ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.’

Or Paul message in his letter to Timothy when he says, "there is one God, and there is one mediator who brings God and mankind together, Christ Jesus."

To pray to Mary, or any other Saint for that matter, must seem like idolatry or blasphemy to many.

I suppose I understand this viewpoint on the surface of it. But let's consider it some more.

When someone is ill, or in some difficulty, we often pray for them and ask God to come to their aid. This is right and proper and it shows our charitable loving intentions on our part; it shows our generosity of spirit and caring.

Prayers are the greatest gifts we can give to or receive from someone. God loves to hear our prayers on behalf of someone else.

When we pray for others we are mediating for them. We are saying "God ... you know our friend X is a good chap really. He is not well right now. Please help him." Or words to that effect.

When we pray to Mary and asking her help we are doing no different. We are asking her, or any other Saint, to put in a good word for us with God. We are not worshipping her, but asking her to mediate in the same way as we do ourselves when we pray for someone.

It is significant perhaps that Christ's first miracle, turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana, was indeed done through the mediation of His Mother. She was a guest there. She was not in charge of proceedings. She noticed that wine was running short and asked Her Son to help. Is this a clear signal from Christ Himself that there is nothing wrong in asking Mary to mediate or intercede for us?

When we light candles in front of Mary's statue, or place flowers, this is not idolatry. We are not worshipping the statue made of stone, or whatever material. The statue is a mere representation of what Mary might look like; it is to help us imagine who we are praying to. It is no different to us having a picture of our loved ones in our wallet or purse, or on our desk at work. We don't love the picture, but the individuals it portrays. It is a reminder of our loved ones. When we place flowers or light a candle by the grave of a loved one, again we are doing this as a sign of respect and love. It does not mean we worship the individual buried there.

A number of people, including Catholics, have miss-understood what it means to place flowers or light a candle by the statue of Our Lady, or any of the Saints. Indeed, many, perhaps naively, but certainly wrongly, do end up "worshipping" and kissing the statue. This is wrong and it is time the Catholic Church reminded its followers of this fact. I have lit many a candle in my days, but in no way am I worshipping a piece of stone or marble!
 Let's look at this another way.

God chose Mary to be the Mother of His only Son. He obviously had, and still has, high regard for her. Do you think that when I get to meet God face to face He will punish me for daring to love Mary? Or Joseph? Or any of the other Saints?

When we pray to Saints we do not worship them. We merely ask them to mediate for us. To put in a good word for us with God. Just as we do when someone asks us for a reference for a job, or club membership.

And God knows ... we need all the help and good words we can get!

I know I do. So please pray for me. It won't do you any harm and might do me a lot of good.

Thanx and God bless.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Much Ado About Laughter



Groucho Marx said, outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend, and inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER is a book of short humourous stories and anecdotes, some heard here and there over the years, others originating from the deep recesses of my mind. Already published on this Blog, they have been selected by me and my loyal readers as amongst our favourites to hopefully make you smile when life is dark and miserable, or even when a bright light shines inside your dog.

My English teacher always said never split an infinitive. So he will not be happy with “to hopefully make you smile”; but then, he never smiled either, and he did not write a book like this did he?

He also told me once “Your grammar stinks!” Which was very hurtful I think, especially since my grandma always smelled of lavender perfume and eau de cologne.

At last MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER is available from HERE

Sit down, relax and get ready to smile. With some stories selected by you, our loyal readers, this book is so funny that even the author bought a copy – someone has to!

This is what the critics say, (what do they know anyway):

A book that even Shakespeare could not have written.

A book that's talked about in all the good talking circles.

A book with as many pages as there are between its covers.

A book that did not have to be written - but it has!

A book with a beginning and an end.

And now, for your amusement and delectation, here are 2 minutes of superlative musical composition to delight your auditory faculties as well as your visionary senses whilst simultaneously providing informatory material about the now printed manuscript in question.

A 2 minute trailer advertising MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER
   


From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it. (Groucho Marx).

BUY MUCH ADO ABOUT LAUGHTER FROM HERE

KINDLE FORMAT HERE
 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Saint Joseph


On the left side of St Vincent church, right in front by the Altar, just by the Sacristy door, there’s a large statue of Our Lady. On the right side of the altar, hanging on the wall, there’s a picture of St Vincent, the Patron Saint of the church.

Mother Superior found in the Convent, in an old storeroom, a large statue of St Joseph and the baby Jesus. It was exactly the same size as the statue of Our Lady.

She suggested to Father Ignatius that the statue be restored and put on the right of the Altar, and for the picture of St Vincent to be moved elsewhere in the Church.

On the appointed day the beautifully restored statue of St Joseph was put in its rightful place on the right side of the church and Father Ignatius led a short prayer meeting for all involved. A few nuns from the convent were there, as well as the restorer and a few helpers, and Mrs Davenport the priests’ housekeeper.

After leading the prayers Father Ignatius said a few words.

“I’m so glad that Mother Superior suggested we put this statue here to honor St Joseph; and I thank her for her kindness and generosity in donating the statue which was found in the convent.

“I’d like us to think for a while about St Joseph as an individual.

“Here we have a man, often depicted in pictures and statues as being a little advanced in age, we don’t know really how old he was when he met Mary … but she always looks much younger doesn’t she?

“Anyway … here we have a man intending to marry the young lady he loves and no doubt start a family which he will look after by way of his job as a humble carpenter.

“When one day he finds out she is pregnant. I don’t know about you … but I’d feel really hurt and cheated if it happened to me. How could she? And I trusted her so?

“Aren’t these the thoughts that would cross your minds … Peter, Ken and Mark?”

He looked at the three young men in the little prayer group and they smiled coyly.

“And I’d bet if it happened to you you’d run a mile in the opposite direction … wouldn’t you?” he asked them.

They did not reply.

“Oh … but there’s more …” said the priest, “not only did Joseph’s girlfriend promise him that she did not cheat on him … no, wait for it. She tells him that she is carrying the Son of God. Yes … she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and she’s carrying the Son of God.

“Now in those days it would have been a great scandal to have a baby if you’re not married. You would have been ostracized by your family for a start for bringing shame upon them.

“Chances are you would have been stoned to death too …

“But to say that you’re carrying the Son of God from a Virgin pregnancy would have been blasphemy of the highest order. Either that, or people would have thought you’d lost your mind … simply gone mad and left to suffer the consequences.

“Yet, despite all these risks to her good name and indeed to her safety Mary had the courage and the Faith to trust in God and say ‘Yes’ when the Angel visited her. We should always be grateful for her saying ‘Yes’.

“Can you imagine? An Angel appeared to her … if it was me I’d probably fall off my chair with fright at the sight of such a visitation.”

They all laughed.

“And can you imagine poor old Joseph? His head must have been really spinning in a daze … and without the benefit of a Guinness or two!

“First she tells him she’s pregnant, then she says it’s a Virgin birth and the baby is the Son of God.

“Over to you three young men … what would you do in such circumstances?”

He paused for a second or two and did not give them time to reply.

“But the Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream … we don’t know if it was the same Angel Gabriel, but never mind. And like Mary, Joseph too has great Faith and he believes what he is told. He stays with Mary and raises the young infant as any good father would. And for this too we should be always grateful.

“I am very pleased to have the statue of St Joseph and the baby Jesus here and that of Our Lady on the other side of the Altar over there. The Holy Family on either side of the Altar reminding us of Faith in God and parental responsibility.

“I would like now to read you a short prayer to St Joseph. This prayer is said to be over 1900 years old. It was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the 1500's it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. It is a novena to be prayed for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail.

“O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.”

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Rich Man Poor Man - How about you?



“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ Luke 16:19-31.

I am sure you all know this parable by Jesus. The story continues that the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to go and warn the rich man's family to mend their ways. And this request too is denied.

So ... what have we to learn from this parable in today's modern times?


These days we have people so rich that they treat their pets better than many poor people are treated. Years ago I knew a couple who had a little dog. You know the kind ... a little bijou type dog like a small poodle or such like. They liked that dog very much. So much so that they put a plate full of best cuts of ham, or other meats, on the table and then they would lift the dog on a high chair and he would eat at table with them.

The first time this happened I was astounded. I said nothing of course; but somehow I felt bad that the dog was fed the best meat one could buy when there are so many folks going hungry.

For all I know, maybe this couple were very generous in life. Maybe they gave a lot of money to charity, or looked after the down-and-outs in the local homeless shelter. But somehow, seeing that dog eating expensive meats that I could not afford made me feel bad.

What do we learn from the Lazarus story?

How much should we give to charity? What is enough? Or not enough?

In another parable Jesus tells us of the poor widow who gave her last pennies in the collection plate. He says that her gift was worth more than that of rich people, because she gave until it hurt.

What does give until it hurts mean for us these days? Is it OK to give to charities so much that it begins to affect our family and our loved ones? Is it acceptable that our children should go without something because we have been generous towards the poor? Where do you draw the line between your family not having something at the expense of a poor man having a good meal for the first time in ages.

I once was having a meal with a priest. There were many of us round the table. I was young and perhaps foolish in what I thought or said. I asked him, "Father, is it OK for us to be having such a feast here; when there are so many people starving in the world?"

He was a wise man. He smiled and said, "There will always be starving people in the world. I know the temptation is to give all you have to the poor to the point of you going without. But if you did that, then you too will be poor and relying on others for charity. What you should do is give to the poor as much as you can afford, and thank God that you have plenty for yourself, and trust Him that He will look after the poor. You are God's instrument in life to give to those less well off than yourself."

I suppose the lesson to be learnt here is that we should not deny things for ourselves and our families. There's nothing wrong in working hard and being well-off. Indeed, Christ encourages people to work hard in the parable of the servants given talents which they increase in time.

But in our riches, we need to remember those less well-off than us; and to give them "enough" as much as we can.

What is enough? Or not enough?

This is something you will have to discuss with God when you get to meet Him.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Baked Beans Dilemma

Every so often I like to have a full English breakfast. Beans on toast, fried eggs and tomatoes, sausages and bacon as well as mushrooms.

So there I was last Saturday preparing breakfast for the family. The eggs were frying happily in the pan whilst the sausages and bacon were under the grill. The mushrooms and tomatoes warming gently and the toast just popped out of the toaster.

I opened a can of beans, poured it in the pan and ... to my surprise, it was all tomato sauce. I looked deep in the pan ... just tomato sauce. I stirred in a spoon and  ... success ... I found one bean. Just one bean. The whole can was filled with tomato sauce and just one bean.

I looked under the lid in case the other beans were hiding there. But no ... none were to be seen.

I read the label in case this was a new economy brand of beans with fewer beans to cut costs. But no ... it seemed a normal can. The ingredients said "65% beans, 20% tomato juice, 10% water." It did not say what the remaining 5% was made of.

I read the instructions again, in case they expected me to plant the bean and grow more beans like in the story Jack and the Beanstalk. But no ... all it said was heat gently in a pan for a few minutes. Do not let boil.

So ... what do I do next? Breakfast is almost ready. The family is gathering round the table. I search the cupboard for another tin. There was none. This was the last one.

I hear singing from the other room, "Why are we waiting? Why are we waiting?"
  
What do I do in this situation? I can hardly serve beans on toast with no beans? Or cut the one bean into tiny portions to serve everyone?

What would you do?

I quickly picked a packet of frozen peas from the freezer and poured a generous portion into the beans sauce and turned the heat on.

Et voila ... baked peas on toast.

The family complained that these were not beans. I told them they were a new kind of green beans especially imported from Greenland where everything is green.

They did not believe me. They said these were peas in a tomato sauce.

I think education is a bad thing. People should believe what I tell them not what they have learnt.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Forgive Forget Reconcile - NONSENSE

Matthew 5:43-48
Jesus said to the disciples, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven ..."

A more modern interpretation of the passage above is that we should forgive, forget, and reconcile with (love) our enemies.

Easier said than done.

God knows that, and He understands when, often, we cannot achieve this commandment to the letter.

Let us analyse it a little further.

Forgiveness is an act, a positive act, not a feeling. We cannot say I feel I have forgiven him, therefore I have. We must decide to forgive, whether or not the other person has sought forgiveness or even cares whether we have forgiven him or not. We decide, deep in our hearts, that we no longer bear any ill-will towards that person. No longer do we want revenge, punishment or retribution of any kind. We have totally forgiven them once and for all - and ... here is the difficult bit: WE CAN PROVE IT TO GOD SHOULD HE ASK US TO.

So ... we have dealt with the first bit of the equation. We have truly forgiven.

The second bit is forgetting. This is almost impossible. God created us with a memory and short of hypnotism or some accident or action that leads to loss of memory, we will remember.

The deeper the hurt done to us, the more we will remember. The slightest thing will trigger that memory. A song perhaps, a picture, visiting a place, something someone says ... and we will remember once again the hurt done to us. We may resent the hurt done to us. We may become bitter and perhaps angry. This is natural and we should not reproach ourselves about it. God knows about these feelings because He created us this way - with a memory that brings back to life the bad times in our lives.

Let us use these bad memories to forgive once again. Let them be a trigger to decide once more to forgive the one who hurt us. Let them be an opportunity to pray for that person and hand them over to God. To ask Him to take care of them and to get them to know Him better.

The final bit of the equation is to "love" or reconcile with our enemy. The one who hurt us.

As an ideal state, this is worth pursuing. But let us not fool ourselves. There are times when this is impossible, or indeed it is imperative that we do not reconcile with the one who has hurt us.

Let me explain.

As human beings one of our basic instincts is to protect ourselves, and our loved ones, from danger and from evil. Again ... God created us this way.

There are times when to reconcile with the one who hurt us puts us, or our loved ones, back into a situation of danger.

Let's look at an example scenario:

Imagine a case of divorce. Is it really possible that the couple reconcile again to the extent that they live together again as husband and wife as before ... as if nothing had happened? To live together without the slightest doubt, suspicion, fear or feelings that led to the divorce in the first place?

Let us raise the stakes a little.

What if the actions of one of the spouses had created havoc in their life as well as yours? What if that action repeated itself over and over again with not the slightest intent or effort to improve the situation. Is it still possible for you to reconcile totally knowing full well that the chances are there will be a repeat of that action, putting you and yours in danger? Would it be the prudent thing for you to do? To reconcile totally and keep your fingers crossed and hope against hope?

Let us raise the stakes some more.

What if the actions of your spouse had hurt badly someone you love? Your parents for instance, or your offspring? What if to reconcile and return back to your spouse would mean hurting these people once again; or indeed put them in some danger? Would you still reconcile totally?

I think I made my point.

To forgive that individual who hurt us is a decision that we can make; and we can forgive them again and again every time the memories come back to haunt us. God asks no more than that.

But to reconcile totally and go back to a situation as it was before is not always possible.

God does not ask for that. He does not ask us to put ourselves and others in danger for the sake of "loving our enemies".

We can easily love them from a distance. We love them in our hearts in as much as we pray for them and re-affirm again and again in our hearts that we have forgiven them.

Christ did say to His disciples that at times they should leave certain places and shake the dust from their sandals.

He did not say return there again and put yourself in danger of being attacked, arrested or killed.

When some of His followers could no longer accept His teachings when He said, "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him"; they got up and left Him. He did not call them back and attempt to explain. He just let them go. He forgave them and let them go.

That is what we are asked to do ... some times ... to those who have hurt us. To forgive them ... again and again ... and let them go.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Richard The Lion Liver

This is the crest of Sir Richard the Lion Liver; one of my ancestors several times removed. The more often he was removed the more he returned. He dates back from medieval times and his crest was recently discovered at a garage sale. So they kept the crest and sold the garage.

Anyway, for those of you interested in learning about this great knight, (and you'd better do so because I'll be asking test questions later), please click HERE. I said HERE, not anywhere. Just click on the word HERE. Honestly, some people have to be told more than once where to click.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The dangers of hypnosis in a sophisticated self-assured society

Ah ... I knew the title to this article would spark your interest. But let me explain that this is a serious issue which affects many people in this modern society of ours. You may think that hypnotism and hypnosis are to do with the mind; and you'd be right. But I thought it's all to do with the hips really. Especially if you go to the wrong doctor. As I did.

I went to this man whom I thought dealt with hips because I'd had a minor accident which made it difficult to walk properly. I had accidentally taken the cat for a walk instead of the dog and I fell off a tree. I landed on my backside and may have hurt my hip. So off to the hypnotist I went.

He sent me to the hospital for some X rays. The photo showed me full of bones which I confess I do not recall ever eating.

I went back to the hypnotist, who apparently was in fact a psychiatrist, rather than a hypnotist as such. He used hypnosis as part of his treatment for certain conditions. Anyway, he said he'd discussed the X- rays with the hospital and there was nothing wrong with me except some bruising which will heal in time. He added that if I was a bit more "weighty" my bigger backside would have cushioned me from any pain.

I discussed with him how I am very careful with what I eat, and how I fear putting on weight. He asked me to lie on his couch. I asked him why, fearing this was serious. He replied: "Our cleaner did not turn up today, and I'd like to vacuum clean where you're standing whilst you're talking!"

When he finished cleaning the room he suggested he hypnotises me to discover my fear of eating. I laid back on the couch and pretty soon I was fast asleep.

I don't know what he told me, but he must have been very persuasive, because when he woke me up I had eaten half his couch.

He wanted to charge me for the damaged couch; but I complained that it was his fault. He may have persuaded me to find an appetite; but did he need a leather couch knowing I was a vegetarian? I said I'd sue him for feeding me a wrong diet.

We agreed that if I paid for half the damage to the couch he'd give me another psychiatric session for free.

I told him I have this terrible fear of heights. Even putting my socks on makes me dizzy with vertigo. He suggested I wash my socks more often.

Anyway, he got me to lay down on now half a couch and hypnotised me again. When I woke up I was on top of the wardrobe.

He told me to get down. But I wouldn't because I now enjoyed seeing things from higher up.

He shook the wardrobe and brought me down to earth. I paid him and left.

Let this be a warning to all of you - a hypnotist has nothing to do with hips; unless yours is afraid of heights!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Christ's Temptations

Why was Jesus human? Why was He tempted by the devil?

When Jesus came to earth He came as a human to share humanity with us so that we can accept Him and learn from Him. He was born a human baby, vulnerable, and tiny as all babies are. He grew up a human and shared every emotion we share as human beings.

His very humanity is a very important factor in understanding Jesus; the Son of God.

Let's consider a different scenario of this Son of God coming to visit us here on earth.

Imagine for a minute if He had arrived as a God (which He was/is). Imagine if He suddenly appeared out of nowhere in a flash of lightning and thunder. Imagine if He came on earth like a superman or such other fictional hero. With obvious powers like flying, super strength, X ray vision and so on like we see in the movies.

How do you think we humans would have reacted?

The people of the time would have been in total awe of Him and would have obeyed and followed Him out of fear or wonderment.

Hardly free choice - is it?

So God decided that His Son would come to us as a human. He humbled Himself as a baby born in poverty in a stable. Grew up with the poor and the down and outs - not as a king.

As a human He felt every emotion that we feel. Sadness at the death of Lazarus, pity for the ill and poor ... etc.

As a human He also experienced temptations.

In the desert satan tempted Him: If you are God's Son jump from this temple, turn these stones into bread. Why don't you worship me?

How often does satan tempt us too?

Are there not times when, perhaps like a bright light in our head, we suddenly stop and ask ourselves: "Is this all real? Is there really a God out there? Jesus? Life after death? Can all this be true and do I really believe it?"

I hope these temptations don’t cross our minds too often. Because satan is always there; ready to put these and other thoughts in our minds to lead us astray.

The closer we come to God the harder the devil works to lead us away from Him. No point in tempting those who do not believe is there? Satan is too clever to waste his time on them. Instead he lurks in the shadowy corners of our minds ready to pounce at our moments of weakness. When we're ill perhaps, tired, overworked, confused, sorrowful, doubtful and lacking hope. That's when satan moves in and furtively plants the seeds of doubts and confusion in our minds.

And that’s why Christ had to be tried and tested by satan. In order to share our experiences, but, most important, to be an example to us all on how to fight back these temptations.

Through prayer.

Every time He was tempted Jesus prayed to His Father.

He was tempted again before He was arrested. He asked: "Can all this pass me by?"

Then, in prayer, He obeyed His Father and said: "Not my will, but Yours."

What an example for us all to emulate.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Confessions to my diary


Dear Diary,

Here I am once again sharing a few minutes with you.

The other day I went out to the pizza shop to get myself something to eat. In front of me in the queue was another customer. The pizza man put the customer's pizza in a card box and asked him: "Do you want it sliced in 6 or 8 pieces?"

The man replied: "Six pieces please, I'm not that hungry to eat eight pieces".


God must really love stupid people considering He created so many.

I was thinking about my friend Fred yesterday. I haven’t heard from him since he became a mime artist.

He told me he'd been visiting a hypnotist to cure him of the compulsion to visit hypnotists. He'd gone to a hypnotist to cure him of his fear of heights. He got hypnotised and when he woke up he was on top of the cupboard. Anyway, enough about my friend Fred.

On Tuesday I went to the doctor with fluid on the knee and he said: “You’re not aiming straight!” What did he mean?

I then got this new deodorant stick. The instructions said, "Remove cap and push up bottom." I can barely walk with it, but when I "toot" I smell real nice.

I went to the cemetery on Wednesday to lay some flowers on a grave. As I was standing there I noticed four grave diggers walking about with a coffin. An hour later and they're still walking about with it. I thought to myself, they've lost the plot!!

On the way back I remembered that my daughter had asked me for a pet spider for her birthday. So I went to our local pet shop and they were £15 each. Blow this, I thought, I can get one cheaper off the web.

I then went next door to the baker's and asked him for a wasp. "We don't sell wasps!" he said. "You've got one in the shop window!" I replied.

On Wednesday night Thursday morning my neighbour knocked on my door at 2:30 in the morning. Can you believe that, 2:30am?! Luckily for him I was still up playing my bagpipes.

At lunchtime on Thursday I went to a Department Store with a colleague from work. She picked up a pink negligee from the display unit, put it accross her and with a smile she said expectantly: "Do you like this?" I gulped and replied: "I don't look good in a negligee!" She frowned and said nothing. Pink isn't even my favorite color!

On Thursday night I had a terrible dream. I dreamt that the ghost of Gloria Gaynor was standing at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid ... then I was petrified.

I went to the library on Friday. I stood by the "Geography" shelves and looked at a few books. A few moments later a man approached me and said "Do you realise that all the time you've been standing here a hundred square miles of rainforest have been destroyed?" So I moved somewhere else. I don't want to be responsible for the destruction of any forest.

As I left the library, there were a few people in the street handing out leaflets about Freedom of Speech. One asked me "Do you believe in free speech, Sir?" I nodded and said yes. "Good," he continued, "can I use your cell-phone please?"

On Saturday I went to Confession. The priest said "Do you realise you've confessed the same sins and in exactly the same order for the past five weeks?" I replied "I am a regular sinner. Not a haphazard one who sins informally whenever temptation strikes!"

Some time ago this same priest said to me "You know there are two priests in this Parish. It would be beneficial to you if you confessed to Father Bruno Crusher every now and then!" I replied, "That's funny. It's exactly what Father Bruno said to me when I used to confess to him." 

My priest, undeterred, continued, "Why don't you try St Vincent Church in town for a while?"

Actually I had tried that church some time ago. After a few weeks their priest asked me during Confession "Are you from this Parish?" I said I wasn't. He then said "Go confess in your own Parish. We have enough sinners over here without us having others from somewhere else!"

I think I'll have to be innovative with my sins during Confession. Perhaps I could alter the order in which I say them, and leave a sin out every now and then. See if the priest notices!

On Sunday a friend and I went mountain climbing. Well ... not mountains as such, but very high hills near us. As we almost reached the summit it started raining. My friend slipped and hurt his ankle. He didn't break any bones but he hurt badly. We sheltered behind some rocks and got more and more wet as it continued to rain. It was getting very cold and the evening was drawing in. I was concerned we'd have to spend the night in the open. Then I heard from a distance someone call my name. After a while ... there it was again. Someone with a loud speaker was calling my name and also shouted "We are The Mountain Rescue! We are looking for you!"

I shouted back: "I gave at the office!"

Honestly ... here I was hoping someone would come out and save us, and these people were out for a collection. In this weather too!

Eventually they found us and helped my friend and I down the mountain.

Ha ... ha ... they forgot to pass their collection tin round. So I paid them nothing.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Invitation to join a new profitable business venture

Dear Friends,

I have a very interesting business proposition to put to you which will mature into a valuable investment.

But first let me give you some background.

A certain member of our family recently made a batch full of black buns. Now for those who don’t know, this is a rich Scottish fruitcake which is encased in pastry and then cooked. It is a particular delicacy up North on Hogmanay; and other celebratory occasions.

Now for some reason, this particular batch of black buns was harder than usual. I mean, black buns in our household are normally hard, but this lot was so hard you could have built a house with them. If you had enough of them that is; which thankfully we didn’t.

No one wanted to eat them so I took them to the local park to feed the ducks in the pond. To my amazement the black buns floated on the surface of the water. Perhaps they were hollow inside, or the rising pastry had trapped some air between the casing and the fruitcake inside.

As soon as these pastry bricks floated on the pond a flock of ducks came floating towards them cackling with excitement. The sound attracted even more ducks and swans and birds who gathered around me for a Scottish feast.

Surprisingly, their sharp beaks managed to break through the concrete pastry and into the cake but … oh horror … as soon as the ducks and swans ate some of the fruitcake they sank to the bottom of the pond like stones. A while later they got up to the surface and quickly got out of the water belching and farting and searching for indigestion tablets.

I got home somewhat dejected at my failure in introducing our ducks to a Northern delicacy; and then it hit me … (someone threw a black bun at me which I had inadvertently forgotten behind!).

I picked up the bun and pondered. As I held the cake in my hand the warmth I generated started to soften the pastry. I ate a bit. It tasted nice and soft; so did the cake inside.

And that’s how genius works, my friends.

I had in my hand a hard edible substance, hard enough for me to stand on it without it crumbling, yet body warmth makes it soft, and safe to eat, and sweet.

What if I had enough black buns ingredients to mould the cake into the shape of a seat?

We quickly made another lot and in about an hour or so we had made a small baby-sized chair. It was strong enough for me to sit on, I tell you; yet, after a while I could break off a bit from the chair and eat it.

That’s it folks! Edible furniture has arrived.

We’re now discussing business terms with a furniture manufacturer and a large bakery nearby.

We intend making all sorts of seats, chairs, sofas, armchairs, as well as tables and other household items.

We’re thinking about different flavors too. Chocolate is a distinct favorite as well as vanilla flavored pastry and savory cakes too.

Can you imagine the endless possibilities?

You invite guests to dinner at your house and end up eating the furniture. We’re considering meat and vegetable flavors too as well as vegetarian and vegan products.

The advantage of this is that you save on expensive meals which you have to prepare and cook and, every time you have a party you have a new style of furniture to keep up with the latest styles and fashions … and flavors.

If you go on a picnic, all you have to take with you is some chairs which you can eat whilst lying there on the beach, or nearby a river, or in the park. And don’t worry about cleaning up afterwards. Any crumbs you leave behind will be eaten by the birds.

Imagine for a moment sports venues where all the spectators sit on edible seats which they eat whilst enjoying the football game. They’d be able to book a seat in advance in their favorite flavors.

The same applies to cinemas and theaters. Can you see yourself eating through an opera or a concert?

I’ve received this morning an order for a large consignment of said edible furniture from a famous Department Store. I could have shown you the order, but I ate it.

So if you wish to make a fortune, you’d better invest in this new venture right now.

It’s selling like hot cakes.
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