Tuesday 31 August 2021

Does God exist?

 

Have you ever asked yourself: Does God exist?

It's a question we should ask ourselves every now and then. It helps re-affirm our beliefs. I reinforces our faith. It confirms what we believe and why. 

Of course, too much doubt and questioning can be counter-productive; but every now and then, we need to look at our beliefs and thank God for such belief in Him.

When I look at life around me, I see a pattern everywhere. Nothing seems haphazard.

Look at the way humans reproduce. Two people come together and create a new life. It's the same, or similar, in animals, birds, insects, fishes and so on. Look at how a plant grows, either from a seed or from a cutting. It seems to follow a set pattern. It grows and provides flowers or fruit, and it reproduces. Look at the planets and stars how they follow a pattern too.

It all seems pre-set to me. If you're a scientist you will have noticed a pattern in chemistry, physics, biology or whatever you're studying. Look at how chemicals react with each other. How magnetism and electricity work. Different weather patterns and movements of the winds and seas.

It can't all have happened by accident. It couldn't have happened with a big bang, and explosion or implosion. It's much too orderly for a haphazard event to have created such a pattern throughout life.

It couldn't have happened with a bit of slime leaving a pool of water and becoming human. Although, I tend to believe the latter; seeing how many slimes I have met in life. Better not name them in case they read this Blog.

All of this must have been created by a Supreme Being. Someone designing and creating everything according to a plan. 

I prefer to call Him God. And I believe in Him, because years ago a man called Jesus taught us about Him. He called Him our Father. He also said He was the Son of God. I believe that too.

Of course, some people believe in God because they have personally met Him. They have experienced His presence and His power, love and mercy. They're the lucky ones.

I have never met God, or heard Him speak to me personally, but I have witnessed His works many times.

Monday 30 August 2021

Bible Quiz

 

Who baptised Jesus?

How did Jesus describe people who work for peace?

Who was converted on the road to Damascus?

Name the sons of Zebedee.

Who helped carry Jesus' cross?

Who was the king of Judea when Jesus was born?

Who was the Roman Emperor when Jesus was born?

What was the occupation of Joseph - Jesus' earthly father?

What did John the Baptist eat in the desert?

What does Golgotha mean?

Who was Joseph of Arimathea?

Who was shipwrecked in Malta?

Why did Jesus use a basin and towel?

Who was with Jesus at the Transfiguration?

Who healed Saul from his blindness?

ANSWERS BELOW


John the Baptist (Matthew 3: 13)

God will call them His children (Matthew 5: 9)

Saul - later known as Paul (Acts 9: 3 and 22: 6)

James and John (Matthew 4: 21)

Simon of Cyrene (Mark 15: 21)

Herod (Matthew 2: 1)

Augustus (Luke 2: 1)

Carpenter (Matthew 14: 55)

Locusts and wild honey (Mark 1: 6)

The place of the skull. (Mark 15: 22)

He asked for the body of Jesus. (Mark 15: 42)

Paul (Acts 27: 39)

To wash the disciples feet. (John 13: 4)

Peter, John, James and also Moses and Elijah. (Luke 9: 28)

Ananias (Acts 9: 10)


Sunday 29 August 2021

What Jesus said ...

 

Anger

Whoever is angry with his brother will be brought to trial, ... if you are about to offer your gift to God at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, go at once and make peace with your brother, and then come back and offer your gift to God. Matthew 5: 22 - 24

Charity

Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6: 1-4

The Commandments

 A teacher of the Law ... came to him with a question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus replied: “The most important one is this, ‘The Lord our God is the only Lord. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second most important commandment is this: ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment more important than these two.” Mark 12: 28-31

Enemies

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Matthew 5: 44

Faith

The apostles said to the Lord, “Make our faith greater.” The Lord answered, “If you had faith as big as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Pull yourself up by the roots and plant yourself in the sea!’ and it would obey you.” Luke 17: 5-6

Fasting

When you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting – only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6: 16-18

Forgiveness

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

Giving thanks

He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin-disease. They stood at a distance and shouted, “Jesus! Master! Take pity on us!” Jesus saw them and said to them, “Go and let the priests examine you.” On the way they were made clean. When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself to the ground at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The man was a Samaritan. Jesus said’ “there were ten men who were healed; where are the other nine? Why is this foreigner the only one who came back to give thanks to God?” And Jesus said to him, “Get up and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17: 11-19

Judging others

Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way as you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Matthew 7: 1-2

Prayer

When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. Matthew 6: 5-6

Revenge

Do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. Matthew 5: 39

Riches

Do not store riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are. Matthew 6: 19-21

No one can be a slave of two masters; he will hate one and love the other; he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6: 24

Working on Sunday

One Sabbath Jesus went to eat a meal at the home of one of the leading Pharisees ... a man whose legs and arms were swollen came to Jesus, and Jesus asked the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees, “Does our Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?” But they would not say anything. Jesus took the man, healed him, and sent him away. Then he said to them, “If any one of you had a son or an ox that happened to fall in a well on a Sabbath, would you not pull him out at once on the Sabbath itself?” But they were not able to answer him about this. Luke 14: 1-6

Worry

Jesus said to his disciples, “And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes. Look at the crows: they don’t sow seeds or gather the harvest; they don’t have store rooms or barns; God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?” Luke 12: 22-25

Friday 27 August 2021

Let us pray

 


Thursday 26 August 2021

Parlez vous Greek?

 

I was in Scotland many years ago. Oban!

Have you been to Oban? Really worth visiting, especially if you like whisky. But even if you don't, it is really worth visiting. Years ago I dreamt of retiring to Oban. What a nice place to be!

As I was saying, I was in Oban on holiday. The car broke down on one of the roads in, or out, of the town. Rather deserted place. I looked under the bonnet. I don't know why. I can't tell one bit of the engine from another. 

Now here's an idea! Why don't car manufacturers name all the pieces under the bonnet? It would make life easier. 

"This is a RADIATOR. This is a SPARKLING PLUG. FAN BELT. WINDSCREEN WASHER BOTTLE" and so on.

Not that it would have helped me. I didn't know which one was not working and what to do to make it work again.

Moments later two cyclists passed by. A young man and a young woman. I stopped them and asked, "do you know where the nearest emergency garage is, and how to get help out here?"

Silly me. Expecting people in Scotland to speak English. 

They replied in a not understandable language. What is the word for not understandable? Un-understandable?

Anyway, it sounded Spanish. Or possibly Portuguese. Or South American perhaps. Argentina, Brazil, Peru ... anywhere in the world really. Except English. It definitely did not sound English. It could have been Scandinavian ... Danish, Dutch, Swedish perhaps?

They did not understand my English and I did not understand their language.

I got an idea ... I had a dictionary in the car. Unfortunately, it was an English to Greek dictionary.

I looked up in English every word of "do you know where the nearest emergency garage is?" It took me over ten minutes whilst the two cyclists waited patiently.

I wrote the translation from English to Greek on a piece of paper. I hope the Greeks use the same order of words like we do in English. Here is what I wrote, "ξέρετε πού είναι το πλησιέστερο γκαράζ έκτακτης ανάγκης"

As I can't read or pronounce Greek, I showed them the paper. They shrugged their shoulders.

I searched in the car. I did not have a Greek to Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinian, Dutch or whatever, dictionary.

I pointed to the car engine and kept saying, "Kaput", which as I recall, means broken.

The man was confused. The woman pointed at some electrical leads that had come un-done. She put them back where they're supposed to be and the car started first time.

As a thank you, I gave her a bottle of whisky I'd just bought from Oban.

Why can't someone invent a device like they have on Star Trek where everyone speaks in English? Whether you're a Klingon, or an artichoke eating alien from the planet Vegan, wherever they go throughout the universe the Star Trek people always find someone speak in English.

I wonder whether their spaceship ever broke down in Oban!

*******

I have now bought an electronic tablet. You type what you want to say in English and it translates it for you in any language. Here are some helpful phrases I used when on holiday abroad.

Do you sell underpants? 

You look like a penguin.

These frogs have no legs.

Is garlic an aphrodisiac over here?

Can I take a photo of you? They'll never believe this back home!

One phone call and a solicitor.

 

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Phone Calls

 

Phone rings.

"Hello, is that you?"

"No."

Puts phone down. Phone rings again.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

Puts phone down. Phone rings again.

"I would like to speak to the person who owns this phone."

"OK!"

"Is that you?"

"No."

Puts phone down. Phone rings again.

"Before you ask, yes I am sure it is not me who owns this phone. I am just visiting. The owner of the phone is in the shower. Can you ring her again later?"

Silence.

"Does the owner of the phone, and this address, like foreign food?"

"What? I told you, she is in the shower!"

"Could you ask her, please? Does she like foreign food? You know, French food, Italian, Greek ... any foreign foods from around the world."

"I told you, she is in the shower. You don't seriously expect me to barge in and ask her!"

"It would help!"

"Why do you want to know?"

"We can arrange monthly deliveries of packages with all the ingredients to prepare a nice meal for two of any nation or taste. Say pizza or pasta dishes with nice Italian wine, or a Greek moussaka with Retsina wine or Ouzo, or ..."

"Wait ... I shall go and ask her."

Leaves line open for a few minutes whilst reading a magazine then says, "Do you sell shampoo, or bubble bath?"

"Ehm ... no ..."

"Pity ... that's what she needs right now!"

Puts phone down.  

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Memories of Edinburgh

 

PRINCES STREET - EDINBURGH

Princes Street is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. In the forefront you can see Princes Street Gardens and in the background, right up the hill overlooking the city, is Edinburgh Castle. 

There was a program about Edinburgh on TV and it set me thinking back to the times I was there. 

It's funny how sometimes, a photo, or a piece of music, a smell even, can take your mind back to times gone by, to your childhood even, and the memories come flooding by.

I was in the garden telling our tortoise about my childhood the other day. It sat there listening, or sleeping. I don't know which.

I had a happy childhood. We were not very rich. You know, we did well though. Do you remember hand-me-downs? Did you have that when you were young? Parents would pass on good clothing from their elder children to the younger ones. The old child would have grown out of the clothing and instead of giving them to charity you would pass them to a younger child.

I hated going to school in a dress. Worse still, having the name Helen embroidered on my blouses.

To stop being bullied I learnt self-defence. A cousin taught me karate. I got very good at breaking a brick by hitting it with my hand. You had to concentrate, shout "Hiiaaah!!!" and hit the brick hard with your hand in a chopping motion. 

One day on my way home from school the bully attacked me. He beat me up and did not give me a chance to use my karate skills. As I lay there on the ground bleeding from cuts in my face, I saw a brick. There was the opportunity to get my own back on the bully. He'd never expect that. I got up. Shouted "Hiiaaah!" and broke the brick in two.

I persevered with my karate lessons. Also, in the evenings I went to wood-working class. I wanted to be a carpenter.

I became very very good at karate. I was confident of being able to defend myself. One day on my way home I met the same bully. Now was my chance to really defeat him. I offered to build him some shelves. We became friends after that.

I also remembered, and told the tortoise, about my interest in magic as a child. I wanted to be a magician. A neighbour of ours was a part-time magician. He came to our house and taught me tricks. He tried to teach me how to make a rabbit appear out of a hat. We didn't have a rabbit, so he used one of the newly-born kittens instead. Unfortunately, he was allergic to cats and his hands swelled up. That was a trick in itself!

Days later, when he healed, he came back to teach me the same trick. He did not use any of the kittens.

Have you ever tried to get an Alsatian out of a hat? Our dog bit him!

He tried a ventriloquist act with a parrot on his shoulder. He would talk and the parrot would respond; not for real - ventriloquist like!

Unfortunately, the parrot bit his ear and would not let go!

I gave up learning magic. And karate. And wood-work.

But it was a very happy childhood. Great memories.

Which brings me back to Edinburgh. You often see bagpipers playing various Scottish tunes on Princes Street. They wear their full costume with kilt and so on and they play the bagpipes. People put money in a box by their feet.

I was in a hotel on Princes Street. Very expensive! I was really tired from the night before and wanted to just lay in bed. It was ten in the morning and the bagpiper in the street below started playing. Great as the sound of bagpipes is, you don't always welcome it. I tried to cover my head with the pillow. I could still hear him.

In sheer desperation, I got up, got dressed and went down to confront him.

"Tell me my good man," I said, "how much roughly do you make in an hour playing here?"

"On a good day," he replied, "about £15!"

"Here's £30. Can you now shut up and let me sleep?" I said.

Monday 23 August 2021

Radio Phone-In

 

Have you noticed how on radio or TV phone-in programs the presenter, or guest, or Agony Aunt, are always very polite to the callers, regardless of the stupidity of their questions.

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Hello everyone. We have on the program today Henrietta Hat, the Agony Aunt of a well-known magazine. She is here to answer your questions. And ... we have a caller on the line ... over to you caller ...

CALLER 1: Hello ... I'm a bit nervous ... this is my first time on your program ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Don't worry we're all friends here. What is your question? 

CALLER 1: Well ... some days I seem to be eating a lot. I have breakfast. Then go back to the fridge and have something else, like a piece of cheese. Then potato chips and this and that. It's like I can't stop myself. Why is that?

HENRIETTA HAT: It's either because you've got worms or you're a greedy so and so ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Easy ... easy ... Henrietta. That's not how we talk to our callers.

HENRIETTA HAT: Well someone's got to tell her the facts or else ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: We now move on to another caller on line two. Hello caller. What is your question?

CALLER 2: Ehm ... I'm hesitant because my problem is like the previous caller. Sometimes I go to the fridge, open the door, look here and there and don't fancy anything, so I close the fridge and go away. I keep doing that, but never find something good to eat. 

HENRIETTA HAT: Good Heavens ... not another one ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Easy now Henrietta!

HENRIETTA HAT: Well, the solution is simple. Either fill the fridge with things that you like to eat; or better still, take the fridge door off. This way you won't need to open and close the fridge and loose the cool air inside. You know how to take the door off, don't you? Just unscrew the hinges, or get your husband to do it for you!

RADIO ANNOUNCER: That's not very politically correct, Henrietta. Telling her to get her husband to do it. I'm sure she's perfectly capable to ...  

HENRIETTA HAT: Oh phooeee ... there's too much political correctness these days. Look where it got us. If she can't make up her mind whether to eat or not she'd hardly have the brains to unscrew the hinges off the door ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: What's you're problem Caller Number 3?

CALLER 3: I keep dreaming I am being chased by a mandrill.

HENRIETTA HAT: What's a mandrill?

CALLER 3: I don't know.

HENRIETTA HAT: How do you know it is a mandrill chasing you?

CALLER 3: Because he has a badge on his chest saying "Mandrill". He is chasing me and I run away. And he takes my electronic tablet on which I have stored all my books to read. And he breaks it and eats it.

HENRIETTA HAT: That's one weird dream, lady. Does it happen often?

CALLER 3: Yes ... every night for the past month. I told my husband about it.

HENRIETTA HAT: Does he look like a mandrill, perhaps? What did your husband say?

CALLER 3: What's a mandrill? He did not know what it was either.

HENRIETTA HAT: What happened next?

CALLER 3: My husband suggested I go to a psychiatrist. Which I did.

HENRIETTA HAT: That's a good move. What did the psychiatrist say?

CALLER 3: What's a mandrill?

HENRIETTA HAT: So we've established that neither you, nor your husband, nor I nor the psychiatrist know what a mandrill is. For all we know you might be being chased by a monkey. I 'll ask the Radio Announcer ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: I have looked it up in the dictionary whilst you were talking.

HENRIETTA HAT: And?

RADIO ANNOUNCER: It's a French dictionary ... and someone has torn out the whole M section.

HENRIETTA HAT: Look caller, next time you have this dream just draw on a piece of paper who is chasing you and come back to this radio program next week. In the meantime, we'll try to find out what  a mandrill is. This may be very significant in interpreting your stupid dream. Goodbye! 

RADIO ANNOUNCER: Next caller please.

CALLER 4: Hi ... I sometimes wake up in the morning and feel very lethargic with low energy. What is that?

HENRIETTA HAT: Simple ... you are a lazy man who should be at work to feed your family ...

RADIO ANNOUNCER: You can't say that, Henrietta. You can't call our callers lazy.

HENRIETTA HAT: Why not? If it's the truth.

RADIO ANNOUNCER: And that's the end of the show ... doesn't time fly? See you all next week listeners when our guest will be someone really different ... I hope!

Sunday 22 August 2021

Father Ignatius Visits Purgatory



“Today my sermon will be about Purgatory …” said Father Ignatius to the congregation on Sunday, “but let me first explain why I chose this subject to talk about …

“As you know, I teach the Catechism class at our local school every Friday … and I don’t mind confessing that those children frighten me …

“They have that innocence which only people of their age have … and they don’t mind asking you any kind of question no matter how difficult it is to answer.

“This is what they asked me last week ... I have it written down on this piece of paper …”

The priest unfolded a piece of paper from his pocket and began to read.

“Ah … here’s the first thing they asked me …

“Jesus told us about Heaven and hell … but He never mentioned Purgatory … how do we know it really exists?

“What does Purgatory look like? Does it have a fire like hell? Is it hot or cold there? Or is it perhaps just warm so you feel uncomfortable but you don’t burn?

“Does it have devils looking after all the inmates; like in hell … or are they a little kinder perhaps?

“How long do we stay in Purgatory? Is it one day for every sin we have … or is it a week or more for every sin?

“Are we in pain when in Purgatory? Like the fire in hell?

“When we pray for people in Purgatory, how many days off do they get? Is it one Hail Mary and they have one day less there; or how does it work?”

Father Ignatius folded the piece of paper and put it in his pocket.

“Well …” he said, “how do you answer questions like these? After all, I’m only a priest not an Einstein!”

The congregation laughed.

“They are all valid questions which may have crossed our minds too at some time or other; if we do think about Purgatory that is … but then we dismissed them into our pending tray in our head. Our let’s not think about it right now tray …”

He paused for a while.

“Let me explain the Catholic Church’s teaching regarding Purgatory …” he continued.

“Our teaching is based on Revelations 21:27 where it says nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in Heaven.

“Given that very few of us will die with no sins whatsoever on our conscience, the Church teaches that there must exist a place, or a state of being, or a state of purification, where we are cleansed of our sins and we can enter Heaven. This place, or state of being, is known as Purgatory.

“Jesus did describe Heaven at one time as a mansion with many rooms … so it follows, perhaps, that in our imagination we visualize Purgatory as a physical place too …

“The pertinent point, however, is that the Church teaches that there is a stage where souls destined for Heaven undergo a period of purification.

“As you well know, this belief has given rise to a lot of criticism of the Catholic Church over the years.  Criticism and ridicule even …

“Some have suggested that Purgatory is a Catholic invention … a way of raising money for the Church by encouraging the faithful to pay for prayers and Masses for the souls of loved ones who are in Purgatory.

“Others have said that once a person is dead their destination is in the hands of God … and it cannot be bought or influenced by prayers or money from the living on this side of the divide.

“The fact remains, however, that the existence of Purgatory is one of our fundamental beliefs as Catholics. And as Catholics we cannot pick and choose what we believe in … we have to follow what our Church teaches, do we not?”       

He stopped for a while, sensing that, like the children in his Catechism class, his congregation was now eager for answers to the many questions posed.

“Of course …” Father Ignatius continued, “I cannot answer all the questions asked by my pupils.

“I cannot tell you whether it is hot or cold in Purgatory, whether there are guards or wardens there checking on the inmates, or how long we have to stay there until our sins are cleansed and forgiven …

“I suspect that Purgatory is a state in which we find ourselves in, rather than a place as such … but this is pure speculation on my part.

“We can scratch our heads and fathom and think as long as we want … at the end of the day it is a matter of personal conscience what we believe. It is a matter of Faith.

“Some of you, no doubt, will choose to believe that Purgatory does not exist … and that our sins when we die are somehow …”

He waved his hand in the air.

“… dissipated … vanished … forgiven …”

He stopped again.

“As for praying for the souls in Purgatory and offering Masses for them,” he said, “… the way I see it … it is like putting in a good word on behalf of a relative or friend.

“How many of us applying for jobs, or applying to join a club or an institution, ask a friend to act as a referee?

“When we pray … we’re doing the same thing. We are putting in a good word on behalf of a loved one … we are acting as their referee …

“When someone is ill … or in some difficulty … we pray for them … we ask God to help them, to show them mercy and compassion … and often, I have seen it happen, God does answer our prayers.

“Jesus did, after all, teach us to ask our Father in Heaven … did He not?

“In the same way, when we pray for the souls in Purgatory we’re asking God to have mercy on them and to hasten their entry into Heaven … it’s as simple as that.

“Whether God is influenced by such prayers, as our critics would hasten to say … is another matter which we can debate for ever.

“At the end of the day it all boils down to a matter of belief.”

Father Ignatius stopped once again to punctuate his sermon.

“As your priest,” he continued gently in a calm and soothing voice, “I have always tried to be honest with you when asked about matters of Faith. I tell you what the Church teaches and … as best I can … help you in making your decisions on what to believe …

“Leaving aside the question of Purgatory for a moment …

“What is more important here is our relationship with God, our Creator, and our Father in Heaven.

“As humans we tend to envisage God with our limited human understanding.

“We measure Him by our own human yardstick and try to work out His thinking and His strategies and plans …

“This is wrong. He is God … and we are not. It’s as simple as that.

“It is not up to us to work out who will and who will not enter Heaven; and whether they go there via a direct route or through a temporary stay or detour in Purgatory or wherever.

“Let God be God … and let man be man. And let us have the humility to obey Him and trust Him to do the right thing!”

Saturday 21 August 2021

Cheer up, for God's sake!

 

I have met many Christians over the years whose faces look like a mile of bad road. They look down as if they have a permanent bad smell under their nose. They may look pious but they are as boring as a mouldy rice pudding.

I think they do God a disservice. God created us to be happy. To enjoy life not to endure it. Our faith is not an endurance test to be lived until death comes to the rescue.

When we look at the life of Jesus, He lived it helping others to a better life. He healed the sick. He spent personal time with each one of them and made them better. He didn't say, "Oh ... hard luck. Just try to endure your misery until death ends it all for you!"

He healed people. He raised them from the dead. He brought them back to life. To a new life. To be lived to the full.

He was raised from the dead to conquer death once and for all.

We need to remember that when we live our daily routine from day to day. Let us enjoy life as God willed it.

Sure, there will be bad times. Difficult times. Terrible times even. I've had my share of them. I am not going to pretend that I was the life and soul of the party when things were bad. Far from it. I was miserable, and my faith may have been shaken somewhat. 

But in time, the hurt ceased to hurt, not as much as before anyway. I tried to smile. Not for my sake. Not for the sake of my loved ones. But for God's sake. I told Him I shall smile and try to do better to honour His gift of life to us.

We may have good reasons to be miserable.

But we have better reasons to be happy.

Friday 20 August 2021

Making decisions

 

There I was, ironing the creases out of crêpe paper and watching football on TV; and I started to think of times gone by when I had to make many a decision on the spot, or after long deliberations, even.

Decisions are often difficult to make. I've always been a little indecisive, but as I grew older I became less sure. For example, I can never decide whether to buy crunchy or smooth peanut butter. So I get neither and buy some Guinness instead.

Anyway, there I was watching TV one day when the kids came in with their new pet, a young and lively golden Labrador. "We're thinking of calling him Tulip", they said. 

"That's a silly name for a dog," I replied, "you need to call him something masculine to make him feel proud!"

"What shall we call him?" they cried.

The film Jaws was on TV, so I said, "call him Shark".

That was a bad decision when I had to call a runaway dog on the beach the following year.

Another bad decision is when I received a letter from the Headmaster of the children's school. Apparently, the Religion teacher had asked one of my children, "who broke the walls of Jericho?"

The child replied, "not me". Probably in jest. I don't know. The teacher told the headmaster and the headmaster wrote to me.

In sheer frustration and a little irritation ... I can't remember the right proportion of each, I picked up the phone and rang our priest. He was, after all, one of the school governors. 

He was very kind and promised to speak to the headmaster and get the wall fixed and paid for from the maintenance budget.

Anyway, that decision to ring the priest worked out OK at the end. Do you ever find yourself in difficult situations and you don't know what decision to make? 

This happened to me years ago when I was travelling on business. It had been a long day and I got to my hotel room really tired. I just wanted to go to bed.

There was a knock on the wall from the room next to mine and a voice said, "Is anybody there? I need help. I have fallen. Is any body there?"

How inconsiderate of him to pray so loudly, I thought. I knocked back on the wall and said, "We are all fallen. It is our sinful nature. Do me a favour mate, and pray silently!"

He knocked back and cried loudly, "I have fallen. I need help. I need help."

In sheer desperation I put a pillow over my head so that I could not hear him.

Bad decision. The Tooth Fairy wanted to take all my teeth. I told her in no uncertain terms where to go. Never put a pillow over your head or she'll get the wrong message.

Anyway, the next morning as I was going down for breakfast, I noticed there were ambulance men in the room next to mine.

I told one of them, "It's a priest this man needs, not one of you!"

I don't think the ambulance man understood me. He looked at me with disdain and told me to move on.

Just because he's got a uniform he has no right to speak to me like that. I'm not a moron, you know!

I wish I was better at decision-making, though.

Thursday 19 August 2021

Words of Wisdom

 


Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

 

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.

 

Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

 

If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

 

We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.

 

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

 

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

 

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

 

I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

 

In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put 'DOCTOR'.

 

Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.

 

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

 

I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.

 

Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

 

You're never too old to learn something stupid.

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Hermit Heritage

 

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, up in the mountains, beyond the thick impenetrable forest, far away from civilisation, lived a hermit in a cave. 

No one had really seen him. It was just word of mouth. People said to each other he existed and so the  legend grew that there was a hermit up there in the mountains.

One day an anthropologist decided to find out for himself. He set off for the long journey through the forest, up the mountain, until finally he found the cave. And he did it all without a satellite navigation system.

When he reached the cave, the third one from the right, the hermit came out to meet him. He looked very old. Older than the hills, as they say. But then, no one knew how old the hills were because they had moved away long ago. They lived in the first cave from the right.

The anthropologist's first question, rather indelicately, was, "how old are you?"

"Oh ... I ceased to count when I reached ninety!" was the hermit's reply in perfect English. (No matter where you go these days there's always someone who speaks English).

"What is the secret of long life?" asked the visitor.

"Avoiding stupid questions from fatheads like you," was the hermit's answer.

Then, after a period of silence, the hermit continued gently. "I was not always this age, you know," he said, "there was a time when I was younger. But these days there aren't many young people in their nineties. They all seem to be younger than ninety, somehow!"

"Are you saying age is relative?" asked the anthropologist hoping to get a quotable quote.

"Everything is relative," replied the hermit, "what is relative to one man is not to another. These days it seems everyone is intent on wealth and possessions. It's the modern Theory of Relativity. The richer you are the more relatives will attend your funeral!"

"That's sad!" muttered the visitor sitting down on the ground.

"Take my situation, for instance," continued the hermit, "I have no money, no possessions, no furniture or luxury goods, no latest fashionable clothing, or anything like that. I live in an empty cave and eat berries, and fruits and I'm satisfied with my own company. Yet your civilisation is different. People spend their lives running round in circles like a dog chasing its tail. From early childhood you're competitive to study harder, play harder, work harder, get a better job, find a great spouse, have a wonderful family, strive to provide for them and for all their needs, see them grow up and hope they turn out well and don't make the wrong decisions, push them to succeed, and before you know it they are grown up with their own families and you're there on the sidelines wondering where has all your live gone so quickly!"

"But that's the cycle of life!" said the anthropologist.

"I don't have a cycle," replied the hermit, "I told you. I have no possessions. No cycle, no car, yacht or any of the other accoutrements of success which modern society commands. Like a fully fitted luxury kitchen, air-conditioning, swimming pool and so on."

"You seem very well informed considering you've spent all your life living here alone in this cave, and I'm your first ever visitor," said the anthropologist, "where do you get all your information from?"

"From my TV!" replied the hermit.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

Where's Dino?


The other day I read in a magazine that there are thousands of different species of animals, fishes, insects and plants in the world. Many plants for instance that we refer to with one name; like mushrooms, have in fact many numerous species of the same plant.

Apparently, new species are being discover all the time. And many are also dying out or becoming extinct.

This set me thinking. How are we, humans, being affected when a certain species becomes extinct, and is no longer there?

We often see on TV programs of people doing good works trying to save certain animals who are endangered species. The panda for instance. He is particularly reluctant to reproduce, and eats only bamboo which is not very nutritious anyway. Offer him a pizza or a KFC and he'll turn it down. Introduce him to a beautifully sexy female panda and he'll just chew on a bamboo stick instead.   

What if ... what if ... there were no more pandas in the world. Would we be any the poorer? Or if there were no more elephants, or rhinos, or whatever. Yes, I know we will miss not seeing such creatures alive in the wild or in zoos. Yes, I know we have a duty and a responsibility to care for all creatures, birds, fishes, insects, plants and so on. I understand that argument.

What I am asking is: are any of these animals, like the panda, contributing anything to humanity? I accept that if there were no more chickens in the world I would certainly miss my KFC. So, chickens contribute to human well-beings. But does the panda, or elephant?

After all, the dodo became extinct some years back. Do we really miss him? Also the woolly mammoth. Does anyone care he no longer exist? And dinosaurs. They all vanished apparently when a meteor hit the earth many moons ago. Personally, I think it was their fault for all to stand on the same spot. They should have spread out and some would have been spared. But that aside ...

... Imagine dinosaurs had not all died out. How would our lives be different?

You'd leave home for work in the morning and by the time you walked to the end of the road a Tyrannosaurus would have you for breakfast. Or you drive your car to the traffic lights and a Triceratops would head-butt your car pretending to be a rhino. Or you're out playing gold and a flying  Archaeopteryx would take your hat ... or your wig.

There were many such creatures we collectively call dinosaurs. All shapes and sizes. Look them up on Google.

Somehow, they all got hit by a meteor and were killed in one go. Can you imagine if this had not happened? Humanity would not have progressed to what it is now.

Because at the time all that humanity had was fire, wooden sticks, and possibly clubs. Not much of a defence against a hungry T Rex. And by the time man invented something in order to progress, say a bow and arrow, he would have been eaten by a dinosaur anyway. 

Humanity would not have survived and would have been eaten alive, literally, by all these creatures roaming everywhere. 

Imagine that. No humanity. No progress. No fancy shoes. No chocolates. No TV. No Shakespeare ... (good thing too about the last one!)

The fate of humanity changed completely that day the meteor struck.

Which brings me back to my first point. What if the panda, or the elephant or any other animal did not exist any more. How will this affect humanity?

Monday 16 August 2021

What the pigeon told the squirrel

 

A very odd thing happened the other day. I was out in the garden working when a pigeon flew by and landed only feet away. I stood still so as not to disturb it. It ignored me and continued walking here and there, bobbing its head left and right like pigeons do, and totally unperturbed by my presence. And I tell you, I do have a presence when out gardening, or at any time come to think of it. But the pigeon was not impressed.

I decided to continue digging the garden. The pigeon was not concerned by my movement and continued walking nearby picking something to eat from the ground. 

I moved slowly towards the bird table, picked up a few seeds which I placed carefully on the ground. The pigeon was only two feet away. He moved closer and ate the seeds.

Then he started talking to me. He said, "Brrrr ... Brrrrr ..." like pigeons do when they are cooing. 

I did not understand what he said because I don't speak pigeon language. Besides, I did not know what part of the UK he was from and what accent he was speaking in. A pigeon from Glasgow in Scotland sounds totally different from a London Cockney one, or one from Liverpool. Although the latter one may have a guitar and sing, "Yeah Yeah Yeaaah!!!"

Anyway, this set me thinking. Do pigeons tell each other stories they've heard, I wonder? Would this pigeon tell other pigeons that they can get a good meal if they visit my garden?

It is a known fact that bees and wasps communicate with each other. They tell each other where the best pollen is. Ants too apparently. Many animals and insects communicate with each other. They warn each other of danger or tell each other where good things are. They are not selfish. They share.

I once found a bee going "ZZZZUB ... ZZZZUB ... ZZZZUB ..." It was reversing at the time.

When the pigeon flew away a squirrel visited my garden.

He spoke to me in a local accent. He said he came from the park nearby. 

Here are some facts about squirrels you may not know. They don't always bury their nuts in the ground. Sometimes they pretend to bury them in case some other squirrel is watching. Then they move elsewhere and bury their nuts there. They keep their nuts in their mouths and pretend to bury them two or three times until they find a suitable spot to hide them.

Often, they forget where they've buried their nuts, because they don't have a good memory like elephants. Although I'll admit, I don't believe this elephants have a good memory thing. I've never received a birthday card from an elephant. So much for their good memory!

The squirrel then proceeded to eat the seeds on my bird table. "This is a good eating place!" he said, "a pigeon told me!"

I wonder, do we tell each other the good news when we read a good Blog; just to encourage each other?

The other day Mevely put me on to a good Blog to read; she also advertises my book on her Blog. Also Jan let me know that figs contain wasps. (See HERE). And Jack often mentions me on his Blog. Other readers like Martha  Mariette and Lulu have posted Customer Reviews of my books on Amazon; as did Mevely. Brian, on the other hand, posts my Blog articles on another social media website. Linda shared my books with her readers.

To all of you, as well as many others whom I may have missed, or who have my Blog on your side-column, thank you so much.

Sunday 15 August 2021

Confusion About Mary

 

Let's clear some confusion about Mary and specifically about the Catholics.
 
Praying TO Mary, or any other Saints, is wrong. Many Catholics get this wrong and need to be put right.
 
We should not pray to a Saint but ask a Saint to pray for us. That's what it means to pray to Mary, or any other Saint.
 
But ... Christ said "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one goes to the Father except by me."

And ... Paul's letter to Timothy says, "there is one God, and there is one mediator who brings God and mankind together, Christ Jesus."

Both these statements are right and true. So let's look at this another way.
 
When someone is ill we often pray for them and ask God to come to their aid. This shows our charitable loving intentions on our part; it shows our generosity of spirit and caring. Prayers are the greatest gifts we can give to or receive from someone. God loves to hear our prayers on behalf of someone else.

When we pray for others we are mediating for them. 
 
So ... are we wrong when praying for others? Are we contradicting what Paul said to Timothy? Should we tell our sick friend to pray to God himself?
 
Remember the paralysed man who was carried in his bed by his friends and taken to Jesus for healing. Should his friends have left him to go to Jesus by himself?
 
We all need every help we can get. We all need someone to put in a good word for us. We all need someone to pray for us and to mediate for us.
 
That's what we should do when we pray to Mary and the Saints. We ask them to put in a good word for us with Jesus and God.
 
I repeat, as a Catholic, I know many Catholics get this bit wrong. They pray TO the Saints, place flowers and light candles by their statues, promise to recite the Rosary or whatever other promise. THIS IS WRONG.
 
Mary or the Saints cannot be bought with flowers and candles, any more than Jesus or God can be bought by our offerings. There is nothing we can do to repay what Jesus did for us. God loves us for what we are, for who we are; His creations. He does not need our gifts and trinkets as repayment.
 
It's a pity the Catholic Church does not explain this better to its own people as well as everyone else.
 
Oh ... and another thing ...
 
God chose Mary to be the Mother of His only Son. He obviously had, and still has, high regard for her. Do you think that when I get to meet God face to face He will punish me for daring to love Mary and thank her for saying "Yes" to God? 
 
Would YOU have said "Yes" if the Angel Gabriel had appeared to you with such a proposition? Or would you have feared for your life. What people, family and friends would say; to have an unmarried woman carrying a child and then claiming He is the Son of God.
 
She took a great risk. She deserves our thanks. I see nothing wrong in asking her to put in a good word for me with Jesus her Son. This in no way devalues Jesus and the love I have for Him; nor does it devalue God's mighty power and glory.
 
But then ... some would say I am wrong.

Saturday 14 August 2021

How many? You must be joking!

 

When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive, Christ replied, "not seven times but seventy times seven!"

Of course, Jesus was exaggerating to make a point. He did not mean we should add the times we forgive someone; He meant we forgive time and time again, as often as is needed.

Then He tells this parable:

A king wished to settle accounts with his slaves ... One who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything." 

Out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. 

That same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow-slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, "Pay what you owe." Then his fellow-slave fell down and pleaded with him, "Have patience with me, and I will pay you." But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he should pay the debt.

When his fellow-slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, "You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow-slave, as I had mercy on you?" And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he should pay his entire debt. (Matthew 18:21-19:1)

Let's see what we can learn from this parable. Jesus makes several points which may have been understood by His listeners, but may have escaped us with the passage of time.

The first slave could not pay back 10,000 talents. That's a lot of money. The slave promised to pay the money back in time. His master does not extend the loan period, or reduce the debt, but he forgives the whole amount.

Can you imagine that? Would your bank do that to you if you can't repay a loan? 

Jesus makes the point that when we ask God for forgiveness, He forgives the whole sin. He does not hold it against us. He does not have a little black book in which He writes the time and date He forgave you a particular sin, and now, here you are, sinning the same sin again. Some people are incorrigible sinning the same sin again and again and expecting to be forgiven. And of course ... God does forgive. Provided we are genuinely repentant.

Note also the exaggeration regarding the second slave. He owed 100 denarii. Probably pennies or dimes. Yet his fellow slave would not forgive such a small amount.

Jesus here is saying that although God will forgive our many serious sins; He will not look kindly if we hold a grudge and do not forgive the most minor thing done to us.

"So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE: 

Do you still resent the fact that your husband did not take the trash bins out when you told him? 

Do you forgive your wife for forgetting to record the football game on TV?

Do you ... (add your own examples, real or not, yourself).

Friday 13 August 2021

The Conversation

 


I was enjoying Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner on TV. I like it when the Road Runner goes "beep beep" and speeds out into the horizon. I wish I could run that fast. I'd come and visit you for breakfast then be back home for supper.

When the program ended I was in a real good mood seeing this and other cartoons. I like watching cartoons when feeling really down. Better than having a drink of whisky or even coffee to lift one's spirits.

I turned channel and there was this news-reader who said something really terrible had happened somewhere or other far away. I can't remember what it was or where it happened.

Beginning to feel a little depressed I said, "why are you telling me all this?"

He stopped reading the news and said, "because it is important!"

I replied, "it is important to you, because you're a news-reader, and it is your job to read this depressing stuff. Why is it important to me?"

He said, "because you should know what is happening in the world!"

"Why?" I asked him.

"So that you are better informed. No man is an island," came the smart reply.

This annoyed me. I don't like glib smart-arsed clichés with no real meanings. Usually the people who use them are fatheads with no original thought or opinion of their own and they parrot what the last stomach gurgle has brought up.

"No man is an isthmus either," I said, "or a peninsula, or a dune or a desert. What's that to do with the price of fish?"

"What I meant to say," he said in a condescending tone of voice as if talking to a child, "is that there are things you should know about. Like global warming, melting of the ice cap, the environment ... as well as national and international things like politics, trade between countries, scientific discoveries, medical matters and ..."

I interrupted him, "look here mate" I said, "these things may be important to you because you're paid to make people miserable. I can't do anything to save the planet from global warming any more than you can control your flatulence to protect the ozone layer!"

Before he had time to answer, I switched the TV off.

He switched the TV on again and said, "your ostrich like behaviour is in itself one of the causes affecting the environment ..."

In pure anger and frustration I threw the remote control at him. I expected it to break the TV. Instead, it bounced back off the screen and hit me on the head so hard that I passed out.

Half-an-hour or so later my wife woke me up and said, "do you realise that going to sleep and leaving the TV on wastes electricity and it's bad for the environment!"

I'm sure that news-reader has got to her. He's brain-washed her. I'm certain of it. She's re-cycling everything and is so conscious of our carbon foot-print in case it harms the planet.

She's even stopped being amourous for a while in order to save energy!

Thursday 12 August 2021

The Chain Of Events

 

It had been a long, hot and tiring train journey. The train had been delayed for over two hours because of engine failure, and the passengers had to wait there in the heat, with no refreshments or relief, until they brought a new locomotive to replace the faulty one. It got so hot and stuffy that Father Ignatius took off his clerical collar and put it in his pocket, and unbuttoned the top button of his shirt.

When they finally arrived at the station it was well past ten o'clock at night. An exhausted Father Ignatius took a taxi to his hotel.  

It was a small inn, which is all he could afford. Most of the staff had gone and the kitchen was closed. There wasn't even a porter to carry his luggage. The night-receptionist gave him a key and told him to go up to the third floor.

When he got to his room the priest turned the key in the lock but the door would not open. He tried again, and again, to no avail. It was as if the door was locked from inside. He was about to give up, and face the long journey down the stairs again, when suddenly the door opened.

Standing there in her night clothes was a young woman holding tight at her dressing gown. Rather foolishly she had opened the door.

"What do you want?" she said.

He looked at his key and the door number and, "I ... I ... I believe this is my room!" he muttered showing her his key.

"Who are you?" she asked, ignoring his explanation, and closing the door slightly.

"I'm Father Ignatius ..." he replied touching his neck and realising he did not have his white collar.

"Father? Father?" she repeated, getting somewhat agitated, "you're not my father!"

"I'm a priest," he replied picking up his luggage from the floor and deciding to leave, "I'll check with the receptionist. I'm sure all will be well in the end."

"That's what they all say," she cried, "my solicitor, my friends ... everyone ..." and she started crying.

He realised that the wise thing to do is stand still and say nothing. Let her cry until she calmed down. After a minute or so she said, "go away!" and shut the door.

The next morning he was at his table finishing breakfast in the dining room. She entered the room and made a bee-line to his table. As she approached, he stood up. It was a courtesy his mother had impressed on him years ago when he was a little boy. "Always stand up in such occasions," she taught.

"May I join you?" she asked.

As they sat down, she continued, "I wish to apologise for my bad behaviour last night!"

Not the sort of statement a priest would like overheard in a crowded dining room; especially since now he had his clerical collar on.

She explained that she was in town to go to Court to fight for custody of her son. Her husband cheated on her and she was going through a most acrimonious divorce. When she was at work, he called at home and took away their son who was being cared for by the nanny. She had not seen him for two years. Her husband, a rich businessman, had argued in Court that she was not a fit mother to look after the two year old boy.   

She was struggling to hold back her tears. After several legal attempts this was perhaps her last chance to regain her son whom she had lost. In the bitter divorce that ensued he had become an unwilling pawn to be used in the battle between them.

The priest said a silent prayer then, hesitantly, because he did not know the woman or her beliefs or religion, he said, "I believe there is a higher power who is in control of everything He has created. We call Him God. What I would advise is that you trust Him. You may not believe in God, but somehow, if you possibly can, trust Him. I'll do the believing on your behalf. Trust Him, that His will be done. Whatever His will is!"

He doubted that what he said did help her. She did not say much. She thanked him and left the table without having breakfast.

About two months later or so, when he was back at his Parish church of St Vincent, he received a letter containing a generous cheque.

She said she had got his name and address from the receptionist at the hotel. She had won the Court hearing and little Timothy was restored back to her with the father having visiting rights. She added, "you were right that night at my door when you said all will be well in the end".

She promised to visit Father Ignatius with her son next time she was in town.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

Read Right

I have been told by my lawyer that every so often I must encourage my readers to Read Right.

That is to say, to read on the right hand side of this post especially at the various policies, disclaimers, copyrights and other goodies I have to tell my readers about. 

You should read the bits entitled "Cookies and Things" under my ancestor's Crest on the right =====>

My lawyer is a good chap you know. He visits his mother every week whether she wants him to or not. She has never forgiven him since that day he represented her in Court. She was suing a cat which made her allergic to its fur. The Judge dismissed the case and suggested she gets another cat. 

=======>

Deep down he is a good man really. To help his mother with the shopping he always gives her a list of the things he needs so she can buy them for him. He says it makes her feel useful and appreciated.

==========>

I think he went too far though when he asked her to buy four tires for his Jeep. Then he made her return them because they were the wrong size. She was really tired after all that and considered retiring as his mother. But she did not; like any good mother would not give up on her rich and successful son. 

====================>

Anyway ... he suggested that if you have time, please spend some moments reading the bits on the right. You can start from where it says COOKIES POLICY =======>

Tuesday 10 August 2021

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What a clever way to share Christian books!

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THE ADVENTURES OF FATHER IGNATIUS

GOD'S HUMBLE SERVANT

FATHER IGNATIUS TEACHES

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I told my Marketing Manager what I was doing 

and he did not take me seriously.

(See photo below)

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