Friday 30 September 2022

Talk to yourself


A very weird experience. I can't get over it. Frightened the life out of me, I tell you.

I went to see see a chiropractor. A friend of mine is a pain in the neck working his way South. So I went to see this medic recommended by ... would you believe ... by this pain in the **** friend.

I'd never been to this chiropractor before, or any chiropractor. So he asked me some questions which he typed on his computer. What I did not realise at the time, until much later, is that he had one of those tiny ear-pieces in his ear which connected to a cell-phone; and whilst talking to me he was having a conversation with someone else.

It went like this:

Come in ... sit down, Sir. I need to take some details first. Name? I gave him my name.

That's good darling ... I frowned. I did not know what to say. Odd comment to make to a client, I thought. 

Address? I gave him my address.

Very nice of you to volunteer this, my sweet! ... I frowned some more. He just asked me my address. I did not volunteer the information. What's going on here?

Date of birth? I gave him my DOB. He asked various other questions seeking information which I answered. Then in conversation he said ...

I do like the way you talk, darling ... I was getting rather panicky by now. I thought he was coming on to me. Does he fancy me? How personal is this medical check up going to be? 

I nearly said something when he jumped in first. Where exactly does it hurt Sir? He called me "Sir". We're getting formal once again rather than darling and my sweet.  What's going on? 

He asked again where it hurts. I told him pointing to my neck and lower back.

Would you take your clothes off and lie on the couch please, Sir ... ... ... just put them next to mine sweetheart.

WHAT? Put my clothes next to his? He asked me to put my clothes next to his ... I nearly punched his lights out at this suggestion ... then suddenly he said ... Yes, next to mine in the garage.

Garage? What garage? I was more confused than before. I stopped in mid-thoughts and mid-undressing.

Just lie on the couch, Sir, he continued. He ran his fingers up and down my spine chasing a frisson doing the same in unison with my trembling fears. What's going to happen next?

Now hang up, darling. He said. 

What? Hang up what? What exactly is he asking me to do?

Yes, hang up. I'll talk to you later darling. Bye love ...

The penny should have dropped as they say in my part of the world. 

I should have realised he was having a phone conversation with someone else. But I don't think like that you see. I am a very clear thinker who analyses the situation quickly and jumps to the wrong conclusions. I thought he was schizophrenic. This guy has a double personality. 

I jumped out of the couch and got dressed very quickly. Quicker than it takes to get undressed. I even put on my bow tie. 

I figured if he gives me an invoice for the consultation I'd tell him I paid his other personality.

I made an excuse I remembered I had to be somewhere else fast. Another Continent or other planet maybe. 

As I was leaving he said, "I hope you don't mind my being interrupted by my wife on the phone ..."

Thursday 29 September 2022

Small Talk


Someone contacted me about my article published HERE on Small Talk.

This person has to attend many gatherings, parties and such like as part of the job. They don't like small talk when people approach them and talk about nothing ... this and that ... just to pass the time. They asked for some advice or tips on how to handle such situations.

First of all, if you're at a party minding your own business and someone approaches you with meaningless conversation you must own the situation straight-away. Be masterful, confident and direct. You do not have to be an expert on the subject but you can appear to be by learning a few catch phrases or words. Here are a couple of examples:

Someone makes a bee line towards you and to be pleasant says, "We had a few nice days recently, warm weather." This is a typical opening line in the UK when we want to say nothing in particular. 

You should immediately take over the subject and show him you know more than him. Just say, "Oh yes ... this is due to the warm front which arrived from the South carrying with it the rising temperatures from Africa, (South America, Australia, Asia or whatever), and it met the baromatic pressures from the North which quickly dissipated and vaporised".

Now this is all nonsense of course. But if you say it with confidence, looking the other person straight in the eye, holding on to your cigar, or pipe, (a pipe is better because it makes you look intellectual), then it will intimidate the other person. If you're a lady who does not smoke a pipe, then just pick up your cell-phone and pretend to punch a few facts whilst talking. That will show you know more than him.

If by some misfortune the other person is a weather expert, or presents the weather forecast on TV, cut the conversation short by saying, "Oh ... it's Helen over there. Must circulate. Nice to have met you!" And make a hasty retreat.

You see ... you won the small talk encounter and went on to fight another day.

Like for instance when someone approaches you with something topical in the news; like the cost of living. Just say, "The rise in inflation is due to the upwards pressure on the currency against a scenario whereby the market is saturated with an excess of demand and a shortage of supply in essential commodities. Oh ... is that apple pie? My favourite. You will excuse me before it is all finished!"

Again ... a load of nonsense spoken with confidence and a quick retreat towards the apple pie, or whatever is your favourite snack. Just learn a few buzz words and use them.

Cars - "I definitely like front wheel drive because it gives me more control on tight cornering and sudden breaking. Good fuel consumption too."

Gardening - "I so prefer ethical and planet-friendly fertilisers than chemical ones which could so easily harm the environment and the wildlife." It's a load of BS of course, but goes down well with almost everyone. I say "almost". Once I was talking to a farmer about strawberries and I said I spread horse manure on mine. He said he prefers fresh cream or ice cream on his strawberries.

Heavy traffic - "Yes, I understand this is due to road works on the junction between Fourth Avenue and Acacia Boulevard which has caused a long tailback not helped by an accident between a taxi and a cyclist in Nonsense Gardens." 

Science - "According to Einstein light travels faster at night because it 's dark and there's less light so the travelling light does not get caught in heavy traffic."

Just be confident. Learn some buzz words. Speak quickly and with authority.

Pretty soon everyone will avoid you as a buzzy body know-it-all and you will be free for ever from those boring small talk situations.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

They exist all-right !!!


You'd better believe it folks, they exist all-right. Extra-terrestials, space invaders or space aliens, or Martians or whatever else you like to call them. They exist and I have seen them; or felt their presence.

I was in the garden sipping a nice cold drink of whisky on the rocks and enjoying a chocolate cake we'd just bought. The dog was asleep by my easy-chair. The phone rang. I got in the house to answer it and when I came back the extra-terrestrials had zoomed down from their spacecraft and eaten my cake. They also spilled the whisky all over the place. 

I was speaking to Mrs Groggins the other day. She said she saw a small short man about two feet tall in her back garden the other night. It was late evening getting dark. She said he was green or grey in colour. Moving fast to and fro by her washing line where she had some clothing to dry. He was moving very fast, she said. Probably had three or more legs and two backsides. He then ran away. When she collected her washing it was all there but scratched as if by paws. She is convinced it was an outer-space creature. 

I tend to believe her. I was at the butcher's and he said someone entered his shop and stole some sausages and ran away. At first he thought it was an opportunist thief when he saw a man running in the street. But he is willing to give the man the benefit of the doubt. He is sure it was a space alien because normally those sausages do not sell very well on account that he puts ground vegetables in them to bulk up the volume of cheap meats. He said that maybe space aliens are vegetarians and will not notice the 1% meat in the sausages.

My friend Gavin had his car stolen. He was at the supermarket and when he got in the car park he could not find his car. He told the police that a space invader had stolen his car. The policeman did not believe him and took some notes and walked away. Gavin is now certain that the policeman was a space alien because after he left he could not find the Mars bars he'd just bought.

When I went to pick up Gavin from the shop we discovered his car parked at the far end of the car park. The Martians must have taken the car for a joy ride and returned it in the car park. We've still not found the Mars bars.

Another friend, Harvey, actually saw a UFO from very close up. It was red and hurtling at speed towards him. It was a tomato ketchup bottle which his wife threw at him for not listening.

So we have some clues for all of you out there to help you. Extra-terrestrials like chocolate cake, hate whisky, attack clothing on washing lines, love vegetarian sausages and Mars bars. They also like to joy ride in other peoples' cars rather than buy or hire one.

Be careful. The truth is out there.

Monday 26 September 2022

Those Tabs at the top


Q - What are those tabs or folders at the top of this Blog all about?

A – They are there to help you navigate your way through the Blog. Just click any of them and find out more.

Q – How much does it cost?

A – Nothing. They are FREE. Like everything else on this Blog.

Q – Can anyone use them?

A - Yes, of course!

Q – I am a vegetarian, can I use them?

A – Yes, anyone can regardless of their IQ or profession.

Q – Do I have to wear anything formal to use them?

A – It depends where you are. If you’re in a public place like work, Internet CafĂ© or using your laptop on a train, it is advisable that you are decently clothed. If you’re in the privacy of your own home you can wear what you like, or nothing.

Q – I am using my laptop at work. I am going home to click on the tabs.
A -  What will you be wearing?

Sunday 25 September 2022

Is God talking to me?


Peter Wilson was a confused young man working as a junior clerk in the local factory. One of the few factories still open amongst the depression, redundancies and business closures everywhere. To have a job, however junior it was, was a treasure in those days where being out of work seemed to be the norm.

One day he called on Father Ignatius in a confused state of mind, "Father, can you spare me a moment please?"

The priest was always approachable and amenable to the needs of his parishioners and invited the young man for a chat in his office.

"Father ..." hesitated Peter, "does God speak to us in dreams?"

The priest waited a moment or two before replying. He had to be careful that what he said was not misunderstood.

"Dreams have been mentioned in the Bible several times," he said, "an Angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him not to abandon Mary but marry her. Also, the Angel warned Joseph to escape to Egypt with the baby Jesus and Mary. And also the wise men were warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. I'm sure we can think of other examples. Why do you ask?"

"Well ..." the young man hesitated again, "I've been having these dreams. I'm not sure if it is God talking to me ..."

"We have to be careful not to confuse ourselves into believing that dreams have more meaning than they actually have," Father Ignatius said, "sometimes a dream is just that, a dream. What exactly is troubling you?"

"I keep thinking I should quit my job and go work for a voluntary organisation helping the poor abroad! I've been dreaming it over and over again ..." Peter blurted out.

The priest noted that Peter had relaxed a little. Usually, when we have a weight on our minds we feel that much better when we share it with someone else. Father Ignatius was concerned at what the young man had probably done in a state of immediate action. Quitting one's job was not the wisest move without thinking it through seriously.

"What have you done about these dreams?" he asked tentatively.

"Nothing yet ..." replied Peter. The priest was relieved.

"Good," he continued, "sometimes in life we reach a crossroad and we have to make a decision one way or another. We hesitate. We wait. And delay a decision. Not making a decision is in itself a decision.

"You have done nothing about these dreams!"

Peter nodded.

"I knew a man a little older than you a few years ago," continued Father Ignatius, "he was in his mid-forties or thereabout. He had a good well-paid job and grown up children. He too felt he should leave his career in business and go work abroad amongst the poor. It was not a dream in his case. Just a feeling. A strong feeling that kept re-occurring. You can't just throw away a good job with a pension just like that.

"He discussed it with his wife and children. He had two children of University age. They were understanding. A good Christian family ... they had a major decision to make. I advised them not to rush into things.

"It took them six months to decide. Eventually, he left his job. He managed to get a year off as a sabbatical. He had an understanding employer as well as a good family. The children said that they'd live at the University anyway so there's no accommodation problems there; and his wife decided to go with him abroad. They stayed there for two years and the children visited them in the summer. He quit his job totally and got a new one when they returned home."

"How lucky they were ..." Peter smiled weekly.

"What I am trying to say," went on Father Ignatius, "is that you are younger, are not married and your situation is different. Often people get feelings or ideas that they should be doing something, or not doing something. In your case it came as a dream, three times you said. When these situations happen we sometimes ask whether it is God speaking or whether it is our own wishful thinking leading us in a certain direction ... perhaps to escape the current situation we may be in which we do not like. Do you understand?"

The young man nodded and said nothing.

"In my experience," said Father Ignatius, "when it is God speaking He makes sure we understand it is God speaking. Perhaps not as dramatically as Paul falling off his horse on the way to Damascus, or Jonah being swallowed by a whale ... but God makes sure we know it is Him all-right!

Peter smiled.

"My advice, young man," the priest smiled back, "is to do nothing ... or perhaps I should have said pray about it. Pray ... pray and pray some more. I shall be praying too. Wait and see what God does next. If He wants you to work amongst the poor He'll let you know!"

It took Peter ten months to reach a decision. He did quit his job and has worked abroad for six years. He met another volunteer whilst abroad and got married and they're expecting a baby!

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.