Sunday, 28 August 2011

Undress In Haste

I needed some new clothes for work so I visited this large Department Store in town and started looking around. Pretty soon I found the perfect pair of trousers in varying colors. What would suit me best do you think? Dark blue? Black? Gray?

I took all three and proceeded to one of those cubicles where you can try your clothes on before you buy them.

The man in charge led me to a cubicle and asked me to press a little button if I needed any help.

I got in and tried the first pair of trousers … too tight. The second pair was too long in the legs. And the third was too tight and too short.

Why can’t they make trousers that fit exactly as the size it says on the label? Admittedly the three pairs of trousers were made by different manufacturers but the labels clearly said the same size on all three. And that is my size. The size I measured myself at home and the size of my current trousers which fit me perfectly well.

I proceeded to take off the last pair of trousers and pressed the little button as instructed.

Immediately, almost instantaneously, the male attendant turned up and I explained the situation to him. He took the items away and promised to get me bigger sizes.

I turned round to get dressed and … disaster!

The silly man had taken away the trousers I was wearing when I came into the shop as well as the other three.

So there I was. Trouser-less in a cubicle, and also minus my wallet and car keys which were in my trouser pockets.

I pressed the little button frantically again. Nothing happened. I pressed and pressed and still nothing happened.

Eventually the man returned empty handed.

“I’m sorry Sir; we don’t have any other sizes!”

I explained what had happened and he went away trying to retrieve my own trousers which he had put away with the other trousers to be sold in the store.

I waited for what must have been an eternity. Trapped in a store with no trousers to my name.

Eventually a female voice was heard to say, “Try these and we’ll see if they’re OK!” and a hand came in through the thick curtain and handed me two dresses. One pink and one light blue!

Almost instinctively, I don’t know why, I took the dresses and for a few seconds stared at them. It then occurred to me to look out of the cubicle and call the female attendant back.

Too late! She too had vanished in the store never to be seen again.

“Dear God … what do I do now?” I muttered under my breath.

Well, I suppose the Good Lord must have been listening because there, standing beside the socks rack, was our Parish priest.

In desperation, I tried to attract his attention without making a scene.

“Pssst … Pssst …” I uttered nervously as if calling a cat.

At this point I should tell you that Father Frederic is somewhat old and hard of hearing. He didn’t move one inch and continued looking at different pairs of socks.

“Psst … Psst …” I went again. No response.

“Father Frederic!!!” I said quietly yet forcefully enough that he might hear.

He stopped what he was doing. Looked around and saw no one calling him. Then he looked up to Heaven and made the Sign of the Cross.

“Over here … Father!” I said more forcefully.

He saw me hiding behind the curtain of my cubicle and approached me tentatively.

“I thought the Good Lord was calling me!” he exclaimed.

“No … it was me,” I replied still holding the two dresses, “I’m in an embarrassing situation Father!”

“Oh dear …” said my priest, “it is embarrassing. I didn’t know you liked to wear women’s clothes!”

“Hein? I DON’T!!!”

“No need to be shy about it my son. You really must resist the temptation … and you must come to Confession too.”

“Father … you don’t understand … These are not my clothes!”

“No of course not,” he interrupted, “they’re women’s clothes and you can rest assured that your secret is safe with me. It’s as if you told me about it in Confession. Come to think of it, this curtain is lovely and thick … we need to change the curtains in our confessionals!”

“Father let me explain … I need a pair of trousers!” I said as calmly yet as firmly as possible.

“What? You came here without trousers? You didn’t wear a dress in public did you? That’s rather foolhardy you know. What if a parishioner saw you … you’d bring the whole congregation into disrepute you know!”

At that point I think Saint Anthony must have stepped in and come to my rescue; even though I’d forgotten to pray to him.

The male attendant returned with my original pair of trousers, and my wallet, and car keys.

A week later at Confession Father Frederic whispered to me through the brand new confessional curtains “Are you sure you have nothing else to confess? Something pink and something blue … and worn by pretty ladies!”

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Meme for Mary

By special request from Mary - here is a Meme.

Please tell every one about it!!!



Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Time for Reflections - On the radio.

I was discussing with Mary in the comments box the fact that I have a number of old tapes from radio programs I used to present many many years ago. One of the programs was called "Time for Reflections". It was a Christian program lasting half-an-hour, (sometimes more if I had a guest on the show or a special event), and it aired on a Sunday afternoon. The show consisted of Christian music, Bible readings and me talking about something or other. Very little planning took place!

This Blog was named "Time for Reflections" in memory of that program.

Anyway, some time ago I re-visited those old tapes. Sadly, tapes tend to deteriorate with age, like most of us I presume, ... ehm ... what I mean is ... our looks change a bit ... although we remain just as lovable I'm sure ... (Phew ... just about got away with this faux pas I hope!).

As I was saying, tapes deteriorate with time, so I tried as best I could to re-master some of them and record them on CD.

Here's a short clip from an old "Time for Reflections" program ... takes me down memory lane with a tear in my eye!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Collections

Amazing the things we gather and collect over the years. Take the music and video field for instance. How many DVDs and music CDs do we have at home? Have we listened to all of them more than once? How many times can we see the same DVD feature movie; or the Series of that famous TV show we like?

Time was when all these movies were on VHS tapes; and our music collection was either cassette tapes or old vinyl. Then the system changed; and we had to change too.

Now it’s DVDs and CDs soon to be replaced by Blu-Ray, MP3s and a variety of other formats no doubt.

And there’s also all those photos we took with our modern cameras. In the old days it was a film which had to be developed and printed on paper. It cost money – so we were careful how many photos we took. Now it’s digital and we can click away to our heart’s content and put all these photos on CDs and build a large collection which we see once and then forget about it.

I wonder, will there be time in Heaven to sit back and see all those DVD movies we never have time to watch? Or our favourite TV shows which ran for several Series? Or all those photos we took of all the holidays and events we went to? And listen to all our music collections we amassed over the years?

And will they have a machine in Heaven which runs all formats regardless whether your memories are saved on Betamax, VHS or the latest digital system?

And how about our lovely shoe collection? One pair for each occasion? Or our lovely handbags … dresses … hats … ties … sets of golf clubs … watches … and numerous other things we buy and collect over a lifetime?

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6: 19-21.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The elephant story.

Once upon a time there was an explorer in the jungle doing what explorers normally do … exploring. I believe he was writing a book about something or other … various toppings for pizza I think, and he was out in the jungle searching for inspiration … anyway … it doesn’t really matter what he was there for. The fact of the matter is that this explorer was out in the jungle and he came face to face with an elephant.

Well … not quite face to face … he, being a short man and the elephant being as big as an … elephant!

Oh … I forgot to tell you. This short explorer had previously been a doctor. Being so short he became a knee specialist since this is as far as he could reach.

So … to cut a long story short he became and explorer and here he was face to … body … with an elephant.

The elephant was lying on its side with its trunk in the air and flapping its ears … well, he was flapping one ear really, because the other one was under his head as he lay there on his side.

The short explorer also noticed that the poor creature was bleeding from its front paw … or foot I suppose. Do elephants have paws? It’s not a foot either is it? Not like a human foot. Anyway … let’s get on with the story. This is taking longer than I thought!

The short explorer got nearer to the elephant and noticed a big thorn stuck there at the bottom of the elephant’s foot.

“Aha” … he thought, “I remember reading a story about a man who found a thorn in an animal’s paw … it was a lion I think. Then the man took the thorn out and the lion and he became friends. They met again many years later and the lion recognized him and befriended him all over again!”

Cheered by this happy story the man approached the elephant ever so slowly and using a pair of pliers which he happened to have on him …

All right … don’t ask me why a short explorer in the jungle happened to have a pair of pliers on him. Maybe he had been a dentist and this was a tool he had to extract teeth … after he gave up being a knee specialist.

To continue … using the pliers he extracted the thorn from the elephant’s foot.

The elephant was so relieved! He stood up at once and let out a big trumpet sound to say thank you and ran away happily in the jungle.

Many years later the same short explorer was visiting a zoo whilst on holiday and would you believe it … there in the elephant’s enclosure was a majestically big elephant.

The explorer looked up at the elephant. He was still short that’s why he looked up. And the elephant looked down at the man.

Their eyes met each other … not literally, just a figure of speech to say they looked at each other.

The elephant moved slowly forward and put his trunk through the big metal bars of the enclosure and ever so gently with his trunk he caressed the explorer’s head. The short man smiled. A tear ran down the elephant’s eyes as he continued caressing the explorer.

Then suddenly the elephant wrapped its trunk round the explorer’s neck and started to strangle him tightly until he was blue in the face. Luckily the zoo-keepers managed to free the explorer before he was killed.

Why did the elephant behave this way? You may ask.

The answer is simple.

It was not the same elephant!

And the moral of the story is: Not everyone who says he’s a Christian is necessarily so.

Not everyone who calls me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do what my Father in Heaven wants them to do. Matthew 7:21

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

A hell of a question.


There are times when children ask us questions which make us stop and think. Our answer needs to be well thought out and considered before our mouth is engaged into action.

Father Ignatius was at the local Catholic School for his usual Catechism class. This is what happened when a ten years old girl asked him her question.

“Father … is it OK to pray for those people in hell?”

The priest took off his spectacles and cleaned them of imaginary dust in order to gain some thinking time.

“Why do you ask?” he said gently.

“Well …” she hesitated, “we pray for the souls in purgatory so that God forgives them and they go to Heaven.

“Why don’t we pray for those in hell? They were bad when they were alive but now they are dead they are in hell for ever. I feel sorry for them!”

“It’s good of you to feel sorry for them,” replied the priest, “it shows a charitable spirit … it shows you’re very kind and considerate.

“But we must remember this. No one goes to hell by mistake.

“As you say, these people were bad when they lived and they had plenty of opportunities to be good and to do what God asks. They had many chances to repent and ask God to forgive them and to do good. But they disobeyed, time and again, and they turned their back on God.

“God is merciful and He forgives … but He is just too. Those who are in hell have sent themselves there by their behavior.”

Another child raised his hand and asked a question.

“But Father … Sister Josephine when she was here yesterday, she said that Jesus told us to love our enemies. He said to God to forgive them when they put Him on the Cross.

“The people in hell are the enemy of God. Why does God not forgive them? Does He not love them?”

Father Ignatius prayed silently for inspiration before answering.

“Of course He loves them” he replied after a short pause, “God loves everybody because they are His creations. I suspect He even loves those in hell and He is very sad that they are there.

“But there are times in life when people put themselves out of God’s loving nature.

“Let me explain it another way.

“Suppose your parents bought you a puppy for your birthday. You love that puppy very much and you play with him every day. But as he grows up he becomes a little threatening and he growls at everyone. One day he bites your hand. And he continues with this bad behavior to the point where you can’t come near him in case he bites you again.

“For your own safety, and that of others, your parents decide to take the dog away and put him in a Dog Rescue Shelter where he’s looked after by other people.

“It’s the same with us. God loves us all when we’re born and we’re babies. But as we grow up, some people turn against Him and become bad. No matter how often these people are told to do good they never ask God to forgive them and they continue to do bad things all their life.

“When these bad people die they go to hell because of what they have done … God still loves them. Just as you love your dog in the Dog Shelter!

“In fact I believe God grieves for those in hell. He’d rather the place was empty and we were all with Him in Heaven. But some people put themselves in hell by their bad behavior.”

“So do we pray for those in hell or not?” asked the original questioner.

“There is nothing wrong with praying,” Father Ignatius replied, “God will listen to your prayers, as He does all prayers, and will respond in an appropriate and just way. When you pray, say to God how sorry you are that there are people in hell, and ask Him to help you be good all your life.

“Every one of us, young and old, like me, must always pray that we do not give God reason to grieve by behaving badly and ending in hell.”

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Bubbles Bubbles.

There I was dressed in my best suit and heading for an important business meeting in the City.

I got out of the taxi and walked on the sidewalk towards the building I was heading for when suddenly I was showered from above by what appeared to be a green “gunge” smelling of disinfectant. I really don’t know where the unpleasantly sticky, semi-liquid substance came from. I looked up at the tall building and there were a few windows open. Anyway … no time to go in and try to complain.

My head, hair, raincoat and suit were totally covered by the substance.

I rushed into the building where I was to have my meeting and headed for the Gents Toilet.

Have you ever tried to wash your hair in those tiny wash basins? Water bounces off everywhere and strategically lands on the front of your trousers with embarrassing results! I can’t go to the meeting like that! What will they think of me?

I tried bending backwards like a limbo dancer and standing under that contraption which blows hot-air to dry your hands in the hope that I could at least dry my trousers a little. But … dash it all … I was interrupted several times by people coming into the Gents so I stood up quickly and pretended to dry my hands. At one stage a lady cleaner came in to clean the toilets and eyed me suspiciously and walked out saying nothing.

I gave up drying my trousers and tried to wash the gunge from my hair instead. It must have been an industrial strength liquid because it started to foam profusely like shampoo on my head. The more I put water on it the more it foamed but eventually I got most of it off. Now to dry my hair under that hot air dryer! Dash it all once again … someone came in suddenly and as I got up with a start I banged my head hard against the infernal contraption knocking my glasses off to the ground.

I now turned my attention to my raincoat and suit. Pointless adding water to them I thought. I have no time and must rush to my meeting. I used a million paper towels and wiped off any excess substance that had not yet permeated into the material and headed for my meeting.

As luck would have it … Oh thank you God, thank you … the meeting had been cancelled due to some other business emergency.

Great … I headed back home.

My return journey on the train was somewhat hot and a strong smell of disinfectant filled the air in my vicinity. A few passengers sniffed at me suspiciously and moved away to other seats, or stood by the open windows. I pretended not to notice.

As I walked back home from the railway station it started to rain and I was forced to put my raincoat on. The water reactivated the green gunge which started to foam. The more it rained the more it foamed as I ran home followed by millions of brightly colored soap bubbles filling the air behind me. People stopped and looked at me thinking I was a walking advert for soap powder. It brought the traffic to a standstill as drivers switched on their windshield wipers to wash away the soapy substance from their cars.

When I got home I threw the raincoat into the washing machine with a good dose of washing powder.

Big mistake!

The green gunge combined with the washing powder to create even more bubbles. I rinsed the garment several times and every time the machine discharged its load through the drains the bubbles insisted in floating away in the garden rather than disappearing with the rest of the water. On and on the bubbles floated away decorating trees, bushes and everything in their way.

I opened the washing machine and more bubbles came out invading my whole house and threatening to evict me from my home.

I grabbed my vacuum cleaner and headed for the garden intent on capturing as many bubbles as possible in mid-air before they covered the entire world.

I put on my Wellington boots which are usually kept just outside the back door for emergencies. No sooner had I walked a couple of paces than I felt a slimy feeling in my left boot. I hurriedly pulled the boot off to discover that a family of snails had set up home in my boot and were now in the final throes of agony around my toes before meeting their Maker.

It started to rain again popping the bubbles in mid-flight; so I gave up and left bubbles and snails to their own fate as I retrieved the raincoat from the washing machine to find it had shrunk sufficiently to fit a Barbie doll … or should that be a Ken doll?

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Patron Saint of ...

I have been tagged by Karinann to join a Patronage Meme.

The idea is to imagine that I have died and gone to Heaven and somehow the wise people in the Vatican have decided to nominate me a Saint.

If that were to happen … which Patron Saint would I be?

Ha … the very idea! Me … a Saint!!!

The very thought of it is making Jesus laugh out loud right now and St Peter is rolling on the floor with tears of merriment in his eyes whilst St Thomas is telling everyone “I don’t believe it!”

You know … if I’m ever to be a Patron of anything, whether in Sainthood or in lowly life here on earth, I think it should be “Patron of Laughter”.

Because laughter is important in this life. It’s good for you you know!

Laughter releases dolphins within you which move around and tickle you from the inside.

If there was more laughter on earth … really loud and hearty laughter … the sort of laughter that makes you have tears of joy in your eyes and the need for a change of underwear … well, the world would be a better place for it.

And we’d have extra laundry too!

So there you have it. Patron of Laughter.

Because God created laughter you know. At least I hope He has … otherwise I’m in dead trouble.

On a serious note though … this Meme is good because it makes us think of who we are here on earth and how far short we fall when compared to the Saints in Heaven.

Try this little exercise. Pick a Saint. Any Saint … Peter, Paul, Therese of Avila, Charbel or whoever you wish.

Now compare how they lived here on earth to the way we do!

See what I mean?

That’s why I say I’m no Saint, and not likely to be either. But I try …

Now enjoy this video.

God bless.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Confessional Secrets


Friday afternoon was Catechism class with the youngsters from the local Catholic school. Father Ignatius duly attended every week to face the eager pupils who expected straight answers.

He knew that at that age he had to satisfy their curiosity as well as answer as honestly as possible their questions on church dogma and the mysteries of Christianity. He was blessed with a great sense of humour and certainly made liberal use of it to press his point home, or to alleviate any tense situation which might arise.

Today’s Catechism discussion was about the act of Confession.

“Did you ever have to hear a really naughty confession Father?” asked an inquisitive youngster.

“You know very well, a priest never tells what he hears in Confession.” replied Father Ignatius.

“Oh … come on Father … tell us … you don’t have to give names …” pleaded another pupil.

“What’s the worst sin you’ve ever heard?” added a third.

“Did anyone ever tell you they murdered somebody?” asked an inventive boy.

Their imaginations were running wild and the priest knew when he was beaten. He had to humour them in order to gain their attention. He gestured with his hands to beckon their silence. He then smiled and said:

“When I first came here to St Vincent Church I did not know anybody. I arrived on a Friday evening and the next morning at ten I had to hear Confessions.

“I entered the confessional and said a few prayers whilst waiting for the first people to come in. And sure enough they did, one by one as you know full well.

“One of the many people coming to confession that morning said to me: ‘I am not from this town Father; just passing through.’

’Really?’ I replied. ‘It doesn’t matter who you are. I don’t have to know your identity.’

‘Yeh … I’m with the traveling circus … we’re only here for a few days.’ said the voice on the other side of the confessional.

‘The circus,’ I said to the man kneeling there, ‘I’ve never been to the circus. Always wanted to as a child … What do you do in the circus?’

‘I’m an acrobat!’

“I was really excited to have an acrobat in my confessional. I’d always wanted to be an acrobat as a child, before becoming a priest, and I’d never seen a real one performing in the circus.

“So I decided to ask him something unusual.

‘Tell you what.’ I said to him, ‘Would you mind performing some of your act for me? I don’t have time to come and see you at the circus. The church is empty now, and as you’re the last one here, no one would know anyway. Would you mind doing some acrobatics in the side aisle and I’ll hide here behind the curtain and watch you.

“To my surprise and relief the circus performer said ‘Sure Father, it’ll be a pleasure. A bit unusual, but a pleasure all the same!’

“He then got out of the confessional and started his little show by standing upside down in the middle of the aisle. Then he balanced on one hand and hopped about a bit; and then he hopped on the other hand. He followed this with a few somersaults backward and a few forwards in mid-air. Then he balanced a chair on his nose whilst juggling with a few candles he picked up from a statue nearby. He finished with a few more somersaults and hand-stands on the back of the pews!”

“Gosh …” said a few youngsters in amazement. “That’s fantastic. What happened next?”

“What I didn’t realize,” continued the priest “is that watching from the back pews were two elderly ladies.

“I heard one say to the other ‘Let’s go home; this new priest is out of his mind. I’m not doing any acrobatics as a penance for my sins!’ ”

Friday, 5 August 2011

Close encounter of the ghostly kind

There are times in life when you’re compromised in a situation and you have to do the best you can to get out of it.

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!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Sharing poverty.

Father Frederic from Bishop’s House was due to visit St Vincent Church later in the day. He was sent by the Bishop to discuss church funds at St Vincent, or more precisely, why the church’s contribution to the Bishop’s Fund has decreased over the past year.

Father Ignatius knew all too well why his contribution to the Bishop’s Fund had decreased. They were in the middle of a severe recession. This particular town had been hit harder than most with business closures, bankruptcies and redundancies. Most of his parishioners were poor and looking for work. The Sunday collection had been getting less and less every week.

“But try telling that to a young priest fresh from College!” thought Father Ignatius.

Father Frederic had graduated as an accountant before becoming a priest; and the Bishop knew too well how to use his talents with figures.

He sent him round to all Parishes to “help improve their finances” and to encourage them to increase their annual contributions to the Bishop’s Fund.

Early on the day that Father Frederic was due to visit, Father Ignatius got in his office and waited for the Parish Treasurer to arrive.

“Have you got the map?” the priest asked Kim, the volunteer treasurer, as she entered the room.

She nodded as she unfolded a large map of the town which she pinned on a large board the priest had acquired for the purpose.

Father Ignatius pulled out four boxes of pins from his desk drawer; some with red colored heads, some blue, some green and some yellow.

He consulted the Parish Records and placed various pins on the map. Kim sat in the armchair silently until he finished. She was about to ask a question when Father Frederic was brought in by Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper.

After the introductions and coffee had been served, Father Frederic looked at the map with all the colored pins and said, “That’s impressive Ignatius. What do these pins represent?”

“Oh well … you see …” mumbled Father Ignatius politely, “Kim and I were analyzing the breakdown of our parishioners’ propensity to consume according to income just as you came in … and from that we could deduce their ability to contribute to church funds …”

Kim raised an eyebrow, not understanding a word Father Ignatius had said.

Father Frederic nodded knowledgeably and said, “That’s very useful … we could use such a system in other Parishes. Show me how it works …”

“Ehm … well, this is a map of the whole town and surrounding countryside,” explained Father Ignatius.

“These red pins all over here represent parishioners who are either out of work, or in very poorly paid jobs … you see how they’re all in the poorer inner city areas where business closures have been particularly prevalent! Sadly, they form the majority of our parishioners, and although many of them do contribute generously to the Sunday collections and other appeals there’s a limit to how much they can donate!”

“Quite so …” said the young priest, “what about the blue pins?”

“Well … they’re middle income families. Office managers, shopkeepers, factory supervisors … that sort of thing … we have a few of those in the Parish and they contribute to the church and the local Catholic schools were they send their children. There’s a limit to how much we can ask of them since they would reduce their donations to the schools to increase ours. Can’t serve two masters you understand …”

“Indeed … yes indeed …” agreed Father Frederic.

Encouraged by his visitor’s enthusiasm Father Ignatius went on.

“Now these green pins … they represent the countryside. You’ll note there’s much fewer of them and they’re all out of town. They are Catholic farmers in the main who not only donate generously financially but also in kind. Many of them donate food and produce from their farms, which is distributed by the St Vincent Society amongst poor parishioners.”

“That’s admirable Ignatius … admirable” nodded Father Frederic.

“And as you may have guessed Father,” Father Ignatius continued, “the yellow pins represent those parishioners who are helped by the church. They are recipients of our generosity rather than contributors.

“Now … would you like to see our weekly accounts of Sunday collections, and how the money is used? Kim here has prepared all the books for you to examine.”

“No that is not necessary …” said Father Frederic, “I’m in a bit of a hurry and have to visit another Parish. This is splendid Ignatius. I’ll explain to the Bishop and he’ll be most impressed ….”

After the visiting priest had left Kim spoke for the first time.

“This map Father,” she said, “and all those pins … does every pin represent a parishioner in St Vincent?”

“Of course not …” replied Father Ignatius with a smile, “I couldn’t possibly remember every parishioner and their personal circumstances and pin them on the board just a few minutes before he arrived …

“I just put a few red pins in the poor area of town. And a few green ones in the countryside … and the others I spattered here and there …

“I’ve met these young enthusiastic priests before, eager to impress the Bishop. Just show them a map with a few colored pins and they’re most impressed at your efficiency and grasp of the situation.

“Strictly speaking, what I said is correct. We have more poor people in this Parish than those able to contribute to our funds.

“If I’d said that, Father Frederic would have asked more questions and wanted more details. But show him a few colored pins on a board and he’s as happy as a child with a new toy!

“I’m far too busy looking after my parishioners, and I prefer to help them in their difficult lives rather than squeeze a few more pennies out of them.”

Father Ignatius paused for a moment or two as he took off all the pins and returned the map to Kim.

“I wonder if our Lord had a board and pins when He helped the poor and the sick …” he asked.