Thursday 29 July 2010

The Millionaire (Part 3).

It was such a lovely, sunny and warm day when Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric sixty year old millionaire, was due to marry his beloved Rose Leamington.

St Vincent Church had been thoroughly cleaned, not just a quick run-through with a vacuum cleaner, but a proper cleaning reserved only for Easter and Christmas.

Flowers adorned every available space … on the Altar, by every statue around the church, at the end of every pew; and little bouquets were also given to every lady attending as they came in.

It must have been a florist’s dream to have acquired such a contract from Luxton-Joyce … in fact, if truth be known, the contracts, because there were more than one, went to three local florists.

None of them could cope with the demands on their own. So one florist provided flowers for the Altar and statues, another made little bunches of posies tied in pink ribbon which were attached at either end of each pew in church, whilst the third florist provided the small bouquets to hand out to the ladies present.

The church was full to capacity. Everyone was there. Theodore’s relatives and friends, and his entourage of staff, of course. Rose’s relatives and friends. And everyone else in town who had heard the news and wanted to come in for a good look. Marriages are after all public affairs … and you can’t keep people out of church can you?

Yes … everyone who’s anyone was there … Theodore had invited the Mayor who was sitting there up-front in his ceremonial chains of office, the local Member of Parliament who was there too, a few leaders of the Town Council, the Chief of Police, the Chief of Fire Brigade Services and the Head of the local Hospital … Even Theodore’s local postman was there! He had been personally invited by Theodore one morning as he met him in the street delivering the mail.

Father Ignatius and twelve Altar servers were ready to make their entrance from the Sacristy. The organist played a selection of appropriate hymns and matrimonial music.

Rose stood there by the Altar looking radiant in her light pink silk dress and holding a small bouquet of red roses – to match her beautiful name … as Theodore would often say!

Everyone was ready for the bell by the Sacristy to ring and for the ceremony to begin.

Everyone that is … except for Theodore. Because he wasn’t there.

In fact he was 40 minutes late to be precise …

Rose’s Rolls-Royce had arrived on time and had been asked to go round the block once … twice … three times … until eventually she came out and got into church.

She posed for some obligatory pictures by the Rolls for the official photographer and for the local press who’d come out to record the event, and then proceeded down the aisle as normal and waited with dignity up front.

Although most people glanced surreptitiously at their watches every now and then, she stood up front facing the Altar for the last ten minutes or so. She knew in her heart that Theodore would not let her down … she did what she always did at moments of stress like this, almost as a reflex action on her part; she started reciting the Rosary silently in her head.

She’d only half-finished the second decade when there was a loud whirring noise outside the church. It seemed to hover around the building getting louder and louder as it moved from the back of the church to somewhere towards the Parish house nearby.

Curiosity got the best of most people as they stood in turn and filed out of the church from every available exit. She maintained her dignity throughout and walked into the Sacristy where she was met by Father Ignatius.

He led her outside through the Sacristy’s back door and there in the air was a large yellow helicopter attempting to land on a flat area in the church’s grounds.

Most people ran towards it to see what was going on. The priest held her arm gently and they walked together through the gardens and onto the field beyond.

The helicopter eventually landed and everyone stood there until its noisy rotors eventually came to a silent stop. The helicopter door finally opened and out came Theodore in full Scottish costume … bright red Luxton Clan tartan kilt, a red beret and carrying a giant claymore in his hand.

He was followed by another man also in full Scottish costume, albeit in a green tartan kilt, carrying a set of bagpipes. He stood by the helicopter and started playing the bagpipes.

“Not now …” shouted Theodore as he walked towards the crowd trying to find his beloved amongst them.

As soon as he saw her with Father Ignatius he headed towards her, stuck the claymore forcibly into the ground, and still holding it, and to the delight of the waiting photographers, he went down on one knee, took hold of Rose’s hand and kissed it.

“I’m sorry I’m a trifle late my dear,” he said, “… as I shall explain presently!”

Then turning to the waiting crowd he said loudly “I am sorry I kept you waiting folks …

“This here is Gregor McBurnish, the finest piper that ever lived … he rang me at home this morning after everyone had left to say his car would not start … not an English car you know … very bad show I say … don’t you agree?

“Fortunately I was already dressed and prepared to drive to church … so off I drove some twenty miles North instead and went to his home … picked him up … not forgetting the bagpipes of course … very important … what’s the use of Gregor without the bagpipes …

“And then I thought I’d never make it here in time … so a quick detour to the local friendly airfield where I picked up this little flying machine … lucky I learnt to fly in the Air Force … Gregor here taught me … he taught me to play the bagpipes too … as you’ll be delighted to hear later.”

Then turning to his fiancĂ©e he added, “shall we get on with it then?”

The rest of the day went on with no further incidents. After the church ceremony, two coaches arrived to take invited guests to a local seaside resort not far away. There they boarded a luxury yacht which sailed a few miles out to sea where they had the most memorable party ever.

And Theodore did get to play Chopin’s Concerto No 1 … not on the bagpipes though as he intended. Rose convinced him to play it on a small piano instead … which he did very well.

Tuesday 27 July 2010

The Millionaire (Part 2).

Father Ignatius had been invited once again to Theodore Luxton-Joyce’s mansion in the country. This time the eccentric millionaire wanted the priest to meet his bride-to-be and to discuss the arrangements for the forthcoming wedding.

There was no way that Theodore would agree to such a meeting at St Vincent Church. “It isn’t done old boy …” he said to the priest on the phone, “one cannot be seen in public accompanied by a woman if she isn’t one’s wife you know …

“We do meet from time to time, in secret of course, at the Grand Hotel tea rooms where we enjoy a cup of chai and cream cakes … but I always make a point of telling the concierge there that it is purely business … she is after all my accountant’s mother you know … and for all any body cares we may well be discussing my finances …”

“I understand,” said the priest shuffling through his diary for a free date.

“After all … you’re not seen in public with ladies are you Padre?” asked Theodore not thinking what he had just said.

“I try not to …” replied Father Ignatius raising his eyebrows to the sky and scribbling an agreed date in his diary.

On the appointed day Father Ignatius was led to the Reading Room by Theodore’s butler.

It was a large well-furnished room annexing the Library with a small table at one end with three leather armchairs around it, and another large table at the other end on which a tea service had already been set.

Theodore and an elegant tall lady stood by the armchairs. Father Ignatius walked towards them and was welcomed by his host.

“Hello Padre …” said Theodore, “how gracious of you to attend once again. May I introduce you to Mrs Leamington, the lady whom I spoke to you about at our last encounter …”

Mrs Leamington shook the priest’s hand and said smiling, “does he always speak like that?”

Father Ignatius smiled back and said nothing.

Theodore missed the comment altogether and proceeded to say, “My dear … this is Father Ignatius … the priest at St Vincent I referred to in our previous conversation …”

“Yes … I gathered …” she replied sweetly as they sat down, but not before Father Ignatius noticed that the three leather armchairs were emblazoned in gold with the letters TLJ.

No sooner had they sat down that a maid came in the room and placed a plate with a large chocolate cake on the table at the other end of the room. She was accompanied by another maid, a little older, carrying a pot of tea and a pot of coffee on a large tray. The butler waited until they placed their trays on the table and he followed them out closing the door behind him.

“Let me serve you some refreshments,” said Mrs Leamington standing up, “would you like tea or coffee Father?”

“Tea please …” replied the priest as she walked to the other end of the large room.

“Tell you what Padre …” said Theodore, “we went to a lovely new restaurant in town last night … just off the High Street … I can really recommend it … can’t remember the name right now …”

Then he lent a little forward in his armchair and whispered to the priest, “what do you call that red flower you give someone when you’re in love?”

“A rose?” whispered the priest.

“Jolly good …” cried out Theodore, and then looking at the other end of the room, “Rose … what’s the name of that restaurant we went to last night?”

“The Golden Cup” said Rose as she joined them to the table with a tray full of drinks and cake.

“Ha ha ha …” chortled Theodore and winking at the priest, “I bet you thought I’d say the restaurant was called Rose … hein Padre?”

Father Ignatius smiled.

“OK … down to business …” said Theodore taking control as ever. “As you may know Padre … I am half English and half Scottish … and proud of both I tell you.”

“I didn’t know,” mumbled the priest.

“My father Lord Joyce was as English as you can be … generations of English blood leading back to monarchy I tell you …” said Theodore proudly, “I once traced our family tree all the way back to the time my ancestors lived in it …”

He laughed heartily at his own joke, and went on.

“Anyway … Lord Joyce married Morag Luxton of the Clan Luxton from Northern Scotland. She was an only child and there was no way her father would see the family name die out on marriage. So my father when he wed her changed his name to Luxton-Joyce.

“That red tartan on the wall is her family’s colors. I have bought a lot of cloth and had a pair of trousers made of the stuff and a kilt too …”

“I see …” said the priest gently, calling to mind the bright red tartan trousers Theodore was wearing the last time they met.

“So bearing this in mind …” continued Theodore, as Rose poured him another cup of coffee, “I think I’ll get married in a kilt and full Scottish costume if that is OK …

“There’s no Catholic Church objection to this is there … bearing in mind the history between the Catholics and the Protestants in England and Scotland … is there?”

“No … no objection at all …” said the priest stifling a smile, “you can get married in Scottish costume if you wish …”

“That’s jolly decent of you Padre …” smiled Theodore putting down his cup, “and now something else …

“At the end … after the ceremony is over and all that … instead of departing straightaway Rose and I, … I thought if she stays there by the Altar with you I could play a short piece on the bagpipes … I’ve been practicing for some time … any objection to this from the Church?”

“No … not at all,” said Father Ignatius, “the congregation could remain seated whilst you play the bagpipes …”

“Jolly good …” enthused Theodore, “I had thought of playing this piece here …” he said handing over some music score to the priest, “Chopin Piano Concerto Number 1 … do you know it?”

“Do you intend to play Chopin piano Concerto on the bagpipes?” asked an incredulous priest.

“Better than walking up and down the center aisle carrying a grand piano …” said Theodore in all seriousness, “I have adapted it to the bagpipes you know … took me ages to re-write it but it works quite well …”

At this point Rose came to the rescue.

“Perhaps dear …” she said coyly, “you could leave the bagpipes for the reception afterwards … there would be more guests then to enjoy it …”

“Never thought of that … jolly good idea my dear …” he declared, “and so be it, … now Padre … that’s all I had in mind … any information or anything you’re unclear about for the special day?”

“Well … there are some formalities,” said Father Ignatius, “I’d like some documents such as Baptism certificates, Confirmation and …”

“Ha … paperwork ...” interrupted Theodore, “I thought as much. Fortunately Rose here has thought of that and has prepared a large file with all bits and pieces …

“Now if you’ll excuse me Padre I have an appointment with the estates manager to discuss the adjoining land we’ve just bought … so I’ll leave you to sort things out with Rose.”

And with that he stood up, kissed her hand and walked out of the room.

Sunday 25 July 2010

The millionaire.

Theodore Luxton-Joyce was a millionaire widower. He inherited wealth from his father Lord Joyce and he lived in a mansion on the edge of town in beautiful countryside surroundings. He drove a very old classic car which he prized above all else – or so it seemed, and he always wore a three-piece suit made of heavy woolen cloth and a Sherlock Holmes type hat. He carried an expensive gold watch in a small pocket in his vest with a gold chain leading up to a button hole to which it was attached.

He had a thick white toothbrush moustache punctuating a clean shaven thick set jaw and square face.

He often carried a walking stick with a silver plated lion’s head for a handle. It was just for effect of course, he being a fit and truly handsome sixty year old gentleman.

He was certainly quite a sight around town in his luxury old automobile, his attire and walking stick, not to mention of course his perfect English accent no doubt taught him in the best private schools.

He was often teased by people saying he’d been born in the wrong age; and he’d fit better in Victorian times or thereabouts. He’d chuckle heartily and say “And what grand times they were for England … I’d certainly would have improved them by my mere presence …”

Perhaps he didn’t know it, but he was a real romantic at heart, not that he would admit it to anyone of course. It would probably ruin his image, he thought, as the tough talking lord of the manor with no time for such nonsense.

Deep down, however, he was a kind and gentle man and had never forgotten his beloved departed wife. He prayed for her, as best he could, and often asked Father Ignatius to celebrate Mass for the repose of her soul; on her birthday, their wedding day and on the anniversary of her death.

But secretly of course … he never announced the Mass intention in the Church’s Newsletter as was customary in St Vincent Parish. The Mass, always on a Sunday, would be posted in the Newsletter as “Private Intention” and he’d attend and sit on the front pew, and wink gently at Father Ignatius as he came out of the Sacristy and on to the Altar.

One evening Father Ignatius visited Theodore in his mansion, at the man’s invitation, for a private chat.

Father Ignatius was rather intrigued as he waited in the large library filled with books which had never been opened or read for ages. He’d never visited the mansion before, and from what he had seen so far, he understood why people suggested Theodore was born in the wrong age. He’d only been there for half-an-hour and he’d already met the gardener busily pruning the prize rose bushes, the butler who opened the front door and the maid who brought him tea served in the best porcelain and expensive biscuits which you would certainly not find at the supermarket!

Theodore claimed he lived alone, which is strictly true, if you don’t count the live-in entourage of staff to look after the house and surrounding land.

Moments later the butler opened the door and in came Theodore. He was wearing bright red tartan trousers, a dark blue open-necked shirt and a large cravat round his neck held together by a red jewel on a ring, and a navy blue blazer with the initials TLJ embroidered in gold on the lapel.

Father Ignatius did not flinch a muscle, but smiled silently deep within his soul.

“How nice of you to agree to meet me …” said Theodore, as the butler left the room closing the door behind him, “I’d like a private chat if I may … one cannot be seen visiting you in Church you understand!”

“I understand …” said the priest sitting down again.

“Jolly good … but first let me offer you something stronger than Darjeeling tea … I have the finest selection of single malt whisky … or a glass of vintage wine if you prefer …”

Father Ignatius preferred to continue with the pot of tea, whilst Theodore helped himself to some wine.

“Well …” he hesitated, “I’d like your opinion on certain delicate matters … you being such a knowledgeable individual and all that …”

The priest smiled feebly.

“It’s about my dear wife …” he hesitated again, “I really miss her … do you think she’s in Heaven?”

“I would say so …” replied the priest hesitating in turn and wondering where this was leading to, “she was a good person, and I was there in hospital administering the last Sacraments when she died … so I would say the angels were with her that night …”

“Jolly good … jolly good …” repeated Theodore as he sipped a little wine, “I really miss her … as I said … terrible thing her dying so quickly after such a short illness …”

“I understand …” repeated the priest still confused about this conversation.

“How long is it decent to mourn for someone’s death … do you think?” asked Theodore abruptly.

“Well …” Father Ignatius was taken aback by the question, “there’s no set period of decency as such … different people deal with death in their own way and in their own time. Matilda died six years ago if I remember right …”

“You remember too damn right …” interrupted Theodore, “pardon my language Father … and not a day passes by without me thinking about her and hoping she’d be with me here …”

The priest said nothing and put his cup down on the table.

“Is it right for an old man like me to be in love?” he asked, “I am 60 you know …”

“There is no set age to be in love …” continued the priest gently as he was interrupted once again.

“The thing is … I love my wife … I love her dearly believe me … But …” he hesitated once again, and the priest said nothing, now totally baffled at what was going on here.

“Ok … let’s get to the point …” Theodore blurted out putting down his glass of wine, “the thing is I have needed an accountant for the last six months or so. I don’t have a head for figures and all that … it is all Greek to me … yet the tax people want the accounts properly audited and all that … sheer nonsense I say … so I spoke to my solicitors … you probably know them … Sterling Cash and Banks in the High Street …”

The priest nodded silently, now totally overcome with confusion at what Theodore was leading to.

“Anyway …” said Theodore, “the solicitors put me in touch with this accountant … Geraldine Leamington … a lovely young lady of thirty odd years … she’s very competent you know … if ever you want an accountant to do the Sunday collection for you …

“Anyway … as I said … Geraldine has been coming here for at least six months now … she’s like a magician you know … she went through those figures like a hot knife through butter … she checked the books for the past six years … I’d made a right mess of them apparently … all Greek to me as I say …

“Ha ha …” he laughed heartily pouring himself another glass of wine, “turns out I’d made such a pig’s ear of the accounts that the tax man apparently owes me money … I’ve been overpaying for years … she managed to claim back a tidy sum I tell you … I received the check from the tax man last week …

“You don’t need her to count the Sunday collection do you?”

“No thanks …” mumbled Father Ignatius politely.

“Back to business …” continued Theodore, “the thing is … she’s been coming here for six months or so and we got to know each other and her family … and, not to put too fine a point on it, I’ve fallen in love again and wish to get married … is that all right do you think?”

“You wish to marry the young lady?” asked the priest cautiously.

“Of course not …” said Theodore getting a little red in the face, “what do you think I am? She is half my age you know … wouldn’t have the energy old boy …

“No … you’re way off beam Padre … I wish to marry her mother. She’s a widow … about my age … fifty-nine actually … but don’t tell her I told you. Women you know … they never reveal their age apparently …

“I’ve been meeting Geraldine’s mother in secret for a while … we meet in the Grand Hotel for tea … do you know it … in the High Street.

“We get on rather well … but I’m not so sure about love at my age … is it possible? And is it OK to marry again? Will my dear wife understand?”

Father Ignatius asked for a drop of vintage whisky to calm his nerves a little.

The wedding is scheduled in four months time at St Vincent Church with Father Ignatius officiating.

Theodore has still to decide on what music will be played in church on that day. Father Ignatius suggested that he leaves all decisions to his bride to be … at least then matters would be organized in time!

Saturday 24 July 2010

Divorce, annulment and re-marriage.

My previous post "Father Ignatius, Joanna and George" has sparked a lively discussion here and elsewhere on Blogland.

In writing the fictitious story, I researched as best I can the Catholic Church's current position on divorce and re-marriage; with or without a Catholic annulment. Read the post and comments for a quick flavor of the discussion thus far.

I had hoped that a priest or someone from the Catholic Church "in the know" would correct or confirm the views expressed on that post. This is yet to happen.

There is no doubt that the Church's position on divorce, annulments and re-marriage results in a lot of hurt in an already painful situation for many. As a result, many leave the Church altogether, or worse still, distance themselves from God.

It seems to many that, in dealing with the situation, the Church appears to forget an important factor.

God is love and God is forgiveness.

He forgives many sins far more serious than divorce, and when sin is forgiven the person is healed to go on with their lives once again.

Christ proved this many times when He forgave sinners and told them to go in peace.

The Church appears to withhold forgiveness in the case of divorce in some instances by not granting annulments - and regardless whether the individual has repented to God, in Confession even.

Some individuals are further punished through excommunication if they marry again in another Church or in civil ceremonies.

This seems to imply that the power and authority of the Church is higher than that of God as they withhold what God has forgiven.

Such views have been expressed to me several times.

Friday 23 July 2010

Father Ignatius, Joanna and George.

A few months after Joanna Hill was unwittingly introduced to George Lomas by Father Ignatius, the couple fell deeply in love.

One evening they visited Father Ignatius in the Parish House, and after they had settled down to tea and biscuits George said:

“Father … we have some good news. Joanna and I are in love and we would like to get married. We hope you’ll do the honours, so to speak …”

“That’s good news for you two …” said the priest gently, “but there’s some difficulty with me officiating at your wedding …”

“I don’t understand …” said Joanna somewhat concerned at the news.

“You are divorced Joanna …” said Father Ignatius in his gentle voice, “the Catholic Church does not recognize your divorce … you are still married and therefore you cannot marry again in Church …”

“What do you mean?” said George, “she is properly divorced in Court …”

“Yes … that may well be so …” continued the priest, “that’s a civil divorce, but unless the marriage was annulled by the Church she is still married … the Church bases its teaching on the words of Christ … ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her: and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery,’ ”

“But that’s crazy …” interrupted George raising his voice a little, “are you saying that if I, as a single man never having been married … if I go around with various women, you’d forgive me in Confession. But if she marries me you’re accusing her of the graver sin of adultery?”

“Joanna was married in a Catholic Church, this one I believe, to a Catholic man and her being Catholic …” explained the priest still maintaining his composure, “this being the case … and seeing that the marriage was not annulled by the Church, then she is still married …”

“Hold on a minute …” George interrupted again, not noticing for a moment that poor Joanna was wiping her tears silently, “you said she married in a Catholic Church … so if she had married in an Anglican Church, or any other church, you would not have recognized the marriage …”

“That is strictly true …” said Father Ignatius, “if Joanna as a Catholic had married in an Anglican Church without the permission of the Catholic Church, and without the presence of a Catholic priest, then that marriage would not have been valid in the eyes of the Catholic Church. And in all probability she would have been able to marry again in the Catholic Church …”

“This is totally mad …” said George getting a little angry, and still ignoring Joanna, “she married at 19 Father … and divorced her husband when she was 22. She was a mere child when he walked out on her and left her holding the baby … literally.

“That was over ten years ago Father … At the time she hardly cared about the Catholic Church … if truth be known … and hardly bothered to seek an annulment … assuming this would have been possible without a Catholic inquisition …”

“George … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly.

“I’m sorry love …” he replied holding her hand gently, “I hate to see the Church … our Church … mistreat you so …

“I’m sorry Father for getting angry …” he apologized to the priest, “but you can see our dilemma …

“For whatever reason, regardless of who was innocent and who was at fault, this young couple in their early twenties divorced in a Civil Court.

“Is the Church seriously suggesting that Joanna cannot be intimate with a man for the rest of her life? Or else you’ll accuse her of adultery? Is that reasonable Father?

“Or do you want her to come to confess every time the two of us go to bed when we’re married?”

“Stop it … stop it …” Joanna cried loudly … “this has gone too far … I want to go home …”

She stood up and made her way out of the room followed by George.

Father Ignatius followed them silently to the front door, not having the chance to explain himself or the Church’s position.

The couple married in the Civil Court three months later.

Thursday 22 July 2010

Unwitting deception.

No matter how much one tries, there comes a time when we unwittingly do something that helps someone else in a deception; as Father Ignatius can well relate in this story.

Joanna Hill was a divorced woman of thirty something. She married young and had a son of ten living with her.

Just after her son was born, her husband went away with another woman, and eventually Joanna and Tim divorced in court.

Joanna came to see Father Ignatius with a problem.

“Father … my ex husband Tim has been in touch and he wants us to meet gain. After all these years … I haven’t seen him or spoken to him for ages … he hasn’t kept in touch nor helped with our son’s up-bringing. Now he wants to meet … what do you think I should do?”

“Has he said why he wants to meet?” asked Father Ignatius gently.

“No Father … he wrote a letter saying he lives in Manchester, which is some distance away … and he wants to keep in touch. Be friendly like … I really don’t want him back in my life. But it’s not right to keep our son from him … although it would confuse him to see his father for the first time ever …”

“I understand your difficulty …” said the kind priest, “I suggest that if you were to meet him to take a friend with you. Don’t take your son on the first visit. See how it goes and what Tim wishes to say.

“I also think you should meet him in a public place … a restaurant perhaps.”

“Thank you Father …” Joanna said, and then with hesitation, “the other problem is that Manchester is so far away, it requires two train changes and …”

“I understand …” repeated the priest, knowing full well that she could not possibly afford the train journey to Manchester, “a friend of mine runs a car-hire business, George Lomas, I’ll have a word with him … get in touch with him in a day or so …”

A few weeks later Father Ignatius met Joanna at a coffee meeting in the Parish Center. He sat at her table and asked discreetly about her visit to Manchester.

“Oh it was wonderful Father …” she said, her eyes gleaming brightly at the thought, “I went to see George Lomas as you said …

“He’s such a kind man … I told him my whole story …

“So he suggested that as he was going to Manchester himself that I should go with him.

“We went in a flash car, some kind of limousine or such like posh car. It was chauffeur driven … it was.

“I sat at the back with George, and at the front he had two well-built men in dark suits … they looked like bodyguards, they were so big."

She stopped to catch her breath and sip a little coffee.

“I arranged to meet my ex-husband at a restaurant as you said … I asked him to wait outside.

“I arrived in this posh car … you should have seen me … like a proper lady I was …

“The big man at the front came out and opened the car door for me …

“Then the car drove away with George and the other bodyguard.

“My bodyguard stood politely at a distance whilst I talked to my ex in the street … then he opened the restaurant door for me … we sat at a table and the bodyguard person went to the bar … keeping an eye on us all the time …

“My ex was proper impressed I tell you. He didn’t want anything in particular … he just asked how I was and didn’t even bother to ask about our son, or how he was. Luckily, I didn’t tell our son that I was meeting my ex … I didn’t want to upset him.

“We just had a coffee at the restaurant … which I paid for may I add. And then he said that he had to go … he said he hoped to immigrate either to Canada or Australia … hadn’t made his mind up … and thought he’d see me before he went."

She stopped again for more coffee, and just as Father Ignatius was about to speak, she continued.

“When we finished the bodyguard man phoned somebody and the car arrived without George. We went to pick up George from some business meeting and as he’d finished early he took me round Manchester.

“We went to a lovely exclusive restaurant for a meal … it was ever so lovely. I really enjoyed the day with George.”

“I see …” said the priest pensively, “but your ex-husband must have got the wrong impression surely … seeing you in a chauffeur driven car with an escort …”

“I didn’t give him the wrong impression Father …” she said smiling broadly, “he asked who was the man accompanying me and I said ‘a friend’. Which strictly speaking the bodyguard was!

“He didn’t see George in the car because of the dark windows … but he asked whose car it was … and I said ‘it belonged to a friend’ which is also true.

“He said it was a great looking car and he was happy for me to have such good friends. I bet he was green with envy inside. But I did not lie did I?”

Father Ignatius smiled weakly and said nothing.

“Oh …” she added, “George is such a nice man … thank you for introducing us Father!”

Friday 16 July 2010

Father Ignatius - A Description.

This is just for fun.

Crystal Mary said something interesting in the comment box the other day. I quote: "I picture him (Fr Ignatius) as slightly overweight and with white hair and a sweet face."

I replied: "You know ... I never quite describe Father Ignatius ... either in my books or in these stories. I just say that he wears glasses which he sometimes cleans unnecessarily just to buy him some time before speaking.

The reason for this is because I'd like each reader to imagine him as they wish. Each has his/her own "Father Ignatius" so to speak."

This set me thinking.

How do YOU imagine Father Ignatius looks like? How is he in your mind's eye? Tall, short, thin, fat, with a beard, a moustache, curly hair, bald ... etc?

Of course, I cannot give you my description because this would spoil the illusion each one of you has of your particular Father Ignatius.

God bless.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

In her hour of need.

Father Ignatius was in the Sacristy after morning Mass on Wednesday when Henry, a young Altar server, came in and said:

“Father I was off to school and I noticed there’s a woman at the back of the church crying loudly …”

“Thank you Henry … it’s good of you to tell me …” said the priest calmly, “you go to school … I’ll deal with it …”

Moments later the priest entered the empty church and walked towards the back. He approached the woman and sat calmly on the pew a few feet away from her.

She raised her head and got up from a kneeling position and sat down. Father Ignatius had never met her before. She wiped her eyes with a handkerchief and stopped crying loudly.

She looked at him and said:

“I’m sorry Father to make such a scene in church …”

He smiled and said nothing for a second or two … then he said gently, “If Jesus was here with you right now … do you know what He would say?”

She shook her head and wiped her nose with the handkerchief.

“He would say ‘Peace be with you’ … those would be His first words as a start …”

He stopped for a while, and then continued, “and slowly, His peace would be upon you and you would slowly calm down …

“And then you would get to know, and realize, perhaps for the first time … that He truly loves you and cares for you …

“Because Jesus loves us all … individually … each according to his or her needs …”

“Even me?” she asked calming down a little.

“Especially you …” continued Father Ignatius, “He cares for you as a child of God … and no matter what hurts you right now, He shares that pain and wishes to help you relieve it … all you need do is trust Him and speak to Him freely … He will lead you to His peace as He has done to so many others …”

“Thank you Father …” she said, “that’s very helpful.”

“In the meantime,” continued Father Ignatius, “if there is anything I can do to help … let me know … when you’re ready of course …”

“No thanks Father … I think I’ve just witnessed Jesus’ presence …”

And with that she left the church with a lighter heart.

She has been back to church every Sunday ever since … and no one knows the reason for her upset on that day she first met Father Ignatius.

Saturday 10 July 2010

Nobody's Child.

“Father we’ve got Tom home at last …” said the voice at the end of the phone, “we’d be ever so pleased if you could come and meet him some time today … we could also discuss the Baptism arrangements …”

Father Ignatius put the phone back on its cradle and praised the Lord for answering long standing desperate prayers.

The call was from Gerry Hedge. He and his wife had been planning to start a family for many years. They’d been for several medical tests both at the local hospital and at a specialist hospital in London and had seen several consultants and various doctors over the years. They had even traveled abroad for special medical treatment and tests but finally they had to accept that they could not have children.

After the heartache and hurt slowly died down they decided to adopt instead. But even that was an event fraught with many difficulties. The Authorities made them jump through many bureaucratic hoops and checked and double-checked every aspect of their lives, relations and friends. They checked their annual income, future prospects, suitability for adoption, housing standards and so on and so forth for an interminable period of time.

Father Ignatius was asked to act as a character referee for the couple and he was interviewed in no fewer than three separate occasions.

And at last … at long last … they had managed to legally adopt little Tom and they had now brought him home.

Their joy was immeasurable and little Tom would indeed be loved as no child has ever been loved before …

Father Ignatius left his office and rushed to the local shops to buy a little present for the new child in the Hedge’s household.

And that evening he was indeed well pleased and honored to visit the happy couple and be the first to meet their new son and to discuss the forthcoming Baptism arrangements.

As he parked his old car next to the sparkling new top of the range model currently driven by Gerry Hedge, Father Ignatius stopped for a while to admire the view.

He’d been to their mansion in the countryside many times, and had indeed enjoyed their lavish hospitality on several occasions, but surely never had he visited them for such a joyous and happy event as this time.

He walked slowly up the graveled path towards the front door and rang the bell. Moments later the door was opened by Stuart the butler who led him to the main living room.

Lana and Gerry Hedge greeted him warmly as he sat down in his usual armchair.

Little Tom was sitting on the floor facing the TV and listening intently. He was about one year old with light blond hair and the most beautiful face you could imagine.

Father Ignatius leaned a little forward in his armchair and handed Tom a little package containing his present, “Hello Tom … look what I got for you …” he said in his gentle soothing voice.

The little boy did not react whatsoever and continued staring at the TV set.

“He can’t see you Father …” said Lana calmly.

Father Ignatius was taken aback at what he’d just heard and moved backwards in his chair still holding the package and looking at Lana in puzzlement.

“He is blind Father … he’s born blind … something to do with his mother’s addictions …” continued Lana calmly.

“I see …” said the priest, and quickly bit his lip at the inappropriateness of what he’d just said.

“He’s been at the adoption society since he was born … and no one had ever even bothered to consider him …” said Lana.

Gerry Hedge sat in the sofa saying nothing. Lana continued.

“I fell in love with him the moment I saw him …” she said, “even though the staff at the adoption society tried to discourage us … saying that he’ll require a lot of care and attention …”

“We’ll make damn sure he gets all the care and attention he needs …” declared Gerry sitting beside her, “he’ll go short of nothing I assure you Father … we’ll make sure of that … mark my word!”

“I am sure you are right …” said Father Ignatius “and I look forward to having him as one of the Altar servers in due course …”

“Ah … but first we must discuss the Baptism arrangements …” said Gerry standing up, “now what will it be Father … a glass of French Champagne or the best 12 years old single malt whisky to ever leave Scotland?”

Wednesday 7 July 2010


Father Ignatius was very observant. He knew most of his parishioners by name and he noticed their moods, habits and behaviors and he reacted to them according to circumstances.

One early evening he came out of the Sacristy and he noticed that Mrs Holingsworth was arranging the flowers on the Altar and by the numerous statues of Saints around the church silently. She usually hummed her favorite hymns under her breath whilst working; but not today.

“Everything OK Denise?” he asked with a smile.

“I suppose so Father,” she replied glumly, “I was just thinking that’s all …”

“That’s what I like about women,” he joked, “you can multi-task … we men cannot think and work at the same time …”

She said nothing.

“Is there a problem I can help with?” asked the priest tentatively.

“Well Father,” she replied as she stopped cutting the stems of the flowers to make them the same size, “I’ve received a letter from my doctor … and it upset me …”

“Do you wish to talk about it …” he asked gently.

“It’s nothing serious … the doctor said that as I am now over 60 she invited me for a medical check-up … just as a precaution …”

“Well … what’s the problem …” asked Father Ignatius, for once missing the point entirely.

“It just brought it back to me Father … I am 60 … or rather I was 60 four months ago, and I told no one about it … I’d put it at the back of my mind … and now here’s a letter reminding me once again of my age … I mean … who wants to be 60?”

“I’m sure there are many people under 60 who hope to reach that age some day …” said the priest gently, “and there are many others over 60 who wish they could turn back the clock … but that’s not the problem is it Denise?”

“Well Father … I look at my life and wonder …” she stopped for a while and bit her lip, “my dear husband used to say that I will be as beautiful when I’m 60 as the day he first met me … we married when we were 20 you know …”

“I’m sure you are as beautiful as you were then,” he said trying to comfort her.

“Oh Father … are you allowed to say beautiful to a woman … you being a priest and all …”

“I didn’t realize that some words are forbidden to priests …” said Father Ignatius jokingly, “all right, I take it back. I am sure you look as you did when you first met Daniel … in fact he is looking down from Heaven right now and he agrees with me …”

She smiled finishing the flower arrangements on the Altar, and packing the debris of stems and wrapping papers to throw away.

“Look Denise … we all get at some point in our lives when we look back in fondness and look forward in trepidation perhaps,” said Father Ignatius calmly, “this is only natural. It is part of our human emotions.

“The trick though is not to dwell too much on the past or dread the future. We should trust Jesus to see us through what is to come … just as He did in the past, even though we were not aware of it …

“We should aim to live for the present … and live it as fully as possible … that’s what God wants for us. He wants us to enjoy life … not endure it in dread and trepidation …”

“Thank you …” she said managing another weak smile.

“You know Denise … there are many people spending their lives staring at tomorrow rather than living today. You know the kind … people who have their favorite set of teapot, cups and saucers made of the finest china … yet they do not use it … they keep it for a special occasion … or their favorite dinner plates and cutlery or whatever … and they still wait for that special occasion … for the day when the Queen or the Pope might visit perhaps …”

Father Ignatius smiled and then went on.

“But I can assure you that the Queen or the Pope will never visit your house … they are far too busy … so enjoy your tea set, cutlery or whatever you have right now …

“Don’t fret about your age … or what the future might bring … celebrate your achievements today, and move forward hand in hand with God.”

He stopped again to gauge her reaction.

“Do you know what I do when I’m feeling a little down?” he asked her.

She shook her head silently.

“I go across the road and get some freshly fried fish and chips from the shop opposite. Nothing makes me feel better … and it improves my waistline …

“In fact that’s where I’m going right now … Mrs Davenport has asked me to get some fish and chips as she was too busy today to prepare supper for Father Donald and I … Care to join the three of us for a fish supper … with salt and vinegar?”

“Yes please …” she replied smiling broadly.

Monday 5 July 2010

Heavenly Verdict.

A man dies and goes to Heaven.

He is surprised to be lead into a well-furnished room where St Peter is sitting at a large desk in front of a computer.

St Peter invites him to sit down and taps his details into the computer.

“I’m surprised to see a computer here,” says the man hesitantly, trying to make polite conversation, “I thought you’d have a big book with parchment paper and all our names written there …”

“Oh … that’s a common misconception,” replies St Peter, “we replaced the big books years ago … they were a bit unwieldy and heavy … and they were a bit slow to use … you know what it’s like … searching pages after pages for someone’s name …”

“Yes …” says the man nervously, “computers are much faster …”

“They sure are …” smiles St Peter clicking away on the keyboard, “a few key strokes here and there and we have all the information we need on view … the whole of one’s life is here for me to read …”

“Does the computer ever go wrong?” asks the man, sweating a little with concern about his prospects of entry, “I know they often went wrong on earth …”

“Oh yes …” replies the Saint chuckling quietly, “computers are computers whether on earth or here in Heaven … it’s just a machine … and all machines go wrong now and then … not like a book … what is written there remains there … unless it is altered or the page is torn away … which is obvious to the eye … you can easily see an alteration in a book …

“But computers sometimes freeze up … or play up every now and then and you can’t move forward to the next screen …

“Thumping the computer on the side doesn’t always work … I find that Control Alt and Delete does the trick. Either that, or I just switch it off and on again … ha ha ha … that sorts it all right!”

St Peter stops for a while chuckling to himself and scratching his long white beard before deciding what to input next on his computer.

“But … but … what if the database is wrong … an input error somewhere in the system …” splutters the man in a panic, “you could send a poor soul in the wrong place by mistake …”

“No one goes to hell by mistake … that never happens,” said the Saint confidently, “we have a fail safe system for that …

“God is supervising every transaction in another room. He has a monitor on His desk and He automatically checks every decision I make here on my computer. He is good that way … and he NEVER makes mistakes …

“The other day I had a guy here who had been a good man all his life. Never broke the law, was faithful to his wife, loved his children, worked hard … that sort of thing … he even went to church now and then.

“But he’d only done one good thing in his entire life … he once gave ten cents to a beggar in the street.

“I didn’t know what to decide … so I emailed God. A few seconds later He replied:

“ ‘Give him his ten cents back and tell him to go to hell!’ ”

Moral of the story:

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