Saturday, 20 December 2014

Friday, 19 December 2014

A Message from Father Francis Maple

This Christmas we need to focus on the greatest reality there is - that God loves us so much that He gave us His only Son to free us from our sins! We need to be grateful for His love and respond to His love; and the best way to do that is by surrendering our life completely to Him, as He has surrendered Himself completely to us. How do we do this - by putting Him first in our daily lives? This means that we build our day around Him. We need to give Him quality time in our prayer life. As we meditate on His birth and see Mary holding her divine Child in her arms we can think of her saying, "Would you like to hold Him?" Then she hands Jesus to you and you get to hold the God of the universe in your arms. But we do not just stop there – we realise EVERY DAY we can hold Jesus in our arms when we receive Him in the Eucharist! To believe that Jesus, who is God, and who the Universe cannot even begin to contain, became a little baby for us and continues this humility in the Eucharist is amazing - What a gift He has given to us! How very blessed we are!

I also realize and appreciate that there are some who think Christmas is a hard time. You may be experiencing loneliness or illness, or you may be in sorrow because you have lost someone dear. You need to know that you are never alone! Jesus became one of us so that He could be near us! There is never a time when you need to feel that no one cares or that you have to go through your struggles alone - YOU ARE LOVED! This is what Christmas is about, and this needs to be our hope that brings us through the darkness.

Remember that no matter how dark the darkness is - it can never conquer the Light! Try this - go into a dark room and light a match or candle and watch just how the darkness flees from the power of the light. Jesus is that Light and He is inside of YOU! That is so true. Cling to this Truth, and know His power!

This Christmas let us pray for each other and accept the love of the Christ Child, and of Our Father who gave Him to us, our best Christmas present. Mary and Joseph, we thank you for the part you played in bringing Jesus to our world.

Daily Homilies from Father Francis Maple HERE

Wednesday, 17 December 2014




Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the papers,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely at his side
Yesterday's papers telling yesterday's news

So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her world in two carrier bags.


In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man is sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea-cup,
Each tea last an hour
And he wanders home alone


And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care


Monday, 15 December 2014

Nightmare on Elmo Street

I had a terrible terrible nightmare the other night.

I dreamt I was in hospital and I had to undergo a serious operation. When I woke up from the operation I discovered they had transplanted a new hand on me. A third hand had been transplanted on my stomach.

I had my two normal arms and hands and this third one out of my stomach at the front.

It seemed to have a mind of its own. You should have seen it come out of my shirt and wave at people at the most inopportune time. The old lady on the bus fainted and nearly fell off the bus when my third hand waved goodbye at her.

I tried tucking it in under my belt but it was most embarrassing having it struggle to come out again.

Mind you, my third hand proved quite handy at the supermarket when I had to carry all that shopping!

I should stop eating cheese before going to bed.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Chocolate Christmas

In our town there’s a specialist chocolatier. The shop window is always full of the most exquisite and delicious looking chocolates of all sorts and sizes. If Heaven were made of chocolate then this shop would surely be it.

The chocolates are hand-made by the shop owner and his wife and three employees on the premises behind the shop. I remember once visiting their little workshop with a friend of mine, the shop-owner’s niece, and it was a marvelous experience seeing them make all these chocolates with so much care and passion.

Every so often they make different seasonal chocolates like rabbits and chocolate eggs at Easter, special selections on Mothers’ Day, or Christmas specialties.

One Christmas Eve we were in town late, just before going to Midnight Mass, and I decided to visit the shop to get something nice. I left the rest of the family to do some window-shopping and went there alone as a special surprise.

I’d intended to buy a chocolate Father Christmas just as they had in the picture in the shop window. Sadly all Fathers Christmas had been sold. Reindeers too! As well as Christmas tress or any Christmas decorations made of chocolate. In fact it is fair to say that the shop had sold out of any chocolate model relating to Christmas.

The shop assistant looked at me forlornly and suggested a selection from their wild animals’ series would make a good present. “They’ll look good in the Nativity scene beside the Christmas tree …” she said hopefully.

“Hardly …” I said somewhat dejected, “no one would believe that the three Wise Men came from the East on a turtle! It would have taken them ages to arrive. Or that shepherds watched their giraffes at night when the Angel appeared with Good News!”

“They are beautiful though …” she continued encouragingly.

“Yes … they are. But it’s not the same … a chocolate crocodile near the crib would frighten all the sheep away …”

I hesitated for a while. The animal models looked good enough to eat … in fact any chocolate is good enough to eat as far as I’m concerned, regardless of its shape. But this was not for me. This was a present and ideally I would have wanted a Father Christmas, or an Angel … a Christmas tree … it’s the festive shape of the chocolate that matters on this particular occasion. And a rhinoceros or a kangaroo is just not the right shape; even though it might taste just as good when you eat it.

After a lot of soul searching I decided to buy the giraffe. It was big and with such a long neck it meant there was even more chocolate for everyone to share.

“Could you gift wrap it please?” I asked.

As the shop assistant was wrapping my purchase I heard a little girl beside me say: “I want the giraffe … just like in the picture over there!”

“I’m sorry … the last giraffe has just been sold” replied the shop assistant to the girl’s mother.

I looked at their sad faces and knew how they felt.

Now … the right thing to do in such cases is to take my purchase and get out of the shop quickly before my conscience has had a chance to wake up.

But I’m stupid that way and somewhat slow … in my slowness I asked the assistant to sell the giraffe to the girl’s mother instead.

“We have some left-overs from our Halloween series” said the assistant to me after the other customers had gone, “I can let you have two for the price of one!”

That Christmas our Nativity scene was visited by Frankenstein’s monster and a zombie. And the sheep were not frightened at all.

Tasted good too!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Think on ...

OK … let’s get ready for a biology lesson.

The human brain is not there for the sole purpose of keeping ones ears apart. It has a specific purpose all or its own.

Primarily, it is there to make us think – I know it has other functions too, so hands down all those who were about to correct me.

Where was I? Oh yes … the brain is there to make us think. Yet looking around the world these days one often finds many people under-using that particular function.

They make decisions based on instincts, feelings, opinions garnered from dubious sources such as magazines or flaky friends, or even as a reflex to the rumblings of their stomachs.

Decisions based on thinking, considering various view points, and pros and cons are a thing of the past and are often avoided because they involve … thinking.

One’s brain hurts too much for such exercise.

I remember years ago at work I had a big notice in my office with the word "THINK" printed in large letters. Its purpose was to encourage my team to come up with realistic, cost effective solutions to the problems we had to resolve - and by and large, it worked.

I'm sure some of you have experienced on the road many silly manoeuvres by other drivers, or pedestrians, which could have put them and others at risk. Or people at work trying to cut corners, or save time, and end up creating more work and difficulties than before.

Try visiting internet discussion forums and see how often people ask the most inane questions or seek advice to such basic issues which should come as second nature to anyone with a pea-sized brain like an ostrich's.

It makes you wonder how much thinking went into the process of considering the matter in the first place.

Watch the news on TV or read the papers and you'll discover many examples of half-baked ideas and ill-thought-out decisions made by people you would have thought would know better.

So … where is all this leading to? You might well ask.

Well … it is leading nowhere, unless we think about it, and resolve to use our brains more effectively.

Not that I am accusing you dear readers … no … it’s the others you know.

Let me give you just one example: I placed all my shopping on the conveyor belt in the supermarket for the check-out assistant to scan and total my bill. At the end of my shopping I put one of those dividers that separates my shopping from the one belonging to the customer behind me.

The check-out assistant picked the divider up and looked for the barcode indicating the price !!!

Exasparated ... I told her it was given free to customers.

She let me have the item !!!!!!!

Admittedly, she was young, probably her first day at work, perhaps not well trained, or ...

P.S. – If you think about it for a moment, I bet you can recognize an individual or two whose actions are not based on the same thinking process that you or I would use. I'd be glad to hear your stories.