Wednesday 31 October 2012

Are you a Christian role model?

I was reading the parable of the lost coin the other day (Luke 15:8) and my thoughts wandered … what is the greatest loss one can experience in this world? Is it the loss of a worthless trinket with great emotional value to the owner; or an expensive item of jewelry or such like; or great sums of money? Is it the loss of a loved one? Or what?

I concluded that for a Christian the greatest loss is the loss of one’s Faith.

I am often saddened by the number of people who say they are losing their faith or belief in God.

Why is that I wonder. Is it because we live in a technologically advanced age and people find it difficult to relate to a super-natural omnipotent God whose love they have never actually experienced in their lives? Or is it because when times are hard people struggle to relate to a Supreme Being they can turn to for help?

The other day on TV someone said: "Now that more and more people realise that there is no God, how can people relate to such issues as death, what comes after death, and why we are here on earth in the first place?"

Note the significant verb in that sentence. "Realise".

The speaker is implying that if you still believe in an omnipotent God then there's something wrong with you. You are not enlightened and awake enough to "realise" that it is all a work of fiction invented years ago by man to suit man's own needs.

So ... is this why people are losing their Faith, even some Christians? Is it because of peer pressure not to believe?

Or is it perhaps a shortage of good Christian role models? People who set us a good example of how to be Christ-like.

I then realized that we are all role models for others; whether we are parents, teachers, preachers or whatever. We are all unwittingly setting an example for others to emulate.

The magnitude of that realization frightened me.

Being a Christian is quite a responsibility you know!

Wednesday 24 October 2012


Let's try to perform a magic trick on the Internet and see if it works.

The success of this trick will depend very much on what you do, so it's important that you please follow the instructions below TASK by TASK very carefully as we perform this magic trick together. If it works it’s only because you’re brilliant and you've made it work ... it has nothing to do with me.

Let's first identify the four kinds of cards available in a pack:

OK ... let's get started. 


Take a pack of playing cards and remove the jokers. 



Now shuffle the pack well and select a card.  



Now multiply the value of that card by 10.

So if the card is a 6 you now have 60. If it's a 9 you have 90 ... and so on. Very easy this bit.

REMEMBER the Jack is 11, the Queen is 12 and the King is 13. So if you selected a Queen you now have 120.

OK … done that? Good! You're very good at this ... well done.


Now add 13 to the number you’ve got.

You’re doing well so far.  

Please keep your card close to you so I can’t see it.


Now look at the card carefully.

If it is a SPADE add 1 to the number you have.

If it is a HEART add 2 to the number you have.

If it is a CLUB add 3 to the number you have.

And if it is a DIAMOND add 4 to the number you have.


Nearly there … this bit is simple.

In the comment box below type the number you now have after performing all the tasks outlined above.

OK ... that's it!!! 

Now give me some time to think about all this and I'll reply to you in the comments box below soon.

I hope you'll like this trick ... I've never tried it before so I'm hopeful it will work.

Good luck.

Monday 22 October 2012

Father Ignatius in hospital

Father Ignatius had visited his parishioners in hospital so many times that he was now well known by the medical staff and the nurses. So it came as no surprise to him when one afternoon he was phoned by the Hospital Ward Matron and asked to come over as quickly as possible.

Agatha Dartford had been admitted to hospital by ambulance and she was asking for him by name.

Agatha was 93 years old and three years ago, being no longer able to look after herself, she had to leave her lovely cottage in the countryside and she was moved by her family to the Green Meadows Home for Senior Citizens.

She lost her independence that day, as well as all the lovely memories which her little cottage in the country contained.

She had moved in that little house many years ago just after marrying her husband. She raised her family there; all five of them who have now grown up and moved to other towns and cities far away with their own families.

The day she moved to Green Meadows was a dark day indeed in her life. She knew it was the logical thing to do of course; but sometimes logic really hurts. There’s no way that a frail person like her could look after herself alone in the countryside. So her family decided to sell her cottage and most of the furniture and other items which they did not want and moved her to the Home more through coercion than love.

“It’s better for you Mom. They can look after you better there; and you’ll have company with other people …” they said; “Green Meadows will provide you with all you need and you won’t have to cook or clean or do any of the household chores anymore. Aren’t you lucky Mom … it will be wonderful!”

But Agatha liked to cook for herself, and to eat when she wanted, sleep when she wanted and do as she wishes; rather than be regimented in a home with other people.

Yet; old age teaches you patience and it teaches you to accept what is inevitable and outside your control.

She was rather weak and in poor health so it seemed logical to have someone care for her; but wouldn’t it have been nice to live with one of her children and enjoy the company of her grand-children and see them grow up!

“We’ll come and visit you often …” was no substitute to living with her family and share their lives and dreams and hopes. To see them every day in good times and bad and to share their lives together.

Her children had all done well in life and all had large houses which could have easily accommodated her; but she’d be in the way no doubt and would cramp their successful lifestyles. They’d made that plain enough; even though they never actually said it.

So, reluctantly she accepted their decision and did move to Green Meadows; and indeed they did look after her very well in there. The personnel were very kind and helpful, including the nurses and medics whenever she needed them.

As for her family … yes … they visited her as promised … about once a year or so.

She was fortunate enough to have befriended Father Ignatius who used to visit another resident at Green Meadows.

So he visited her regularly about once a week and sometimes he brought her some of her favorite chocolate cakes from the bakery just next to St Vincent Church. They normally chatted for about half-an-hour or so and then they recited the Rosary together before blessing her and giving her Holy Communion.

Today, however, the priest was rushing to the hospital in response to her calls for help.

When he arrived there he was greeted by the Hospital Ward Matron who knew him well. She explained that Agatha had fallen at Green Meadows Home and had bruised her arm and left side badly. She was obviously in terrible pain and the medics wanted to take some X Rays photos to check that there are no broken bones.

But Agatha would not co-operate despite her obvious pain. The nurses tried to help her prepare for the X Ray tests and she held her left arm close against her chest and would not open her hand which was closed tightly.

They asked her what she was holding but she would not respond and closed her hand tighter still; asking for Father Ignatius to come and see her.

“Thank you for calling me Denise …” said Father Ignatius to the Ward Matron, “perhaps you’ll take me to her.”

Moments later he entered Agatha’s room and the nurses in attendance left closing the door behind them.

“Hello Agatha …” said the priest gently, “you’ve given us quite a fright … tell me what happened to you …”

“I fell at the Home Father … and they brought me here by ambulance …”

“Ah … I see; any excuse to escape Green Meadows is it …” he smiled, “or is it a trick to get me to bring you some chocolate cake?”

She smiled back and her eyes brightened at the thought.

“They want me to have some X Ray photos Father … and they want to take this from me …” she added motioning her clenched hand.

“I don’t understand …” said the priest calmly.

“When I moved to Green Meadows three years ago … just after my 90th Birthday it was … I lost everything.

“My children sold my house, they sold my furniture … and took away whatever ornaments and little things I had … or got rid of what they did not want. I had some lovely porcelain ornaments Father; and they sold the lot; or took the valuable ones for themselves.

“They moved me to Green Prison … that’s what I call it … with only the clothes I was wearing. That’s the rules of that place. They provide you with everything; including your clothes you know …

“My children even took all my old photographs of my dear Ken and I when we were wed … and the photos of the children as they grew up … and every bit of souvenir and memory that I had in that little cottage were I spent all those years …

“I have nothing in this world that belongs to me …

“Except this …” she said shaking her tightly closed hand gently.

“And now the nurses want to take even this … I want to go back to my cottage Father!”

Father Ignatius hugged her gently so as not to hurt her where she was bruised and kissed her forehead.

“Now then Agatha … you know well that your cottage was out in the country … and if you were to go back there it would mean that I’ll have a terribly long drive to come and visit you … you don’t really plan to inconvenience me do you?”

“No Father …” she said smiling.

“Besides … at Green Meadows they look after you well don’t they?”

She nodded.

“And it’s so much nearer for me …to come and visit you” he smiled.

“But I tell you what … as soon as you get out of hospital I’ll arrange with the Warden at Green Meadows to take you out for a drive in the countryside and we can visit your cottage. Would you like that?”

“Yes Father …” she replied enthusiastically.

“But first we need to have these X Rays done to make sure you’re OK. Can we ask the nurses to get on with this do you think?”

She nodded.

“Would you look after this for me Father?” she asked as she opened her hand.

And there, held ever so tightly that it had imprinted itself in her palm was a finger Rosary.

“You remember you gave me this some years ago Father?” she said.

The priest nodded gently.

“It’s all I have in the world that is mine. And I use it every time we recite the Rosary together and also every day when I sit by the window watching the birds in the garden at Green Meadows.”

Father Ignatius took good care of Agatha’s finger Rosary; and returned it to her when she’d had her X Rays done.

He also kept his promise and took her for a drive in the countryside by her cottage when she was eventually discharged from the hospital fully recuperated. And he took her to her favorite bakery for chocolate cakes and tea too!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

At the seaside

I was on business at a seaside town and I finished my afternoon meeting early. I decided to take a walk on the beach.

It was warm and everyone was either swimming or lying there on the sand half-naked enjoying the sun and cooking slowly.

Not me. I decided to be as inconspicuous as possible in my pin striped suit, emerald green bow tie with pink spots, hat with a bright feather sticking out of the side, and of course, dark sunglasses.

I must admit though, I envied all those people enjoying the cool sea. They certainly looked happy, so I decided to join them.

I approached the edge of the sea and took off my shoes and socks, which I put inside the shoes. The red sock in the left shoe and the green sock in the right shoe … that way I’ll remember which is which when I get to wear them again. Then I rolled up my pin-striped trousers all the way to just above the knee and I walked into the sea.

Oh … it was lovely. Even though people looked at me suspiciously! I could see the expression on their incredulous faces through my dark glasses and they could not see that I was looking at them looking at me. So I had the advantage on them I think. Even though they were giggling surreptitiously and nudging each other.  

Anyway … I ignored them as I am accustomed to doing when people stare at me in the street or on the train in my attire.

Suddenly, I started dancing and hopping from foot to foot in the sea, splashing water everywhere and attracting more attention to myself.

A woman asked: “Is this Candid Camera?”

A number of onlookers laughed at me and someone said “I think he’s filming a comedy film. Where are the cameras Mister?”

I must admit, the same thought would have crossed my mind if I saw someone in pin-striped suit dancing in the sea; but I was in too much pain to see the funny side of what was happening.

I got out of the water to reveal a huge jellyfish stuck to the outside of my right leg. Why is it that with all these half-naked people in the sea the jellyfish chose me to attack? Does he not like business attire perhaps? Or is it the feather in my hat and my green bowtie?

“Jellyfish … jelly fish …” I cried out in pain.

“Oh … quickly,” said a rotund woman, “you must wee-wee on it!”

How could I possibly wee-wee on it whilst wearing a pin striped suit? Or wearing anything for that matter! The creature was attached on the outside of my leg just below the knee and I can’t see it as a physical possibility to attack it with … Oh never mind.

The woman then said, “Or you can let someone else wee-wee on it!”

As I could not see a queue of volunteers ready to assist me in this manner I continued to jump up and down and hitting the jellyfish with my hat. It broke the feather right off and made the hat quite un-wearable.

A young man came running to my help and said “You have to pour vinegar on it! Do you have any vinegar?”

“Oh yes,” I thought, “I always carry a gallon bottle of vinegar in my pocket just in case of such an occurrence.” 

But I was in too much pain to say anything. I just shook my head.

The man asked someone to run to the Fish and Chips shop nearby and get a bottle of vinegar.

“I have no money!” said the other person.

I got out my wallet and gave him a £5 note … the smallest currency I had. He smiled and ran away. I wondered if I’d ever see him again.

Eventually he returned with a small bottle of vinegar which the first young man gently poured on the jellyfish. It shriveled and let go of my leg.

“You must get this seen to in hospital.” said the young man.

I nodded and thanked him. I turned round to get my shoes only to find that the tide had come in somewhat and taken them out to sea with the red and green socks waving at me happily as they sailed away!

I hopped bare feet and minus my hat into a taxi and to the nearest hospital.

And the moral of this story, dear friends, is: Never go to sea in a pin-striped suit!

Sunday 14 October 2012

Money money money

The reading in church today was from Mark 10:17-27.

I’m sure you know the story about the rich man who was told by Jesus to sell everything he had, give it to the poor, and follow Jesus.

The man just could not do this, and went away sad.

Jesus also says that famous saying about it being harder for a rich man to enter Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

And people have been debating that hyperbole for years. What did it mean? Did Jesus refer to a gate called Needle, or was it a mountain pass which was so narrow you had to unload your camel of what it was carrying, pass the camel through, and then load it again.

In reality, it doesn’t matter.

What’s important is the message behind the hyperbole and the advice to sell everything and give it to the poor.

Did Jesus mean it?

Here’s my take on it – unorthodox as it may be.

I doubt very much if every rich man on earth sold all their property and gave it to the poor that it would make any difference. It would be like putting a snowflake in a burning furnace.

Anyway, it is not physically possible, since if every rich person sold their property, by implication, they would sell it to someone else who would in turn be rich in order to be able to buy it. I’m sure you follow the tautology.

So what did Jesus mean?

He certainly was not speaking against wealth. Wealth creates wealth. It creates jobs and it creates the wherewithal to help others less fortunate than ourselves.

Christ condones, nay encourages, the creation of wealth in His parable about the servants given a gold coin each by their master. When he returned from his travels the master discovered that two servants managed to make their fortune increase whilst the third just didn’t bother. So he rewards the hard-working servants and punishes the other. Luke 19:11-27.

Jesus was teaching responsible wealth. There’s nothing wrong in working hard and amassing a fortune honestly.

As long as we use it responsibly.

Those who are fortunate to have wealth should remember their responsibility to share it with others, and to help others, as best they can. This doesn’t mean sell everything and give it to the poor. It means be aware of those around you who are less fortunate than yourself; and share your good fortune with them.

If you were to sell everything then once it's gone, it's gone - you can no longer help the poor and you may well become poor yourself. What's so clever about that?

In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) Jesus does not condemn the rich man for being rich; but for not even realizing, never mind caring, for a poor man starving at his gate.

So there you have it: work hard, be wealthy, but remember others less well-off than yourself.

And wealth does not necessarily mean riches and money.

Some people are wealthy in different ways: wealthy in wisdom and knowledge, wealthy in health and stamina, wealthy in talents and so on.

Those amongst us who are well educated and knowledgeable should not look down on others haughtily and with disdain. Use your knowledge to teach others.

Those who are fortunate to be healthy should remember the sick and if possible visit them or help them as best they can.

Those with talents for music, the arts, sports or whatever should share their talents with others. Imagine the good you can achieve as a sportsman if you visit a school and share a few moments coaching children in whatever it is you do. Or if a musician or celebrity shared a few moments with less talented yet aspiring youngsters. That visit would be imprinted on young memories for life – and may well inspire them to do better and achieve more.

Let’s all look at ourselves deeply and discover what wealth God has given us.

Money, good health, a talent for music, painting, singing or whatever … and let’s share it for the glory of, and in thanksgiving to, God our Creator.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Hardened hearts.

Father Ignatius came across some sad realities of life the other day. 

It was a dark and wintry cold evening when he was called out to visit an elderly parishioner at home who was very ill and nearing the end of his life. The old man's wife was there and a few other relatives all gathered around the old man's bed praying and crying. 

In conversation the priest learnt that this parishioner had a grown up son living not far away. Although he had been warned about his father's poor health he had not come to see him. Apparently, father and son had not met or spoken to each other for years following a family argument.

Sadly, even though the son had not visited his dying father, the father in turn did not want to see his son.

The priest, in an attempt at reconciliation, made an effort to contact the son by telephone. But it was too late. By then the father had died.

The son never turned up to the funeral.

Father Ignatius’ heart was at breaking point during the funeral. He remembered the fifth Commandment about respecting one's parents and the words in Our Lord's Prayer "forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us". He wanted to say something about this during his sermon but decided that it was not appropriate at the time.

Instead he offered a private Mass for the whole family and prayed that the act of reconciliation may never again be so thwarted by entrenched self-indulgent righteousness.

Saturday 6 October 2012

How important are you? Really?

How important are you? Really?

Who are you exactly?

Wife? Husband? Parent? Daughter? Son? Sister? Brother? Friend?

Married? Single? Divorced? Widowed?

What do you do in life?

Home-maker? Home-schooling? Self-employed? Employee?

Lawyer? Doctor? Mechanic? Carpenter ... ... ...

How many people rely on you in life?

Your spouse and children? Elderly parents and siblings? Colleagues at work? Neighbours and friends?

What do you do for them in life? Nurture your family who rely on you as your dependents? Help your parents with chores they can no longer do for themselves? Or be there for them as their health fails them? Be there for your family, siblings, colleagues and friends when they need you?

Perhaps you also help an elderly neighbour with the shopping, or gardening or other chores. Or you may visit people in hospital or in prison or provide food and clothing for the down-and-out in the streets?

Maybe you help in church with the cleaning, writing the newsletter, playing the organ or a member of the choir? Or be more active on the Parish Council or whatever else is needed to be done in church.

You know ... even the dog and cat rely on you for food and shelter!

Just think for a moment how many people rely on you and whose life you have touched by just being here right now. And how their lives would be affected if you were no longer here.

How important are you?

Very important, I should say. A VIP no less.

Think of that next time you pray. And ask God to look after YOU.

Not for your sake; but for the sake of all others who rely on you.

God bless.

Friday 5 October 2012

Computers affect our lives

Wednesday 3 October 2012

The Celebrity Talent Factor

Someone once said something clever about being famous and a celebrity. I can't remember who it was ... perhaps it was me. Or maybe it was someone else ...

Anyway, as I was about to say before I interrupted my train of thoughts ...

Funny things trains ... they're always late I find. Why is that? I read the other day that the train people will rectify their lateness by replacing timetables with calendars. That way they'll be more accurate.

"The train on platform 3 will arrive in London tomorrow!" Now that's more accurate I think.

The other day they said on the loud speaker at the station that the train was late due to shortage of staff. Why can't they recruit taller people?

Now then ... where was I? Oh yes ... someone once said "I could have been very famous if I had a voice like Sinatra's!"

A lot of truth in that. If I could sing like Sinatra or some other great singer I could be famous too.

Or if I could run fast as an Olympic athlete, or play football well, or if I were a great writer, or musician, or an actor, or whatever else passes as worthy of adulation these days, I too could be a famous celebrity recognised and welcome everywhere.

And that's the problem in this modern world of ours. Everyone wants to be famous and a celebrity instantly. Without any hard work, or patience ... instant fame is the name of the game.

Talking of instant ... I read the other day that the scientist who invented an instant laxative has been fired from his job. But I digress.

Whenever you turn on the TV you see youngsters, and not so young people, all hoping to win a talent show and become famous celebrities. Some can't sing, dance, or do anything else to save their lives ... but they all want to be famous.

Does anyone ever stop and think, I wonder, where all the talent comes from?

If someone can sing, dance, play a musical instrument, be great at athletics, play sports well, or be a great businessman, doctor, lawyer, or whatever else ... have they ever wondered where all this talent comes from?

Did they do the slightest thing all by themselves to achieve such greatness?

Didn't God give them all the talents and the ability to do whatever they are good at?

A great voice perhaps. Or the ability to dance, or be good at sports, business, medicine or whatever?

Didn't God give them the brains to be able to study, concentrate, and work wonders in medicine, science or whatever else people are good at? Didn't God give them the good health and good fortune to become in life what they have become today?

Yet ... when you watch famous celebrities on TV ... or aspiring celebrities ... have you notice how many of them are full of themselves and proud of what they have achieved; rather than acknowledging where their talents and abilities come from and thank God for their good fortune.

God gave us all talents to use in order to glorify Him. And it is right that we use our talents to their full extent.

As Jesus said: "No one lights a lamp and hides it under a bowl or puts it under a bed. ... " (Luke 8:16). 

It should be made to shine to honour and glorify God.

Although, personally, I would never put a lamp under a bed as it might start a fire throughout the house. Where's the talent in that?

But I digress once again.

So ... as I was saying ... let's not be shy about our God-given talents; but let's use them wisely for God.

Even if your talent is ... (like mine) ... writing Blogs that nobody reads.

At least Jesus is reading them and chuckling to Himself.

God bless.