Wednesday 29 August 2012


Is saying “Sorry” the hardest word?

As human beings, it is inevitable that we will make mistakes and that unintentionally we will hurt others. So it follows that we should apologise when we err, and that we are forgiven our sins.

Yet, in this modern world of ours we hesitate before we admit our wrong-doings.

We see an apology as a sign of weakness. It would reveal a flaw in our character. Something to be held against us, which may well come to haunt us again in the future.

We feel threatened even, since, in this litigious society we have created, an admission of guilt could easily lead to claims of compensation.

So we go on the defensive. We deny wrong-doings. We refuse to apologise.

And “sorry” truly becomes the hardest word.

How lucky we are that God does not keep a record of our sins, and will never rush to Court for compensation when we hurt Him again and again.

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, if my brother keeps sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” answered Jesus, “but seventy times seven.” Matthew 18: 21-22

Sunday 26 August 2012

John 6

John Chapter 6 has been the source of much debate and confusion over the years ... and the arguments will still go on. No doubt to the amusement of Jesus looking down upon us and saying: "You of little Faith. Why can't you just believe and stop dissecting and analysing everything I said as if I were an insect in your lab!"

I speak of course of the part in that Chapter where Jesus says He is "the Bread of life" and later when He says that unless people eat His flesh or drink His blood they will not have life.

As you can imagine, this was very confusing to His listeners; even His followers and disciples.

"What is He on about?" they asked. "How can we eat His flesh and drink His blood? This is cannibalism surely. This is too much for us. We don't want to follow this guy any longer!"

So what did Jesus do?

He didn't say "Hey ... wait a minute. You didn't understand what I meant. This is what I really meant to say ... let me explain!"

No ... Jesus let them go. He didn't try to justify Himself or what He had just said. It was as if He dissolved the unspoken contract between them. They could not accept a certain clause so He let them go.

Then He turned to His disciples and asked: "How about you? Do you want to go as well?"

As ever, Peter was first to answer: "To whom shall we go?" he asked. "We're in this for the duration, all the way, to the end". Or words to that effect, signifying the he trusted Jesus without question; albeit no doubt he had many questions in his mind. Peter accepted Christ's words without question and stepped out in blind Faith and dared to believe.

So what are we to make of all this after all these years? Did Jesus mean what He said literally or was it all symbolism and imagery using common day articles of the time like bread and wine to signify the sacrifice He is to endure for us? His flesh would be torn by the beating and the nailing to the Cross and His blood would be spilled for us. Was it all symbolism?

Quite frankly, I'm with Peter on this.

I don't believe there is much to be gained in debating this ad-infinitum because in reality I doubt any of us will ever come to a satisfactory conclusion. Wiser heads than mine have argued this matter over the centuries much to the amusement of Jesus looking down from above. Any efforts by me at interpreting this would no doubt have Jesus rolling on the floor with laughter.

So I am minded to accept it for what it is. Something that Jesus said and we're to believe it as best we humanly can.

There's no point in closing your eyes tightly and repeating over and over again "I believe ... I believe ... even though I don't understand it ... I believe".

God who can see deep within our hearts, and knows our human nature and its failings, realises that it is too difficult for us to understand.

But then, He does not ask us to understand Him. He asks us to love Him and to trust Him without any evidence whatsoever.

It's what is called Faith.

To believe when your common sense tells you not to.

By the way: you may wish to visit this link and see what happened to a priest who had difficulties in believing. Click HERE.

God bless.

Saturday 25 August 2012

The Summons

Thursday 23 August 2012

God's timescale

Nothing teaches us patience like waiting.

Remember when you were young and lacked patience? In those days a week was like a year. Especially if you’d been promised something by your parents and you had to wait and wait …

I suspect the same applies to us when we relate to God. We pray for something and wait … but God does not work to our timescales. He has His own plans and maybe what we’re asking for is not good for us … just yet.

Which reminds me of another story which I remember very distinctly from my youth.

The reading in church was from 2 Peter 3:8 where he says: “There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same”.

I remember thinking as a child: it must be difficult to have an appointment with God. Imagine God saying to Moses to go to Mount Sinai “tomorrow”; and Moses asking “Is that in 24 hours or in a thousand years time? Because I’d be dead by then!”

I hope God forgave the impertinent mind of a young child.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

God's Blueprint

I asked a Christian doctor friend of mine about his religion and his profession. He explained that being a doctor is very much like being a car mechanic. He learnt about different parts of the body and how to fix them when they go wrong.

However, unlike a car mechanic, he does not have the complete blueprint plan of how the body was made and how it functions. He explained that, thankfully, the Creator decided to keep some parts of the blueprint secret in case we humans ruin the final product completely.

What do you think?

Monday 20 August 2012

The Lord is my Shepherd

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life;
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalm 23.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

God's Humble Servant

My latest E Book "God's Humble Servant" is available to download FREE from HERE
Kindle Version available at a small charge HERE

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Hairshirts Flagellations and the Repayment of Debts

 God loved us so much that He gave us His only Son to die for us.

Christ’s was the ultimate sacrifice, to lay down His life to redeem us and to re-build our relationship with God which sin had destroyed.

There is nothing we can do to repay that sacrifice. Not a million candles lit in church, not a million flowers, or a million Rosaries. Nothing we do will repay what Christ did for us.

That is not to say that we should stop doing these things. We do them out of reverence, love and respect for our Creator and not as an act of repayment. I have lit many a candle in my time and will continue to do so.

Fasting and abstinence are also similar forms of sacrifices which we do out of reverence rather than as an act of repayment.

And then … we come to the wearing of hairshirts, flagellations and similar bodily punishments practiced by the faithfuls since times long past.

Saint Francis of Assisi suffered severe self-afflicted penances like flagellations and the use of a hairshirt.

Saint Catherine of Sienna used to undergo extreme fasting for long periods, wore sackcloth and scourged herself three times a day.

Saint Ignatius of Loyola practiced severe mortifications. He wore a hair shirt and heavy iron chain, and was in the habit of wearing a cord tied below the knee.

Saint Thomas More, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Marguerite Marie Alacoque, and many other Saints and elders of the Church practiced mortification and self-punishments.

Even Pope John Paul II, I understand practiced self-flagellation and fasting before important events.

I’m sure you can name other Saints and prominent members of our Church who did the same.

I understand the need for such extreme sacrifices originate from many quotations from the Bible, but mainly from the words of Jesus when He asked us to take up our Cross and follow Him.

I wonder and ask:

Did He really mean that we should inflict pain and mutilation on our bodies to gain forgiveness for our sins and that of others?

Or did He say that this world is full of suffering, some of which will come our way, and that we should accept it as best we can in Faith and trust that it is His will and that it will turn out for the good? And that He will not allow more suffering to come our way than we can possibly endure?

Does self-inflicted bodily harm have a place in our lives today and does it buy us any favors with God?

Christ’s Commandment to us was to love Our God and to love one another. No where can I find Him saying that we should punish ourselves in order to gain entrance to Heaven.

Monday 6 August 2012

Stolen treasures

St Vincent was the only Catholic Church in town so Father Ignatius’ parish covered a wide area including the countryside around the town.

Because he was such an approachable priest it was not unusual for parishioners to either visit him unannounced to discuss a problem on their minds, or indeed to phone him and expect him to jump at a moment’s notice. As happened last week.

He was about to settle down near the warm fireplace with a nice cup of hot chocolate and to listen to his favourite classical music when the phone rang and interrupted the London Orchestra.

“Who could it be at 10 o’clock at night?” asked Father Donald.

“It’s Mrs Montague …” replied Father Ignatius, “she’s just had a break in … she’s totally distraught and frightened and hasn’t even phoned the police … she phoned us instead …”

Mrs Montague was an elderly widow in her seventies who lived alone in a small cottage in the countryside. As Father Ignatius jumped in his car and rushed to her home, Father Donald phoned the police.

The priest could see the police car parked outside the house as he finally arrived at the scene. They had made a search of the property and the garden and found no one.

Apparently Mrs Montague was asleep in her armchair in the living room and was awakened by the barking of Rupert, her little dog.

Someone had broken into the kitchen and had plenty of time for a quick search and for making quite a mess. The kitchen door was closed so the little dog could not get to him. Eventually, the burglar must have run away, perhaps disturbed by her Guardian Angel. Luckily, he didn’t enter the living room and attacked the old lady, or worse.

“Have they taken anything?” asked the policeman.

Mrs Montague was too confused to even give a coherent answer. She looked around the kitchen, with everything strewn everywhere, and eventually realized that a small metal box was missing.

“They’ve taken the biscuit tin …” she cried, “oh no … not that … I can’t live without it … not the biscuit tin.”

“What biscuit tin?” asked Father Ignatius.

“A metal tin … it was that big … an old biscuit tin I kept here in this drawer … it’s gone … my life is all gone …” she broke down in hysterical tears and was helped to a chair by Father Ignatius.

“Did it contain any money, or jewelry?” asked the policeman.

“No …” she replied as she calmed down a little, “it contained all the love letters my husband wrote to me when we were courting … I read them often to remember him when I’m lonely … and photos taken when we were young … I miss him so much … I’m so frightened and lonely since he died …”

The two police officers made another quick search of the house and eventually left. Father Ignatius managed to hammer a few pieces of wood on the broken window to secure it for the night. As the elderly lady was far too distressed to be left alone, Father Ignatius decided to spend the night nodding off in the armchair, whilst Mrs Davenport, his housekeeper, came over too to provide her with moral support.

The following morning, whilst Mrs Davenport was preparing coffee for the workers who came to fix the window and secure the house, Father Ignatius, prompted by some unexplainable feeling, made another tour of the garden.

There under a rose bush he found the missing biscuit tin. No doubt the intruder found it full of worthless papers and discarded it in his hurry to escape.

Worthless papers to him, but a whole life in a box to an elderly lonely widow.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Art et Moi.

Being intellectual and educated can be very hard work you know.

We had some overseas clients from Paris visiting our Headquarters and guess who was assigned to entertain them? Just because I can speak French does not necessarily mean I enjoy such assignments.

I had to accompany them to a pre-arranged expedition to a famous art gallery to admire the latest exhibition they had on; as well as the other works of art which are on display there all year round.

My heart was all a flutter with boredom.

I really don’t know how someone has to behave in such circumstances. As we arrived we were all given fancy brochures, all pre-paid by my organization, detailing the displays of the art exhibition and featuring miniature photos of the various paintings on show. I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t give us the brochures in advance and we could have looked at the photos in the comfort of our homes or offices, instead of having to come all the way here.

Our guide started talking as soon as I lost interest in what he was saying.

He mentioned words like pre-Raphaelite period, Impressionism and Cubism; and I remember well he kept talking about Robert Delaunay which for some reason seemed to impress my French guests. I remember the name well because Jack Delaney is the landlord of my local pub, and perhaps Robert’s brother.

Anyway, we got moving under the expert leadership of our guide from large room to even larger rooms.

I can never work out how long you’re supposed to stand in front of a painting and admire it.

Is it five minutes? A little more? Or what?

I mean … I can see a whole room with thirty or so paintings hanging on the walls in as many seconds.

That’s it … seen it. Let’s move to another room.

But the guide stood there by some masterpieces and talked for ages about brush strokes, lighting and shading, the use of color and various other words whose meaning I did not know.

The French guests seemed to enjoy it and murmured amongst themselves “C’est magnifique … Oh oui bien sure … Merveilleux …” which I suppose was the whole intention of this expedition in the world of total monotonous tedium.

Now please don’t consider me a total Philistine only interested in the beauty of the balance sheet and the profitability of the bottom line. I’ll admit that these are figures to quicken my heartbeat and the more profitable the balance sheet the more excited I become. But there are some other bottom lines which do interest me.

For example, when we were beside some paintings of nudes I tried to show interest and stood there admiring them for more than the obligatory five minutes or so. I attempted to start a conversation about the various shadings and the clever use of the palette to its full extent but our guide quickly moved us on to something quite boring like a painting of a bowl of fruits.

“Now come on!!!” I thought, “I’m trying to be educated and intellectual here! I too can appreciate great art when I see it. Let’s wait here a bit longer.”

It was too late. The snobbish know-all guide had moved on to another room with his party and left me all alone amongst the bathing beauties. I looked at the inscription underneath the painting by an unknown modern artist and it said that it was inspired by “Le dejeuner sur l’herbe” by Edouard Manet.

In order to educated myself I quickly Googled Manet's painting on my pocket sized computer gadget and I was somewhat confused by the brush strokes and the use of color. But hey … it’s French so it must be good. As good as croissant and baguette with Boursin!

But alas the moment had gone as were our guide and my overseas clients.

I quickly hurried from room to room and finally found them admiring a plastic sculpture of Mickey Mouse.
At last … we’d arrived at contemporary art and the end of our tour of the gallery. I looked forward to taking my French guests to sample some real British culture.

A pub lunch with a pint or three of Guinness!

Now do you still dare to call me a Philistine?