Saturday, 30 January 2016

How safe are you?

 
A new indoor mountaineering and abseiling center was featured on TV lately. It consists of a large hall wherein a 100 feet high “mountain” has been built with different routes one can climb to the top.

Some routes are just vertical walls with tiny crevasses for climbers to fit their hands and feet and pull themselves up to the top. Once at the top, you can walk from one peak to another on this false mountain via rickety bridges made from rope or wooden slippery logs tied together. Alternatively you can slide (abseil) down a vertical smooth wall all the way to the bottom and start again.

Youngsters as well as experienced climbers use this indoor facility to learn and practice before taking up the sport outdoors on real mountains. And it is perfectly safe. Everyone is tied in to elaborate harnesses and ropes which allow you to climb freely, and walk across unsafe bridges freely, yet, should you happen to fall the ropes would hold you and keep you suspended in mid-air until a supervisor pulls you back to safety.

One of the staff explained that it is a unique experience. The climbers know that they are safe because if they lose their grip or footing the ropes and harnesses will take over and save them from a fatal fall. Yet they are subconsciously nervous and fearful that they might fall.

This made me think about our relationship with God. We know He is there and that He loves us and cares for us. So, to that extent at least, we are safe.

Yet, sometimes our doubts and fears take over and play havoc with our Faith – especially when we face difficulties and troubles in our lives. We wonder whether He will help us or not.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1 NIV.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Just for you


IN CASE YOU NEED REMINDING
I PRAY FOR EVERYONE
WHO COMMENTS HERE

Here are two videos which I have made.
Enjoy!


Thursday, 21 January 2016

Brand New Product Available Soon



Please spend a couple of minutes considering this brand new product which I advertise here and which I am sure you will want to purchase.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

TRUST

When we love someone we reach a stage where we totally trust them without any fear or doubt. We give a part of ourselves to that person; we share our very soul. And in doing so we become vulnerable and we weaken ourselves, willingly, for the sake of that person and the love we have for them.

Trust is natural. It is part of us as soon as we are born. A child trusts his parents to take care of him and to have his best intentions at heart. A parent will not give a stone to a child seeking bread, or a serpent when he asks for fish.

But there are times in life when our trust in someone is broken, wounded, even dead. And when trust is dead, it is very difficult to win it back and to go back to a situation where you trust that person again as if nothing happened. In the back of your mind, there will always be doubt and fear to become as trusting and as vulnerable as before.

So, if trust is such a delicate and fragile emotion when dealing with other human beings, how difficult is it to trust someone you have never seen?

We say we trust God. He will look after us, and care for us come what may. But how is it possible to trust Someone we believe in through Faith alone and without any proof or evidence whatsoever?

There are times in life when things go wrong, very wrong, and we feel alone, abandoned, and totally helpless as well as vulnerable. How can we possibly trust an unseen God when He has let us down so badly? Or so it seems. How can we continue to trust Him when trust itself in such circumstances seems to be an illogical solution to the problems we face?

It must be a wretched and lonely place to be in when we can no longer even trust the very God Whom we claim to believe in.

But then ... even Jesus reached that stage in life when hanging on the Cross. He believed His Father had abandoned Him.

If Christ, the Son of God, can reach such moments of utter despair, then we are to be forgiven, perhaps, when at times of great difficulty our humanity succumbs to its basic inherent weakness and loses trust in its Creator.

We should take comfort and encouragement from Christ's example on the Cross. He came to earth as a human to experience and share our every emotion, including trust or the lack of it at times of great sorrow and despair.

He overcame His doubts on the Cross through the grace and love of His Father in Heaven.

So should we, when things are really bad in our lives, turn to God and earnestly seek His help in re-building our trust, perhaps weakened but never destroyed.

May I recommend:

"I Am With You" by Father John Woolley. It is a series of one-page words of divine inspirations given to Fr John in prayer. You open the book at any page and it is amazing how often God is speaking to you there and then about the problem you are wrestling with at the time. ISBN 0-950-8840-7-3

Monday, 11 January 2016

Lost Property


ASSISTANT: Can I help you Sir?

ME: Yes please. I wonder if anyone has handed in a glove at Lost Property. We were in this store about an hour ago and my son has lost a glove.

ASSISTANT: A glove, you say? No … no gloves handed in. But you can have a pencil instead.

ME: A pencil?

ASS: That’s right. You can choose any colour. Does your son like a blue one? Red perhaps?

ME: No thanks. We came in for a lost glove.

ASS: But, we have plenty of pencils. No one ever hands in a glove to Lost Property it is always pencils, or pens, or rulers or envelopes.

ME: No wonder people hand in pencils and pens. This is a stationery store after all!

ASS: Yes it is a stationery store … but we’re moving tomorrow. Just next door. It’s just to confuse the customers. We’ve been here as a stationery store for two years now. So we decided to move next door. It’s like they do in supermarkets. They move things around every so often to confuse the customers. You go in looking for soap in the usual place and instead they have put tins of beans there. The soap is where something else used to be. It’s to get customers to walk around the store and buy something else; like dog food, even though you do not have a dog. It’s called Retail Planning Layout. So we’re doing the same and moving next door.

ME: I understand. I only came in to check if someone had handed in a glove.

ASS: And one more thing. Did you know that no matter how much you push the envelope it still remains stationery? Unlike us. We're moving tomorrow.

(Voice from behind me): Dad, I have found it. It was in my pocket all the time.

ASS: Ah … I see your son has a glove. We do not encourage pickpockets or shoplifting in this store.

ME: But … it’s his own glove. He had it all the time.  

ASS: So you say. He most probably picked it up without paying.

ME: But it’s the same as his other glove. Look!

ASS: So you admit he has stolen two gloves? I must insist you see the manager or I’ll press this panic button down here. I don’t know what it’ll do; but I’ve always wanted to find out.

ME: I assure you, my son has not stolen any gloves. You can see they are worn out. Besides, this is a stationery store. You don’t even sell gloves.

ASS: I told you we are moving tomorrow so we're not that stationery are we? Besides, he could have stolen the gloves from another shop. How do you explain they were in his pocket?

ME: If he stole them from another shop; which he didn’t, it would hardly be any business of yours. Would it?

ASS: You’ve got a point there. And so has this pencil. Would you like a pencil? It’s got a point too. A pencil without a point would be pointless. But all our pencils have points; in many colours too. Blue, red, green, yellow, mauve … now that’s an interesting colour … mauve … rhymes with move, which we are doing tomorrow.

MORAL OF THIS STORY:

Life is complicated. More so than it was a generation or two ago.

Everyone thinks he has a point of view, no matter how badly thought-out, or perhaps not thought-out at all, is that point of view; or perhaps just borrowed from someone else so as to make it totally pointless.

Consequently, many people push their point of view forward at every opportunity regardless whether it is a good point of view or totally pointless.

And a pointless point of view is not worth the brain cells it is written on.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

I protest



“I protest … This is a sit down protest … I’ve been told to come out to the woods today for a big surprise barefaced protest … I’m not sure what we’re protesting about … No one has turned up and I feel silly … I won’t move though, otherwise all those people looking at me will think I’m silly … I’ll stay … I’ll protest alone!”

Sometimes we insist that we are correct and we stick to our point of view no matter what. We may realize that perhaps we’re mistaken, but we will certainly not admit it. We’d rather dig our heels and brazen it out regardless.

It takes real courage to admit one’s errors and learn from them than to progress blindly down the wrong road.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Bull



When the people saw that Moses had not come down from the mountain but was staying there a long time, they gathered round Aaron and said to him, “We do not know what has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.”

Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold earrings which your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took the earrings, melted them, poured the gold into a mould, and made a gold bull.

The people said, “Israel, this is our god who led us out of Egypt!” Exodus 32:1- 4.



I can’t tell you precisely when this happened; but it must have been several years before Jesus was born.

And now … thousand of years later, thankfully we no longer worship golden bulls.

But we do have modern lifestyles, pursuit of wealth, fame and fortune, thirst for power and influence, love of materialism, abuse of the planet and the environment and several other golden calves to replace one golden bull !!!

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

60.


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

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

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

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

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

She said nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Father Ignatius smiled and then went on.

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

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

He stopped again to gauge her reaction.

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

She shook her head silently.

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

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

“Yes please …” she replied smiling broadly.

FREE Father Ignatius Books HERE.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Dear God please make it stop


Sing to the Lord a new song. (Isaiah 42:10) (But sing it well!)

In most churches there is a bit of singing during the service or during Mass. And this is good. Especially when the congregation sing with one voice, or when we have a well-trained choir singing well, and all is bright and beautiful.

In some churches I have visited, however, all is not as well and bright and beautiful. I have noticed there is often a tendency for one individual to stand in front by the microphone, Sunday after Sunday, sometimes accompanied by the choir, but more often than not just accompanied by the organ music, and regale us all with their voice.

Now I don't know if these individuals think they are Caruso, or Maria Callas, or such like singers; but they clearly are not.

In fact I have named one individual Caruso in my mind because of the way he stands straight and opens his mouth very wide when he sings; no doubt sucking in every passing fly for miles around. I have also named a certain singing lady, who alternates some Sundays with Caruso, "laryngitis" because she sounds like a cat making love to a hedgehog.

Why is it, I ask myself, that these two individuals, (and there are many similar others in other churches), somehow manage to get themselves in a position where they are supposedly leading the congregation in song, and more often than not they are only performing solo whilst the congregation sits there watching each other or watching down at their feet pretending to pray.

I noticed it today. Caruso went on and on singing alone whilst everyone in church was sitting there waiting for it to end, watching their watches and hoping that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would soon arrive and end it all.

And why does the priest allow this to happen Sunday after Sunday? Why does he not encourage the likes of Caruso or Laryngitis to sing "far away".

When Caruso gave us his rendition of some unknown hymn today, I looked up to Heaven and imagined Jesus handing out ear defenders to one and all, whilst God was reaching for the headache tablets.

I suspect some of you may think my views un-charitable and perhaps harsh; for which I ask forgiveness. But I feel we would all be better off with a little less bad singing and a bit more good deeds.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Is it real or surreal?

As we look forward to a New Year starting we also look back at the old year coming to an end and we wonder what happened, why it happened so quickly, and whether we have learnt anything from all the happenings that happened.

Try saying that with a mouthfull of marshmallows!

Anyway, one thing most people are talking about round here where I live is the weather. This is because in the UK we often talk about the weather when we have nothing else interesting to talk about. So let's stick to this subject for a while.

Apparently, we have had the warmest winter since records began.

Now, I often wonder, when exactly did records begin? Did it happen in some far off day in the past when someone picked up a piece of paper and wrote "It is hot today! Records have begun".

Did he on the next day write "It is hotter today. This is the hottest it's been since records began yesterday".

Anyway, whether it is real or not, it does seem that the trend is that the weather is getting warmer year on year. I believe scientists call this global warming; but what is global warming anyway, and what does cause it if it exists at all.

All sorts of people have different ideas at what is making the climate generally warm throughout the world. 

I think temperatures are higher these days because of candles. Can you imagine how many candles are lit at any one time in the world? In churches, in restaurants, at romantic dinner tables, in the bathroom - I mean; whoever thought of candles in the bathroom? Very dangerous if you happen to singe your hair. On birthday cakes too? Come on - admit it. How many candles are on your birthday cake each year? You and all these other candles are contributing to global warming.

That and cows farting apparently. It seems that all the gases coming out of cows float up to the sky and make a hole in the sky through which the warmth of the earth escapes and the sun rays get in through the hole in the sky and makes us warm again. 

By the way, did you know that kangaroos don't fart? Their digestive systems don't have the enzymes needed to cause farting like in cows and humans. No wonder they hop around so much. So don't blame global warming on the Australians! They're blameless about this.

One thing about the Australians though. They always want to be first. Have you noticed how on New Year's eve they are always the first to celebrate with fireworks? By the time we in England get to celebrate it is already tomorrow.

Anyway, as I meant to say before I derailed my train of thought. Because of this warm winter our tortoise woke up early and got out of its hibernation. So I put it in the fridge. The next day I found out it ate all our lettuce. As soon as I opened the fridge it rushed out in the garden to go to the toilet. It bolted so quickly we thought someone had kicked a football out the house. Why is a tortoise so shaped anyway with all those patterns on its shell? Is it meant to be aero-dynamic? What for, since it hardly goes very fast normally.

Apparently, the same thing happened at the local zoo. All the hibernating animals such as lemurs, squirrels, mice and other rodents woke up from hibernation because the weather has been so warm lately. But they did not put them in the fridge because it was full of bears hibernating.

Tortoises are slow though, aren't they. I wonder why. So are snails too. Very slow. Did you know that if a snail climbed up your leg it would be at least two days before you said  "OOOH !!! What a surprise!"

It's an odd world we live in I think. It's getting warm when it's supposed to be winter and the whole of creation is confused. I read in the papers that an elephant in our local zoo got so confused that he climbed a tree and sat there right on top. They did not know how to get him down. Then an expert suggested we wait until fall and he'll come down with the leaves.

And that's the problem you see. Not enough lateral thinking - that's thinking when you're lying down in bed. I'm convinced what the world needs now is more experts. Whenever there's some bad news on TV, an economic problem somewhere, a medical situation that needs resolving, some difficult political situation, or whatever else you might see on the news - it's the lack of experts that holds us back from finding a solution. Where are all the experts on every conceivable subject when you need them? Why can't they explain why it is getting warmer these days?

If we had experts then we could all go to sleep happily at night knowing that all is well with the world and any global warming that may or may not exist can always be blamed on someone else and not you. Personally, I find the best way to combat global warming is by keeping our fridge door open.

DISCLAIMER - No animals or humans have been harmed in the writing of this Blog. No cow or kangaroo have been asked to emit any bodily gases, nor have any tortoises, lemurs, squirrels, mice or rodents been put in fridges (because of the bears who were there already). Nor have any snails been made to climb up your leg or elephants up trees. It all happened in the writer's imagination.