Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Yaee People


A colleague at work joined a group about international joy and happiness. My attitude was "Whatever" as long as she finishes the project I've asked her to that's OK by me. But she insisted I go with her one evening. They meet regularly and their aim is to spread joy and happiness throughout the universe starting with "one and on to everyone" as their slogan goes. It is not a religious group she assured me; or a cult.

In order to have some peace and quiet, and to get that project finished on time, I went with her one evening at a meeting in the leader's home. There were about a dozen people. We sat on the floor to be "near mother earth" albeit we were on the tenth floor of an apartment block.

They started by introducing themselves and greeting each other with applause. "I am Helen" said my colleague. "Yaeee !!!" said everyone applauding. And so on all the way round the group. I joined in to show willing as enthusiastically as a skunk in a perfume factory. 

The leader, (she was called Flower), noticed two newcomers; me and another man probably roped in by his wife or similar acquaintance like me. She asked us to say something about ourselves by way of introduction.

"I am Robin," he said, "I work for the local authorities delivering manhole covers to the workers on building sites. My hobby is collecting algae from fish ponds!" Everyone shouted "Yaeee" and applauded.

I really had to better that for an introduction. I said, "I work with Helen here, and my hobby is wrestling crocodiles!" There was a distinguishable pause before they said "Yaeee" more in confusion than delight.

Flower, our leader, noticed my slight cynicism, albeit I had not hidden it at all. She continued, "Today I'd like us to discuss negativity," she said looking at me, "the Universe is full of negativity, and we should overcome it one by one!"

"That will take a minute or two," my cynicism told me.

"Whenever we feel negative thoughts overcome us," she went on, (she had one of those grating voices like scratching a blackboard with a rusty saw which did not endear me to her or her to me), "we should open all windows and breathe out all negativity out of our surroundings. Just breathe out and watch all negative thoughts and feelings leave through the window of our life!"

I sat there and raised my eyebrows. She noticed me. "What are you thinking?" she asked me, "you are amongst friends so be honest and tell us your thoughts!"

That was a challenge not to be missed. I replied, "I think that these days opening the window will let in all the pollution from the traffic, and car exhausts, as well as dust and dirt. Even the birds are coughing and spluttering these days instead of singing!"    

One guy started a "Yaeee" and realised it was not appropriate. She said, "I meant opening the window in a figurative sense." 

I did not want to tell her that life is sometimes a series of disappointments punctuated by the occasional failures; and they can't be breathed out of a window whether metaphorically or not.

I honestly tried to appear enthusiastic for the sake of my colleague if for no one else. We talked about sending happy thoughts towards other people telepathically no matter how far they are. By sending our happy thoughts the other person will feel better even though they don't know we are doing so. We talked about different people having a colour aura around them and the more intense it is, like deep red, the angrier we are. We should aim for a soft pastel colour of aura, apparently. 

At this point my mind wondered what colour aura is breaking wind. I should not have had those beans before the meeting. And sitting on the floor cross-legged did not help.

I kept my comments to a minimum because I noticed that Flower was wilting a little. Obviously my aura did not match with hers.

We ended up with a cup of coffee. Only it was not coffee. It was decaffeinated chicory powder. I mean ... what is chicory anyway? It had no milk nor sugar because apparently they are negative foods. Just chicory powder with hot water. It tasted of bison wee and smelled about the same!

Friday, 23 September 2022

Genealogy - Up Your Tree


I sat in the train not looking forwards to a long journey. I was alone in my compartment so I started reading one of my books. Someone has to read them!; I thought. I don't normally read when I write them.

A few moments later an old lady came in and sat down opposite me. She nodded "hello" and started knitting silently.

As the train drew up from the station a man in his late fifties came in and sat beside her. "Just made it," he mumbled, "as my uncle used to say; a moving train waits for no one!"

The old lady smiled. I ignored him. 

He turned to the lady and continued, "he always had a saying for everything, my uncle," he said, "always le mot juste, as they say in French!"

She smiled again and continued knitting.

"He wasn't French of course," the man continued, "he was Welsh. I never knew that. I only found out when I got into genealogy ... you know, searching your ancestors on the T'Internet."

"I see ..." she said politely.

"I found out a lot about my parents," he continued unaware that no one was interested. 

He interrupted my reading. I hate it when I'm interrupted by someone; it sets my brain thinking in all directions. 

"Amazing how much I did not know about my parents," he said. 

 "Up to now you believed you were living with a gerbil and a cockatoo!" my brain thought but my mouth said nothing.

"They married three months after I was born!" he went on.

My brain called him a rude name then sought forgiveness from our Lord.

The old lady said something nice and smiled. This encouraged him to go on. "I have searched my ancestry through various generations going back years," he said, "amazing how many people I'm related to. So far I have discovered 56,000 relatives through the ages!" 

"Do they all talk through their backside?" my brain asked and my mouth censored.

By this time my brain was in free-flow having been distracted from my reading. Why would someone search his ancestry up to 56,000 people. I would have thought 100 or 200 would have been the most for me. I certainly would not search for more than that in case they all turned up for dinner unannounced. And would this ancestry program on the Internet go as far back as 56,000? How reliable is that? They could put as many names or relationships as they want and this idiot would be none the wiser. I bet he's got a lot of time on his hands searching for so many.  

He derailed my train of thoughts as he went on full steam ahead.

"Do you know?" he asked her as she nodded politely falling asleep, "one of my ancestors fought at the Battle of Agincourt. Another one died whilst fighting in Scotland. Others fought in a number of wars in Europe, Africa and all over the world! Even in Antarctica."

"They must have been quite an argumentative lot, fighting all over the place!" my brain interjected silently.

"And an interesting array of names I've discovered from my family tree," he bored the old woman, "A great great grand uncle three times removed was a knight at the time of Henry VII and was called Sir Roger Rabbitt, would you believe?"

"And no doubt he bred like his namesake! No wonder there's 56,000 boring farts like you," my brain wittily jumped in, "I wish you were three times removed from this train carriage. Or even once would be enough!"

It was like a comedy duo. He said something and my brain added the punchline. 

"The ancestry program on the T'Internet can also show you old photographs of one's ancestors," he informed the old lady who must have been suicidal by then, but she hid it well with a benign smile, "amazing how many people look the same over the years. It must be in our family DNA!"

"So do they all look like gerbils and cockatoos?" my brain asked, "no wonder you've such a bent nose. Were you born with this nose or did you pick it yourself?"

I had to bite my lips to stop myself from laughing out loud. My brain, which often misbehaves in times such as these, went on with one thought after another which I could not stop.

"Have any of your ancestors died of boredom listening to you or does boredom run in your family?" my brain asked. "Were you vaccinated with a gramophone needle as a child? You've not stopped talking since you came here."

As my brain continued to insult the non-stop-talking amateur genealogist and professional bore the poor old little lady got more and more desperate listening to him, smiling kindly and nodding her head and saying "yes ... how interesting ..."

At one point she put down her knitting needles, opened the train window and jumped out of the speeding train. I managed to grab her by the feet as she hung there in mid-air shouting, "let me go ... let me go ... I can still hear him ..."

I slowly pulled her back into the carriage and settled her in the seat whilst the man continued to regale us with even more tales of his long and never ending family tree which should have been uprooted and thrown out of the train when it was a tiny seed sprouting into eternal boredom for mankind.

(I think that's one of the longest sentences I have ever written without any punctuations).

Thursday, 22 September 2022

More things I don't understand


There may be many things which I don't understand. It's people's behaviour mostly. Why do people behave the way that they do? And does their behaviour affect other peoples' behaviour?

Like what happened today. Do you know leggings? Those very tight elasticated lycra socks that hug one's legs tightly all the way up into pants or trousers. Well, today I was at the supermarket and there was this young woman, (mid twenties I guess), wearing what I would call body-leggings. It was a one piece whole body lycra suit in pink hugging her every contour from feet all the way up to the neck. It hugged so tight it left very little to the imagination, including the bits my eyes focussed on. I thought she was naked at first. If a man had been wearing this he'd have been arrested for indecent exposure so hugging it was.

Why do people do that? Don't they have anyone telling them how they look? She was accompanied by a man.

Another thing I don't understand - buying software. If you wish to buy any software for your computer or cell-phone; things like computer games, or word processing or accountancy or whatever programs; you have to sign a contract or licence agreement or terms and conditions of use. This is basically a contract between you and the provider or seller of the software. Normally this contract goes on and on for at least a million pages. Does anyone bother to read all that? People normally agree to the terms because they want the software or computer game and without agreeing they just can't use the product.

The other day I read the contract for a particular software. Did you know that in Paragraph 379, sub paragraph 69 it says that you should wear a three piece suit whilst using the program? It does not specify what women should be wearing.That's how ridiculous those long contracts can be.

Another example, I stood there at the elevator door and pressed the button on the wall to call the elevator. It was a bit slow and you could see from the numbers above the door where the elevator was. I waited patiently.

A man came and stood beside me and the first thing he did is press the button on the wall. He noticed me looking at him, he smiled and said, "Did you press the button?"

I replied, "No, I was testing whether the elevator would come by telepathy alone!"

Why do people do that? Why press the button? 

And what is worse, once you're in the elevator there is always a smart Alec who takes control and asks you which floor you want so he can press all the buttons. I got so irritated once that I told such a man that I did not want to go anywhere. I was only in the elevator for the ride and to meet people.

And another thing I don't understand. I went to the fast food restaurant because I was in a hurry to go to the rest room. An attendant noticed me and said, "The rest rooms are for customers only!"

I was bursting to go, so I said, "I am a customer. I was here and bought a hamburger and fries last week and did not go to the toilet. So I am going now instead of last week. Also, many times I bought from here and did not go to the toilet; so you owe me a few more visits!"

He frowned and was not convinced. So I said, "If you don't let me go I'll do it here and you'll have a bigger problem on your hands ... or on your floor!"

He let me go.

Do you know how you can earn air miles, or some hotels give you free nights if you visit them often? Why can't fast food outlets give you toilet visits the more often you use them? You can have a plastic card on which to add your toilet visits and use them when you need to go ... or give them as a present to someone else!

And one more thing I don't understand. When watching the news or weather forecast on TV I noticed a great number of female presenters are pregnant. Please ladies; don't get upset at me for mentioning this. But these presenters often wear tight dresses and stand side ways to accentuate the fact they are expecting a baby. Time and again they stand in profile to make their point.

And there's more ... over here we also have the pollen count after the weather forecast. People are shown various numbers on a big screen showing the map of the UK. Now that's something not to be sneezed at! Don't you think?

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Things I don't understand

It seems to me that the more I learn the more I find out what I do not know. There are just too many facts in the world, and too many things for anyone to know them all. That's why people tend to specialise in one or two subjects and become expert at them rather than learn everything.

I've tried in life to have a general education, despite people telling me when I was young that I wouldn't amount to much.

But despite my attempts at learning I still don't understand the differences in wines, for instance. Some people can tell you the vintage, year, type of grape and so on by just sniffing or tasting the wine. But I can't tell the difference between a red or a white or rose, or whether it is sparkling or not. If you were to change glasses whilst I was not looking I would not know you did it. They all taste the same regardless of their colour.

In a posh restaurant once where they charge you a fortune for just sitting there the waiter, or sommelier, as he called himself, gave me a couple of drops to taste. I thought I wouldn't pay a fortune for just two drops, so I said, "Fill it up my good friend; I'm not a wee birdie you know!" I was told afterwards I should have tasted it and told him it was OK. What's the point in that? Has anyone ever said it is not OK? It tastes like vinegar mixed with mosquito wee?

And by the way, what is a sommelier? I thought it was a French boot made of wood.

Then when the food waiter came, he seemed upset when I asked for a steak tartare well done. I heard him mumble something in French under his breath. I had to look up in my pocket French/English dictionary the meaning of "imbecile".

When the raw meat arrived and I was told by my girlfriend not to make a scene, he got more upset when I asked for tomato Ketchup. Is it my fault if a posh restaurant like his ran out of Ketchup?

Food is not the only thing I don't understand. Music too. I like various music from Nessun Dorma where a fat person always sings in a loud voice, to the Beatles or Country music. But my problem is learning to play an instrument. I tried the guitar when I took evening lessons at College. My fingers always got entangled in the strings. Why do they put the strings so close to one's fingers? I experimented with various instruments and eventually settled on the drums. I practiced at home day and night. I played so well the neighbours broke our windows to hear me better. They also invited the police to come and listen to me. I am now learning the paper and comb instrument.

As for literature? Forget it. At school I was taught about Chaucer, Shakespeare, and various other writers including French and Italian ones like Voltaire, Racine, Moliere, Goldoni, Dante, Machiavelli, and many others. Did any of them help me in later life? When's the last time I had to quote any of them in  life?

My conversations are more interesting As I Quote Myself. Try it.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

A Mediator


James was a little self-opinionated and spoke his mind freely. He used to say “if something is wrong then it is wrong despite the passage of time or changes in fashions or opinions.” In this respect he was correct of course.

One day he approached Father Ignatius and asked, “Father, I’ve had this argument with a colleague at work. He quoted the Bible, and to be honest he out-foxed me. I had no answer.

“He said that in the Bible, in a book called 1 Timothy Chapter 2, here I got it marked … let me read it Father. It says, and I quote, ‘I desire therefore, first of all, that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men. For kings, and for all that are in high station’… blah blah blah …

“Ah here it is Father … ‘For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus Who gave himself a redemption for all, a testimony in due times.’ ”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing. James continued.

“Well … this man at work said to me that we Catholics are wrong to pray to Saints because as it says here, there is only one mediator of God and men, and it is Jesus. What do you say about that, Father?”

“Let me first tell you who Timothy was,” said Father Ignatius in his usual calm manner, “he was a young Christian and a companion and assistant of Paul in his missionary work. What you have just read is Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

“Of course, Paul, and your friend at work are right. There is only one mediator between humanity and God.

“Let us consider for a moment what Paul means by mediator. Humanity sinned against God and God, being all loving and merciful decided to give us a second chance as it were. He sent His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him, will not perish, but will have life everlasting. You can read it in the Gospel of John at 3:16.

“This is what it means that Jesus is the only mediator between humanity and God. No one else but Jesus came to earth as God and as man in order to bridge the gap between us sinners and our Creator God.

“As Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father, but by me.’ You will find this in John Chapter 14 Verse 6 if I’m not mistaken.”

James quickly checked his pocket Bible and said, “You are right, Father!”

“Another favourite quotation of mine,” smiled Father Ignatius, “is, ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’ That’s also in John Chapter 10. Look it up.

“But to answer your friend’s question about mediator, he is of course right. There is only one mediator between man and God, and that is Jesus as I have explained.  

“But when it comes to prayers, perhaps he is taking the term mediator too literally.

“Let’s look at it another way. If I ask you to pray for me, or if you pray for your friend, you are in effect mediating on his behalf. You are asking God to bless your friend, to look after him and take care of him. In prayer, you are a mediator on behalf of your friend.

“Is that wrong? You are in no way mediating in the sense that Jesus came to die for us, and forgive our sins. He is, and was, God personified in human form. His mediation, His sacrifice, is totally different to you mediating on behalf of someone by praying for them.

“In the same way, when we pray to Saints, we are not praying TO them in the sense that we place them in the same standing as our Lord Jesus Christ. This would be wrong. Only Jesus is the Son of God and mediator as I’ve explained. We worship only God not Saints.

“When we Catholics pray to Saints we are praying in the sense that we are asking them to pray on our behalf to God. Just like you pray to God for your friend. That’s what praying means. And in no way are we going behind God’s back by praying to Saints instead.

“God must have held Saints in high esteem. He chose Mary and Joseph to be the parents of His Son Jesus. Jesus in turn chose the disciples whom we consider as Saints, like Saint Peter. Do you think God will be angry with us for honouring these people? Mary, Joseph, Peter, Paul and many others? Will He be upset that we ask them to pray to God on our behalf?

“Is God upset when you pray on behalf of your friend?”

“I guess not,” said James.

“Sadly, many Catholics pray to Saints in the sense your friend mentioned,” continued Father Ignatius, “they are wrong to do so, and your friend at work is correct to say they should not do so.

“Perhaps our Church needs to explain this better to our parishioners. Saints do not need our prayers, our flowers or candles or whatever else we may offer them. We do this out of love and respect in the same way we place flowers on graves. Not to buy favours from Saints.

“Your friend or colleague is right in thinking we set a bad Christian example. In this respect, I agree with him.”

Monday, 19 September 2022

Here I am Lord


Here I Am, Lord

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin
My hand will save.

I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people's pain.
I have wept for love of them.
They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone.
I will speak my word to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide
Till their hearts be satisfied.
I will give my life to them.
Whom shall I send?

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart.

Isaiah 6

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Kyrie Eleison

Originally, the Mass in Eastern Europe, where it started, was celebrated in Greek.

With time, as Christianity spread further West into Europe it was celebrated in Latin.

And as time moved on, it is now celebrated in English, or whichever language is spoken in the Country where Mass is celebrated.

Except for three words which have survived time and are still from the original Greek Mass.

Kyrie Eleison
Christe Eleison

Meaning "Lord have mercy" and "Christ have mercy".

It is important to remember that by "Lord", or "Sir" we do not mean that we look up to Our Lord as some Master or Ruler. In this context, the word "Kyrie" means "Lord" in the sense of a child looking up to one's loving parent and asking for help, love, guidance and protection.

So when we sing at Mass "Kyrie Eleison" we look up to God our loving Father and ask Him to be always by our side and have mercy on us. And we call upon Christ His Son, in the same prayer.

Friday, 16 September 2022

Anyone Out There?

It was a warm and clear night. I sat in the garden for a while just listening to the quiet around me and thinking about nothing in particular. Just thoughts wandering in and out of my mind as they sometimes do. Every so often I could hear the cry of an owl in the distance – perhaps calling for its mate.

I looked up and gazed at the stars. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. The more I looked the more of them I saw as my eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. They made me feel so small.

Here am I in my garden looking up – and there they were, all these stars, shining in the night miles and miles away. There must be millions of them.

And to think that some people believe that they just happened to be out there. Not created by a supreme, omnipotent Being.

My thoughts then wandered on … am I alone here looking up at the sky at night? Is there someone else on one of these stars sitting in his garden looking at my planet shining like a tiny dot in his dark sky?

And if so, then surely that being looking at me was also created by God; just like me. Did God send His only Son to that being’s world too; to die for him, as He did for me?

The cry of the owl brought me back to earth with a bump.

I guess we’ll never know the answers to my questions. Perhaps we’re not meant to know.

We humans think we’re so clever because we’ve advanced so much in such a short period of time. We thirst for knowledge and the more we learn the more proud we become of our achievements.

Maybe, for our own benefit, there are things that God will not allow us to know. No matter how hard we try to find the answers.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

The Thin Line Of Intervention


There's an almost unperceivable line between our choice of action in life and God's willingness to intervene. I say willingness, because as we know, God is capable of intervening in our lives, and indeed often does, but our perception is perhaps blurred by our obstinacy and lack of focus.

There are many Biblical records of God intervening in the lives of people in order to nudge them, or "encourage" them, in a certain direction.

Jonah disobeyed God when asked to go to Nineveh, (Jonah 1:1 onwards), and he was thrown in the sea and swallowed by a whale which then deposited him on dry land where he decided to go to Nineveh.

Paul persecuted the early-Christians and was thrown off his horse on the way to Damascus and eventually went on to preach about Jesus in many lands, even though he himself had never met Jesus personally. (Acts 8:1 onwards).

The Angel asked Mary to become the Mother of Jesus and she agreed. He also told Joseph not to abandon Mary but to take her as his wife. Later he announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, he also told the Magi to avoid going back to Herod, and warned Joseph to escape with Mary and Jesus to Egypt.

All these are examples of God's interventions in peoples' lives and people responding accordingly. No doubt you can think of many other such instances.

One thing should be clearly understood, however; in all these instances the individuals concerned had the right and the freedom to say "No" to God's invitation. Admittedly, you would think that being swallowed by a whale, or thrown off a horse and blinded, would be incentive enough to obey God; but it should be clearly underlined that at all times the choice to say, "No, I cannot do as you ask God" was present as an option.

Paul could have said, “All right God, I’ll stop persecuting Christians, but I’ll leave it at that.” He did not have to become one of the greatest missionaries ever and suffer many arrests, beatings and imprisonments and death for spreading the Good News of Christ. He did that voluntarily and was in no way forced by God into this course of action. The same applies to Jonah, Moses, Peter and the other disciples and to everyone else who chooses to follow Christ ever since. Including you and me. We are in no way forced to love and obey God. And many today choose not to.

Mary could have said, "No!", but she didn't. Joseph equally could have decided to leave Mary, but he didn't.

The principle that individuals at all times have a choice is paramount, because without it it would imply that God has created a robotic humanity unable to decide for itself and controllable by one Divine mind.

This principle applied then as it still applies now to you and me and many others.

If we are honest with ourselves, there have been several instances in our lives where God has intervened and "nudged" us in certain directions. Whether we answered the call or not is a personal matter. There have also been instances where His intervention has saved us from unimaginable bad situations; perhaps without our knowledge at the time, but thinking back we can see His hand in events in our lives.

What is important is to remember that God's interventions are like that of a friend. He advises on the best course of action, on what to do or say and when to do it; but at all time we retain the freedom of choice whether to accept the advice or not. Just as you would do if a human friend gave you advice on a certain course of action.

And that is the Thin Line of intervention upon which our faith depends.

God the loving Creator Father guides His creations through the teachings of Christ and the works of the Holy Spirit. We retain the choice as to how we respond.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

Catholic Heaven

A man dies and goes to Heaven where he is face to face with St Peter.

The keeper of the Pearly Gates taps his computer keyboard a few times and asks: “What’s your religion?”

The man eagerly replies “Catholic”; knowing full well that this is the one and only true Church which Jesus founded all those years ago. Jesus was after all Catholic Himself.

St Peter looks up and says “Catholic hein? Not another one!”

“Is that bad?” asks the man worryingly.

“It’s that we have quite a few Catholics in here,” continues the Saint, “and we get more trouble from them than any other religion.”

“How so?” gulps the man in a panic.

“Well … they think they know it all for a start. They’re so judgmental too. And they argue so much … There’s a chap we’ve put in a room by himself and he still argues when he looks at a mirror. Something about Latin being the only true Catholic language …

“Do you know … some of them believe they’re the only ones here! We’ve put all the Catholics in one corner of Heaven and told everyone else to keep very quiet when they walk by there so as not to confound their belief.”

“Is that where I’ll go … if I’m accepted in Heaven?” asks the man with some hope in his voice.

“Well …” replies the Saint, “your credentials are in order. We can let you have access to the whole of Heaven where you can meet everyone else; as long as you don’t go around saying that Catholic is best!”

“Agreed … I promise!” says the man with a smile.

“Oh … and one more thing,” continues St Peter, “always carry a tin of sardines in your pocket. In case you come across another Catholic who insists on eating fish on Fridays!!!”

And the moral of this story is: As a Catholic, I am bound to ask, "Do the Catholics set a good example for others to emulate?"



Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Does God not want me to love her? PART 2


See Part 1 of the story HERE

A few weeks after meeting Father Ignatius, Reginald and Helen returned to see the priest. They sat in his office and this time Helen spoke first.

“Thank you Father, for seeing us,” she said, “let me explain … Reg and I have had a long chat … many long chats really. So much so that at one time the possibility of us marrying was totally non-existent.”

She hesitated. The priest decided to say nothing. He noted that Reginald was rather nervous.

“The thing is,” she continued, “I was brought up in a Christian family although we never went to Church on Sundays or any other times. The only time we went to Church for baptisms of other people, weddings and funerals. I’m not quite sure what my parents believed; they are both dead now …”

“I am sorry to hear this,” interrupted the priest.

She smiled briefly and went on, “I guess they were Christian in name only … many people are these days. As I grew up, the more I thought about it the more I was convinced, or perhaps I convinced myself, that God does not exist. Seeing so much evil and so much suffering in the world today, I can’t see how a loving God can allow all this to happen.

“Anyway … the honest truth is that I do not believe in anything. Call me an atheist, or agnostic or whatever, I just can’t get it into my head that God exists. I feel it would be wrong and hypocritical to pretend to believe just to get married in this or any other Church.”

“That’s a very noble attitude,” said the priest calmly.

“As I said,” she continued, “Reg and I have talked about this a lot. I guess he has learnt a lot about himself, we both have … He said he strongly believes in God and that He has seen God’s hand in his life in the past. He gave me examples.”

Reginald shuffled nervously in his chair and crossed his legs. He tried to lean back a little and crossed his arms as well. It was obvious Helen was quite forceful in this relationship.

“The thing is, Father,” she continued politely, “we are truly in love with each other; of that there is no doubt. I would have been happy to marry in a civil ceremony by the registrar, but Reginald is adamant it should be a Christian … Catholic … ceremony blessed by God. I suppose that is testament to his faith.”

Father Ignatius smiled and said nothing. Helen continued before Reginald spoke.

“We are both trying to save this relationship,” she trembled a little, “it would be a tragedy I believe if we were to call the whole thing off and we never met again. I can’t see a way out really … neither of us can.

“Reg told me about what you said about raising children, and in order to keep the two of us together I have solemnly sworn and promised him that should we have children they should be brought up Catholic like Reg. Baptised here, and have Communion, Confirmation and go to your school. I am desperate… we both are … to save this marriage. We don’t want just to live together un-married. I believe in marriage for life.

“But I have to be honest to myself, Father. At the moment I just do not believe in God. I can’t just force myself to believe just to get married in Church as Reg wants. Can you help us?”

Father Ignatius took off his glasses and pretended to clean them. A trick he had learnt when he wanted some thinking time. He also prayed silently for guidance and for these two young people caught in a dilemma born out of love.

“It seems to me,” he said still calmly, “that both of you are honourable people both having different views and yet honest and open about them.

“You are deeply in love and want to make this union you proposed blessed in the eyes of God.

“There is nothing stopping you of course in getting married in a civil ceremony by the registrar. The Church cannot stop that although it would not recognise the marriage as a Catholic one.

“What I could do, is write to the Bishop on your behalf and seek his permission for a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Christian ... an atheist as you said earlier. There are some conditions to be met which I will explain later. If we get the Bishop’s permission then you can marry in Church and the marriage will be valid; although it will not be Sacramental.

“Let me explain … in the Catholic Church a Sacrament like Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Confession are channels through which God can work. For a marriage to be a Sacrament, both spouses must be Christian; which is not the case here.”

Reginald and Helen frowned. He said, “I don’t understand, Father.”

“Yes, it is complicated a little,” the priest went on, “what I am saying is that with the Bishop’s permission you can marry in Church which will be a valid marriage; but it is not a Sacrament like when you were baptised, Reginald, and had first Communion, Confirmation and so on.

“You will be free to continue in your Catholic faith as you do now, Reginald. If anything, your faith seems to have been re-affirmed because of this. Although you Helen are not received in the faith until you are baptised.

“You are always welcome here at Masses if you wish but you cannot partake in the Sacrament of Communion.”

“I understand …” she said without any emotions.

“I will write to the Bishop,” continued Father Ignatius, “but more important I will pray for you that God may bless your union and give you a long and happy life together.

“Helen … as I said, you are always welcome here. There are many leaflets in Church which you may pick up and read more about our faith. They are all free. Also, should you at any time be interested to learn more, my colleague Father Donald runs Christian Encounter sessions for people wishing to know more about Christianity. He’d be glad to see you there as so will I at any time you wish to discuss anything. 

"I'll let you know when I hear from the Bishop."