VICTOR S E MOUBARAK

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

History - Lady Godiva

It is perhaps unfair that Lady Godiva is best remembered for one act which historians dispute whether it actually happened or not. But that's the way of the world isn't it? You do just one thing and everyone is talking about it for ever on end. But more of that later.

Lady Godiva, was an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who lived in Britain all that time ago. She was the wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia and they had a son called Aelfgar. (I suppose when you're rich and famous you can name your children what you want. Personally, I prefer "Hey You" as a name; but I digress).

Both Lady Godiva and her husband Leofric were very generous benefactors to religious houses. (Can you imagine being called Leofric? O Leofric, Leofric! Wherefore art thou Leofric? Doesn't sound right does it? But I digress once again. OK ... let's concentrate now and get on with the story).

As I was saying, they were both very generous and in 1043 Leofric founded and endowed a Benedictine Monastry in Coventry, England. Apparently Godiva was the persuasive force behind this generosity and she moaned and moaned "Leofric, build me a monastery. Leofric, build me a monastry ..." until he gave up and built her a monastry.

You know how persuasive women can be when they want something?

They go on and on and on ... clear the footpath of snow, don't forget to mow the lawn, the house needs re-painting, have you taken the trash bins out? Ehm ... sorry ... my mind was wandering a bit there ... thinking aloud what?

Well, at least I've never been asked to build a monastry. I suppose clearing the footpath is better and cheaper than having to build a monastry. Although I must admit, if it was a choice between visiting the mother-in-law and building a monastry, I would build a monastry any day. It is less stressful with much less moaning on and on in stereo !!!

But I digress yet again. Stop interrupting me!

In 1050 the couple also gave land for the St Mary's Monastry in Worcester and for the minster in Stow St Mary in Lincolnshire.They are also benefactors of other monasteries in Leominster, Chester, Much Wenlock and Evesham.

Lady Godiva also gave a lot of jewellery and precious metals to various causes over her lifetime.

So all in all, she was an all round good egg as we normally say; and the sort of person you would like to meet and befriend. Especially if you're short of a penny or two.

Until we come to the legend of what she once did, (or did not do, depending on who you believe). 

It seems that Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry who were paying too much taxes imposed by her husband on the town. She appealed to her husband to lower the taxes and moaned and moaned for days on end "Please lower the taxes ... Please lower the taxes ... Please ... Pretty Please ..." You know how women go on and on when they want something? Have I mentioned that to you?  

Well this time Leofric would not listen. But she went on and on about lowering the taxes. Eventually, to shut her up, (he must have had a terrible headache poor soul), he said "I'll lower the taxes if you strip naked and ride a horse through the streets of Coventry!"

To his surprise she agreed. Now that's dedication for you. Would any of us go to such lengths for our fellow man? (Don't answer that).

Lady Godiva issued a proclamation that on a certain day everyone should remain indoors and shut all their windows because she was going to ride naked on a horse throughout town. (I wonder how many horses volunteered for the job).

Now how naive is that? Did she really expect everyone to stay indoors after such an announcement? Would you?

Are you really telling me that NO ONE was tempted to take a photo with their cell-phones and post it on Facebook?

On the day in question Lady Godiva rode naked on a horse and paraded throughout town.

But a tailor called Tom succumbed to temptation. He made a small hole in his window shutters and had a good look at what he should not have been looking at. And that's where the name Peeping Tom originates from.

Apparently he was struck blind after the event.

His friend Ivan Eyeful was wiser and more cautious because he chanced one eye through his peep hole.

Anyway, believe it or not, her husband kept his word and abolished the taxes.

Now why can't the wives of our politicians do the same thing and lower our taxes?

As I said, the veracity of this story is hotly disputed amongst historians.

But it raises an important question:

Assuming that Lady Godiva did as it is said in order to help the poor people of Coventry; is it OK to strip naked for a good cause? To help one's fellow man?

There are many instances of men and women being photographed nude for calendars which are then sold to raise a lot of money for a charitable cause.

Is this a good (fun) thing to do to help others; or is it wrong? Especially when we consider the amount of money that can, and has, been raised this way for causes like medical research, helping the elderly, ease starvation and so on.

If the cause is one that is very dear to your heart; would you go nude for charity?

Monday, 28 April 2014

History - William Shakespeare

Settle down now, and pay attention. Today's History Lesson is about a famous Elizabethan who lived between 1564 and 1616 by the name of William Shakespeare. It is not known what other name he had outside of this period, but to many he was also known as the "Beard of Avon", because he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in England and because he had a beard. But then, most people at the time had beards and they were not called the "Beard of London", "the Beard of Nottingham", or wherever else they came from.

Shakespeare's life is full of controversy and it is fair to say that he is the most talked about subject of conversation and debate in England (and elsewhere) apart from the weather. That is, if you have nothing else to talk about apart from Shakespeare and the weather. Some people like to discuss science, medicine, politics, religion, saving the planet, conservation, re-cycling and numerous other subjects, but they are not as important as Shakespeare and the weather.

One of the greatest controversy about Shakespeare is whether he actually wrote the 30 or so plays, sonnets and such like writings or not. The fact that they have been written is not in dispute; but their authorship is.

Can you imagine being the author of all these writings and be forever praised and lauded by everyone?

"To be or not to be?" to quote Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe or Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford.

So let's consider this controversy further for a moment and see what we know about old Bill the Beard.

He was an actor who went to London and made a small fortune in the theatre, and also by purchasing properties (theatres amongst others) which made him very rich. He returned to Stratford-upon-Avon and bought a large house and his fame spread.

Now then ... since no one actually saw him sitting at his computer late at night typing away furiously his many plays; it is safe to suggest that perhaps ... maybe ... there's a possibility ... that he was only the financial backing behind all these plays. He was a rich man, owned many theatres, and it is possible that he put on plays as a business; very much like a modern day producer puts on plays, or makes films or produces music records and CDs these days. It doesn't follow that today's producers write the plays or sing the songs on record; does it?

In time, Shakespeare's fame and plays became synonymous to saying "hoover" when we mean a vacuum cleaner, or "thermos" when we mean a vacuum flask. People went to see "Shakespeare plays" - that is plays produced and financially backed, but not written, by him.

Now, whatever the controversy about the authorship of these writings, one thing is for sure and un-disputed.

For years on thereafter, many generations of pupils have been forced to learn these plays and sonnets by heart for no apparent reason whatsoever, since they have no purpose in gaining you subsequent employment or career unless you wish to become a teacher and force another generation of students to study the same.

I remember as a child having to memorise several of the Beard's writings. The one that comes to mind with dread is from the play Antony and Cleopatra when Antony's lieutenant Enobarbus, once described Cleopatra's charms by saying: "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety. Other women cloy the appetites they feed, but she makes hungry where most she satisfies."

Which loosely translated means "She is a good looker, what? Makes my monocle steam up, by Jove. Would love sharing a pot of tea with her!"

I remember my teacher saying I should remember these lines by heart and quote them in the exams as it would comfort the examiner and make him more liable to award me good marks.

Of course, as a child, I did not know what they meant; but I memorised these words and repeated them over and again.

Unfortunately, a few days later our history teacher was late because his mother had died that morning. To comfort him I blurted "Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety."

I got expelled for three days from school as a result. For some reason, I also failed my history exams that year.

And there you have it ... William Shakespeare ... the Beard of Stratford-upon-Avon ... writer ... perhaps ... dreaded memory of my past ... certainly.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Thomas' Legacy

I visited some friends the other day. It was a warm evening so we sat in the garden chatting. Moments later they both went into the house to prepare some refreshments and left me in the garden alone.

I sat admiring the view when suddenly out of the bushes came a fox. He moved around for a few seconds then hid again.

When my friend came out I told him about the fox. “Can’t be a fox” he said, “we live too far into town for a fox to come here …”

I said nothing and continued our conversation. Minutes later out came the fox again for a short while.

My friend shouted to his wife still in the house “We’ve got a fox in the back garden!”

Her exact reply was “Can’t be a fox, we live too far into town for a fox to come here!”

He called her a doubting Thomas and laughed it off.

Later that evening I thought about Thomas the disciple. What a service he did for Christianity without realizing it. By doubting Christ’s resurrection Jesus appeared again, and this time Thomas saw Him. The whole event was witnessed by the other disciples and recorded for us to read years later.

Had Thomas not doubted, we would have lost a valuable piece of evidence of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus said to him, "Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!" John 20:29.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

History - The Three Musketeers


Now as many people know The Three Musketeers is a novel by the French writer Alexandre Dumas first published in 1844. The story is set in the 17th Century and tells the adventures of d'Artagnan who goes to Paris to join the Musketeer Guards. The three Musketeers were Athos, Porthos and Aramis and their motto was "all for one and one for all".

What not many people know however is that the story is based on real people who guarded King Louis XIV of France, a King who enjoyed good style furniture which to this day bear his name. If you find a Louis XIV chair you are sure to pay a good price for it because the chances are that at some time or other he may have sat on it.

Anyway, the names of the REAL three musketeers were Pathos (not Athos) because he was always sad and melancholy (face like a melon and body like a collie). Shortos (because he was very short. He had also trained as a doctor but because of his small stature he had qualified as a knee specialist). And Monami, (which in French means my friend. He was always friendly with the ladies and got into a lot of trouble).

The real young man who travelled to Paris to join the musketeers was named Tarte Onion (not d'Artagnan, because he was a baker and every one liked his onion pies).

OK ... preliminaries over. Now on with the real story.

Tarte Onion goes to Paris and stays in a small inn. The owner puts him up in a tiny room up in the attic. Right up in the loft of the house. Tarte Onion asks the hotelier if he has anything to drink. The hotel-keeper says there's some milk in the kitchen cupboard, "take it up with you to the loft".

For the next half-hour Tarte Onion struggles trying to take the cupboard up to the loft.

The next morning he struggles again getting the cupboard down three floors to the kitchen.

After paying the hotelier for his night's stay the hotel-keeper gives him directions to the Palace of King Louis XIV and bids him farewell.

"Pull the door behind you as you leave!" says the hotelier and Tarte Onion duly obliges by pulling the door off its hinges and taking it with him to the Palace.

At the Palace, the Guards at the Gates, (also Musketeers called Left and Right because of the positions they occupied at the Gates), see Tarte Onion coming towards them with a door on his back. They stop him thinking he is a door-to-door salesman selling doors door-to-door.

"Do you have a gate?" they ask.

"No, I always walk this way" replies Tarte Onion.

(Pause a little for some people to catch up and understand this joke).

After a short pause by which time the two Guards understood the joke they ask Tarte Onion for some form of identification.

He pulls out a mirror from his pocket, looks at it and says "Yes, that's me all right!"

So they let him into the great hall of the King's Palace. As he's waiting there a beautiful lady comes in and walks towards him. Tarte Onion also moves forward a little and trips over the carpet hitting the beautiful lady in the face. That's when their eyes met, although their noses took most of the impact.

Tarte Onion explains that his main quest is to find the spy working for the evil Cardinal Richelieu who wants to kill the King and become King himself.

Now the young would-be musketeer has been told that the spy is a woman with a tattoo somewhere personal on her body spelling the word "LOLA".

"Could this woman be the spy LOLA?" Tarte Onion asks himself, "if only I could search if she has a tattoo!".

Before he could answer his own question, the lady rubs her face to ease the pain from her nose-to-nose close encounter of the painful kind and introduces herself by giving her name "Isadora Kitten".

"No ... a door is a door, and a kitten is a small cat!" replies the hapless Tarte Onion. 

Isadora smiles and marvels at his level of ignorance.  It is then that Tarte Onion notices for the first time that, although she was very beautiful, sadly, she had one ear much much bigger than the other. One ear was normal size and the other much larger and sticking out a little ... quite a lot.

It was as if she was a car with a side door left wide open.

But as cars had not yet been invented no one had made the connection and compared her to a car with a door wide open. Although some had noted that she looked like a horse-drawn carriage with a door wide open.

Everytime there was a slight breeze the poor lady would pirouette round as the draught caught her ear like a big sail.

(Did you notice I used the French word "pirouette" rather than say spin? It is after all a French story. Many years from now, when people study my writings, like they do William Shakespeare's, they'll marvel at my grasp of a wide and international vocabulary. But I digress as I often do to my great annoyance.)

Anyway, Isadora spins round like a revolving hotel door, (that's where the idea of those doors originated), and as she spins a few turns she gets dizzy and falls flat on her back. That's when Tarte Onion notices that she has a tattoo on her leg spelling the word "LOL".

He does not know whether she is laughing out loud at him, or whether the tattoist ran out of ink before finishing her name.

At this point into the big hall enter the three Musketeers Pathos, Shortos and Monami, accompanied by a servant called Pantaloon; but they called him Pants for short!

The Musketeers befriend Tarte Onion and they fight many battles together against the evil Cardinal Richelieu; and in defence of their King, Louis XIV, who is always busy buying Louis XIV furniture, thus creating a shortage and an increase in prices..

Tarte Onion also fights many duels against his greatest enemy Roquefort. A cheesy character who has two accomplices, an Italian called Gorgonzola and an Englishman named Stilton.

Tarte Onion is often cut up into slices in such duels with Roquefort who crumbles at every "Touché" of his opponent's sword. Meanwhile Gorgonzola and Stilton melt in the heat of battle with pathetic Pathos, shortie Shortos and the ever so friendly, (with the ladies), Monami. 

With feeble puns such as these and such a selection of names you can imagine why the books by Alexandre Dumas became very famous for ever more. LOL indeed.

En guarde !!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Your Emmaus Valley


“Father, is it possible that God stops loving us?” Roger asked Father Ignatius.

The priest stopped what he was doing and asked, “What brought this on? It’s rather a strange question to ask.”

“Well Father,” continued Roger, “We’re told that God loves all of us. But is it possible that sometimes He turns His attention to someone else, and we’re not in His good books, or in His priorities anymore?”

“Feeling neglected are we … is that the problem?”

“No Father … it’s that … I don’t know … I seem to be down in the valley at this moment in time. Sometimes I’m right up there and I feel great and all is well … and then at times I feel really down and things aren’t going so well …”

“Aha … I see …” exclaimed the priest, “remember, that in order to be up there, as you put it, we must start from a low point.

“There are times when our Faith is really strong and we feel at one with God … and then at times, we begin to wobble and wonder and doubt …

“It’s usually when things aren’t going so well in our lives. Is that what is happening to you?”

Roger hesitated. “Perhaps … yes, I feel a bit fearful about life in general … will I still have my job this time next year, with the financial situation being what it is? How will I cope at my age? Would I get another job … you know the sort of worries we all have …”

Father Ignatius remained silent for a while, allowing Roger to think about what he had just said. Then he asked:

“I was reading Luke Chapter 24 Verse 13 onwards this morning. Do you know what it is about?”

Roger shook his head.

“It’s an unfair question I suppose … to expect you to know chapter and verse by heart … not even a priest can do that!” exclaimed Father Ignatius.

Roger smiled.

“Just after Christ’s Resurrection, two of His followers were going to Emmaus,” said Father Ignatius.

“They were totally distraught about Jesus’ death, and even though they had heard news that His tomb is empty and that Christ is alive, they were still down-hearted and confused.

“Jesus appeared to them on the way. They did not recognize Him. They spoke with Him and told Him their news. They said that their Lord and leader had been crucified, and there were rumors going around that He was raised from the dead and He was alive again.

“Jesus did not tell them who He was but explained to them the prophets’ predictions about Him. He walked with them all the way to Emmaus, but still they did not recognize Him. It wasn’t until He broke and blessed the bread that they recognized Him.”

The priest paused again for a while; and then he went on.

“Why? I ask myself.

“Why did they not recognize Him when they first saw Him, or when He took the time to explain to them the writings of the prophets?

“Could it be that their minds were more pre-occupied with their own problems and their dilemma rather than listening to Him?

“You can just imagine how their mind worked and how concerned they were about their predicament.

“Their leader is dead. What are they to do now? Is it all over? Every thing He said and taught comes to nothing? And what of the future? What are His followers to do now?

“Can you see how their mind was working Roger?”

“Yes … I suppose they were frightened about their future,” said Roger.

“Just like you …” said Father Ignatius with a gentle smile.

“We are all just the same as those two disciples at times …

“Sudden events may affect our lives and turn it upside down. Events perhaps of our own making sometimes … or events that we did not contribute to, but they affect us all the same.

“And we panic. We fear the future, we fear matters getting out of our control and we turn our attention to our problems and our dilemma. Just like those two on the way to Emmaus.

“And from being on a high up there with our Lord, we’re suddenly plunged into the valley you find yourself in right now.

“Yet, all the time we are panicking Jesus is there, walking right beside us. Quite literally! He is waiting for us to recognize Him, to trust Him, and hold His hand in the full knowledge that He will see us through our darkest hour.

“It is our doubts, our fears and our worries which prevent us from seeing Him.”

Monday, 21 April 2014

Father Ignatius makes a discovery


There are times when a light turns on in your head and you see something clearly for the first time and understand something new you’d never realized before.

Father Ignatius was a studious type of person spending many hours reading the Bible as well as many books on theology, ancient history and similar subjects which would soon send any lesser head spinning widely.

One evening he retired to the room he called “my meditation corner” and after reciting the Rosary he started reading the Bible and cross-referencing certain passages with other books to better understand what God is teaching through His Word.

One passage in particular caught his interest. After Christ’s death and burial, we are told that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple and told them what she had seen. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. When Simon Peter got in and went inside he noticed the linen wrappings lying there, but the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side.

There it was, in the Gospel of John Chapter 20 Verse 7.

Father Ignatius puzzled about this for a moment or two. He’d read that chapter many times and nothing specific occurred to him. But this time, as if a small voice buzzing in his head, he kept wondering the significance of what he had read.

“Why are we told that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side? What’s so important about that?” Father Ignatius asked himself.

Yet somehow, John thought it important enough to mention it. Why?

Father Ignatius checked the other three Gospels but they did not mention this fact. “But why did John consider it so significant to point it out” he wondered silently.

After hours of searching other books and checking on ancient traditions he came upon something he’d never known before.

In ancient Hebrew tradition the folded napkin was symbolic between the master of the house and his servant.

When the servant set the dinner table he made sure that everything was perfectly set out as the master wished and then he would wait out of sight until the master finished eating.

The servant would not clear the table until the master had finished.

When the master finished his meal he would wipe his fingers and mouth with the napkin and then toss the napkin on the table.

The servant would then clear the table, because in those days a tossed napkin meant “I’ve finished.”

However … and this is the significant bit which Father Ignatius discovered for himself, if the master left the table but neatly folded the napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table.

Because the folded napkin meant “I’m coming back!”



“He’s coming back …” mumbled Father Ignatius in wonderment.

That’s what John was trying to tell us in his Gospel.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Resurrection - The Lies and Realities

 
As we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord let us remember that this particular event gave rise to many speculations and rumours all those years ago, and indeed over the years since then.

Let’s consider the facts as we know them.

A man claiming to be the Son of God was crucified and died a most horrible death.

After His death, His followers claimed that He rose from the dead as He had said He would.

Now let’s look at the rumours and the conspiracy theories.

It is possible that Christ’s disciples and followers stole and hid the body of Jesus to perpetuate the story that He is the Son of God and that His Father raised Him from the dead.

But if that were the case; what benefit is there to them to disseminate this story knowing full well that it is a lie? Why suffer persecution, imprisonment, torture and death for something you know to be false? Would you do that?

The other theory is that the Jews, the Sadducees or Pharisees, removed the body in order to stop any beliefs that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God.

But if that were the case; then why not produce the body once the disciples said that Jesus rose from the dead and invalidate the story of the Resurrection right from the start? Isn't that what one would expect in such circumstances?

Another hypothesis is that Christ never died at all. He just lost consciousness or was in a coma, and He woke up once again and walked out of the tomb.

But the Romans were very thorough people. They made sure that those crucified were indeed dead by breaking their legs whilst hanging there. They did not do so to Jesus because when they checked He was already dead. Even so, they did pierce His side with a spear just to make sure.

And then; there is of course the fact:

Christ died on the Cross and rose from the dead.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Tantum Ergo


 
Tantum ergo Sacramentum
Veneremur cernui:
Et antiquum documentum
Novo cedat ritui:
Praestet fides supplementum
Sensuum defectui.

Genitori, Genitoque
Laus et iubilatio,
Salus, honor, virtus quoque
Sit et benedictio:
Procedenti ab utroque
Compar sit laudatio.
Amen.

V. Panem de caelo praestitisti eis.
R. Omne delectamentum in se habentem.

Oremus: Deus, qui nobis sub sacramento mirabili, passionis tuae memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quaesumus, ita nos corporis et sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuae fructum in nobis iugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis et regnas in saecula saeculorum.
R. Amen.

English Translation
Down in adoration falling,
Lo! the sacred Host we hail,
Lo! oe'r ancient forms departing
Newer rites of grace prevail;
Faith for all defects supplying,
Where the feeble senses fail.

To the everlasting Father,
And the Son Who reigns on high
With the Holy Spirit proceeding
Forth from each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,
Might and endless majesty.
Amen.

R. Thou hast given them bread from heaven.
V. Having within it all sweetness.
Let us pray: O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament left us a memorial of Thy Passion: grant, we implore Thee, that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, as always to be conscious of the fruit of Thy Redemption. Thou who livest and reignest forever and ever.
R. Amen.

Washing of feet



This week, many churches re-enact the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before the Last Supper. The priest washes the feet of 12 people representing the disciples. You can bet that the chosen 12 have ensured that their feet, (or foot, because usually one foot is washed to speed the whole procedure), are/is as clean as could be, to avoid embarrassment during the re-enactment.

At the time of Jesus, however, things were different. Streets were not as modern and clean as they are now in our towns and cities. They were dusty, muddy if it rained, and no doubt full of deposits from horses, camels and cattle. People wore sandals or even walked in bare feet.

So when they entered a house as guests washing their feet must have been an essential task rather than the symbolism it is in today’s churches. A task left to the servants to undertake.

When Jesus offered, insisted even, in washing His disciples’ feet He was teaching them, and us, a very important lesson.

Here is God Himself, born in poverty, raised in poverty, living in poverty, submitting Himself to perform a task reserved for servants.

Perhaps the disciples didn’t understand the significance of what Jesus had just done. Maybe we don’t understand it ourselves right now.

Yet, He was preparing for an even greater submission and humiliation for us.

Dying a most horrible and painful death on the Cross.

Just for us.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Who is this Man?

Who is this Man?

Listen to the evidence on this recording and make up your own mind.

Please click HERE

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Lenten Reflections

HOLY WEEK

We have a tradition in the UK where the Catholic Church gives out these posters for people to put on their windows at home for all to see.

It's our way of witnessing to others about our Christian Faith.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Praying

Father Ignatius sat in the empty church right up front by Our Lady’s statue. He watched for a while the votive candles burning at her feet and then started his Rosary.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, these words came whirling fast into his head, totally uncontrollable and spontaneous, yet as clear as if they were spoken to him there and then.

“How shall I pray?” said the words in Father Ignatius’ head.

“Shall I beg over and over again for you to hear me? Is that what You want of me?

“Shall I plead for ever like the widow to the judge until she was heard?

“How do you want me to see You? As an over-powerful ruler demanding His own way?

“How do you want me to love You? As one loves a monster, with immense fear lest I arouse your anger and wrath?

“Shall I fear you for ever and cower at the thought of your fury?”

Father Ignatius stopped praying and made the sign of the Cross. He took a deep breath … and yet the words continued in his mind … somehow gentler now … somehow softer …

“Love me as a child … with no fear and no dread.

“Trust me as a child trusts his parents when they give him food and drink.

“A child never questions whether the food is good to eat … he takes it in trust and asks for more.

“He never doubts when led by his parents … he follows eagerly holding hands along the way.

“Love me as a child … and I’ll treat you with love and compassion.

“Ask me as a child … and I’ll give you what’s good for you in good time.

“Trust me as a child … and I’ll show you the way …

“No matter how difficult your journey ahead, I’ll always be there … guiding you into eternity … with Me.”

The words suddenly stopped as quickly as they’d started. Yet their message remained with the priest for a long time.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

History - Famous Britons

Today's History Lesson is all about Famous Britons so please pay attention and you'll probably learn a thing or two about the people of these islands.

Now unfortunately, Famous Britons don't come in alphabetical or chronological order in as much as they are haphazard and arrive on the scene every now and then in no particular order or rhyme or reason. This has a lot to do with the weather in Britain which is likewise haphazard and in no particular order or rhyme or reason. We often have the four seasons in one day and in random order to confuse people as to whether to go out with their umbrellas or swimsuits. Hence you often see businessmen in London going to work in a bowler hat, umbrella, pin striped shirt and jacket and swimming trunks. Tourists often think that these businessmen have forgotten to put on their trousers. But they are quite mistaken. It is a deliberate attire to be ready for all circumstances; and as the sun comes out all they need do is take off their shirt and jacket and jump into the nearest pool, or lake, or river, or indeed the sea if you happen to work in a seaside town. I remember when I worked in London we had many a meeting in the swimming pool with the Board of Directors. It was quite distracting when the pretty secretary came in her swimsuit to bring us tea and biscuits. 

But I digress.

Ok ... the first Famous Briton I want to talk about is a woman. Her name is Boadicea and she lived around AD 43. The Roman Emperor Claudius sent his troops to conquer Britain.His soldiers were faced by this wild woman from Norwich, who came at them on a horse-drawn cart with swords sticking out of the wheels. Apparently she got the idea from the famous chariot race in the film Ben Hur which she had seen on TV the previous night. She killed over 70,000 Romans in her many battles; but eventually poisoned herself when the Romans started winning again. Some historians believe that she just fell ill and died.

Roll time forward to 1066 when King Harold fought a battle in Hastings against William the Conqueror; known for his love of the game of conkers. This game is still played by children in England today and consists of two people threading a horse chestnut (conker) with a string and use it to smash the opponent's conker. They take turn at hitting the opponent's conker and sometimes the conker (horse chestnut) breaks and can cause injury if bits catch you in the eye. However, at the Battle of Hastings, it is believed, that King Harold caught an arrow in the eye. His soldiers advised him to blink a few times and it will work its way out.

Let's move on a bit forward to 1509 when King Henry VIII was King. He wanted a son as an heir and married six times to make sure his wife got him a son.

His first wife Catherine of Aragon brought him five daughters, (four dead), so he divorced her.

He married Anne Boleyn who also gave him a daughter. She was also friendly with a number of people in the palace so Henry VIII cut off her head and also that of all her lovers too. It is said that Anne Boleyn had an extra finger on one hand and three breasts! Henry accused her of being a witch because of her deformities.

Henry then married Jane Seymour who gave him a son in 1537 but unfortunately she died whilst giving birth.

In 1540 Henry married Anne of Cleves who is said to have been very ugly. The marriage was not consummated, (something to do with Consommé soup), so he divorced her.

In the same year he married Catherine Howard and shortly afterwards chopped her head off too.

In 1543 he married Katherine Parr. Now I ask you ... would you have married a man with such a track record? Anyway, by this time Henry VIII was very sick with diseases one gets when they are too friendly ... He died in 1547.

Queen Elizabeth the First was the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and became Queen in 1558 at the age of 25. She was skinny and plain with red hair like her dad. She used lead-based white make-up on her face, which although fashionable at the time, ate into her face. 

In those days people didn't wash as often as we do today because power showers had not been invented. So in time you could smell their arrival a mile off before they actually arrived. People with big noses suffered the most because they inhaled more of the bad smells. Having a cold was a wonderful relief. To hide their bad smell some people carried apples with cloves in it. Hmmm ... I wonder what smelled worse. A rotten apple in your armpits or the "naturelle smelle" of said body parts. 

From 1568 onwards the Spanish fought against the English sending their Armadas over. At this time a man called Francis Drake led the English ships against the Spanish and won many battles. It is said that before a battle Drake was playing bowls in Plymouth and he was told of the approach of the Spanish fleet. He replied there was enough time to finish the game and beat the Spaniards.

Two more people who lived at the time of Elizabeth I were William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh.

Shakespeare was a play writer who made it his mission to be a pain in the side of every pupil from then on and succeeded to the point that even now students have to learn and memorise his plays for no apparent reason whatsoever.

Sir Walter Raleigh on the other hand is said to have introduced potatoes to Britain. Apparently he travelled abroad and bought a packet of French Fries as a present to the Queen. She said: "What? No beef burger and milk shake?" 

Apparently, also when abroad he decided as a joke to put some leaves in his mouth and light them up. His friends enjoyed the joke and asked him to repeat it when he got back to England. The joke soon caught on and that's how he introduced tobacco to England.

In 1591, Sir Walter secretly married Elizabeth Throckmorton, one of the Queen's ladies-in-waiting, (what were they waiting for?), without the Queen's permission. The Queen got angry and imprisoned both of them in the Tower of London. What a honeymoon? She later released him and he became quite famous.

The Queen died in 1603. Raleigh was arrested and tried for an alleged plot against King James. 

Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on 29 October 1618.

His head was embalmed and presented to his wife, and his body was buried in a church in Surrey near Lady Raleigh's home. She kept his head in a velvet bag and carried it wherever she went. I bet it was embarrassing when she went to parties and dinner dates carrying the bag with her. I mean ... there she was invited to a party and she brings a guest, (or part of a guest), in her hand bag. I wonder if Raleigh's head winked at the pretty ladies at the party! And did she ever take his head with her in the bag when she went ten pin bowling?

When Raleigh's wife died 29 years later, both Raleigh's head and body were buried in St Margaret's Church in Westminster.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Shopping in style

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!”

Sunday, 6 April 2014

What do we learn from the Lazarus episode?

The story of the death of Lazarus and his bringing back to life by Jesus is strange indeed. It is not like any other story of Christ's miracles. There are at least two important lessons for us to learn here.

Let's recap quickly (John Chapter 11).

Jesus was in a town not far from Bethany when He receives a message from Martha and Mary that their brother Lazarus is ill. Jesus does not hurry to heal Lazarus but He stays put. He tells His disciples that this illness will not result in Lazarus' death. The disciples, as ever, do not understand. They think that Lazarus has fallen asleep because of his illness. Jesus spells it out "Lazarus is dead!" and then decides to go to him.

When He arrives at Bethany, followed by His disciples, Jesus is met by Martha.

She is full of grief at her brother's death. She sent a message to Jesus two days earlier and now He comes. When it's too late. She says to Jesus "If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died!"

She reprimands Jesus. In her grief, she does not know what to say.

Then she adds, "But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for". She still believes that God can do anything through Jesus.

LESSON 1

When we are in great grief, or despair, we sometimes lash out at God. We blame Him for what has happened. This is only natural. It is our human nature speaking.

God knows that and He can take our anger. After all, He took all our anger and hatred when He hung there from the Cross.

Like in Martha's case, God forgives. We should in return hold on to our Faith and believe that everything is possible to God.

Mary joins her sister to meet Jesus and she too says "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died". The crowd murmur that Jesus healed many sick people why did He not come earlier to save Lazarus.

Jesus asks for the tomb to be opened. Martha tells Him that there will be a bad smell. Lazarus has been buried for four days. In a hot climate the body would have began to smell badly.

The tomb is opened and Jesus raises Lazarus.

LESSON 2

Why did Jesus take so long to visit Lazarus? Why wait four days after his death and burial to turn up?

In the past, Jesus raised many people from the dead. So why did He wait so long this time?

In previous miracles, many sceptics and cynics would have said that the individual was probably not dead. He may have been in a deep sleep, or in a coma. Not much of a miracle.

This time Jesus waited for four days after death and burial to turn up and raise Lazarus. He wanted there to be no doubt that Lazarus is dead and that he has been raised back to life. No doubt that God's glory, through Him, will be seen by everyone.

He predicted from the very start, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, that he would not end up dead. The disciples did not understand, but Jesus explained that Lazarus was indeed dead; but will not end up dead.

His words "The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the son of God will receive glory."

Our lesson is to learn that when things go wrong ... very ... very wrong; we need only believe that the end result will be that God is glorified, as is His will.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Why no one asked Jesus?



Father Ignatius tried something new with his congregation. He suggested they held an “Any Questions” meeting whereby members of the audience would ask him and Father Donald any question, totally unprepared and unscripted, and they would try to answer it.

It was the first such event held at the church center and that evening in question was well attended. About fifty people turned up, which by all standards was a good attendance on a cold winter evening. Some volunteers had prepared hot chocolate and tea and plenty of cakes had been brought in and enjoyed before the meeting started.

At first the questions were somewhat tentative and easily dealt with by either priest, mainly relating to the running of the church, Mass times in winter, and the diminishing amount received in Sunday collections.

But then a young lady stood up and asked the top table: “May I read something before I ask my question?

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

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

“This is from Mark 14 3-7,” she concluded.

“My question to you Fathers is ‘Why?’” she then asked hesitantly.

“Why what?” asked Father Donald in his broad Glaswegian accent.

“Why did Jesus say ‘You will always have poor people with you?’”

Before either priest could answer a man at the front said; “Good point … Is Jesus saying poverty will be with us always? Is He saying that all our efforts to help the poor are in vain?”

“Might as well not bother,” mumbled another man sitting beside him.

The two priests looked at each other. Father Ignatius cleaned his glasses slowly and said nothing at first.

“Of course we should bother …” declared Father Donald, “it is our duty to help the poor. Jesus was making the point that He would soon be Crucified and gone from the people, whereas the poor will always be with us. Don’t you agree Ignatius?”

“Well …” replied Father Ignatius slowly, “two thousand years later and we still have poverty in this world. So Christ was not far wrong with what He said.

“But let us look at what Jesus said in a wider context.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wow … I never saw it this way …” commented the original questioner.

“We’ve all been given some talent or other” added Father Donald, “and we should use them for the benefit of others.”

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

“Our talents are to be used for His glory to help others”

“Talking of talents,” interjected Father Donald, “may I remind you that if any of you has a talent for singing do not confine it to singing in the bath. The choir is always looking for new singers so come along to rehearsals.”

“As long as you don’t bring your bath with you,” chuckled Father Ignatius.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

History - The Tudors

A long time ago there was a Royal family in England called the Tudors. They ruled form 1485 to 1603.

In those 118 years there were five kings and the most famous was Henry VIII.

He was famous for wanting a son and married many times to achieve this. His first wife Catherine of Aragon was a Catholic and she gave him a daughter. So Henry VIII divorced her which upset the Pope. Henry created the Church of England with him as head. He got rid of Catholic monasteries but he still worshipped as a Catholic ... and executed those who didn't.

Living in Tudor times was not much fun. TV had still not been invented so people could not watch soaps for hours on end.

It was not a healthy time either. They had open sewers in the streets and toilets were a hole in the ground in the back garden. They often emptied chamber pots out of the window onto the people in the streets down below. Hence the phrase "Gardyloo !!!" which roughly translated meant "watch out for the water" (and what's in it) !!!

Umbrellas had yet to be invented; but I bet the Laundry Business was quite successful.

People had very odd cures for illnesses, like swallowing live spiders, covered in butter to make them go down quicker. And swallowing powdered human skulls, or eating bone-marrow mixed with sweat. They also believed in blood-letting. You'd go to the barber and he'd cut you up and let the blood out.

A man went to the barber's once for a haircut. As the barber was working on him the man looked down and saw a human ear on the ground. "Whose ear is that?" he asked.

The barber replied, "Hold it. If it's still warm it's yours!"

Hence the phrase "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" which is a famous line in the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616).  

It was at this time that barbers also started a side-line of piercing people's ears whilst they wait. It was very convenient not having to come back for your pierced ear the next day. Other piercings however took a little longer.

Of course in Tudor times life was not as sophisticated as it is today. People had to use quills to write with.

These were feathers of various birds which had to be sharpened daily with knives - hence the word pen-knife. Once they sharpened the quill they used it to tap the keys on their computer keyboards.

Crime was also rife in Tudor times because people were generally poor. The same people appeared in front of the same judge again and again because of their repeated crimes.

The judge eyed a man carefully once and asked him "Have you ever been up before me?"

The man replied "It depends on what time you get up!"

On another occasion the same judge had two thieves before him. He asked the first where he lived and he replied "No fixed abode!"

He asked the second man where he lived and he replied "In the appartment above him".

Life for women was terrible in Tudor times. If a woman did not marry she often stayed at home with her parents and spent her time spinning - hence the word "spinster". She could not become a nun since Henry VIII had closed all convents.

Women could be punished by law for nagging and scolding. Women were warned in church to stop nagging and if they continued they were punished by ducking. They were tied to a chair and lowered in the river a few times.

If a woman continued nagging and scolding she was made to wear a metal mask which clamped on the head with a metal bar in her mouth holding her tongue down. She was then paraded in town as a warning to other women.

Football was a favorite passtime played between two villages. The ball was a pig's bladder and they started the game at a mid-point between two villages several miles apart. The idea was to get the ball into your village. The whole village population would play and there were no rules or referee. Anything goes. Just fight everyone else and get the ball to your village. Many people got injured and hurt. Great fun!

In 1540 Henry VIII banned the game because he needed soldiers for his army and too many people were getting injured and maimed playing football.


As mentioned earlier, around this time, lived a man called William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) who wrote many plays to make a living. Actors were all men who dressed like women to play women's parts. His plays were performed in various theaters for people to enjoy.

But some clever dick at some point or other decided to make life miserable for countless of generations by insisting that they learn Shakespeare at school. 

There's as much point in that as making people learn the scripts of their favorite cartoon videos.

That's ... That's ... That's ... That's all folks !!!!