Tuesday, 31 August 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 28 August 2010

You needed me.

Sung by Father Francis Maple.

I cried a tear
You wiped it dry
I was confused
You cleared my mind
I sold my soul
You bought it back for me
And held me high and gave me dignity
Somehow you needed me.

You gave me strength
To stand alone again
To face the world
Out on my own again
You put me high upon a pedestal
So high that I could almost see eternity
You needed me
You needed me

And I can't believe it's you I can't believe it's true
I needed you and you were there
And I'll never leave, why should I leave
I'd be a fool
'Cause I've finally found someone who really cares

You held my hand
When it was cold
When I was lost
You took me home
You gave me hope
When I was at the end
And turned my lies
Back into truth again
You even called me friend

Repeat Chorus

You needed me
You needed me

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Love Declared.

Three days after Rose had her car accident she was released from hospital and returned with Theodore Luxton-Joyce to their lovely mansion in the country.

The staff there were all pleased to see her return safe and sound. The housekeeper had arranged for a lovely “Welcome Home” cake to be baked and decorated; and Theodore asked every member of his staff to gather in the library and enjoy tea and cakes as well as his best vintage wines if they so wished.

He was overjoyed at celebrating the safe homecoming of his beloved wife, and his employees certainly helped him in the celebrations.

In fact Theodore was in such a great mood that he gave all his employees the day off. After they’d finished enjoying his hospitality in the library he arranged for a coach to call at his home and take all his employees, including the butler, to a private party on his boat moored just off shore.

“But Sir …” said Xavier the butler, “who will attend to the house and usher visitors in if we all depart together? Surely I should stay behind …”

“Nonsense … I shall hear nothing of it …” declared Theodore grandiosely, “you all go and enjoy yourselves on the boat … I can open my own front door … what?” he chuckled heartily.

When they had all left and he was alone with Rose, still in the library enjoying her cup of tea, he sat down gingerly beside her on the settee and fumbled his words … “Are you all right … my dear … what?”

“Yes Theodore …” she replied sweetly, “thank you for a lovely welcome home party.”

“Jolly good … jolly good …” he repeated searching for his next words, “is there anything you need … another cup of tea perhaps … shall I make you a sandwich? Are you hungry?”

“No thank you darling … I am fine …” she smiled coyly.

“Are you comfortable … what? Would you prefer another seat … the armchair perhaps …” continued Theodore all tongue tied.

“I am fine Theodore …” she replied gently, “I’m not an invalid you know … it was just a slight bump on the head … I am OK.”

“Jolly good show … no harm done … a slight bump … jolly good … jolly good” he repeated.

“I’m sorry I destroyed the car …” she said after a short pause.

“Oh … think nothing of it …” he declared, “I never liked the color … dark gray doesn’t suit you … what? We’ll have to choose a better color this time …”

She smiled again.

“I have something to say …” he mumbled after a while, “when you were missing … a few days ago that is … the Padre came here for a chat … he had nothing better to do I suppose … so I had to keep him occupied … what? We sat here in the library waiting for your news … The police were all over the house and I was with the Padre here all alone …

“I could see him fretting … so I had to keep his spirits up poor chap … he was worried about you no doubt … as I was too naturally … but I tried not to show it of course … I didn’t want to upset him unduly you know … so I kept him talking to keep his mind off things … We sat here and talked … what?”

“That’s kind of you,” she said, “What did you speak about?”

“Oh business you know …” he mumbled, “I told him how I have to travel a lot sometimes … stay overnight at wretched hotels … all alone in miserable parts of the country …

“I told him how it must be terrible for you here all alone … when I’m away on business. Well … all alone with the staff that is … the butler, the housekeeper, the cook … and the … the maids and …”

“Yes dear … I get the picture …” she interrupted smiling sweetly.

“Yes … quite …” Theodore rambled on, “it must be terrible for you my dear … to be here all alone with the staff when I’m away traveling …

“Do you know something Rose? I always wished you were with me on these business trips. Instead of being here all alone.

“Perhaps you could come along with me next time I’m away and you could go shopping or something like that … or visit museums when I’m on business. Most places have museums … have they not? Yes … I’m sure they have … you could come along with me and visit museums … that’s what!

“Then when I finish my meetings we could have a bite to eat together … I can never decide when I read those menus … you can help me choose … Yes … that’s another advantage of you being there with me … You can select from the menu … should have thought of that all these times I’ve traveled alone …

“Yes … I think you should come with me on business trips … then at least I won’t be alone in the hotel … the rooms are too large you know … and they look empty … you could fill any excess space in the room … what?”

“Thank you dear …” she smiled, “not elegantly put … but I understand what you mean …”

“Jolly good … capital idea …” he went on, “now that this is sorted … I’d like to add something else … I … I … I do miss your presence when I’m on these business trips you know …”

“What a nice thing to say Theodore,” she interrupted.

“Well … It’s just not the same when you’re not there old girl … wouldn’t want you at the business meetings that is … terribly boring you know … but afterwards … your presence would be most welcome at the restaurant … and the hotel …”

“I understand …” she said putting her cup down and blowing him a silent kiss.

“Ehmmm … yes quite … Yes … it would be very nice to have you there with me … I would like that very much …” he hesitated, “yes … I would like it … love it even …

“Because I love you Rose … you know that do you not? I told you I love you just before we got married … did I not … what?”

“Yes my dear …” she smiled, “you told me you love me … and I love you too. What’s led to all this Theodore … you seem very upset … I know you love me and I love you very much … here come sit closer … I need a hug!”

He shuffled a little closer as she held his arm tightly.

“It was a small accident,” she said softly, “don’t be upset … thank God I am all right and all is well … I love you very much Theo and I know you love me too …”

“Oh … well …” he hesitated again, “I’m glad that’s understood … it was that Padre you know … he implied that I don’t tell you I love you often enough … don’t know where he got the idea from … he said it’s important to tell one’s wife that one loves her … as if I didn’t know that.

“He must have been stressed poor chap … worried about you and waiting to hear your news …

“He didn’t say how often I should tell you I love you … he just said it was important to say it … Pretty obvious I thought … what? He must think I’m a fool that needs telling the obvious …”

At this point the front door bell rang and Theodore got up to answer it leaving the library door wide open.

It was Father Ignatius carrying a large bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates to welcome Rose home.

“I told her Padre …” shouted Theodore loud enough for the whole world to hear.

Father Ignatius looked at him in complete bewilderment. Theodore continued in the same loud voice “I told Rose I love her … just like you told me to do the other day …”

Rose smiled silently and pretended not to have heard a thing as the two men entered the library.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Road to discovery.

What a terrible winter evening it was that day when Father Ignatius had to visit Theodore Luxton-Joyce at his mansion.

It was about six o’clock in the evening, it was dark and it had been raining all day. It was that kind of annoying drizzle that you get for hours on end sometimes in England. Father Ignatius was glad to be indoors in the warmth when the phone rang and Theodore’s butler asked him to come over urgently. There had been some sort of emergency which he was “not at liberty to discuss on the telephone”, as the butler put it somewhat pompously.

The priest put on his coat and went out driving in the dark and in the rain. Something which he hated to do immensely.

Half-an-hour later he’d arrived at Theodore’s mansion and he noticed a police car parked outside.

The butler opened the door and said “let me take you to the library where all will be explained to you!”

Father Ignatius nodded and said nothing, following the butler and leaving a trail of water dripping from his coat and wet shoes.

Theodore was in the library with two policemen and a man in civilian clothing. As soon as he saw the priest the man in civilian clothing got up and signaled Father Ignatius out of the room again. “May I have a word Sir?” he mumbled as they walked out of the room.

Once out of the library the man asked, “Are you Father Ignatius?”

“Yes … I am” said the priest.

“It’s good you’re here Sir,” said the man, “I am Detective Chief Inspector George Drayton … we’ve been called because Mrs Luxton-Joyce has gone missing.

“She left here at about lunchtime to visit some friends down South. She drove her own car and has not phoned her husband to say she’s arrived safely, as previously arranged.

“Mr Luxton-Joyce should have heard from her two hours ago. He phoned her friends and they say she has not arrived.

“He’s in a bad state Sir … he refuses to see a doctor and he’s asked for you.

“We’re pursuing our enquiries with other police forces and hospitals … at this stage we’re keeping an open mind on what may have happened.”

“What do you mean?” asked the priest.

“Well … him being very rich and all that … anyway. I’ll keep a policeman on the premises should you need to contact us urgently …”

“You don’t mean …” Father Ignatius hesitated, “you don’t suggest she’s been kidnapped?”

“Well Sir … at this stage we have very little to go on … there would have been a phone call by now had she been abducted … we’re tracing all phone calls. I should be grateful if you could calm him down a little … in case anyone phones.”

As they entered the room again the detective nodded and the two policemen got out leaving the priest alone with Theodore.

Father Ignatius said a silent prayer in his mind, a habit he’d developed long ago, and approached Theodore quietly and placed his hand on his shoulder. The man looked up from his seat and said “Where is she Padre … why has she not phoned?”

His eyes were red albeit he maintained his composure.

“I pray it will be all right Theodore …” replied Father Ignatius gently.

“I’ve been praying too Padre … I’ve been praying so much I’m tired of praying … I doubt God is listening …”

“He is … just keep believing Theodore,” said the priest, “would you like some tea?”

Theodore shook his head.

“I couldn’t have anything … I’m so worried Padre … I couldn’t live without her … not after losing my first wife … if anything happened to her I’d die …”

“Hey … hey … hold it right there!” said Father Ignatius firmly, “you’re running ahead of yourself Theodore … just take a deep breath … that’s right … hold it there … now exhale gently. Do it again a few times.

“Let us trust in God … let’s keep calm … the police are doing all they can and they’ll let us know as soon as they hear something …”

“Yes … sorry Padre” mumbled Theodore, “but … what if she’s been kidnapped … I’d give everything to have her back …”

“Don’t even think about that for now …” interrupted the priest, “let’s keep calm shall we …”

Theodore nodded and said nothing for a few moments, sitting there staring at the telephone and willing it to ring.

“She’s changed my life since I met her …” he said eventually. “I never thought I’d meet someone else again … not after my first wife died and at my age … then Rose came into my life and changed it …”

Father Ignatius said nothing, preferring to let the man speak and perhaps calm down a little. Theodore continued.

“I so hate to be away from her … I have to travel sometimes for business and it’s hell being away from her …

“When I’m in a hotel alone I go crazy just thinking of her … when I’ve finished my business meetings and I go to my room … I dread it … I dread being there without her … I sit there and close my eyes and imagine she’s with me … I hold out my hand and it’s as if she’s there … I feel her love … I feel her presence near me …

“We may be miles apart … and when I phone her I can see her smile right there as we talk …

“And when we finish talking I just sit there in my room … I close my eyes and I’m with her … I could almost touch her … I love her so much Padre.”

Father Ignatius smiled gently.

“That’s wonderful …” he said, “have you ever told her how you feel?”

“Good Lord no …” replied the elderly man, “you don’t talk like that to a woman old boy … she’d think you’ve gone soft in the head … you must be strong old boy … expected of you and all that … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled again noticing that Theodore had rediscovered his usual impetuous character of speaking spontaneously without thinking.

“I believe you should tell her how you feel about her …” said the priest, “I’m sure Rose will love to hear what you’ve just told me … and how much she means to you …”

“But … but … it goes without saying old boy … she should know how I feel … there’s no need for me to spell it out …” blurted Theodore forgetting for a moment the situation they were in.

“No Theodore …” said Father Ignatius gently, “it does not go without saying … it needs to be said … and repeated often …”

“Sheer nonsense …” interrupted Theodore, “amorous words and lovey dovey affection is for young people … not for the likes of me and Rose …”

“That is not so …” continued Father Ignatius gently, “there is no age limit on love …

“Love is like a delicate flower which needs to be nurtured and cared for tenderly to help it grow and develop …

“I have met many couples in my days as a priest who love each other deeply … yet they never say it … they leave things unsaid … and perhaps take things for granted …

“Until sometimes it’s too late …”

The priest bit his lip as he realized he’d perhaps said too much. Theodore looked up at him as if awakened from a nightmare.

“It’s not … It’s not too late … is it Father?” he mumbled, his lip trembling uncontrollably.

It was the first time Theodore had addressed the priest as Father instead of the usual Padre which he was accustomed of using. It punctuated perhaps the seriousness of the situation and the depth of despair which Theodore had reached.

At this very moment God must have intervened, because before Father Ignatius had time to reply the door opened and the police inspector came in.

“We have some news …” he said, “Mrs Luxton-Joyce’s car was found half-an-hour ago in a ditch in a secluded country lane. It appears she took a detour on her way to her friends to avoid road-works. She lost control of her vehicle in the rain and slipped in the ditch causing her to lose consciousness. She’s been taken to hospital in an ambulance …”

“Is she all right?” shouted Theodore standing up.

“Yes sir … she appears not to have been hurt seriously … I have a car waiting to drive you to the hospital.”

Father Ignatius drove back home with a thankful heart that fateful evening when God heard his prayers once again.

And Theodore discovered for the first time not to keep his love silently hidden within his own heart.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Stand by me.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The fox.

It was a lovely warm summer afternoon. Father Ignatius had invited Theodore Luxton-Joyce and his lovely wife Rose to a barbecue in the church’s gardens. After all, the priest had been invited to the eccentric millionaire’s mansion many a time and it was perhaps appropriate that he should return the favor.

Father Donald was also there of course and had entertained the group with his guitar playing. Mrs Davenport had excelled herself in preparing a lovely meal helped by Sister Martha and a few other nuns from the Convent nearby, who had also been invited.

All in all it had been a lovely afternoon with great food and drink and a wonderful small gathering of friends enjoying themselves and each others company.

Father Donald had just finished his solo performance of some Spanish melody on the guitar when Theodore decided to change the mood of the party altogether.

“I have brought my bagpipes with me …” he declared, “they’re in the car … let me fetch them and play you a tune or two … what?”

Before anyone could react to the suggestion, he stormed out of the garden missing altogether the sideways glances between Sister Martha and Father Donald.

“He has been practicing for some time …” said Rose sweetly with a smile, “I don’t see why I should be the only one to enjoy his noise …”

“It’ll make a change from the guitar …” replied Father Donald in his broad Glaswegian accent, “and it’s great to have someone proud to be Scottish … I would have learnt to play the bagpipes myself … but it’s hard to practice when you’re brought up in the tenements of Glasgow …” he chuckled.

A few moments later Theodore re-appeared with his bagpipes in hand.

“You’re from up North Padre …” he asked Father Donald, “Do you play the bagpipes?”

“I’m afraid not …” replied the priest, “I learnt the guitar instead as a child …”

“Oh … I can teach you if you wish …” said Theodore enthusiastically, “although I can’t think off-hand of any church hymns suitable for the bagpipes …”

As he started blowing through the pipes and getting ever so redder in the face, his cheeks inflated to the point where they would explode, there was a rustling noise in the bushes at the back end of the gardens; just by the statue of Our Lady.

They all turned round towards the bushes as Theodore stopped playing, and they saw a fox come out of the bushes and fall on its side at the feet of Our Lady.

“Strange behavior …” whispered Father Donald, “I’ll go there slowly to investigate …”

The others remained in their seats by the barbecue and watched intently as the priest walked ever so slowly towards the fox, trying not to disturb it. When he was a few feet away the creature let out a scream but did not get up or even move. It just lay there baring its teeth threateningly. Father Donald stopped and then after a short while he walked backwards slowly to rejoin the group by the fire.

“It’s badly injured …” he said, “its back leg is bleeding … probably shot by a farmer in the lands just behind our gardens … or maybe bitten by some dogs …”

Theodore pulled Father Ignatius gently aside away from the group and then whispered quietly “I have my shot gun in the car Padre … shall I put it out of its misery?”

“No … that won’t be necessary Theodore … I’ll phone the Animal Welfare Society for their advice,” replied Father Ignatius, “in the meantime, get everyone in the house … luckily we’ve all finished eating.”

About half-an-hour later they all watched from the safety of the house as the Animal Welfare Society people dealt with the situation. They tried to capture the fox and take it to an animal hospital where it could be treated and looked after until it is strong enough to be released in the wild once again. Every time they approached the animal he bared its teeth again and attempted to bite his benefactors. Eventually, it was caught and taken to the hospital.

“And to think I was prepared to shoot him …” said Theodore looking out of the window, “luckily the Padre here stopped me … well done Padre!”

“That fox reminds me of our behavior …” said Father Ignatius gently as he poured his guests hot chocolate drinks just brought in by Mrs Davenport in an extra large pot.

“How so … Padre … I don’t look like a fox do I?” interrupted Theodore as Sister Martha smiled coyly.

“When things go wrong in our lives we too tend to behave like that fox,” continued Father Ignatius. “We get angry at what’s happened, we’re concerned, frightened even, about the future … we get defensive and we go on the attack. We believe that God has abandoned us; and we’ve reached the end of the line.

“When we behave like that, we shut off a channel of communication with God.

“When God is temporarily put aside, He doesn’t stop loving us, but we block His influence to do good in our lives. Like the fox, every time God tries to help us we bare our teeth in anger. Our behavior is futile and un-productive.

“The fox did not realize that by being caught he’d soon improve his hopeless situation. But we should know better, and trust our Lord rather than lash out at Him without thinking.”

“How true …” said Sister Martha, “what a good observation Ignatius.”

“Thank you Father,” said Rose, “I’ll remember that next time I feel things are getting too much!”

Theodore put his cup down and declared “Jolly good show that God doesn’t carry a shotgun … that’s what I say … what?”

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Last letter.

“Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m so sorry I left home. I couldn’t take any more arguments and shouting. I went to stay with a school friend.

Sometime later I met a man at a party and we became friends. I went to live with him and I got pregnant. He wanted me to get rid of it. I said no and he asked me to leave his apartment. I went back to my school friend. She helped me all this time I was pregnant and I had a baby boy in secret. She took me to a house of a friend where I had the baby three days ago.

I left him at the Convent and saw a nun take him in. Then I saw a police car at the Convent. I think they are looking for me. I am frightened and don’t know what to do.


Father Ignatius stopped reading the newspaper. It seems the police had no choice but to publish the letter in order to try to identify who the dead teenager found in the park was.

The priest left the breakfast table and went to his church to offer Mass for the repose of her soul.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Mother’s love.

It had been a long day and Father Ignatius had traveled to the city and driven back all on the same day; something which he hated to do, especially when he had to navigate his way through heavy city traffic.

He was a little tired so he settled down in his armchair next to the fireplace and put on his favorite classical record.

A few minutes later Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, came in and interrupted the orchestra in mid-flow. She was carrying a large tray with tea and biscuits.

“I’ve made you a lovely pot of tea Father,” she said, “and you favorite ginger biscuits.”

“Ginger biscuits?” he replied turning the volume down on the record player, “but it’s not Friday …”

“I know Father … but I thought you deserved a treat today. What with your long journey and what’s been happening at the Convent?”

The priest raised his eyebrows, “I don’t understand …” he said.

“Oh … no one has told you … have they?” she continued as she poured two cups of tea and sat down, “Sister Martha rang me earlier on and gave me the news …

“Well earlier this afternoon … at about four o’clock it was … I’m sure that’s what she said … anyway, earlier this afternoon they found a baby on the doorstep of the Convent.”

“A baby …” said Father Ignatius helping himself to another biscuit.

“Yes … a wee little mite … about a week old they say … a little boy. Mother Superior found him just by the statue of St Joseph and the Baby Jesus … you know the one … the statue outdoors by the main entrance to the Convent …”

“Yes … yes … I know …” said Father Ignatius, “what happened then?”

“Well the wee baby was crying so Mother Superior took him in … he needed changing … and probably hungry too I shouldn’t wonder … Sister Martha called the police and they took him away to the hospital to check he’s all right …”

“Dear Lord …” mumbled Father Ignatius as he said a quick silent prayer under his breath.

“What kind of person would do such a thing?” said Mrs Davenport angrily as she poured two more cups of tea, “to abandon one’s own flesh and blood like that …”

“A desperate person …” replied the priest gently, “we can only wonder what led her to such an extreme act …”

“But she’s his mother …” interrupted Mrs Davenport, “how could she … she's supposed to love him ...”

“Giving birth in itself does not make a person a loving mother …” replied Father Ignatius, “normally there is a strong unbreakable bond between the mother and child from the moment the baby is born … if not well before …

“That bond of love I believe has been created by God for our own protection from the moment we enter this world. God knows we are born totally defenseless and vulnerable so He created that special protection which is a mother’s love.

“Now I’m not saying this bond of love did not exist in this baby’s case … most probably it does … so can you imagine the terrible circumstances which led this poor desperate woman to abandon her child … as you put it.

“In fact … she did not abandon him … she could have left him anywhere and walked off … that’s abandonment … but she carefully selected the most appropriate place where he would have been found and cared for …

“No doubt she hid behind some bushes in the Convent gardens and waited for the baby to be found.”

“What … like Moses?” said Mrs Davenport, “I thought he was left floating in a basket in the river … not at a Convent!”

Father Ignatius smiled.

“Did they have Convents in Moses time?” she continued innocently.

“I don’t think so …” answered the priest as he got up to remove the record from the turntable.

“Do you think she’s Catholic … the mother that is … is that why she left him at the Convent?” went on Mrs Davenport.

“I really wouldn’t know … no doubt all will come to light sooner or later …” replied Father Ignatius patiently, “in the meantime I suggest we say a little prayer for the little child and his mother …”

At this point Father Donald entered the room.

“Did you hear the terrible news …” he asked gravely.

“Yes … I was telling Father Ignatius about it …” piped up Mrs Davenport, “they found a baby abandoned at the Convent …”

“Well … there have been further developments …” said Father Donald, “I met Sister Martha just now and she told me … they found the body of a teenage girl at the far end of the park behind some bushes … an overdose … all indications are that she’s the mother of the child … she was clutching a letter to her parents in her hand …”

Friday, 13 August 2010

Going up.

Father Ignatius parked the car outside Somerton Towers and out he came with Monsignor Thomas and Sister Martha.

Monsignor Thomas was a small man, rather rotund in stature with a red chubby face which looked like an over ripe tomato. His short body and little legs made him walk like an overfed duck, waddling from side to side as he moved.

Despite her sixty-something age, Sister Martha was very energetic and could out-run anyone half her age. She headed for the front door first and opened it for the Monsignor.

The three walked through the foyer and headed for the elevator only to be met by Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric millionaire well known to Father Ignatius.

“Hello Padre …” he shouted at the top of his voice attracting the attention of everyone in the foyer, “rather unusual seeing you here … don’t tell me you’re a businessman in priest’s clothing …” he chortled loudly.

Before Father Ignatius had time to respond to Theodore a bell rang once and the elevator doors slid open. The four of them waited for the elevator to empty and then they entered as the doors slid shut again.

Theodore was first at the controls.

“Where are you going Padre …” he asked.

“Right to the top …” replied Father Ignatius.

“Ah … same here … 13th floor … right to the top … nearer to Heaven … here we go …” joked Theodore.

The elevator moved swiftly upwards as they stood quietly looking at the numbers change on the illuminated control panel. As it reached the figure 12 it stopped violently with a loud screeching noise. Monsignor Thomas lost his footing and nearly rolled on the floor like a giant pumpkin had he not been caught by Sister Martha and Father Ignatius simultaneously.

“Blast!!!” shouted Theodore, then realizing what he’d said, “Oh … I’m ever so sorry Padre … and you too Padre … and … eh … Miss … eh … Sister … sorry Sister …”

They said nothing and as they recovered slowly from the shock Theodore took control once again. “Ah … this panel here … it should have a phone,” he said as he pulled it open.

He picked up the phone and after a second or two a voice was heard to say: “Engineers here … how can we help you?”

“Well … I’d thought you’d deliver us a pizza …” replied Theodore angrily, “but in the meantime perhaps you’d care to let us out of this cage …”

“Which elevator are you in?” asked the engineer.

“I didn’t happen to ask as I got in … it’s the one on the left in Somerton Towers …” snorted Theodore.

“Ah yes sir … it has just shown up on our emergency panel … we’ll be with you shortly …” replied the engineer as Theodore put the phone back in its place.

“Well … I hope they won’t keep us waiting for hours …” he said angrily, “I have an important meeting in a few minutes’ time …”

“I’m sure they’re doing all they can,” said Father Ignatius calmly.

“I don’t like confined spaces …” he grumbled.

“May I suggest you loosen your tie a bit Sir, and take short breaths to calm you a little …” suggested Sister Martha.

“Oh … I’m calm alright …” he retorted, “I’ve always been calm … born calm … that’s me … not crying like the rest of humanity … but I have an important meeting you know …”

Then looking up he added.

“Now normally in films there’s a trap door in the ceiling … I could find it and we can escape …”

“I hope you don’t expect me to climb up there …” said Monsignor Thomas; “I would not fit through any trap door … no matter how large …” he smiled nervously.

Theodore looked at him and politely bit his lip before saying anything.

“I tell you what Padre …” said Theodore finally, “I’ll climb up there myself … I bet there’s a lever up there which will release the door open … I’ve seen it done in films many times you know …”

“There’s no need for that …” interrupted Father Ignatius gently, fearing a heart attack or worse mishap happening to the elderly eccentric, “I’m sure the engineers will be here in no time …”

“But … but … you’re denying me the opportunity to impress your friends here Padre!” said Theodore winking at Father Ignatius with a smile.

“No one is climbing anywhere …” said Sister Martha having missed the joke completely, “let’s remain calm until help arrives. Perhaps we could recite the Rosary …”

“That would take years …” interrupted Theodore without thinking, “eh … what I meant to say … oh never mind …

“Padre … you have not introduced me to your friends … How do you do Sister and Padre … I’m Theodore Luxton-Joyce …”

“This is Sister Martha from the Convent near St Vincent Church,” said Father Ignatius introducing his companions, “and this is Monsignor Thomas representing the Bishop …”

“The Bishop? That sounds grand …” said Theodore.

“Yes … I represent the Bishop …” said the Monsignor with a smile.

“I must say … I’ve never been trapped in an elevator with two priests and a nun …” laughed Theodore, “in fact I’ve never been trapped in an elevator ever …

“Can you imagine … if the elevator cables broke and we fell to our death … the newspaper headlines tomorrow would say … Nun and two priests go down!!!
Ha … ha … ha …” he laughed heartily.

They smiled politely and said nothing. Theodore looked at his watch and said,

“Damn those engineers … my meeting should have started twenty minutes ago.

“It’s very important … what? It’s a hearing about some stupid objection or other … Coston Enterprises are being blocked by some non-sense argument from some group or other …”

“Did you say Coston Enterprises?” asked Father Ignatius politely.

“Yes … that’s me …” replied Theodore, “I own Coston Enterprises … we hope to build a farm on a stretch of land up the hill West of town … pigs mainly … high demand for pork these days … bacon … sausages … pork chops and all that … I had my eyes on two pieces of land to choose from, so I settled West of town … just up the hill …

“Unfortunately some group or other has complained to the Local Authority. Spoiling the environment … they say. What nonsense I say … That’s what this meeting is all about … I’ve come to put an end to all their objections … can’t stand in the way of farming you know … business is business after all … what?”

“That’s us, Theodore!” said Father Ignatius.

“Us what?” asked Theodore, still not getting the point.

“We are the ones who objected to your proposals,” continued Father Ignatius as Sister Martha stopped reciting the Rosary abruptly, and the Monsignor gestured secretly to Father Ignatius to say nothing more.

“What?” shouted Theodore, “you are the Diocesan Property Holdings Trust Fund? Why didn’t you say so … old boy?”

“Yes … Theodore …” continued Father Ignatius, “it’s a Trust Fund managed by the Bishop. The Monsignor and I represent St Vincent Church, Sister Martha represents the Convent nearby.

“The land you propose to farm on backs onto our joint land, the Church and the Convent. And we feel that a pig’s farm … well … it may cause some smell … and …”

“Some smell !!!” shouted Theodore, “Some smell you say? It will be a right proper stinko Padre … I can assure you … have you never been on a pig’s farm … what? They do smell to high Heaven I tell you … but that’s what pigs do … they smell all right … but they taste nice too …”

“Yes … quite …” mumbled Father Ignatius politely.

“Well … why did you not tell me Padre? Instead of all this objection nonsense … I’ve had to read reams of papers because of you … well not read them exactly … just looked at the headings and decided it was all nonsense.

“You have my phone number have you not? You could have rung me or Rose … that’s my wife …” he said to the Monsignor and Sister Martha, “jolly nice woman … what? The Padre here married us … I wouldn’t have had the courage if it wasn’t for him …

“Yes … you should have phoned me Padre and we could have discussed it over a cup of chai and biscuits …”

“I didn’t know you own Coston Enterprises …” said Father Ignatius.

“And how was I to know you’re the Diocesan Property something or other …” chuckled Theodore, “ha … ha … just had a thought Padre … the stink from the pig’s farm wouldn’t half compete with your incense on Sunday … what?”

“So … we objected on the grounds …” Father Ignatius hesitated.

“Oh … think nothing of it … Padre” interrupted Theodore, “I’ll build the farm on the other piece of land … nearer the highway … easier access and all that …

“I can always plant various vegetables just behind your land … no objection to that I hope? Or would you prefer sweet smelling flowers … what?”

Father Ignatius looked at the Monsignor who shook his head and smiled. Sister Martha said that they’d have no objection either to turning the land to arable use. Just then the engineers opened the elevator doors and let them out.

“Well then …” suggested Theodore, “I propose we go to the Grand Hotel to celebrate with a sumptuous lunch … my treat … I used to go there with Rose you know … jolly nice … the restaurant that is … oh … and Rose too … of course … she’s jolly nice too … what?”

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

What will matter ...

Monday, 9 August 2010

As I forgave you ...

My post "Hard Forgiveness" has raised a number of issues both on this Blog and privately through people who e-mailed me or discussed it with me having read it.

I feel there are a few points worth considering here.

First of all, we are humans. We can't help it ... that's the way we are, the way God made us, with a multitude of various emotions, fears, hopes and ways of interpreting many situations in our lives. We're complex creatures. He had His reasons to create us this way.

Being human ... one of our first instincts is to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Another feature of our humanity is the ability to remember ... the good times, but more specifically the bad times. The worst they are, the more terrible they've been, the more they are imprinted in our memories. Anything can and will trigger these memories again ... visiting a place, seeing a photo, hearing a particular song ... anything ... and the bad memories come flooding back again. That's the price we pay for being human.

Christ said: "Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who hurt us ..."

Thank God that He does not hold us to the strict letter of this particular contract; otherwise we'd all be taking the fastest elevator going down!

Yet ... He does hold us to the intent of that particular contract we recite in the Lord's Prayer.

He asks us to forgive ... that's the important thing. Not just seven times but seventy times seven … and many times more than that as well.

Forgiving someone means that we no longer hold a grudge, or any ill-will or ill-feelings towards them or the hurt they have caused us. We let them go in peace free of fear of any revenge or retribution on our part. This applies whether we tell them that they are forgiven, or whether they have moved away, or perhaps never asked or sought our forgiveness, and perhaps they don’t even care about our feelings.

What matters is that in our hearts we have truly forgiven them … and, here’s the difficult bit, … we can prove it to God should He ask us to.

Of course the memories will come back … we can’t help that. But let’s use them positively by forgiving once again. Let’ us use them as a reminder to pray for the ones who hurt us. Let us say to God : “Please look after that person … Enlighten them and lead them to find your love as I have found it too …” Would it not be wonderful if as a result of your hurt … and your prayers … someone finds God, perhaps for the first time.

Christ has His memories too when He sees the scars in His hands, feet and side. I believe He uses these memories to forgive us yet again.

Having truly forgiven, it is our right and duty to keep our distance from that person if we feel they create a threat to us or our loved ones. Keeping our distance is NOT a sin, and it does not mean that we haven’t forgiven or that our forgiveness is worthless.

Being human we can only forgive as humans. We cannot possibly forgive as He has forgiven, no matter how hard we try.

He was human, but He was/is God too … and that’s a level of forgiveness we can never achieve.

We can only hope to live by the intent of that particular contract in the Lord’s Prayer.

God bless.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Not much is known about Jesus’ childhood. The Bible records the story of His birth in Bethlehem and the early days of His life but not much more.

We are left to wonder what He was like as a baby. Crawling on the ground and then taking His first hesitant steps. I wonder what His first words were when He spoke.

One thing for sure though. He was much loved by His earthly parents, who devoted themselves to His up-bringing, until He was ready to start His work on earth as His Father willed.

Like most parents, they must have wished many good things for Him as He grew up, even though they knew who He really was and what His mission in this world was to be.

Mary, however, carried an additional burden in her heart. She knew from those early days what was to happen. Simeon in the temple had told her: “… sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart”. Luke 2:35. Joseph was there to witness it all.

Can you imagine what they went through as parents? Knowing of the torture and Crucifixion which Christ would suffer.

And Mary, endured that pain even more as she followed her Son on the way to Calvary.

Yet … despite all that. Despite knowing well ahead what was to happen, despite witnessing the Crucifixion for herself, one thing must have sustained Mary and encouraged her throughout her ordeal: the sure knowledge that Jesus was/is the Son of God and that He will rise again from the dead.

That thought alone should help us when we too go through difficult times. No matter how difficult our situation we should hold on to the fact that our Lord, the one we profess to love and follow, is the Son of God. By His death and Resurrection He has conquered evil once and for all.

And no matter what our situation may be, we can assuredly turn to Mary, and seek her help in bearing the difficulties we go through.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Father Ignatius misunderstood.

There are times in life when misunderstandings happen, albeit well intended. And when they happen it is very difficult to rewind time and make things all right once again. As Father Ignatius found out.

It was always his intention to involve as many parishioners as possible in the running of St Vincent’s Church. It was after all their church and he was only there as their humble servant.

Since the wedding of Theodore Luxton-Joyce to Rose Leamington, Father Ignatius got to visit the eccentric millionaire and his wife quite often in their beautiful mansion.

He had mentioned at some time that they’d be most welcome to join in the church’s activities and events. As a result, Theodore had been encouraged by his wife to join the Parish Council; and she, being far wiser than her husband, decided to give him ample space and not get involved with any church business.

Instead, she joined the Board of Governors of the local Catholic School. This way they both helped the local community but in totally different capacities.

Father Ignatius was in the Chair that evening when Theodore attended the Parish Council Meeting for the first time; and not surprisingly, also for the first time ever, every member of the Parish Council attended that day. There were no absentees whatsoever. They all turned up to meet this millionaire whom they’d heard so much about; perhaps in the hope that some reflected glory would rub on them.

They all sat in cinema fashion in the Parish Hall with Father Ignatius and the Parish Secretary at a table facing them.

“Let us start by saying the Lord’s Prayer …” said the priest.

And then it went on to various Parish business on the long and tedious agenda. The St Vincent de Paul Society gave a short report of their activities, followed by the Boy Scouts, and then the Annual Garden Fete sub-committee outlined what was planned this year – an ice-cream and popcorn stand, a beautiful baby parade, a karaoke sing-along contest and so on and so forth. And as the minutes ticked ever so slowly various Parish groups presented their insomnia healing reports ad infinitum.

Father Ignatius noticed that Theodore sat politely somewhere up front and for once said nothing; which was very unusual for a person always in control and ready to make his views known. The priest realized that unless he involved the man in some activity or other he’d certainly not see him again on the Parish Council.

An item under Any Other Business on the Agenda came to the priest’s rescue – repairs to the roof of the Parish Hall. The very place they were sitting in right then.

“May I draw your attention to this important item …” said the priest introducing the subject, “you will see behind you in that corner that the ceiling has several damp patches. Basically, this building has a flat roof which is in great need of repairs or possibly total replacement. Rain has started to leak through gaps in the roof and these will get worse by winter. We have an estimate that replacement would cost up to £1000.

“We need to set up a sub-committee to look into this matter and to come up with recommendations on how to proceed. We’ll need clear indications of costs and how to raise the funds required.

“May I suggest that we ask Mr Luxton-Joyce to chair the sub-committee?”

Theodore jumped in his chair at the mention of his name and, perhaps for the first time that evening, he paid attention to what was being said.

“Hear … hear …” said several people enthusiastically.

“Good …” said the priest, “Mr Luxton-Joyce, would you agree to see to the repairs to the roof?”

“Sure …” said Theodore, “I’ll take care of it!”

The priest asked for volunteers to serve on the Roof Repairs sub-committee and almost everyone there put their hands up. They all wanted to serve with Theodore. They all put forward ideas on how to proceed …

“We can organize a tea and cakes evening to raise money …” said one.

“And we could sell second-hand books; they’re always very popular you know …” said another.

“£1000 is too much money …” said a third volunteer, “perhaps we can have a second collection on Sunday!”

And so it went on with everyone enthusiastically volunteering ideas in order to be chosen on Theodore’s sub-committee.

Eventually, Father Ignatius brought matters to a close by selecting six people to join Theodore’s team charged with repairs to the roof. And so the first Parish Council Meeting attended by Theodore ended.

The following morning Father Ignatius and Father Donald were both out traveling separately for the day. Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, was the only one in the Parish house.

At about 8.30 in the morning two vans turned up and six men started un-loading various equipment into the church car park.

One of the men called at the house and said to Mrs Davenport, “we’ve come to replace the Parish Hall roof.”

Not knowing any better, she pointed out to them the building in question and left them to it; bringing them tea and coffee every now and then.

By about 7 o’clock that evening they had totally taken away the old roof and replaced it with a new one. They were clearing up debris and generally tidying up when Father Ignatius drove in.

Totally confused he asked one of them what was going on, only to be told that Theodore had asked them to replace the roof. They packed up their equipment and left.

Father Ignatius rushed to his office and rang the eccentric millionaire.

“But Padre …” said Theodore, “I did as you said. You asked me to fix the roof and I said I’ll take care of it … I’ll see to the cost involved … don’t you worry about that old boy … and I’ll send you all the paperwork in due course …”

“That’s very generous Mr Luxton-Joyce …” muttered Father Ignatius somewhat taken aback by the man’s bigheartedness, “it is really very kind of you but … but …”

“There’s no buts about it Padre …” interrupted an enthusiastic Theodore, “you have a new leak-proof roof, and I told the fellows who did it to put on an extra layer of top quality fiberglass insulation … so you’ll be as warm as toast come winter if it ever snows on it … what?”

“Thank you … thank you …” muttered the priest, both grateful to the millionaire and yet trying diplomatically to make himself understood, “you see Mr Luxton-Joyce …”

“Hey … call me Theodore old boy … none of this Mr Luxton-Joyce nonsense … you married Rose and I remember, you’re practically family now … She doesn’t call me Mr … you know … I shan’t tell you what she calls me though … ha … ha” he laughed heartily at the thought.

“Yes … Theodore,” continued the priest patiently and digging deep into his reserves of tact and diplomacy, “when I asked you to Chair the Roof Repairs sub-committee … the intention was that the sub-committee, under your able leadership, would cost the project and raise the funds …”

“Takes too long old boy …” interrupted Theodore, “I couldn’t be bothered with all that selling of cakes and second-hand books nonsense … it would take ages to raise £1000 … I got it done in a jiffy … what?”

“And that’s very kind … I’m very grateful and I’m sure the parishioners will be very pleased with the work done … however,” Father Ignatius tried once more, asking under his breath for God to come to his rescue, “your kindness and generosity … lovely as it is … of course … has taken away from the sub-committee a sense of belonging. They lost the opportunity to belong … to your group and your leadership. Did you not notice yesterday how they all wanted to serve on your committee? They all wanted to work for you and to share in your success in raising the funds …”

“What … by selling cakes at a penny each? Do they not know how many pennies there are in £1000 … they would never have made it …”

“Perhaps not,” said Father Ignatius, “but then they would have known that they took on a task, and failed to complete it. That in itself would have been a valuable lesson, don’t you think? People should be encouraged to take on responsibilities, and then try to meet them.”

“I have just got the most brilliant idea Padre …” shouted Theodore down the phone, “it’s so good that I’m not sure whether it is me that thought it …” he chortled to himself. “Why don’t we tell them that the roof repairs were such an emergency that it needed to be done quickly before the rains come in and we all drown in that Parish Hall of yours …

“And instead … this is a good one Padre … you’ll be surprised what a good idea it is … instead, the sub-committee could change their objective from repairing the roof to painting the inside of the Hall. It looked a bit tatty to me, if you pardon me saying so. So why don’t you ask the Roof Repairs Sub-committee to paint the Parish Hall instead?

“They can sell cakes and second-hand books for as long as they wish to raise the money … I promise you, I will not interfere Padre … one of them could take over the Chairmanship of the Committee from me.

“I’ll sit back and wait to see the new painted Hall … as long as they get on with it before my 100th Birthday in forty years time … ha … ha ...” he laughed.

Father Ignatius agreed to the proposed solution; the roof was after all in need of urgent repairs, and it couldn’t wait much longer.

He spent the next few days un-ruffling feathers and soothing hurt feelings amongst his parishioners; but all worked out well in the end.

Theodore did not attend any more Parish Council Meetings. Father Ignatius appointed him as “Special Advisor” to be contacted by the priest alone on “matters of great substance and import” to the Parish Council.

And everyone was happy once again!

Sunday, 1 August 2010


It was Friday once again, and Father Ignatius took the Catechism Class at the local Catholic School.

He noticed the children were somewhat subdued and not as perky and chatty as always.

“Is everything OK today?” he asked, “you have never been so quiet … or am I going slightly deaf in my old age?”

They smiled quietly and said nothing at first, then one of them hesitated “have you not heard Father … the school is being inspected tomorrow and we will all have to sit an English test and a Mathematics test set by the inspectors … no one knows what is in the tests …

“Our form teacher, Miss Farthing, said that if we don’t do well compared to the National Average, it will cause repercussions for the school and ourselves …”

“I understand you concerns …” said the priest gently.

“It’s more than concerns …” said another pupil, “we’re afraid and worried out of our minds … no one told us of these tests until a few minutes ago …”

“And what have you done about it?” asked the priest maintaining his gentle tone of voice.

“What can we do?” replied another child, “we’ve been told they’re new national tests and even Miss Farthing doesn’t know what is involved.”

“All right …” continued Father Ignatius, “let’s spend the next few minutes on these tests … no Catechism class today …

“First of all … don’t let your fears guide you; but allow God to do so.

“You have all done various English and Mathematics tests before … and these tests tomorrow, no matter how new and no matter how different, they will only involve material which you have already been taught. I doubt very much the inspectors will test material not on the national curriculum. The tests may be new but not the subjects which you have been taught.

“So do some quick revision … nothing too long and too thorough … just general stuff which you’ve been taught so far and do your best tomorrow.

“The reason you have been given so little time to prepare is deliberate … the inspectors do this to test a whole class at a given point in time with no prior warning. They do this in every school … so you’ll be no different to anyone else.”

He stopped for a while to check they’d calmed down a little.

“And now, if I may … a word or two about fear …

“Often in life we are faced with seemingly insoluble problems. So our first instincts are to work hard at finding a solution … we struggle … we worry … and we fear what may happen next.

“And in our fears and struggles we forget that God has the answer.

“There is no problem, however inconceivable it might be, which may come to us in life which God has not met before. And if God has met it … He sure has the answer and the solution.

“I am not talking just about English or Mathematics tests here … but any problems that you may face as you grow up and become responsible adults … any problems at all … faithfully hand them to God.

“Pray to God and trust Him to show you the way ahead. He wouldn’t be an omnipotent all-knowing God otherwise.

“Our hesitation to hand over our problems to Him, is itself a problem of our own making – not His

“So I repeat what I said earlier … do not let your fears guide you, but allow God to do so.”

He stopped as he physically noticed they’d regained confidence in themselves and their abilities. He led them in prayer that they would do well and allowed them to spend the rest of the afternoon revising English and Mathematics.