Sunday, 29 April 2018

Father Ignatius faces Failure



Father Ignatius was sitting at his desk reading his morning mail when there was a knock at the door.

“Do come in,” he said in his jovial welcoming voice.

The door opened and a young man came in.

“Hello Timothy … I haven’t seen you for a while. Are you well?” asked the priest.

Timothy sat on the armchair by the window. He held his head in his hands and looked down without talking. The priest noticed that he was shaking a little … could he be crying?

“What’s wrong Timothy?” said Father Ignatius as he stood from his desk.

The young man looked up; his eyes were bright red from holding back the tears and trying to compose himself as best he could. Father Ignatius said nothing for a while and waited for Timothy to speak when ready.

“I’ve failed my driving test …” he finally blurted out, “my father will kill me … he paid a fortune for driving lessons!”

“I’ve known your father for a long time,” replied the priest calmly, “and I know for a fact he is not a killer!”

Timothy looked up and smiled a little.

“I take it you haven’t told him yet.”

“No … I ran straight here from the Test Center. I don’t know why … you can hardly do anything about it can you?”

Father Ignatius smiled at the apparent lack of confidence the youngster had in him. He turned to the cupboard behind his desk and came back holding a small camera.

“Do you mind if I take a photo of you?” he asked Timothy.

Timothy looked surprised and before he could say anything he heard the clicking sound from the camera.

“What … what did you do this for?” asked the confused youngster.

Father Ignatius put the camera on his desk and sat in a chair opposite Timothy.

“I just wanted to record this very moment in time ... for posterity do you understand ..." then after a moment's silence he continued, "Let me tell you something …

“Failure is sometimes necessary if we happen to learn from it.

“It is only a picture in time when you happen to click your camera and record it for posterity. Just as I’ve done right now … recorded your moment of failure.

“But if we were to move our camera pictures forward and see other pictures, the chances are that the individual we’ve photographed has learnt from his failure and gone on to greater success.

“When Christ hung dying on the Cross His followers saw failure.

“Here is a man whom many followed and listened to. As many as five thousand at one stage when He fed them loaves and fishes. They witnessed His many miracles and expected great things from Him. A new Ruler, a new King, someone to bring them freedom from their Roman oppressors. Yet here He is, beaten, tortured, humiliated and dying on a Cross amongst thieves.

“Failure indeed.

“Yet, a few more photos further on and we see the Resurrection, the Ascension into Heaven, the sending of the Holy Spirit, a new church born and growing from strength to strength several centuries later. We are redeemed from our sins.

“Everlasting success.”

The priest paused briefly.

“So it really depends on which picture we focus on. The one I’ve just taken of you, or the one in a few months’ time when you’re driving your car all by yourself?”

Timothy smiled.

“I’m sure your father will understand when you tell him your test result. He too was a learner driver once and he wants the best for you.”

“I’m sorry … I just panicked … I’d better get home now,” said Timothy.

“Remember Timothy” added the priest, “Failure is only what is recorded at a particular moment in time … and no more than that.

“Bear this in mind the next time a camera clicks to record your personal failures; and take courage in the knowledge that, with God’s help, you can turn your negative moments into positives for others to emulate.”

Timothy got up to leave.

“And don’t worry … there’s no film in this camera!!!” smiled Father Ignatius.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Pursuit

I drove to the city, some forty miles away, for a business meeting which finished early in the afternoon. I looked forwards to an early return home relaxing with a Guinness and a football match on TV.

As I drove out of the city I switched on the radio to hear the news. As always, the announcer started with some bad news and then followed on with more bad news. I changed station to some country and western music instead. There's nothing better than "On the road again!" by Willie Nelson when you're travelling. That or Don Williams or Tom T Hall.

Anyway, there I was, approaching my home town and humming to John Denver's "Take me home Country Roads".

I tell you, those country roads in Britain can be long and winding with sharp corners and unexpected ups and downs of hills and narrowing lanes. But the good thing is that they are less busy than highways, and I often take the country roads back home after a difficult day at the city as it helps me to relax whilst driving. 

The other thing with less used country roads is that you tend to notice when you're not alone when driving.

As Waylon Jennings was singing the Dukes of Hazzard Theme Song, "Good Ol' Boys"; I noticed a car following me in my rear view mirror. Just then, by pure coincidence C W McCall started singing "Convoy".

But it was not a convoy on those long and winding roads. It was just the two of us. Me and the sparkling dark blue car a few yards behind me.

I put my foot down on the accelerator to put some distance between us. He did just the same and followed me exactly a few yards behind.

The road was too narrow for me to let him pass. And at the speed I was going I was afraid I might get off the road and land upside down in some ditch.

I slowed down a little. So did he behind me. He followed but kept the same distance of a few yards behind.

I knew this road well and remembered that just over a mile ahead there is a big roundabout; a big island through which many roads intersect in and out.

If I were to enter the roundabout and turn my car all the way round; all 360 degrees; this would give the car following me the opportunity either to drive on ahead of me or to get off at any of the four intersections on the roundabout.

I sped up a little to create some distance between me and my follower. I arrived on the roundabout first and as luck would have it there were no other cars there.

I entered the roundabout from the six o'clock position on a clock face. I turned all the way round to six o'clock again and saw my follower entering the roundabout at six of clock just as I did.

I put my foot down and exited the roundabout at the six o'clock exit just as he entered it.

To my surprise, he did the same manoeuvre and exited at the six o'clock exit following me.

Why did he do that?

He had the opportunity whilst I was going round to exit at twelve o'clock and drive on ahead of me. Or he could have got out at the three or nine o'clock exits. Why did he go all the way round 360 degrees, like me, and get out after me at the same exit we had entered?

It's obvious he is following me. It is obvious he is up to no good.

I looked in my rear view mirror to work out whether he was alone in the car, or whether he had passengers. But he was too far behind for me to see properly, but he was catching me up fast. Obviously, my manoeuvre on the roundabout had confused him and upset him. He has realised I am on to him and now he is catching up with me fast.

I began to panic.

I sped a little more on this dangerous narrow winding road. I nearly got off the road as I slid in a large puddle of water where it had been raining previously. I almost hit a tractor coming out from a side road. I was going a little too fast for these road conditions; and yet, the blue car behind me was following me inch by inch replicating my every move. But he must certainly be a better driver than me because he managed through the puddle of water better and certainly got round that tractor missing it with a hair's breadth.

He was tailing me every step of the way. I could see vaguely in my rear view mirror it was a man driving behind me; but I did not want to look for too long in case I miss a bend on the road and end upside down in a ditch.

Who could he be and what does he want?

I did not recognise the car. Is he a policeman in a plain clothes car; I thought. But if he were a policeman; why not sound his siren and blue lights to stop me?

Who else could he be? A gangster? Does he want to rob me perhaps? Steal my car? His is a better and bigger model, what would he want with my car?

A prankster perhaps? Trying to have some fun by scaring me and following me close behind?

Maybe he is drunk and just out of his mind.

Whoever he was he was scaring me. I could not phone for help because I always switch off my cell-phone whilst driving to avoid receiving calls and disturbing my concentration. I could not let him pass because he had no intention of doing so.

I looked at the gauge on the dashboard and noticed that I was running out of gas. Sooner or later my car would stop and he'd catch up with me anyway. I had to do something desperate.

I remembered a driving manoeuvre I was taught at Advanced Driving lessons. I hadn't done it for ages, but these were desperate times. I took my life in my hands, literally.

I quickly pulled on the handbrake and released it again. The car spun 180 degrees on itself, just like doing a U turn. In the narrow road, I almost flew off into the field by the road, but I didn't. Somehow, by some miracle perhaps, I managed to straighten the car and keep it on the road. There was a tremendous noise as I did this lunatic stunt and dust everywhere. The car zig zagged a little and I drove off at speed as my follower arrived on the scene and put his foot on the brakes violently.

Momentarily, I managed to escape him. I saw in my rear view mirror that he had stopped and tried, after several backwards and forwards motions, to turn his car round again. He was not as good as me after all and could not do the U turn in one go.

I used this time to gain a distance between us as I sped towards the roundabout I had driven through moments earlier. If I reach it quickly and get through it maybe he would not know which exit I took and so I would lose my pursuer.

He was catching up behind me fast. He was a real dare-devil and had a very powerful car. Better than mine.
 
There is no doubt now that this man was following me for the last twenty miles and his intentions were no good.

A cold sweat covered my brow. I could feel my heart pounding fast in my chest. I was afraid. More afraid than I had ever been.

This guy was obviously not a joy-rider out for some fun. He meant business. What if he caught up with me and killed me. He would not want any witnesses after all that's happened. That's why he was following me fast and now beeping on his horn like a madman.  

If only all this beeping would attract someone's attention. But no ... the road was empty. Just me and him speeding recklessly.

I felt like Dennis Weaver in the film Duel by Steven Spielberg.

Have you seen the film? Real scary.

David Mann, (Dennis Weaver), is a middle-aged salesman driving on a business trip. He encounters a rusty truck on the highway which follows him and terrorises him out of his senses

This man behind me is doing just the same.

He stopped beeping his horn. I looked in the mirror and he was catching up with me fast. His headlights now full on to make it obvious he was there. I could see his hand shaking at me out of the window.

Is that a gun in his hand, or is he just wearing a black glove? I can't see properly and drive fast at the same time.

What the hell does he want? Why can't he go away?

If only there were other cars on the road I could signal for help. Or pedestrians; not that there are many in the countryside. It's just a long narrow winding road with either trees on either side or a deep ditch inviting me to fall in and end my life.

I kept driving as fast as I could without endangering my life. He kept following me ... for thirty miles now.

I was entering my town and gaining some bravado confidence.

Why is it we feel brave and confident on home territory? If the other man is bigger and stronger than you he is just as likely to punch you on the nose in your front garden as anywhere else. He doesn't know or care this is your home territory. If he is determined enough to finish you of, because of some unknown reason, or to get rid of a witness, he would do it regardless.

Anyway, now is not the time for philosophical discussions. Especially since my mind is concentrating on going to the bathroom as well as escaping my pursuer. Although I cannot work out which is the more pressing priority!

Why can't they have bathrooms in cars? There must be a way of relieving yourself whilst driving, surely. What is the point of having all the technology to send a man on the moon if we cannot solve such a simple problem? What do they do when on rockets to the moon? Surely they have a system of relieving themselves. Why can't car manufacturers install a similar system in cars?

It's amazing how one's brain works when in a panic.

All these questions rushing through my mind and pressing on my bladder did not solve the problem of my pursuer.

At the next traffic light, which incidentally was red, my bravery took over from my cautiousness and I stopped the car abruptly.

He stopped behind me.

I got out of the car and walked purposely towards him.

I did not know what I was going to say or what I would do. My stupidity had taken control of my mind.

What if he attacked me? What if he had a knife, or a gun, or a baseball bat even?

Thankfully, none of these thoughts crossed my mind, because if they did my bladder would have given up in despair.

As I approached the blue car behind me he pulled down his car window.

Before I said anything he asked: "Who are you?"

I had to think for a second or two before knowing what to answer.

He continued: "You're not Thomas!"

"No ... I am not ..." I mumbled incoherently that I hardly understood myself.

"You're not Thomas Haversmith!" he said. "Where's Thomas?"

"I am not Thomas, and I don't know who or where he is," I said gaining a little courage from I don't know where, "why the hell have you been following me for some thirty miles?"

"I have not been following you," he replied with some irritation in his voice, "I have been following Thomas. I did not know the way to the Conference Centre and he told me to follow him. I did follow him as we left the car park, and I drove for miles only to find it is you and not Thomas! And I must say, you are a terrible driver. Thomas would not drive like that!"

I was so relieved to hear his explanation; not literally relieved, you understand.

I asked him to follow me in the pub up ahead, where I literally relieved myself; and then gave him step by step directions back the thirty miles to the Conference Centre he was supposed to be at.

He told me that he was a guest speaker at the Conference Centre and was due there over an hour ago. He also used my cell-phone to explain to an irate Thomas Haversmith why he was late to address the meeting on the subject of in-car satellite navigation systems.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Inventions that changed the world


It never ceases to amaze me how inventive and creative is the human mind, and how many inventions we have developed over the years, over the centuries, which not only have helped human kind and advanced its knowledge and well-being, but have actually been vital to our very existence.

They say that the world's greatest ever invention was the wheel; but I do not agree. Perhaps the greatest invention was the second wheel, because then you had a bicycle.

But there have been many other great inventions since then; perhaps even better than the wheel. The door bell for instance. Before the door bell people had to knock on doors to be let in. Most doors in ancient days had ornate door knockers made of metal, sometimes brass or iron, and you lifted the knocker which was attached to the door by a hinge and you made a knocking sound which reverberated throughout the house and people inside would let you in.

This gave rise to knock knock jokes. I'm sure you've heard most of them so I won't bother you with any right now. But when the door bell was invented people stopped telling each other knock knock jokes. They all seemed to have died down somehow.

Knock knock
Who's there
Grandad!
Quick, open the coffin!

Anyway ... as I was saying, did you know my grand-father was a great inventor. He invented the colour mauve. Before then there was red, and there was blue, and violet, and purple, but no mauve. He went to the shops with my grandma and she tried a dress on. She asked him, "Do you like the colour? What is it called?"

He was eager to go home and replied, "Come on ... move!"

She said, "Mauve ... that's my favourite colour from now on!"

The other day at a fancy restaurant I discovered another new invention. An electric fork. You press a button and the fork end goes round and round to help you pick up spaghetti from your plate. It's rather dangerous if you happen to get it caught in your beard, though. I got an electric shock from it too.

Personally, I think the greatest invention ever is the left shoe. If they hadn't invented the left shoe you'd be walking round the street limping with every step because one leg would be shorter than the other. You'd have to walk on the edge of the side-walk with the right foot with a shoe on the road, and the left bare foot on the side-walk in order to walk straight. The problem with this is that you'd be going round and round the same block turning left all the time and never getting to where you want to go. Unless it was somewhere on the block where you live, like the shop down the road. Once you bought what you wanted you'd go all the way round your block until you reached your house once again.

The left shoe invention solved all that problem.

Another great invention, just as good as the left shoe I reckon, is the whoopee cushion. Before the whoopee cushion people had to rely on baked beans to make embarrassing sounds at parties. Or cabbage or Brussels sprouts. The whoopee cushion spared us from eating such stuff and now we can have a great laugh at any occasion without worrying what we eat. They are great fun at all gatherings, especially funerals. Just place a few whoopee cushions on the pews in church and watch what happens as the mourners sit down with their long sad faces. It's guaranteed to cheer everyone up in the most solemn of occasions.

I remember once I attended the funeral of a friend who was a clown at a travelling circus. Someone had placed a number of whoopee cushions on the pews. It was great fun when we all sat down together after the first hymn!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Speaking From My Sock



So … why call my new book, “Speaking from my sock”? 

It’s simple really. You see, I am a very shy kind of person and find it difficult starting conversations, or keeping up with conversations, for that matter. It’s not just the starting bit, but the continuation too which is a problem with me. Ending a conversation is much easier though. I just stop talking.

Years ago, when I was a child, my parents made me a sock puppet from an old sock. And the rest is history. I have not stopped talking since. At least the sock puppet hasn’t.

The other day for instance, I had reason to phone for a plumber. Easily done on the phone. But when he turned up I became very shy again. So I put on the sock puppet and all went well …

“Hello Mr Plumber,” said the sock, “how good of you to come over so quickly within a fortnight. Please excuse my silent friend with his hand up my rear. He doesn’t speak much. But he told me to tell you that our sink is blocked. We think another sock somehow got down the plug hole!”

And there you have it. A new book written by me with the help of my sock puppet. Thank you for buying it and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as the sock enjoyed writing it.

This book is a collection of short humourous stories and anecdotes, some heard here and there over the years, others originating from the deep recesses of my mind. 

AMAZON LINK HERE


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Baseball

Many years ago I was fortunate to visit Houston, in Texas, on business. Whilst there my hosts took me to the Houston Astrodome to see the Astros play baseball. I cannot say that I understood what was going on, but I enjoyed that evening and the whole atmosphere at the game.

When I got back to England, I wondered why, at the time, we did not play so much baseball in the UK. We play football, (soccer), rugby and cricket but not baseball. A few business friends and I decided to set up a baseball team and perhaps help promote the game round our town.

We advertised our intentions in the newspapers and for a week or so waited for people to come forwards wishing to play the game. We did not receive one reply to our advert.

It was then that we realised that we had not put an address or phone number for people to contact us. So we ran the advert again and got a few volunteers wanting to learn to play baseball.

Sadly, most of them were totally useless. One of them got hit in the head by the ball and ended up in hospital. Another got hit much lower down his body and he too went to hospital. His wife was none too pleased about where he got hurt. All in all our efforts to build up a team of players seemed to be a difficult task ahead. But we persevered. We hired a coach who knew a thing or two about baseball and we trained these youngsters as best we could.

One day, a horse came into my office. He was quite confident as he pulled up a chair and sat there lighting a cigarette. He said that he wanted to join our baseball team and that he could play very well.

I could not believe my eyes. Or ears for that matter. I had a horse in my office wanting to play baseball.

I told him there and then that it was against the rules.

He smiled and said, "No it isn't. Check it out!"

Believe me ... this is true ... honest ... We did check out the rules and there is nothing to say that a horse cannot play baseball. If you don't believe me then check it out yourselves. You'll see I am telling the truth.

As a matter of interest, we also checked the cricket rules too, and there's nothing there about horses either.

Well, as it happened, we had a game scheduled for that very Saturday. So we decided that our horse would be the first one to start the game. He held the bat tightly in his hand, (or hoof), and faced the pitcher. (You see, I know the right term to use for the guy who throws the ball).

Our horse hit the ball so hard that it flew high in the sky at a million miles an hour and I think it landed three or four streets away from where we were playing.

Everyone was totally astounded and flabbergasted at the same time.

The horse just stood still, totally frozen, and did not move a muscle.

"RUN ... RUN ..." I shouted at him, "RUN !!!!"

"Run?" he said, "Run? If I could run I'd be at the Kentucky Derby not in your poxy English town!"

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fluffy Bunny

The family was out in London for the day. I looked in the freezer compartment of our fridge. We normally put various pieces of meat in plastic bags and write on them what they are and the number of portions per bag. This makes it easier when wanting to find something quick to cook. Amongst the bags of beef and lamb I found a bag entitled "rabbit - 1 portion".

That's new, I thought. I'll make a rabbit stew. It's a dish based on tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes all boiling together with a piece of meat - this time it was rabbit.

As I supervised my meal cooking the front doorbell rang. I turned the heat low down and went to open the door. It was our neighbour with his wife.

"Have you seen our Fluffy Bunny rabbit?" they asked, "he is white and we think he dug under the fence and got in your garden!"

"Ehm ... no ... I haven't seen him," I said unconvincingly.

"You hesitated just there," said my neighbour, "are you sure you did not see him and think he was a white cat or something?"

"Yes ... yes ... I am sure," I lied truthfully. I hadn't after all seen a white rabbit, or any other colour rabbit for that matter.

"Can we have a look in your garden?" asked my neighbour persistently.

"OK ..." I hesitated again, "I'll let you in by the side gate ..."

I could hardly let them in the house and through the kitchen to the back garden in case they recognised their Fluffy Bunny cooking in my casserole.

They looked in the garden and found nothing.

When they were gone, to be honest, I had totally lost my appetite for Fluffy Bunny and gave the whole meal to our dog Brutus. He'd betray anyone for a good meal, our dog.

When the family returned home I asked about that packet marked rabbit in our freezer.

"Oh ... we got that from the butcher in the High Street a couple of days ago," I was told, "it was a new product he was selling and it was good value. Did you like it?"

"Yes ... certainly ... it was very delicious," I lied unconvincingly again.

As long as they don't ask Brutus for his opinion.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Giving Up

It happens to all of us I suppose at one time or another.

We try to achieve something, but the more we try the more we fail. We try again and again and we fail one more time. We’re so tired of trying to achieve our goal that we feel like giving up.

It is said that on His way to Calvary Jesus fell to the ground three times. It is not Biblical of course, but we can assume that He must have stumbled or fallen at least once.

He was exhausted. He had been beaten, mocked, spat upon and tortured. His disciples had run away in fear, one of whom even denied Him three times, He must have been totally exhausted carrying His Cross up that hill.

That's enough to make anybody give up.

Jesus could have stayed there on the ground and died on the spot. But He got up. Three times, He got up and continued His journey to a cruel and very painful death.

He did it for us. He did it because His Father asked Him to.

Let that be our inspiration to try once again when we feel like giving up.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Painter,


Once upon a time there was an unscrupulous painter who was very interested in making extra money if he could. He often thinned down his paint with turpentine to make it go a bit further. Sadly, he got away with this for some time.

One day Father Ignatius decided to paint the outside of the Parish Hall white. He asked for several quotations and this painter’s was the lowest price quoted. As the priest was short of funds the painter in question got the job.

So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with turpentine.

As the painter was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, there was suddenly a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the Parish Hall walls, and knocking the painter clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by tell-tale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

The painter realised that this was a judgement from above …

He got on his knees and cried:

“Oh God … oh God … help me … what should I do?”

And just then a thunderous voice replied:

“Repaint !!! Repaint !!! And thin no more !!!”

Get your FREE Fun Book HERE.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Monday, 9 April 2018

No Stranger At The Door


“ … and there we were both standing at the doorway of the Church,” said Father Ignatius, “and then he asked me if I could spare a cup of coffee. I didn’t think he drank coffee. What do you think he drank anyway?”

“St Peter?” asked Father Donald.

“Yes … St Peter,” repeated Father Ignatius, “what do you think he drank? Surely not coffee. It hadn’t been discovered then! When he was alive on earth.”

“Oh … boiled fish water, I shouldn’t wonder,” laughed Father Donald, “must have tasted really horrible I should think!”

“And then …” continued Father Ignatius after a short pause, “and then, as if by magic, we were here in my office. I was sitting at my desk, like now, and he sat in the very armchair where you’re sitting in!”

Father Donald looked around him in the armchair and said nothing. Father Ignatius continued.

“St Peter sat just where you’re sitting Donald. He looked just like we’ve seen him portrayed in the movies. Tall guy and well set. With a beard and wearing a brown tunic … and sandals. I remember distinctly the sandals. Big man, he was … I wouldn’t wish to be on the wrong side of an argument with him. He was here in this office.

“He asked what I thought of him.

“I mumbled the usual things we’ve been taught in seminary … Loyal follower of Christ, leader of the Disciples, Head of the Church … That sort of thing!

“He smiled and picked up a biscuit … he preferred the chocolate covered ones and commented that they tasted different to the ones he was used to in them days … That’s exactly what he said … in them days!”

Father Donald raised an eyebrow and smiled, whilst Father Ignatius went on.

“Then he asked me to be honest. Not repeat what I’d been taught. What did I really think of him?”

Father Donald smiled once more and said nothing.

“Well …” Father Ignatius went on, “I hesitated of course … it’s quite a shock seeing St Peter face to face and being asked such a direct question.

“I said that some theologians consider him to be a bit irresolute of character … Tends to speak first, sometimes acts quickly, yet … a bit hesitant when the chips are down!”

“Wow …” said Father Donald, “did he hit you for saying that? He has a bit of a temper our St Peter you know.”

“No … he remained calm,” replied Father Ignatius, “He said ‘I don’t care about what theologians think … what do they know? I’m asking for your opinion Ignatius!’ He called me Ignatius … so he knew full well who I was. Then he asked me if I had any more of those brown covered biscuits.

“I gave him the whole packet of chocolate biscuits which somehow I had here in my desk; and then I said that I sympathized with his predicament and how he’d been portrayed by some theologians. He was and I’m sure he still is very loyal to Christ. He spoke first because of his confidence and beliefs in our Lord.

“He hesitated a little when he jumped into the lake and tried to walk on water. But anyone would have done that … Jesus had asked him to come to Him … so at least he did show real Faith by jumping into the water … but his Faith faltered … understandable really!

“And that’s when St Peter sat a little forward in the armchair and calmly said to me … ‘Quite the diplomat aren’t you Ignatius?’ I remember distinctly those words … and they were not said in a complimentary way either. He asked me to go on … what did I really and honestly think of him.

“So I swallowed hard Donald … I knew what he wanted me to say but I was too scared to say it. He nodded gently to encourage me …

“And very quietly I mumbled that he had denied Christ three times …

“He looked me straight in the eye and all gentleness seemed to have gone from his face. He waved his hand gently at me, still holding a half-eaten chocolate biscuit, as if to reprimand me … you know, as we do with our finger when we point at a little child, and then he said, ‘After over two thousand years you people still hold that against me! And you call yourselves forgiving Christians … The Lord Himself forgave me with His knowledgeable look full of love and pity for me. But you Christians still bring this matter up …

“And it’s the same with Thomas … Whenever I meet him he says that the only thing that people remember about him is his doubting, and they can’t relate anything else he did after that.

“Well let me tell you something clever Ignatius that you are’ … That’s what St Peter called me, Donald. ‘Clever Ignatius that you are'.

“Let me tell you something … Have you ever considered what would have happened if I did not deny our Lord? I would have most probably been taken by the crowd and hung from the nearest tree …

“They were horrible they were … and angry and wild. Those same people who pretended to love Him, whom He had healed and taught over the years suddenly became very wild. They became angry, almost feral … And of course I was scared. They were probably scared too, you know. They had to act this way because acting any differently would have resulted in them being hanged too!

“And by denying Christ, the Son of our God, I unwittingly set in course the chain of events which followed. Jesus knew exactly why I had to deny Him at the time of His capture.

“After His Resurrection, when He appeared to us on the shore of the lake as we were fishing; it was the third time Jesus appeared to us after He was raised from death … We had just eaten together, and Jesus asked me three times if I loved Him. And every time I said yes He asked me to take care of His lambs and His sheep!’ ”

After a short silence Father Donald asked “What happened then Ignatius? When St Peter told you that?”

Father Ignatius replied.

“Well, he finished eating his biscuit and then he asked me whether I thought I had done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep …

“Before I could answer … I just woke up!”

“That’s quite a dream …” said Father Donald, “and quite a message from St Peter.

“Christ knew precisely why Peter had to be spared at the time of His capture … in order to lead the Disciples and the Church!”

Sunday, 8 April 2018

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.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Can we really trust God?


It is natural, of course, for children to trust their parents. They accept without questionning that their parents love them and will  "not give them a stone if they ask for bread" or "give them a snake when they ask for a fish" (Luke 11:11).

This natural trust which we all have at birth continues as we grow up until some day someone hurts us for the first time. We become wary and careful to protect our vulnerability. Our trust dies a little. We become more selective in whom we trust and how much we trust different people.

It is in our nature to be careful and self-protective in this way. To trust everyone explicitly without question borders on immaturity or naivety to the extreme.

So, how do we get to totally trust an unseen God? A God we have grown to believe in, and now we purport to trust that He loves us and has our best interest at heart?

How do we trust Him when/if we've experienced frequent un-answered prayers; or when things go wrong in our lives?

Sure, it is easy to say glibly, "Trust in God", He wants the best for us, He loves us, and so on.

But at what point do we really trust Him above all else and say, "Thy will be done", and honestly mean it?

Regardless of the outcome of the situation, however bad it may be, we trust Him all the same. Because we know deep in our hearts that He will see us through our current difficulties.

It seems impossible doesn't it? To totally trust an unseen God without question. Just like a child.

But we have examples of others who have done just that.

The Virgin Mary trusted Him so much that she declared, "let it be as God says", when she was visited by the Angel Gabriel.

Joseph trusted Him too when he took Mary as his wife.

Paul, Peter and the other early followers of Christ trusted Him too even when thrown into jail several times, were beaten, persecuted, stoned and put to death. They didn't say, "Enough with all that. God has let us down many times and let us be imprisoned and beaten".

They still held on to their trust. Even to the point of death itself. They still trusted God and His Son Jesus.

How?

I suppose it is by surrendering their all to God. Literally giving their everything, their lives even, to God, in the full knowledge that, whatever happens, it will be for the good. They literally accepted that their lives were not their own and that their God, the God in Whom they trusted, would protect them even if it meant that they would die for Him.

These days of macho-liberated culture, we tend to consider surrender as a weakness.

In fact it is a strength.

Can you imagine the will-power and concentration of mind required to say, "I totally trust you God, no matter what happens. You will look after me and my loved ones"?

And really believe it ... yes, really and truly believe it.

To be one thousand per cent certain that all will turn out all right?

This is no sign of weakness, no sign of surrender; but an act of strength and faith in the extreme.

To many this may seem impossible. Too difficult a proposition. Against our very nature to be wary and suspicious.

Perhaps so. But it should not stop us from trying.

And when our trust falters. When we hesitate and perhaps our "inner voice" makes us doubt His true love. We stop, ask His forgiveness, and start once again.

Through His grace He will lift us up and renew our trust in Him once again.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

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, 2 April 2018

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.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...