Wednesday 18 December 2013

SANTA - As you've never seen him before!


Wednesday 11 December 2013

Joseph's Legacy


Joseph is not mentioned often in the Bible. We read about him before the birth of Jesus when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked him to take Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:18).

Imagine his dilemma. He was engaged to Mary when she found out she was due to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. At first he considered doing what many men with a pregnant girl friend whose baby is not theirs would have done - run a mile in the opposite direction.

Being an honourable man he decided to break the engagement privately so as not to disgrace her.

Then the angel appeared to him in a dream; and based on that dream alone he decided to marry Mary and raise her son as if He were his own.

He was there when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and we read about him when he took Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape from Herod (Matthew 2:13) and then when they returned to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19).

He is also mentioned when the boy Jesus was twelve years old and found in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41).

So as Jesus' foster father he was there during His early years protecting Him from Herod and providing a loving family for the Son of God.

What a wonderful man he must have been. Working quietly in the background, without much recognition, doing God's will in raising His Son on earth.

So, what is his legacy to us?

Obedience and trust.

Despite what his common sense told him to do, he did not walk away from Mary. He trusted God and decided to stay with Mary. He decided to provide for her and a child who was not his. He taught the child carpentry and raised Him up as his own.

May his obedience and trust be an example to us all.

This prayer to St Joseph is said to be over 1900 years old. It was found in the fiftieth year of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In the 1500's it was sent by the Pope to Emperor Charles when he was going into battle. It is a novena to be prayed for nine consecutive mornings for anything you may desire. It has seldom been known to fail.

“O St. Joseph whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the Throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph do assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your Heavenly power I may offer my Thanksgiving and Homage to the most Loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press him in my name and kiss His fine Head for me, and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.”

Sunday 8 December 2013

John's Legacy


A man wandering in the desert, dressed in clothes made of camel hair, and eating locusts and wild honey. (Mark 1:4-8).

Not exactly sartorial elegance. More of an eccentric if you ask me.

Yet this was a man with a mission.

His mission – to tell everyone about Jesus. To prepare them for His arrival.

His name – John, the Baptist. In case you confuse him with another John.

An outspoken man who feared no one in his quest to do what God had asked him. He even dared to criticize the king, and paid dearly with his life for doing so. (Mark 6:14-29).

His legacy to us?

Courage and Obedience.

Despite living in dangerous times, this man had courage to speak out and tell the world about Jesus; and dared tell the King that he was wrong.

How often are we presented with the opportunity to speak about God, about our religion and our Christianity. Do we shy away and miss a good opportunity to witness for our Lord? Or have we got a tiny fraction of John’s courage? And obedience?

Sunday 1 December 2013

CHRISTMAS AT THEODORE’S

It had been a busy year for Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the lovable eccentric millionaire businessman, and he hadn’t been in touch with Father Ignatius for some time. So it was a surprise for  the priest when the phone rang early on Boxing Day, the day just after Christmas, and he heard the familiar voice.

“Is that yourself Padre?” asked Theodore in his well pronounced posh English accent.

“Yes … it is. Merry Christmas Theodore to you and your lovely wife Rose …”

“Yes quite … jolly good … what?” interrupted Theodore, “I was somewhat concerned at getting that other French priest on the phone. You know the one … you’ve had him visiting lately …”
 
“Yes … Father Gaston. He has gone back to Paris”.

"Jolly good I say … what? Never liked the French … Father Gaston being an exception of course … he was rather quiet and said very little … just as I like the French to be … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing whilst Theodore continued totally unaware of what he was saying.

“Right … now that I’ve got you on the phone rather than that French fellow, I need you urgently to help me out! Terrible spot of bother … old boy … terrible I say!”
 
The priest frowned fearing the worst. “What’s happened?” he asked.

“Well … Rose and I had arranged a quiet after Christmas get-together for this evening and we’d invited the Mortimers … you know them? He’s a businessman working in the US most of the time. Very nice fellow and his wife too. Jolly pleasant both! But of course you don’t know the Mortimers. I've never introduced you to them.

"Have you ever been to America Padre? I’m sure the Vatican has opened a few Branches over there. Nice place America; I've visited often. America that is. Not the Catholic outlets over there.
 
“Anyway … as I was saying ... back to the Mortimers. They’re over here right now for a few days … visiting family … that sort of thing. Rose and I thought we’d invite them for a spot of dinner this evening. Disaster old boy! Disaster I tell you!”
 
Father Ignatius smiled again.
 
“Well, as it happens …” continued Theodore never stopping to pause for breath, “the Mortimers can’t make it tonight. Jolly bad show don’t you think? We’ve got most of the food prepared and all … well, Mrs Frosdick, the cook, and her staff have everything prepared anyway. And the Mortimers can’t make it for dinner. They’re stuck up North because of the terrible snow storms we’ve been having over Christmas. Totally snowed in and cut off from civilization and a decent drop of whisky I shouldn’t wonder! Terrible being without whisky at Christmas; or at any other time, I'd say!
 
“So I thought of inviting the Hendersons … now I’m sure you know them Padre. They live about a mile or so from us, just up the hill. I thought I’d introduced them to you some time ago. Not Catholics you know … but decent people all the same. Better than many Catholics I know, I should say! Anyway … dash it all … they’ve decided to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws. Now what kind of nonsense is that? I tell you. Who’d wish to spend Boxing Day with the in-laws? It’s just like being in Purgatory I imagine … what?”
 
Father Ignatius smiled once more at Theodore’s continuous rant and wondered what all this was leading to … and then it came.

 “Well Padre … as neither of them can make it tonight, I thought of you. Would you care to join us for a quiet spot of dinner this evening? We’re having a goose and Brussels sprouts you know … traditional fare for this time of year sprouts … and I’ll be playing the latest musical instrument I’ve mastered … the harmonica … much less stressful than the bagpipes. I can now play Chopin’s piano concerto on the harmonica as well as the pipes!”
 
The priest was amused at being the third choice as guest at the millionaire’s luxurious mansion in the country, but he knew that Theodore meant no malice by it.

“It’s so nice of you to think of me …” he said quietly, “but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline too. The problem is that this evening St Vincent’s Church hosts the annual Christmas Dinner and get-together for the old folks of the Parish. We bring them to the Church Center and Father Donald and I and a few of the nuns from the Convent prepare a Christmas meal …”

“Bring them along too …” interrupted Theodore with no hesitation, “we’ll make a party of it … we’ve plenty of room over here …”
 
Father Ignatius knew that there was little point resisting Theodore’s generosity and enthusiasm; so plans were hurriedly changed to reschedule the venue of the Parish Christmas Dinner to the mansion on the hill.
 
And so it was that about fifty people including the nuns from the Convent went to the millionaire’s house to enjoy Theodore’s and his wife’s genuine kindness. They all gathered in the grand dining room, which had been festively decorated at short notice, where they enjoyed the best food and drinks sumptuously prepared by the catering staff.

Theodore dressed up like Father Christmas to give each guest a gift and then he entertained them with a sing-along which featured him playing his repertoire of the classics re-arranged for the harmonica!

 
The following morning, Theodore Luxton-Joyce as eccentric as ever jumped into his car, despite the heavy Christmas snow making most roads impassable, and sped towards St Vincent Church.

Half an hour later he was in Father Ignatius’ office, having barged through Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper who opened the front door, mumbling about some emergency or other.
 
“Padre … we have a problem …” he exclaimed to the astounded priest sitting behind the desk, “I tried to phone you this morning but you were permanently engaged … I thought you were probably hearing some late Confessions from sinners who couldn’t make it to church because of the snow! Anyway … here I am. Got in the car and came over as quick as I could!”

“Sit down … take a deep breath. What is the problem?” asked Father Ignatius fearing the worst.

“I was in the library this morning … You know, the room annexed to the dining room where we had the old folk’s Christmas Dinner last night?”
 
The priest nodded.

“Well … just by the section where we have the books of Sir Walter Scott. You must have read him Padre! Scottish novelist, playwright and poet … you know … Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Heart of Midlothian and so on …

“Anyway … just by those books I found this beautiful gold necklace on the floor … what? Looks pretty expensive to me … must belong to one of the old ladies you invited to our Christmas party! Must have dropped it when they all went to the library for a spot of Darjeeling. The poor lady, whoever she is, must be beside herself having lost such a valuable piece … I’d say!”
 
Father Ignatius took the necklace from Theodore and said, “I’ll keep it in case someone phones and asks for it!”

“I’ll hear none of it …” interrupted Theodore, “the poor lady who lost it must be looking everywhere for it … under her bed … or behind the piano … or wherever old ladies hide their jewellery! We must get in touch with them all and ask them if they’ve lost this necklace!”

Father Ignatius looked up in disbelief. “There were about fifty old people there … most of them women … you’re not suggesting …”

Theodore was suggesting just that! And for the next hour or so they phoned most of the old ladies to find the owner of the necklace; with no success.

“Well that’s all of them … except these six who are not on the phone,” remarked the priest, “I’ll ask them when I next see them at Mass on Sunday!”

But Theodore’s concern would have none of it.

"I have the car out there …” he said, “why don’t we visit them right now? I also have a bottle of brandy in the car to keep us warm … always prepared what?”
 
Father Ignatius said a silent prayer in his mind seeking forgiveness for what he thought about Theodore right now. Then as a self-imposed penance he decided to accompany the eccentric millionaire on what would no doubt turn out to be a wild goose chase.

And a waste of time it certainly was. At every house Theodore insisted on accepting the invitation for tea and biscuits, or mince pies, or home made cake or whatever other delicacy the old ladies had prepared for Christmas. And at every house he regaled them all with stories about Sir Walter Scott and other Scottish writers and famous people, not forgetting to mention time and again his Highlands lineage and the fact that he could play Chopin’s piano concerto on the bagpipes!

“Where does he put all this tea?” thought the weary priest to himself, “and he hasn’t been to the toilet once!”

Eventually they returned to Father Ignatius’ office at the Parish House both very cold, dejected and exhausted.

“You don’t think we can have a drop of tea to keep us warm?” asked Theodore to Mrs Davenport as she came in to collect the empty cups from this morning.

Father Ignatius held the gold necklace in his hand and admired it pensively.

“You don’t think it belongs to one of the nuns who came to the party?” asked Theodore rather stupidly, “do nuns wear necklaces under their habits Padre?”

The priest smiled and shook his head. “It’s a beautiful necklace with a lovely little rose here in the middle …” he said, “You don’t suppose it belongs to your wife … Rose?”
 
“Dash it all …” cried out Theodore standing up from his seat, “I forgot all about Rose! That little flower on the necklace should have reminded me …
 
“I bought that necklace six months ago for Rose’s birthday in January. I hid it in Sir Walter Scott’s book Rob Roy, which I was reading at the time. I thought no one would find it there … no one ever reads the books in that library … what? The necklace must have fallen out yesterday when someone picked up the books.
 
“I’d forgotten all about it … and for the past three weeks I’ve been wondering what to buy Rose for her birthday next month. I got her a bracelet … I know that for sure … the thing is I don’t know where I’ve hidden it …old boy!”

Father Ignatius sought forgiveness from the Lord once again for what was going through his mind.

He gave the necklace back to Theodore and followed his enthusiastic rush to the car and waived him goodbye as he sped back to his mansion on the hill.
More stories about Theodore in the FREE downloadable E Book HERE

Saturday 23 November 2013

Silence the priests


Whether Confession is in an old style Confession Booth where the priest does not see the parishioner, or whether it is in a face-to-face situation; there's no doubt that in a number of cases the priest knows full well who is at the other side of the curtain.

This being the case, what is a priest to do when he knows more than what is being said in the Confessional.

Here are some scenarios:

SCENARIO 1 - The priest knows that a married parishioner is having an affair with another woman. This sin is not confessed, and the priest knows that the behavior continues.

Does the priest raise the matter in the Confessional?

Does he give absolution for sins confessed, knowing full well there are others not confessed and not repented over?

By giving absolution, is he making a mockery of the Sacrament of Confession?

By giving absolution, is he condoning the sin; by turning a blind eye to it?

By giving absolution is he being fair and right to the injured party (the wife and children)?

Is it his job to "interfere" or should he just give absolution to the sins confessed and ignore others which he knows about?

SCENARIO 2 - Is the priest influenced by what he hears at Confession? Should he be? Can he NOT be?

He is supposed to "forget" the sins he hears, but is this really possible?

A man confesses that he often steals from his employer. Small things like stationery, ink cartridges, that sort of thing. He also steals from shops - a bar of chocolate every now and then.

The man applies for a job at the church - church secretary, or such like admin job.

Should the priest be influenced by what he heard at Confession?

If he ignores the confessed sin and gives the man the job; and the man subsequently steals from the church; where does the priest stand?

Was he true to God in offering the man the job?

Was he true to the church and his bishop by putting the church at risk?

Should he tell the bishop he knew of the man's habitual sin?

SCENARIO 3 - the priest knows that the man who manages the Sunday collection is stealing from the plate. He has hard evidence of this.

No doubt he has a duty to raise the matter with the individual in order to protect church funds.

The man is repentant and confesses this in discussion, and again, subsequently at Confession. He is absolved of his sins.

To keep him away from temptation he stops dealing with the Sunday collection.

The man applies for a job and asks the priest for a reference.

Does the priest mention the collection wrong-doing in the reference he is to write?

If he does not, is he being truthful to the potential employer, and in the eyes of God?

If he does not mention the man's bad behavior, and the man gets the job, and is caught stealing, and it is discovered that the priest knew of this habitual practice when he wrote the reference; where does the priest stand in the eyes of God?

Just three scenarios for now. No doubt you can think of others.

I'd welcome your views.

Friday 8 November 2013

LOST

I've just lost a game of chess to a vacuum cleaner.

Let me explain.

I like playing chess, especially when my opponent is good and I have to plan a few moves ahead. Shall I move the knight? Or the bishop to trap my opponent?

Anyway, I brought out my white and pink chess board given to me as a present years ago and set out all the pieces.

I then got my chess book recording games from the old masters and set out to role play an old game. Me against an old master.

First I played the master's move by placing his chess piece as recorded in the book. Then I hid the rest of the text in the book, and decided where I would move my piece next had I been playing this game in real life. Then I checked the book to see if I made the right decision.

Slow and labourious perhaps, but it's a great way to learn how old champions played each other.

After about half-an-hour, to my dismay, two pages in the book where stuck together with old age. Married for life and not to be pulled apart until death doth separate them.

Rather than risk tearing the book, I left it aside and went searching for an older book I had in a box in the living room, hidden behind a piece of furniture.

In my eagerness to find the game I was playing, for I was sure it was in that book also, I forgot to wipe the book clean first. Some dust from the book fell on the chess board and the pieces.

I got the vacuum cleaner and with the tube I tried to clean off the dust on the chess board.

The vacuum cleaner sucked off all the pieces from the board and won the game !!!

Monday 4 November 2013

A Hell of Question


There are times when children ask us questions which make us stop and think. Our answer needs to be well thought out and considered before our mouth is engaged into action.

Father Ignatius was at the local Catholic School for his usual Catechism class. This is what happened when a ten years old girl asked him her question.

“Father … is it OK to pray for those people in hell?”

The priest took off his spectacles and cleaned them of imaginary dust in order to gain some thinking time.

“Why do you ask?” he said gently.

“Well …” she hesitated, “we pray for the souls in purgatory so that God forgives them and they go to Heaven.

“Why don’t we pray for those in hell? They were bad when they were alive but now they are dead they are in hell for ever. I feel sorry for them!”

“It’s good of you to feel sorry for them,” replied the priest, “it shows a charitable spirit … it shows you’re very kind and considerate.

“But we must remember this. No one goes to hell by mistake.

“As you say, these people were bad when they lived and they had plenty of opportunities to be good and to do what God asks. They had many chances to repent and ask God to forgive them and to do good. But they disobeyed, time and again, and they turned their back on God.

“God is merciful and He forgives … but He is just too. Those who are in hell have sent themselves there by their behavior.”

Another child raised his hand and asked a question.

“But Father … Sister Josephine when she was here yesterday, she said that Jesus told us to love our enemies. He said to God to forgive them when they put Him on the Cross.

“The people in hell are the enemy of God. Why does God not forgive them? Does He not love them?”

Father Ignatius prayed silently for inspiration before answering.

“Of course He loves them” he replied after a short pause, “God loves everybody because they are His creations. I suspect He even loves those in hell and He is very sad that they are there.

“But there are times in life when people put themselves out of God’s loving nature.

“Let me explain it another way.

“Suppose your parents bought you a puppy for your birthday. You love that puppy very much and you play with him every day. But as he grows up he becomes a little threatening and he growls at everyone. One day he bites your hand. And he continues with this bad behavior to the point where you can’t come near him in case he bites you again.

“For your own safety, and that of others, your parents decide to take the dog away and put him in a Dog Rescue Shelter where he’s looked after by other people.

“It’s the same with us. God loves us all when we’re born and we’re babies. But as we grow up, some people turn against Him and become bad. No matter how often these people are told to do good they never ask God to forgive them and they continue to do bad things all their life.

“When these bad people die they go to hell because of what they have done … God still loves them. Just as you love your dog in the Dog Shelter!

“In fact I believe God grieves for those in hell. He’d rather the place was empty and we were all with Him in Heaven. But some people put themselves in hell by their bad behavior.”

“So do we pray for those in hell or not?” asked the original questioner.

“There is nothing wrong with praying,” Father Ignatius replied, “God will listen to your prayers, as He does all prayers, and will respond in an appropriate and just way. When you pray, say to God how sorry you are that there are people in hell, and ask Him to help you be good all your life.

“Every one of us, young and old, like me, must always pray that we do not give God reason to grieve by behaving badly and ending in hell.”

Thursday 31 October 2013

Annointing the sick - Part 2

I mentioned in a previous post that, after leaving hospital, I wrote to a priest friend of mine living a great distance from me, Father Francis Maple, and told him of my experience.

He replied that I should have had in hospital the Sacrament of Annointing the sick.

I asked my parish priest and he visited me at home and after some prayers he annointed my forehead and hands with oil. He said this Scrament is important because I had been in a life threatening experience.

I did not have much time to discuss this with him.

But what is exactly the Sacrament of Annointing the sick?

When I was young there was something called Extreme Unction. Is it the same?

Does the Sacrament of Annointing the sick forgive all your sins? Like Confession?

If you die do you go to Heaven?

Is it instead of Communion? Say the patient is "nil by mouth" and cannot take Communion?

This led me to thinking. If whilst I was in hospital, fully conscious and waiting to go to the operating theater, a priest approached me to give this Sacrament. How would I have reacted? Would the fear of seeing him there resulted in a second heart attack?

How do we view a priest on such occasions? A sign that this is the end? Would we rejoice that we're leaving having made our peace with God? Or would we fear what is to come?

Does this Sacrament suffice to forgive sins? Or should Confession and, if possible, Communion also be taken for us to be at peace with Our Lord?

I welcome your comments.

God bless.

Vic M

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Annointing the sick

I e-mailed a priest friend of mine, Father Francis Maple, who lives a great distance from me, and told him about my hospital experience.

He replied straightaway and asked if someone in my family had asked for a priest to attend hospital and give me the Sacrament of Annointing the Sick.

No one had. I suppose they were in shock and too concerned about my health.

Father Francis replied that this is very important and a priest should be called at all such emergencies.

I write this here in case anyone needs reminding.

I'm getting slowly better. Thanx again for your prayers. I hope to start visiting your Blogs again soon.

God bless.

Vic M 

Wednesday 16 October 2013

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE


**1**

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The events in this book are all true. I have omitted a lot of the medical details as they may be upsetting to some readers. I hope and pray that what I write here may be of some help to someone somewhere facing a crisis in their lives.  

At our darkest hour, or at any other time, God is near at hand ensuring that His will be done for us. All we need do is trust Him.


**2**

On 27th September 2013 I went to my local hospital for a routine check-up. Nothing particularly serious and I had not been previously ill.

I was all ready, wearing nothing but those hospital gowns open at the back, and waiting my turn to be seen. As soon as the nurse put a needle in my arm to prepare me for sedation I felt a sharp pain in my chest. The doctor was called, they withdrew the needle, and gave me some medication.

I was put on a trolley and wheeled at speed to Cardiac Department. The pain was on and off at various degrees of hurt.

At Cardiac Department they said they’d put in some stents. Routine. No problem.

I was made to lie right down on my back and they took several X rays or whatever photos they take in such cases. I was turned to my left and right side; more photos.

I waited on the trolley. The doctors were discussing my case in Conference. Someone came and told me they were not going to put in stents. I remember a voice saying one artery is totally blocked, two are 95% blocked and a fourth is getting blocked not sending much oxygen to the heart. In effect, it’s a surprise I was still alive.

They shared my X rays with another hospital some 30 miles away via the Internet. The other hospital asked for me to go there.

I was put in an ambulance. In my daze, effects of the injections or whatever they gave me to ease the pain, I could hear voices saying “Have we got the defibrillator? Have got this and that?” And so on.

Apart from the two ambulance drivers, there were four or five other people standing around me at the back of the ambulance as I lay on the trolley. The ambulance drove away at speed with siren blaring and lights flashing. I felt every bump on the road, sudden stop and sharp turns left and right.

We arrived at the other hospital. I was wheeled in and they took several other X Rays or photos.

They decided to operate there and then. I was prepared for the operation and remember being wheeled through several corridors. It was Friday the 27th.

The next thing, someone awakened me in the afternoon of Saturday the 28th.

I had suffered a heart attack and they carried out a triple by-pass surgery.

My timing, or God’s timing to be precise, was perfect. I was at the right place at the right time when I suffered the heart attack. That saved my life.

**3**

The next two or three days left me in some sort of daze. I was cared for by an excellent team of doctors and nurses. I was in a room with five other beds – Critical Care Department. By each bed there was a computer on a stand and a nurse or two there at all times. As each nurse left they handed over to another nurse who logged in on the computer and read my progress. Nurses checked me every two hours day and night – temperature, blood pressure and so on. A team of doctors visited at least once a day. 

They tried to get me to eat something but I couldn’t. Eventually I had a couple of spoons of ice cream.

**4**
On the third or fourth night after the operation I awoke with a start in the middle of the night. It was just after 1.00 in the morning. I was in a cold sweat. Suddenly I had seen my reality in a dream. There I was lying on my back in bed unable to move my arms or legs or anything. Motionless and wide awake.

All my life I had been very active and self-assured. Able to make managerial decisions at work and provide for my family. Always in control and always planning ahead and prepared for most eventualities.

And now I was lying there motionless like an insignificant squashed insect. Unable to move.

The thought frightened me. The words “insignificant insect” reverberated in my mind again and again. I felt vulnerable. I remembered Paul on the way to Damascus. Powerful leader of men persecuting Christians, when suddenly he was off his horse and blind. Totally helpless, vulnerable and unable to do anything without someone’s help.

In my tiredness I must have switched off.

Half an hour or so later, the same dream, the same awakening in a start. It was about 1:30 am on the clock on the wall behind the nurse standing by the computer at my feet.

Insignificant insect.

And again and again it happened. Just after 2.00am after 2:40am and so on three or four times. It was as if the message had to be imprinted and understood in my mind.

The nurse approached me and said “You’re having a bad time sleeping. Are you in pain?”

I replied “Do you believe in God?”

The nurse certainly did believe. So I asked “Why did I not die? I could have died at my local hospital when first observed. I could have died in their Cardiac Department. In the ambulance on the way to this hospital. On the operating table. Any time. Why did I not die?”

“It is not your time yet!” was the calm reply.

God must want something of me, I thought, as I fell asleep once again.

**5**
The following night another revelation repeated itself in my mind. I awoke again and the words “Unless a grain of wheat is crushed …” repeated over and again. Just those few words. I remembered Christ’s words about a grain dying to produce a plant and more wheat. But in my mind only the short unfinished sentence repeated over and again until tiredness took over and I fell asleep.

**6**

The following night another dream. I must stress that the dreams did not involve sceneries and people I knew, or various situations like normal dreams. It was just a sentence I could see written clearly in my mind’s eye.

Last night it was “Unless a grain of wheat is crushed”.

This time it was “To know yourself you must get to know yourself.”

What could this possibly mean? The sentence repeated there in my mind until I fell asleep. When I awoke it was still there.

Over and over again the words remained in my mind as I tried to make sense of them.

Eventually, as if someone was explaining it to me, the sentence clarified. Do we really know ourselves? Not our names, our background, family lineage and so on. But do we really know ourselves?

When you meet a new person, a new friend perhaps, you “get to know them” over time. Their likes and dislikes, their views and opinions, their life experiences and so on.

But do we ever “get to know” ourselves? What are our views and opinions based on? Our prejudices even; because we all have prejudices no matter how well we hide them from ourselves. Our views on other peoples’ beliefs, dress styles, hair styles, accents, backgrounds, social standings and so on. What are all our views based on? Are they based on others’ opinions which we follow blindly? Or are they based on well thought out and evaluated criteria, based on right and wrong, based on good wholesome values, based on peoples’ behaviours and actions rather than on their looks.

Basically, what exactly makes us tick? Why do we behave the way we do? Blind prejudice or well thought out opinions based on facts?

“To know yourself you must get to know yourself.”

Who am I? Why did I behave in a certain way in the past? Or thought and acted in a certain way?

Do I really know myself? Now’s the time to get to know oneself.

God certainly know us even if we don’t know ourselves.

**7**

My fourth dream was just as strange a day later. Again no sceneries or storyline. Just a sentence there in my mind.

“The dichotomy between our own free will to behave and do as we want and God’s will be done.”

Now this sentence was really strange. For a start, never in my life did I use or would have used such a word as “dichotomy”. I don’t even know what it means. So where did this phrase come from? Had I heard or read it somewhere and now it came to the surface in my mind?

As before, the sentence repeated in my mind making no sense at all as I fell asleep again.

Eventually, as if someone was explaining it to a child, a thought developed in my mind.

We have all been given a free will by God to behave as we wish. He did not create a race of robots following His every wish, but free people able to decide freely for themselves whether to believe in Him and follow Him or not. That is His gift to us.

However, as we “get to know Him” and love Him our free will is, or should be, that in everything His will be done.

Wow … that thought overwhelmed me. It should be my free will to trust Him so much that to accept that in all eventualities His will be done. It’s as if I’m returning His gift of free will to me and saying “thank you, but I trust you so much that I accept Your will in all events.”

No matter whether the outcome of a situation is good or bad. I should accept His will be done in full confidence and knowledge that it will work out for the best. No ifs, no buts, no not withstanding the afore mentioned clause, or any other legalise you may wish to add. 

In all situations we should trust Him so much that we freely accept that His will be done.

The amount of self-control and trust to give all situations totally to God must be really enormous and require great concentration.

**8**

It didn’t take long for God to test my new resolve. Again, without mentioning any medical details, a few days later I was lying on my back in bed and listening to medics talking in their own language.

Of course I was frightened. What’s to happen now? But I concentrated as much as I could concentrate, “Thy will be done. No matter the outcome. Good or bad. I trust You. Thy will be done.”

Eventually, all went well.

I heard a thought in my mind, “Don’t forget to say thank you!”

I asked God “Why do You test me so much when you already know how I’ll behave?”

I wonder what He made of my impertinence.

**9**

The day finally arrived for me to go home and recuperate. On that morning, at about 6.00am, I felt terrible pains down my spine, across my shoulders at the back and front, and in various places on my chest. I called a nurse.

Again, no medical details, but I was soon surrounded by half a dozen nurses and doctors, all working together to sort out what had happened.

In my pain I prayed “Thy will be done. No matter the outcome. Please make the pain go away.”

Then I asked myself, “Is it OK to say make the pain go away?” Is this not taking back control from God?

Then I remembered that many people asked Jesus to make their pain go away. The deaf, the mute, the blind and the lame. Many people asked for his help and He did have pity on them and healed them.

So it’s OK to ask for help from God and it is not contrary to His will being done.

Eventually the medics sorted me out. They said my timing (God’s timing) was again perfect. What happened to me could well have happened after I left hospital.

I am now at home recuperating. God’s will be done.

**10**

I am not saying or claiming that these dreams or messages were from God. They may well have been. I do realise that many people don’t even believe in God and they may well have their own theories and opinions as to the origin or source of these dreams. Some may even mock; in which case I am glad I gave them the opportunity to smile or chuckle.

I believe in God, and I report here just what happened.

At no time in my “near death experience” were there bright lights, visions of angels or saints or dearly departed relatives or friends. Just the dreams as mentioned.

There were not many prayers either. Repetitive Rosaries or other petitions. Just the full knowledge, with all the concentration I could muster, that “Thy will be done”. This, somehow, seemed to suffice.

**11**

I would like to thank all the medical staff at my local hospital as well as the one I was transferred to, and the ambulance team, for their professionalism, experience and for looking after me so well.

I would also like to thank family and friends for all they have done, and are still doing, since my ordeal on 27th September. I am also appreciative and thank my Internet friends for all their prayers for me.

God bless you all.

Victor S E Moubarak


NOTE: The above post has been produced in PDF Format as a booklet. If you wish to have a copy FREE which may be of help to someone please contact me at enquiries@holyvisions.co.uk


 

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Is anyone listening?

 
It is said that we have been on this earth for millions of years. I know it feels like it to me sometimes when I experience aches and pains … but that’s another story.

So let’s stop interrupting and get back on course.

For all these years, as long as man could reason and comprehend … (some women believe this has never happened).

I really must stop interrupting myself.

As I was saying … for all these years, as long as humanity could reason and comprehend, God has spoken to us and shown us the Way back to Him.

No generation has been left without a sure sign of His existence and the Way back to Him.

At first, God spoke through people like Abraham, Moses, Elijah and other prophets. He spoke through the many poets and songsters who wrote the psalms. And through ordinary people so that their contemporaries could understand.

Had God appeared on earth as a majestic Divine Ruler, Creator and King of the whole universe, omnipotent, all knowing and all powerful; He would most probably have caused havoc, fear, awe, and eventually total submission.

Hardly the acts of a loving Father.

So God at first chose the gentler way of speaking and teaching the people. He spoke through enlightened open minded leaders like Moses. People who could translate His message to generations in a language they could understand.

He taught them of His love for them, and for His plans to come to them in person, as often prophesised in the Old Testament.

But many did not listen.

Later on, when they were ready, God sent His Son on earth as a human in the shape of Jesus.

He showed them many signs of His divinity through healing miracles and raising of the dead. He died for them and us, and was raised from the dead.

But many still did not listen or believe.

After Jesus was raised to Heaven He sent the Holy Spirit to guide us, help us, and be with us every step of the eventual Way to the Father.

The Holy Spirit is with us today. Right now. A reality not just a figure of speech.

Many have received Him with open hearts.

But as for countless others …

They’re still not listening ... perhaps they'll never will.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Does God play tennis?

In the UK, every summer, we have a major tennis tournament called Wimbledon. My American readers will know all about it since their tennis champions have won it many times.

Years ago, I had an employee who always took his holidays during Wimbledon fortnight because of the tennis. We always thought he was very dedicated and he certainly knew a lot about the game and the many competing players.

I once asked him if he enjoyed the games and which ones did he attend.

"None ..." he said, "I didn't go to the games. I never do!"

This surprised me and I enquired further. Maybe he watched the games on TV? No ... he didn't do that either.

Apparently, every day he went to the local park not far from his home and listened to the games on his small radio. He said by not watching the games on TV he could sit there and imagine what was happening at Wimbledon and enjoy the atmosphere better.

Now I wonder, would we show as much dedication if our God asked us, once a week, to go and visit Him in church?

Sunday 15 September 2013

Confession Explained



Friday 13 September 2013

Missing Without A Trace



I’ve been missing for three days. Without a trace. No one knew I was missing … except me of course. I suspect none of you noticed my absence.

On Tuesday the family decided to take Aunt Gertrude down South to visit friends leaving me at home alone with the dog, the cat and the goldfish. Oh bliss … a whole three days without Auntie's Australian accent grating on my nerves. Without a family demanding this and that and volunteering me for all sorts of things.


As long as I can keep the pets well fed I’ll have a peaceful break all to myself. Although at times the goldfish can be quite noisy when they chatter and laugh at me from their fishtank.

Let me explain that we live in a very old Victorian house which has a cellar spanning the whole floor area of the property. You enter the cellar from a door just under the staircase.

We don’t use this basement often, it’s mostly a storage area nowadays where we keep half a dozen bottles of wine lying lazily on a shelf which I built myself … slightly leaning to one side mind you … but still OK if you wedge a book at the end and it stops the bottles from rolling off.

We also keep some foodstuff down there, mostly tins of soup, various tins of vegetables and fruits and other household goods like detergents, washing liquids and so on. And books. plenty of books. I built a few more shelves in one corner which I call the library and we've put annumber of books which we refer to every now and then. You get the idea … it's just a storage area for things we use now and then.

The basement used to be a small apartment for a servant or butler in years gone by … it has a small kitchenette and bathroom still fully plumbed in and in working order, and a tiny living/sleeping area. Originally I wanted to send our guest from Australia, Aunt Gertrude, down there; but I was over-ruled, as often happens in our houshold, much to the amusement of the goldfish.

Now where was I? In the basement … or about to enter the basement to be precise. I needed a book about Australian parasites so off I went downstairs as one would in such circumstances. 

As I got to the corner where the books are, there was an almighty crash in the house as the dog started chasing the cat who followed me down in the basement. 

The dog … huge as he is … did not quite fit in under the staircase where the basement door is situated, but his immense stature slammed the door shut. That’s when I heard a clunk … clunk … clunk … sound all the way down the stairs and at my feet.

Perhaps I should have mentioned that the door handle has always been a little loose. I’ve always planned to fix it … Lord knows I’ve been told often enough … but with that and the leaning shelves it was all a question of priorities. Which one to fix first … and neither was done!

I picked up the door handle and tried to open the door. No use … it would not work. And that’s how I went missing without a trace in my own house.

No one knew I was there. No use shouting for help. No one would hear me. No point in phoning for help. I didn’t have the cell-phone with me.

Try as I might to open the door but it was all in vain. An hour or so later I heard the phone ring in the house and the loudspeaker on the answering machine said “Hello … we’ve arrived safely … Oh … you must be out. See you Thursday evening. Bye!”

Great … what a prospect. Trapped in my own house for three whole days.

Now it is said that in such circumstances of extreme trauma one should sit down calmly, take deep breaths and concentrate. No need to panic.

Calm down and concentrate.

And nothing aids concentration more than a drop or two of wine.

Fortunately we have plenty of that here. Or beer if one prefers … which is also easily to hand.

After an hour or so of concentration I still had no idea on how to get out of my prison.

My mind was getting a little hazy … perhaps it’s the lack of air down here. There’s a small window at the far end of the basement leading to the back garden of the house. It’s at ground level when you’re out in the garden … if you see what I mean. It’s too small to get out of; and it is barred anyway. I did tell you wine aids concentration didn’t I?

Now then … if I could get the cat out of the window he could go for help! (Hic ... pardon me ... hiccup!)

I could tie a message to his collar! No that won’t do … he doesn’t wear a collar. Too dangerous you see, he could get caught on a tree branch and injure himself. So we’ve never put a collar on him. Perhaps I could go out and buy him a collar. Ooops ... I can't get out ... hic!

Perhaps I could tattoo a distress message on his body … a bit extreme I must say! It’ll stay with him for life. “HELP … I’m trapped in the basement!”

The problem is I have no tattooing equipment whatsoever down here, and I’ve never tattooed anyone in my life let alone a cat.

What if I cut a message in his fur with scissors? Like some people do with their hairstyle when they cut their hair in different patterns? Would the cat stay still long enough until I finish cutting his fur I wonder?

I think I need another drink … hic!

Ah … I got it. This is certain to work. I could empty all these tins of peas … well some of them anyway … no one likes peas. I could tie them to one another with a long string and tie that to the cat’s tail.

He’d make such a noise running all over town that someone is sure to find him and read my message which will be written on one of the tins.

I emptied about a dozen tins. Peas taste awful when eaten cold you know … even washed down with beer. 

I tied the tins together. Wrote a message on several tins to make sure it is read. 

I called the cat sleeping happily in the corner. I tripped on the Australian book lying on the floor. The cat suddenly got up and shot out through the window.

Typical of that cat … un-cooperative to the last. He just would not help me in my hour of need.

I was found fast asleep on Thursday evening.

More stories about my cat in my FREE E Book  
"FELINE CATASTROPHES"

Sunday 1 September 2013

When disasters happen


“We interrupt this programme to bring you a News Flash …” blared the radio in the kitchen.

Father Ignatius stopped his cooking for a minute and listened attentively. There had been a train crash not far from where he lived. Somehow the train was de-railed and fell down a steep embankment into a nearby river. There were a number of casualties as well as many injuries.

The priest rang the emergency number given by the radio announcer to enquire how he might help. He was asked to go to the local hospital to donate blood, and also to help comfort some of the not seriously wounded.

An hour or so later he was consoled that many of the town’s folk had responded to the appeal and a long queue had formed to donate blood.

That disaster had shaken the town’s morale badly. Father Ignatius decided, unconventionally as it might seem, to make the train crash the subject of his sermon on Sunday.

He approached the lectern and said: “Let us pray for the victims and the injured of the train crash which happened a few days ago; as well as for their family and friends.

“This train crash has come as quite a shock to all of us, especially as it comes so close to the tragedy last week when a bus driver lost control of his bus and killed several school children walking on the sidewalk.

“When such disasters happen, some of us get a little confused and ask why God made it happen. Some even blame Him for the disaster believing that a loving God should have prevented it.

“I say … Praise the Lord!”

Father Ignatius paused for a while to allow the murmurs in church to die down.

“I can see from your faces that some of you think I’ve gone mad,” he continued.

“Father Ignatius has lost his marbles … he is a few Hail Mary’s short of a Rosary … his little grey cells have turned to ashes … and whatever other metaphors you wish to make up to describe my sanity or lack of it.

“Of course I recognise and I'm deeply shocked by the terrible tragedies that have befallen this town in the last few days. Especially when we consider as well the severe economic crisis we’re living through and how it is affecting many families facing loss of work and income. And how misery tends to enjoy company and has visited many local communities lately.

“Please don’t misunderstand me … when such disasters happen we must help in every practical way we can.

“But I also wish to ask you to consider this … Where do you think God is when a disaster happens?

“Is He hiding behind the settee cringing in fear at what is happening in the world today? How it’s all gone wrong and He can’t handle it anymore?

“Or is He still in control of all that is happening in the universe?

“When we praise Him, we’re not doing so because of the disaster, but because He is still in control of this and every situation.

“In doing so, we acknowledge His greatness, His omnipotence and that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.

“By praising Him, no matter what the situation, we somehow open a channel for His grace to shine upon us and, if it is His will, a good outcome will result from a bad situation.

“The alternative of course is to rebel and blame Him for the bad situation that befalls us. And where will this lead us I ask you?

“How dare we … insignificant minuscule little creatures that we are … how dare we question His will and in so doing distance ourselves from His love and mercy?

“Of course we’re hurt and shocked by what has happened recently and we’re confused. We wouldn’t be humans if we weren’t.

“But I urge you, having prayed for the victims and their families and friends, having helped practically where we can, let us now stand and confidently praise the Lord that He is still in control of everything.”

Thursday 29 August 2013

How to enter Heaven

A man dies and arrives at the Gates of Heaven where he meets St Peter.

“Hello there …” says the Saint, “welcome to your final destination. You’ll like it here … it’s all about love. Can you spell love?”

“L … O … V … E …” says the man.

“That’s great,” replies St Peter with a smile, “you can come in!”

At this point the telephone rings and St Peter answers it. After a while he says to the new arrival:

“You’ll have to excuse me a minute … there’s something I have to attend to … it’s those Catholics … they’ve lit all the incense and set off the fire alarms … and they keep arguing about which type of Mass is best … I have to go and sort them out!

“Can you stay here at the Gates for a while until I return?”

Moments later a woman arrives at the Gates and the man recognizes his wife.

“What are you doing here?” he asks, “you’re quick to follow me … I haven’t even had time to Rest In Peace and here you are following me …”

“Well … yes …” she mumbles, “after your funeral … the hearse was speeding to the pub and it got off the road … and here I am …”

“Oh …” he replies, remembering a lifetime of nagging.

“What’s it like here?” she asks her husband, “does it need re-decorating? I've seen some lovely wallpaper ..."

He raises his eyebrows and says nothing.

"Don't be like that ..." she goes on, "is it easy to get in Heaven?”

“Very easy …” he replies, “this fellow, Peter, is very easy going … all you have to do is spell a word and you’re in …”

“That’s great …” she smiles enthusiastically.

“Can you spell Rachmaninoff?”

Ha … That’s a good one. I’ve never heard this joke before!!!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: God smiles when we laugh. Laughter is good for you. It releases dolphins within us which tickle us from the inside, and make us laugh more! Dolphins are good for your health.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Three Wishes

There I was face to face with St Peter. He looked at his computer monitor and said. “Yep … your credentials are OK. You’ve made it. Welcome to Heaven!”

I smiled silently.

“We like our guests to be very comfortable here” continued the Saint, “and not feel too disoriented from where they come from. So you’re allowed to go back to earth for a short period and bring with you three items from down there which will help make you more comfortable up here.

“I have to enter them on the computer … so, what will they be?”

I stopped and thought for a few moments. Three items … what could I bring from earth which will make my eternity here more pleasant … as if that were possible.

I saw him smile at that last thought.

Perhaps I could bring my MP3 player with all my music collection … that would be nice.

He frowned a little and was about to type when I added … “Oh … it’s got Latin hymns on it too …” He said nothing and I saw him type in the reflection of his spectacles.

Perhaps I could also bring my DVD collection of all those movies I never had time to see …

He interrupted my thoughts by saying, “Whilst you’re thinking about this can I also tell you that you can bring three people from down there to share Heaven with you. Who will they be?”

“Three people?” I thought, “but I know more than three people whom I’d love to see in Heaven for eternity.

“My wife … my children, my extended family, my friends, and all my Blogging friends whom I’ve ‘met’ through the Internet. There’s many more than just three people I’d like here with me.

“But … but … their lives are so inter-dependent. If I bring my wife here, who will look after the children left behind? And is it right and fair to bring young children here before they’ve had a chance to live life? How about my extended family … I can’t bring one and leave the others behind?

“This is so unfair!”

“Sit down,” said the Saint sternly, “you think it is unfair because you see things through human perspective. You analyze and measure things your way; often in a possessive manner.

“You say things like my wife, my children, my parents and my friends … as if these people belong to you.

“No one and nothing belongs to anybody and everything belongs to God.

“God gave life and only He decides when it ends and whether people come here or … the other place.

“You humans often complain when a young life is taken or when someone leaves dependents behind with seemingly no one to care for them.

“You forget that God is there to care for them, and He leaves plenty of opportunities for those people left behind to take on the task He has set them.

“Whilst everyone has his allotted time on earth, whilst there, their main job is to do His will so that when their turn comes they end up here!

“You understand?”

I nodded meekly.

“Now tell me,” he continued with a smile, “which Latin hymns do you have in your collection?”

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

Sunday 11 August 2013

Impossible


When Christ hung dying on the Cross, despite His earlier betrayal, arrest, humiliation, beatings and torture; despite suffering the most painful of death and being taunted and tormented by His enemies, He still had love in His heart and asked for forgiveness on behalf of these people.

We are asked to do the same. We are asked to forgive others just as He forgave. When we recite the Prayer He taught us we seek His forgiveness and promise to forgive others.

He also taught us to "Love one another as I have loved you". A Commandment no less.

Yet, when we consider both of these teachings from our Lord, to love one another and to forgive whatever hurt is done to us, we cannot help but wander whether it is at all possible.

When Christ forgave on the Cross and loved as He has loved it was a Divine God who forgave and loved. Not a mere human like us. Can we, humans, possibly love and forgive as He?

Christ knows full well that what He asks us is impossible for us to achieve. Yet He asks all the same.

Being human we are subject to all human failings. When we are hurt we often feel resentment, ill-will and perhaps vengeance and forgiveness might be very difficult an emotion for us when the pain is still fresh and raw. And in time, as the memories of the hurt and pains come back we may still find it hard to forgive. Or, if we find it in our hearts to forgive, as many indeed do, the memories bring back that pain once again and, at the very least, we feel hard done by.

To forgive totally, as Christ did, is not within our grasp because we are not as Divine as He.

And to love unequivocally, all those within our circle of acquaintance, never mind our enemies, and to turn the other cheek is certainly not within our powers. No matter how much we try, there will always be one person whom we do not like, who rubs us the wrong way, whom we'd rather avoid. Yet we're asked to love one another as He has loved us.

Impossible.

So ... what are we to do? Are we doomed to failure? Unable to forgive totally and to love without reservation?

Our response to Christ's Commandment is to try as best as we can to obey it. Through gritted teeth perhaps, we should try again and again to forgive and to love. The memories of the hurts done to us will return, but these should not stop us from forgiving again and again.

We will probably fail ... often. But this should not stop us from trying. We will never achieve the same level of forgiveness and love as Christ, but His example should urge us on to try harder.

Saints did not become Saints because they were necessarily good at all times. They were often sinners who kept on trying.

God knows our human nature. He knows our failings and weaknesses. He knows we cannot achieve the impossible.

But in His Divine love and mercy He will welcome us with open arms for eternity with Him ... just because we kept trying and never gave up.

Sunday 4 August 2013

Messages


Isn’t it annoying when you’re waiting for an important letter and the postman never comes. Or he delivers a lot of bills and adverts but not the letter you want.

I accept that sometimes he has no letters for me. When that is the case, why can’t he ring the door bell and tell me he has no letters for me?

After all, when I check my computer it tells me there are no new messages on the server. So why can’t the postman?

And why doesn’t God say to the world “I have no new messages for you. The message is the same as it ever was. I love you so much that I sacrificed my only Son, Jesus, for you.” (John 3:16).

The devil on the other hand, well … he’s always got new messages for us. New temptations. New ways to lead us astray. New ways to rebel against God.

Or is it perhaps that God is telling us daily His Good News of our salvation, by His Grace, through Jesus – and we’re just not listening.

Now here’s a thought!

Thursday 1 August 2013

God's Invitation

 
Someone asked me whether God wants everyone to come to Him, and, since He knows everything, if anyone refuses to follow God’s Word, then did this man really have a choice, or was it pre-determined that he would not follow God.

Pre-determination and free will have been debated by Christians and non-Christians for years.

Here’s my view on it.

God's invitation is to everyone - without exception. When He invites us to love Him, He wants us to choose freely - without any pressure on His part to influence our decision. We choose to love Him and come to God through Jesus Christ: "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6.

Of course, some choose not to accept the invitation. They decide to walk away from God. Not to believe in Him and in Jesus as His only Son. That is their free choice.

God in His infinite wisdom knows our decision before we even make it - but He does not influence it in any way. He knows that some people will not believe in Him.

In certain cases He allows this to happen.

It's like you being in a helicopter watching two cars coming at an intersection. You know they will hit each other. Yet you do not influence or change the outcome.

There are times however when God does try to influence our decision. Give us a nudge in the right direction, you might say.

Note that I say “influence” and not force our decision.

Why He does that only in some cases we really don’t know.

A well known example of His influence is the manner He “encouraged” Paul on the way to Damascus. I suppose Paul could still have walked away and not followed God’s Word; although I doubt many would have done so under the circumstances! Paul chose to accept God and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today God does nudge some of us in the right direction.

How?

Perhaps through chance meetings with someone who might talk to us about God and encourage us to accept His Word and take up His invitation to love Him.

Maybe He allows certain things to happen in our lives which make us turn to Him.

But the fact is that He does talk to us. He does encourage us to come to Him through Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of us just aren't listening.

But here’s the important distinction to remember. God tries to influence us to accept His Word. He encourages us.

But He never forces us.

We are free to choose to love Him, or not.