Thursday, 30 October 2014
This happened many years ago when three friends and I went out on a Friday night. Colin was driving his old Mini and Peter was sitting next to him. Harry and I were at the back.
I thought we were going to a pub somewhere in the countryside and was somewhat concerned when we stopped outside an old cottage somewhere remote.
“What are we doing here?” I asked, and was assured that it’ll be OK and I’ll like it really.
We entered the house and were greeted by a middle-aged lady who ushered us into a waiting room were another five people were waiting. An old man, two middle aged women, a young woman and a man in his thirties or so.
Eventually we were led into a darkened room lit by a couple of candles and asked to sit in a circle round a large table. It was obvious that we were to witness a séance where a medium would attempt to communicate with the other side.
Peter had mentioned the subject a few days earlier and Colin had shown an interest in attending such an event. I had made it perfectly plain at the time that I did not approve of such things which explains why they had not told me where we were going.
So there I was, sitting round a table with Harry on my left and the old gentleman on my right.
The woman who greeted us when we arrived entered the room and sat opposite me. We were asked to remain silent and hold hands.
After a few seconds the so-called spiritualist asked “Is anyone there?” and at that very moment, as bad luck would have it, my stomach started to rumble. I had not eaten for a while and I was somewhat hungry.
“I heard something,” said one of the women “it sounded distant and from a great depth!"
“Yes, I heard it too …” said someone else “it was creepy ...”
My stomach rumbled again in response.
“Please remain silent” said the medium sternly.
And my stomach gurgled yet again defiantly.
The medium then started breathing heavily and deeply.
“What’s the matter with her?” asked the old man sitting on my right; and the young lady sitting on his right whispered gently “She’s in a trance!”
“She’s going to dance?” he asked, “why is that?”
“In a trance …” I whispered emphatically under my breath.
“In France? How can she be in France and sitting right there?” he asked loud enough to be heard by one and all.
“Please be quiet!” reprimanded the medium.
It was then that I noticed Harry on my left sniggering and having great difficulty stifling a laugh.
This didn’t help me one bit as I too tried hard not too laugh. I looked at Harry and noticed in the dark his shoulders shaking uncontrollably in silent laughter. I closed my eyes tightly and tried to think of something serious … something dire and terrible to make me stop laughing.
But no … my vivid imagination got the better of me. I could see in my mind’s eye the medium doing a dance in France. The cancan it was. There she was kicking her legs high in the air as the lively music which usually accompanies that dance whirled round in my head ever so louder.
The harder I tried to suppress my laughter the worst it got, especially as I heard the old man on my right say to his companion “this chap here said the medium is going to France!”
I blurted out a laugh and pretended to sneeze. Harry did the same and “sneezed” too as the old man said “bless you!”
It was then that I felt a presence in the room. It wiped any shred of hilarity within my body as I froze solid.
I kid you not … there definitely was a presence in that room.
Something brushed gently against my left leg and then seconds later against my right leg … ever so gently but forcefully enough to turn my suppressed laughter into total panic.
It certainly stopped my stomach gurgling once and for all. In fact it was the best cure to stomach noises in the whole universe albeit it could have triggered other natural reactions!
I opened my eyes and looked at Harry and the old man on my right. Harry had stopped laughing and the man on my right was silent too. No one had noticed the evil presence in the room. They silently looked ahead at the medium still breathing deeply and heavily in and out.
The presence brushed against my legs once again.
I was petrified with fear.
I looked down and saw a cat walk past my legs and out of the room.
The séance ended soon afterwards with no spirits calling on us that evening. I suspect they were all in the pub enjoying a drink!
Monday, 27 October 2014
Saturday, 25 October 2014
We proclaim we are Christians, we go to church on Sunday, other days even, we pray, and we fast perhaps. But is that enough?
When we get to meet God, will we say: “I helped in church every week. I cleaned the church and arranged the flowers. Please let me in Heaven.” or “I served on the church council for years, I was responsible for the readers’ rota and I read in church on Sundays many times. I typed and printed the weekly church newsletter. Please let me in.”
Is this what it means to be a Christian?
Or should we be a channel of His peace as St Francis of Assisi prayed. Or help the poor and destitute as Mother Theresa did.
"My brothers and sisters, what good is it for people to say that they have faith if their actions do not prove it? Can that faith save them? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!” — if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead." James 2:14-17.
Friday, 24 October 2014
It was enjoyable I suppose, if you like that sort of thing, and all the proceeds were for a good cause, (I never bothered to ask what), so why not go as a family and enjoy ourselves. Better than watching the football on TV with a few cans of Guinness, I should say!
I was getting rather tired so as we were walking around I noticed a young lady setting up her stall with a big notice saying "I can paint you!" Well, I've always fancied a portrait painting of myself, rather dashing and distinguished as I am. It could hang in pride of place at our house and generations thereafter will admire what a great ancestor they are from.
So I sat on the chair and said to the lady I'll wait until she has finished setting up her stall. I must have been more tired than I thought because I fell asleep rather quickly. About twenty or so minutes later I was awakened by the family around me laughing and cheering. I eagerly looked for my portrait ... but alas ... there was none.
The stupid woman had painted my face instead. She was a children's face painter and had assumed that I wanted my face painted.
She painted a black nose, yellowish face, and whiskers all over my face. She said it was a tiger and the family liked it so much they also wanted their faces painted. Not to spoil their fun, I agreed to keep my face paint and not wipe it off.
I soon forgot that I looked ridiculous as the only adult with a painted face. And it was quite embarrassing when our priest smiled benignly and said nothing.
A couple of hours later it was time to go home. As we passed the newsagent I stopped to pick up my favorite magazine and the children's comic "Feline Weekly". As I approached the owner of the shop and asked her for my magazine and comic she cried: "Oh you're such a nasty man ..." and, to my complete surprise, she hit me on the head with a rolled up newspaper.
I stepped back totally confused and was about to speak when an old lady standing behind me hit me with her umbrella and said: "You should be ashamed of yourself. A grown up man like you behaving so badly!"
"What have I done?" I asked totally bewildered.
"How could you ..." cried the lady shopkeeper, "on the very day my cat Felix died to come here and mock me with your face painted like that!"
I had totally forgotten that my face was painted like a cat. I mean ... how was I to know that her Felix had just died? It was not in the obituary columns of the local newspapers and it certainly wasn't on the six o'clock news!
I was about to explain about the church Autumn Fair and the painting lady when my two children came in the shop with their faces painted as a lion and a cheetah.
The shopkeeper cried even louder and said: "You've even encouraged your children to mock me ... how awful and nasty can you get?"
We got out of the shop hurriedly and made our way home.
I didn't mean to mock her ... honest.
I blame it all on the painting lady ... don't you?
Thursday, 23 October 2014
Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The discussion during Catechism class was about vocations and the celibacy of priests and nuns.
Father Ignatius had been asked by a young pupil why priests and nuns are celibate.
“Let me see if I can answer this honestly and in personal terms,” said Father Ignatius. “There is, as you know a physical life which we all live right now, and a spiritual life which some people choose to follow at the same time.
“God wants us to enjoy our physical life and for us to live it in service of others so that He may be glorified by what we do. This can be done by being married and raising families and also indeed by remaining single in life.
“People who choose to follow a spiritual life, like Catholic priests and nuns, promise to remain chaste and not get married.”
“Like Jesus …” interrupted one of the 15 year-old students, “why did Jesus never marry?”
“That’s a good question.” Replied Father Ignatius, “in my opinion, I believe that Christ’s mission on earth was so important that He could not allow anything else to detract Him from His main objective.
“As you know, Jesus came to teach us about His Father’s Word; but more important than that; He came to offer Himself in sacrifice by dying on the Cross so that we may be reconciled with God.
“If, as you suggest, He would have married, and perhaps have children, this would have in many ways sidetracked His main mission on earth. But that’s only my opinion.”
“Do you think He ever wanted to get married?” asked another student innocently.
“Being human, I suspect He was not immune to the many feelings and emotions we experience. Yet, being God at the same time, His job on earth was to obey His Father and take on the ultimate sacrifice for us on the Cross.
“He always knew what his mission on earth was and how He would die on the Cross. And although He was tempted before His arrest, and He prayed to God that His ordeal may pass Him by, He knew and accepted that ultimately He had to obey His Father’s will; and that nothing should deflect Him from it.”
“Is it the same with priests,” asked Rose, “is their mission to teach about God and not get married. And to obey the Pope?”
“Father John got married,” corrected Paul, “he left the church and got married. Should he have done that Father?”
“It is not for me to judge what Father John did. Jesus told us never to judge each other,” replied Father Ignatius.
“Father John decided to leave the priesthood and to get married. I’m certain that he did not make this decision lightly. He must have agonized and soul-searched for a long time before deciding to leave his vocation as a priest. Which, I must add, he undertook in an exemplary manner in his time as a priest. Yet, eventually he decided to do what he felt was right for him at the time.”
“Have you ever wanted to get married and have children?” asked directly a pupil sitting up front.
The rest of the class gasped at what they felt was an impertinent question. Father Ignatius smiled and responded calmly.
“It would be a lie to deny it. Many people would like to have a family and raise children, especially if they are as well turned out as you.”
They smiled almost in unison.
“But when I decided to become a priest, I knew full well what I was giving up. Sharing my life with and loving another person, and raising a family, is a great privilege.
“Matrimony is a Sacrament which Christ taught about several times. It is a mission and a full commitment which married couples undertake throughout their lives together.
“However, by becoming a priest I promised and accepted that I would not get married.
“Having made that decision, God has rewarded me by making me a member of all your families here in this Parish.
“You and your parents have welcomed me in your homes as one of your family. I have been privileged to have been invited for meals with many of you at home. I have shared with your families moments of happiness and moments of sorrows too. I have seen many of you grow from little babies whom I have baptized many years ago, to who you are now.
“I am grateful to God and to you for welcoming me in your families.”
“Should everybody get married then,” asked Mark, “except for priests and nuns?”
“Married life is a Sacrament which we should take seriously and it is the best foundation in which to raise a family. But no, not everyone has to get married.
“Remember that God’s wish for you in this life is for you to be happy.
“Some people find happiness in marriage, others prefer to remain single. Celibacy can be a vocation too. Just like marriage.
“I have found that being single allows many people the time to do more for their communities and for the church. Things they would not have been able to do if married; when their main commitments should be to their families first.
“I have just returned from America as you know. I met there a young priest from Houston in Texas. He was brought up in a loving Catholic family and something he said to me still sticks in my mind,
“He said, ‘the way my parents brought me up, it was inevitable I’d become a priest!’
“His sister is a nun, whilst his other sisters are married and raising their families.
“So you see … his lovely parents created the conditions whilst raising their family that two of their children chose a vocation in the Church whilst the others are raising their children in the same Christian tradition their parents taught them.
“Whether you are married or not, a priest or a nun or not; the important thing that really matters is to live your life in the service of others and to glorify God at every opportunity.”
Monday, 20 October 2014
I may have mentioned before that we have a cat. In fact I mentioned it several times and I've even written a book about it - so where have you been? It's a humourous book which you can download FREE from the tab at the top left - but don't do so right now.
Anyway, let's get on with our cat problem and hopefully your advice and solutions.
For a while now the cat has refused to use the cat tray. You know the one? Where he does his business and I have been nominated to clean it up as often as it needs it.
Well, perhaps in sympathy with my unwelcome task, the cat has now decided to leave his little presents wherever he wishes. On the doorstep. In the garden. On my car, but thankfully not in the house anymore. The cat tray is as clean as the last time I changed it.
I asked my neighbour for advice. Especially about leaving poo on my car roof. And he assured me it was not him.
He then explained that maybe the cat was doing birds impressions and laughed as he got into his house.
In desperation I started asking everyone for advice ... including you right now.
The milkman said "Don't ask me mate! I know nothin' about cats. On the udder hand, I know about cows!"
That's exactly what he said "... on the udder hand ..." as he drove away in his milk float laughing.
Someone suggested I take the cat to an animal psychiatrist. Now, I know such people existed from the last time I had a cat problem. This same cat had started killing birds, mice, frogs and other creatures in the garden and bringing them in the house.
I took him to the animal psychiatrist who explained that the cat was behaving normally and was sharing his trophies with me - hence bringing them into the house. He didn't solve the problem, and I paid him handsomely for pointing out the obvious.
So this time I was reluctant to take the cat back but I was outnumbered a million to one. Something that often happens in our household where the family's votes count more than mine.
The doctor chap put the cat on a couch and started talking to it. "Hello little treasure," he said, " are you unhappy in your surroundings? Has someone upset you? Tell me about it!"
Obviously the cat did not talk back. That would have surprised the both of us I tell you. But it sat there as the man caressed it an purred gently.
After a few minutes the man asked me "Have you been upsetting this cat?"
"Who? Me? Of course not ..." I replied with more of an air of indignation in my voice. "In fact his habits have become intollerable. He started climbing up the curtains and sleeping on top of the wardrobe."
"I suggest that's where you should place the cat's litter tray," he said, "on top of the wardrobe!"
"He'll realise that on top of the wardrobe is not a place to sleep. You don't sleep in the toilet do you?"
"Of course I don't!" I retorted, "But I don't sleep on top of the wardrobe either!"
"Precisely ..." he said with a smile, "it's because you're afraid you'd fall off. Well, the cat is not afraid to fall off because he is a cat and you are not. But when he sees the cat tray there he'll do his business in there instead!"
"BUT I DON'T WANT HIM POOING ON TOP OF THE WARDROBE" I cried in desperation.
"Oh ...it's only for a week or two," he said, "then you can move the tray on the floor, then a few feet further away, then a few feet more, and eventually in its original place where it always was. And all will return to normal. The cat told me so!"
I had to pay him a fortune for this outrageous advice.
Well ... what do you think?
Where is your cat litter tray?
And whilst you're at it ... where do you sleep? On top of the wardrobe or in the toilet?