Thursday 31 August 2023

Sistine Chapel

 You may or you may not have seen this before. A tour of the Sistine Chapel from the comfort of you home. Just follow the instructions at the bottom of your screen HERE.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

I'll never understand women ...


I may have mentioned it before, I'll never understand women.

As we were going out yesterday my wife pointed at the neighbours and said, "Just look at that couple down the road, how lovely they are. He keeps holding her hand, kissing her, holding the door for her, why can’t you do the same?"
I replied, "Are you mad? I barely know that woman!"

I got the silent treatment all the way into town. It was a good drive and helped me concentrate.

It has long been held as a theory that women can multi-task better than men. Now I am not sure whether this is true, but I have often been in situations where my wife is sitting beside me reading the road map and at the same time telling me that I am driving too fast, too close to the car in front and to watch out for that cyclist. Sometimes she tells me to turn left and the GPS navigation system lady tells me to turn right. I obey the GPS lady and get the silent treatment - from both of them!

Some women worry about their figure and putting on weight. A recent study discovered that women who carry a little extra weight, live longer than the men who mention it.

When wearing a bikini, women reveal 90% of their body. Men are so polite they only look at the covered parts.

Do any men reading this find women sometimes strange? Tell us of your experiences. Ladies too ... tell us why you are strange ... (ooops ... joke ... sorry)

My wife is strange. Her behaviour was very strange the other day. 

It was about 11:30 at night when suddenly my wife shouted, "Golf ... Golf ... Golf ... That's all you speak about. That's all you do. Golf ... Always golf!"

I tell you. It was out of the blue, and I was startled out of my life. I never expected to see her on the golf course at that time of night. I was practising quietly and there she was. Shouting at the top of her voice.

I'll never understand women.

Tuesday 29 August 2023

John's Legacy


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

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

Yet this was a man with a mission.

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

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

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

His legacy to us?

Courage and Obedience.

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

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

Monday 28 August 2023

What Peter said is important


When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He ordered His disciples not to tell anyone that He was the Messiah. Matthew 16:13-20

What Peter said here is very important. Or, to be precise, what Jesus replied is very important.

"... this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven."

This is affirmation, by God, through the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is His Son. Jesus is the Son of God.

When Peter uttered these words, it was not Peter the man talking, but the Holy Spirit talking through him. The Holy Spirit inspired Peter to say what he did say. It was not just a man babbling or repeating what he'd heard Jesus say. It was the Holy Spirit declaring through Peter who Jesus is.

Let us understand this and not misquote it many years later.  

Today, many people believe Jesus was a good teacher, a healer, a prophet, a kind man; but how many openly declare that He is the Son of God?

It is not the first time the Holy Spirit inspired people to say what they say. At Pentecost, the Apostles and others were gathered together in a house in fear of the authorities. Suddenly there was a mighty sound and flames of fire on their heads. The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity, descended on them and became one with their very souls.

Their soul and the Holy Spirit were one. And this union of the human and the Divine manifested itself in many ways. For a start they all had the courage to speak up. They were no longer afraid. These very people who days before had ran away when Jesus was arrested, suddenly gained new courage given them by the Holy Spirit.
They knew the truth about Jesus and His Resurrection and they were no longer afraid to keep the secret to themselves. They had the courage to stand up and shout their truth to all willing to hear. They were not afraid of the consequences. They spoke out in many languages to the crowds gathered there.

The Holy Spirit inspired the writers of the Old Testament to write what they did and to predict the coming of Christ. Did you know there are more than 300 predictions about Jesus in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in His life? Some He had no control over; like where He would be born, and the manner of His death and Resurrection.

Today, the Holy Spirit speaks to and inspires people like you and me. Have you ever had a thought in your head, or said something, or written something, and sometimes later you wondered where such thoughts came from? Could the Holy Spirit be talking to you?

There's a big difference between you having your own thoughts, and God speaking to you through the Holy Spirit.

When God speaks to you, He makes sure you know it is Him speaking.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Confrontation for Father Ignatius


Father Ignatius sat down in his compartment and prepared for the long journey ahead. It was one of those old fashioned trains with separate compartments seating eight people per cubicle facing each other. Luckily, this compartment was empty so the priest took out his book and started reading. It was dark outside and it had begun to snow.

Just as the train started pulling out of the station a man in his thirties entered the compartment and sat opposite the priest.

“It’s cold outside …” he said blowing in his hands to keep them warm.

“Isn’t it just!” smiled the priest.

The man sat down, crossed his arms to keep warm and started to tap his feet gently. Father Ignatius ignored him and continued reading.

A few moments later the man got up and started fiddling with the heating control in the compartment. He turned it to the left, then again to the right, and then he put his hand against the air vents.

“I’m sure these controls are only here for show,” he said, “they don’t work at all. They put them here to make you think you’re in control. But you’re in control of nothing on these trains I tell you!”

At this precise moment the train must have crossed a point as it tilted slightly off-balancing the man who fell back into his seat.

Father Ignatius bit his lip to stop him from laughing.

“Eternal damnation …” cursed the man … followed by “oops … sorry … I shouldn’t have sworn … you’re a priest aren’t you?”

“Yes I am,” replied Father Ignatius.

The man sat down peevishly for a few moments, rubbing his hands against each other to the sound of the train moving slowly on the rails. Clackety clack … clackety clack … clackety clack.

“So you’re a priest …” declared the man after a few minutes silence. It was obvious that Father Ignatius was not meant to read his book right now. He looked up and smiled.

“So what would you say to an atheist like me?” continued the man.

“I would say nothing and continue reading,” said Father Ignatius.

“Would you not try to convince me that I am wrong?”

“No … I wouldn’t.”

The man frowned. “Why is that? I thought you priests are meant to preach to people like me … and try to save us … that’s your job.”

Father Ignatius closed his book and put it away. He took off his glasses and started cleaning them.

“In my experience,” he said “people like you don’t need convincing. You already know you are right.”

“How’s that?”

“Do you believe in God?”

“No. Of course not. I’ve already said so.”

“And that’s precisely what I meant … you are so sure that there is no God that there is no point in convincing you otherwise. Somehow, you have proved to yourself a negative. There is no God. And no amount of discussion or debate will change your mind.”

“I’m certain of it,” declared the young man, “there is no such thing as God.”

“I admire your Faith,” smiled the priest, “ironically, you have more Faith in your belief than many Christians I know have in their belief that God exists. You’d be surprised how many live in doubt and confusion about their Christian beliefs.”

“There you are then … at least we un-believers have no doubts …”

“Doubts aren’t such a bad thing … it is possible to believe in God and have doubts too … doubts help you question your beliefs and in certain circumstances can even strengthen your Faith … God has given us the luxury to doubt. To question, to analyse, and to think. And then to come to the conclusion that He truly exists.”

“So you’ve proved to yourself that God exists?” asked the man.

“No … God proved it to me. He found me willing to take a chance … keep an open mind and dare to believe without any proof at all. And my first faltering steps into believing were rewarded … in time … by enough evidence for me to be certain of God’s existence and His love for us.”

“Wow …”

“Wow indeed,” continued Father Ignatius, “all it takes is your courage and willingness to step out in blind Faith and want to believe … He’ll provide the proof you need in due course. You must dare to believe. Dare to lose control.”

“What do you mean?” asked the man sitting opposite the priest.

“A few minutes ago you tried to make that heating system work. You turned the knob one way and another and you felt totally out of control. You said as much … you’re in control of nothing on these trains … those were your exact words.”

“That’s right … I’ve never known any of these systems to work …”

“When you think about it,” continued the priest, “there’s very little in life you are really in control of.

“You’re on this train, but you don’t control what time it leaves the station, what time it arrives and what speed it travels.

“You don’t control the state of your health. Anything could happen to alter it; an accident for instance could totally change your lifestyle.

“You don’t control whether you’ll remain in your present job permanently, or if you’re self-employed whether you’ll continue to be successful.

“You don’t control your marriage, if you’re married that is. Anything could happen to you, your wife and children …

“You may try to influence these things by your behaviour but you do not really control the outcomes.”

“But …” hesitated the man, “someone is ultimately in control. The Government for instance …”

“No … not even Governments or authorities … there are always things that happen which are beyond their control. They may plan for them, try to influence events, prepare for all circumstances … but they’re not in control.

“Only God is in ultimate control of everything which happens in this world and in the whole universe.

“Whether you believe in Him or not does not alter the fact that He controls everything and everyone. He controls with ultimate, unconditional and total love.”

“This is my stop approaching … I have to get off now … I’m sorry I was so rude earlier on … I promise I’ll look further into this … you’ve certainly given me something to think about …

“I like what you said … Dare to believe without any proof … Dare to lose control … I might give it a try …”

The man excused himself and left the compartment.

Father Ignatius smiled and then started praying for him.

Friday 25 August 2023

Now you've gone too far ...


Someone said to me that my articles here sometimes go too far.

"Too far?" I thought, "what does that mean?" 

Apparently, sometimes my articles can upset my readers, and they are likely not to respond in the comments box, or not to return to this Blog again.

I asked for an example, and I was told that my last post, "Have you been hurt?" is a good example. It gives the reader two choices. Either put up with the hurt or do something about it.

So I went back and read the article again. Yes, it is a little abrupt. But then, sometimes it is perhaps necessary to grab some people by the lapels and shake them a bit to get the point across.

There's a lot of hurting people out there. A lot of old baggage being carried and slowing people down from fulfilling a full wholesome life. A lot of bitterness and anger. It's as if people are sleep-walking themselves into hell; not just after their death but right now in this life.

The world is in a terrible place right now. Just look around you for plenty of examples.

And I believe this world will never know peace until it learns to forgive. 

At every level of society. On a personal one-to-one basis. As part of a family, a community, a nation or internationally as a humanity. At every level we need forgiveness and more forgiveness.

It is only by forgiving each other as humans that we can hope to ascend to a higher level and seek and receive forgiveness from God.

And if my style of writing is too abrupt ... well ... on reflection ... I'd rather ruffle a few feathers and save someone out there from hell in the here-and-now as well as in the thereafter.

Often, a direct approach is more memorable and likely to grab peoples' attention. I don't mean to upset anyone. I already have too few readers to afford to lose any of them. 

Anyway ... there you have it. Let us now pray for all the hurting people out there in the world.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Have you been hurt?

Have you been hurt? Of course you have. Every one has been hurt one way or another in life. Hurt by someone else doing them harm, lying, cheating, stealing, broken relationships, broken marriages, disputes and so on.

Everybody hurts. 

Were you angry at the time?

Of course you were. It would not be natural not to be angry and wanting to kick back, seek revenge, retribution, justice ... ah ... justice. That's a good one to mean retaliation.

We've all been hurt, and some of us are still hurting now. Probably still angry too.

Probably the person who has caused the hurt has gone away, or passed away, or even does not care that they have hurt you. 

So what now?

Two choices:

1    Continue to hurt and get angry.

2    Do something about it.

You've guessed what I'm going to say ... here comes the sermon ... forgive and forget ... love one another ... and all that. Typical Christian blah blah blah ... Not easy is it?

Of course it is not easy to forgive and forget. How can you forget when often you have a reminder every day of the hurt done to you all that long ago? 

And how can you forgive if the one who hurt you is no longer in your life? Or is possibly dead? Or has never sought forgiveness nor wants it anyway?

OK ... let's look at the scenario that the person is dead. That person has now met God face to face and has seen the situation in all its facets. It is no longer your problem. Hand the situation to God; and ask Him to forgive on your behalf. You'll probably still hurt; but let the hurt be an opportunity to hand that person and that situation back to God again.

In the other scenario the person has gone away and has not sought forgiveness. So ask yourself. If that person was here right now, and genuinely asked for forgiveness; would you forgive and seek no retribution, recompense or revenge?

If yes ... then why not forgive now anyway? Even if the person is not here and does not know. At least God knows and is pleased by your decision.

The hurt may not go away. But let it be an opportunity to pray for that person again. You can't possibly hate a person you're praying for.

So there you have it ... two choices ... continue to hurt and get angry, or do something about it.

It won't be easy. But I never said it is ... ... ... I know from experience.

And one more thing ...

When Jesus sees the scars in His hands and feet and side; He remembers ... and forgives once more.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Diary entries to remind me


It's been a hectic week so far. Why does the phone ring when I'm up a ladder pruning a tree? By the time I get down the ladder, rush indoors, get to the phone, the answering machine has taken over. I listen to the message and it is one of those advertising salesmen wondering if I would be interested in buying a portable answering machine I can take with me anywhere? 

Whilst indoors, I switched on the TV to listen to the News.


Little Red Riding Hood found in a critical condition. Paramedics have stabilised her condition, but she's not out of the woods yet.

The phone rang again. Mom-in-law is coming to visit. I tolerate her. She's like a fine wine. Gets more expensive with age.

It's our wedding anniversary soon. We've been happily married for two years ... 1999 and 2009.

When we got married, she insisted on decluttering the house. I put an advert on eBay: "FOR SALE BY OWNER. Complete set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Forty-five volumes. Excellent condition, £200 or best offer. No longer needed, got married, wife knows everything."

We're preparing a large cake with icing for our anniversary. Years ago  I used to get heartburn when I ate birthday cake until a doctor advised me to take the candles off first.

We went to a restaurant as a pre-celebration celebration. We had pelican soup. Tasted OK but you should have seen the size of the bill.

We didn't feel like cooking today. I rang a restaurant and asked, "Do you do take-aways?"

They said, "Yes!"

So I asked, "What is 23452 take away 345?"

I have a picture with a saying, "A day without laughter is a day wasted!" So for a laugh I put on YouTube a video of me sneezing. Now the whole street is doing the same. It went viral.

Anyway, enough for now. I have to go up the ladder again. The cell-phone I left up the tree is ringing.

Now, why would anyone leave a cell-phone up a tree?

Monday 21 August 2023


Nostalgia these days isn't what it used to be.

Time was, back in the day, when nostalgia was people getting together and reminiscing about old times perhaps fondly or maybe not. These days, however, nostalgia is sharing the latest text or selfie-photo you've just received on your cell phone. Everything is so instant, even memories.

You take a photo and you got it on your screen in seconds. No need to send the film for development and printing, and waiting in anticipation as to how many photos you took badly or are over or under exposed. Today, the only thing they expose in the photos is their bodies.

How many people I wonder remember those far off days when life was in black and white and sound was in mono?

Back then everything was in black and white, or in sepia color, depending on how old you really were. I recall a story that on a snowy day a man wearing a white coat went out for a walk and was knocked down by a snow plough.

This wouldn't happen today with all the vibrant colours we wear which need a special washing powder to make them even more brilliant and soft to the touch. Back then there was no clothes' softener; and people washed their hair shirts by hand, not in a contraption invented to lose your socks; or turn all your clothes pink if you put a red item in it.

Another thing I've noticed in today's non-nostalgia world is that people seem to have a fondness, addiction in some cases, of telling each other about themselves every few minutes. They go on social media websites and tell each other inane information like the fact they've just woken up, had breakfast, washed their armpits, and all other things which back in the day we kept privately to ourselves. What's all that about? What is the point of telling a whole load of people personal stuff that is of no interest to man or beast?

I'm not a member of any social media site. In order to appear trendy I walk in the streets, or when on the bus or train, and every so often I say something out loud about myself for no apparent reason.

I make short statements of no more than 180 letters, like "My shoes hurt!" "I need a haircut." "My trousers itch in unusual places." 

At first it astounded those around me. But now I have three followers - all wearing white coats.

In olden times, if you needed something you got to the shop and bought it. Now you can buy almost anything online. Which is a convenient and a good thing I suppose. But here's the catch. Having bought something you are then bombarded by e-mails asking you to review what you've just bought.

"We note you've bought a shirt. Tell us about your enjoyable experience. Did it live up to your expectations? Did you like the item you bought? How did you use it?"

I'll tell you how I used it. I put it in a bucket of soapy water and washed the car with it, that's how.

The other day I bought on-line a small radio/alarm clock. Now I keep getting e-mails from the trader inviting me to buy other clock/radios of every size, colour, and uselessness. How many clock/radio should a man need?

I tell you. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Theodore's Death Focus


Father Ignatius was met at the door of Parish House by an ashen faced Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper, who said in a trembling voice.

“Father, I think Mr Luxton-Joyce is dead!”

“What do you mean … you think?” asked the priest.

“Well, Mr Luxton-Joyce’s butler rang about an hour ago and said that he had felt very faint and lost consciousness and has been taken to hospital. I haven’t heard any more since …”

Father Ignatius got back into his car and drove straight to the hospital.

He made his way to the main reception where he was well known as a regular visitor and asked which Ward his friend and church benefactor was in.

“Oh … he’s not in any Ward,” said the receptionist, “Mr Luxton-Joyce is in a private suite on the third floor, and he has brought with him a personal nurse to look after his needs. You’ll need to announce yourself to her …”

The priest hurried up to the third floor and was met by a stern faced nurse who wanted to know the purpose of the priest’s visit before letting him in. She insisted that, in her professional opinion, the eccentric millionaire was not to be disturbed by anybody and that the only visitor with him now is his wife.

The priest tried to explain in vain to the epitome of bureaucracy blocking his entrance to the private suite when God must have lost patience with her and intervened by making a distant phone ring.

“Wait here … and do not move!” she said harshly as she went to answer the phone.

Father Ignatius must have suffered another bout of deafness because he didn’t hear her properly and entered the large room to be met by a tearful Rose, Theodore’s wife.

He was lying in bed asleep with an oxygen mask on his face and tubes and bleeping equipment all around him.

“He’s resting at the moment …” Rose said as the priest sat down on a nearby chair. “He fainted last night after exercising on the treadmill and we phoned for an ambulance. The doctors have checked him out and they said it’s extreme exhaustion. He should take it easy in future …” she smiled feebly.

The priest smiled back and said a thankful silent prayer. He then brought out his Rosary and they started praying quietly. At the third decade Theodore stirred a little and opened his eyes. He tried unsuccessfully to remove the oxygen mask on his face.

“Take this off me …” he mumbled, “I’m not a dog to be muzzled like that …”

Rose carefully removed the oxygen mask and Theodore blinked once or twice and then seeing Father Ignatius he said, “Hello Padre … are you here as a friend or in an official capacity?”

“How are you feeling?” asked the priest gently.

“Oh … I’m fine … not dead yet! At least I don’t think so … although that nurse out there makes me wish I was … what?”

Father Ignatius smiled.

“I don’t know what the fuss is all about …” continued Theodore, “can’t a man faint a little without being rushed into hospital?”

“I understand you’ve been overdoing things,” replied Father Ignatius trying to reassure Rose as well as the stubborn eccentric.

“Nonsense … in business you can’t overdo things … For years I’ve worked hard to be successful and I’ve never slowed down or taken my eye off the ball … what?”

“At least don’t use that treadmill as often … and so vigorously …” pleaded Rose.

“I won’t switch it on …” he smiled with a wink, “and I’ll take it easy by walking on the treadmill width-wise side to side rather than along its whole length!”

Father Ignatius continued the Rosary prayer and after hearing the man’s Confession he gave him and Rose Communion.

They then discussed the fragility of life and how vulnerable we all are as we walk the tight rope balancing life from death.

In a rare serious moment Theodore admitted that in his pursuit of success, more often than not spurred by an up-bringing where failure was not an option, he had neglected the spiritual more important focus of his life.

“That’s really taking your eye off the ball … what? Padre!” he chortled.

“Keep your mind set on the things that are in Heaven, not on things here on earth!” replied Father Ignatius with a smile.

(Colossians 3).

Friday 18 August 2023

St Paul's second litter to the maddern wold


Deer Fiends,

It is a while now since I rote to you last. I have my previous massage to you before me HERE.

You will notice that I have now lernt how to use these elctriconic tablets. I kno how to do links in words like I have dun above ; and also I can now control the predictive sex facility in my tablet. There is nothing more annoy ing than predictive sex. Sexing should be well thought out and planned as you use each word care fully, not spoontanious as with these madern tablets. 

I now have a better tablet than be four. I bet Moses is jealous. His tablets wear made of stone.

My previous tablet broke wen I tried to swat a fly on my milk and honey. Best to use papyrous for that. It also absorbs the spilled milk and honey when the fly has flown away!

Well ... a lot has been happening in the wold since my last massage to you. I notice that as a people you have become more selfish. Also more greedy. And violent. Can you honest lee say that this is a better world since I last rote to you? Check the dates on my last litter to you.

You are also spoilt for choice. Too many things to choose from. too many toothpastes, clothes, shoos, foods and so on. In my time all I had was milk and honey and bread. John ate locusts in the desert, also honey. you have many brands of the same product to choose from. How fortunate you are and do not know it.

Pleeze bee gentile with each other. Love and care four each other. Compassionate too. There is a big difference between caring and compassionate. Caring means you are sorry for an other person's problem. Compassionate is doing something about it. Jesus was compassionate. He always helped other people. On an individual basis too. He took each person aside and healed them.

I want you to remember and retain what you have read here. Not in one eye and out the other.

Love one an other. I have great hope for you and I pray for you.

yOurs since early

Saint PauL

Wednesday 16 August 2023



I have just finished programming my new website using a quill and ink. If you can spare a moment or two why not browse along, and even invite friends, HERE.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Streets of London


Have you seen the old man
In the closed-down market
Kicking up the papers,
with his worn out shoes?
In his eyes you see no pride
And held loosely at his side
Yesterday's papers telling yesterday's news

So how can you tell me you're lonely,
And say for you that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London
I'll show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair and her clothes in rags?
She's no time for talking,
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her world in two carrier bags.


In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven,
Same old man is sitting there on his own
Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea-cup,
Each tea last an hour
And he wanders home alone


And have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman's mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears.
In our winter city,
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn't care

This post is dedicated to people I know who work at the Food-Bank and do a lot of good work feeding the poor at night in London and elsewhere.

Monday 14 August 2023

Sharing Poverty


 Father Frederic from Bishop’s House was due to visit St Vincent Church later in the day. He was sent by the Bishop to discuss church funds at St Vincent, or more precisely, why the church’s contribution to the Bishop’s Fund has decreased over the past year.

Father Ignatius knew all too well why his contribution to the Bishop’s Fund had decreased. They were in the middle of a severe recession. This particular town had been hit harder than most with business closures, bankruptcies and redundancies. Most of his parishioners were poor and looking for work. The Sunday collection had been getting less and less every week.

“But try telling that to a young priest fresh from College!” thought Father Ignatius.

Father Frederic had graduated as an accountant before becoming a priest; and the Bishop knew too well how to use his talents with figures.

He sent him round to all Parishes to “help improve their finances” and to encourage them to increase their annual contributions to the Bishop’s Fund.

Early on the day that Father Frederic was due to visit, Father Ignatius got in his office and waited for the Parish Treasurer to arrive.

“Have you got the map?” the priest asked Kim, the volunteer treasurer, as she entered the room.

She nodded as she unfolded a large map of the town which she pinned on a large board the priest had acquired for the purpose.

Father Ignatius pulled out four boxes of pins from his desk drawer; some with red colored heads, some blue, some green and some yellow.

He consulted the Parish Records and placed various pins on the map. Kim sat in the armchair silently until he finished. She was about to ask a question when Father Frederic was brought in by Mrs Davenport, the housekeeper.

After the introductions and coffee had been served, Father Frederic looked at the map with all the colored pins and said, “That’s impressive Ignatius. What do these pins represent?”

“Oh well … you see …” mumbled Father Ignatius politely, “Kim and I were analyzing the breakdown of our parishioners’ propensity to consume according to income just as you came in … and from that we could deduce their ability to contribute to church funds …”

Kim raised an eyebrow, not understanding a word Father Ignatius had said.

Father Frederic nodded knowledgeably and said, “That’s very useful … we could use such a system in other Parishes. Show me how it works …”

“Ehm … well, this is a map of the whole town and surrounding countryside,” explained Father Ignatius.

“These red pins all over here represent parishioners who are either out of work, or in very poorly paid jobs … you see how they’re all in the poorer inner city areas where business closures have been particularly prevalent! Sadly, they form the majority of our parishioners, and although many of them do contribute generously to the Sunday collections and other appeals there’s a limit to how much they can donate!”

“Quite so …” said the young priest, “what about the blue pins?”

“Well … they’re middle income families. Office managers, shopkeepers, factory supervisors … that sort of thing … we have a few of those in the Parish and they contribute to the church and the local Catholic schools were they send their children. There’s a limit to how much we can ask of them since they would reduce their donations to the schools to increase ours. Can’t serve two masters you understand …”

“Indeed … yes indeed …” agreed Father Frederic.

Encouraged by his visitor’s enthusiasm Father Ignatius went on.

“Now these green pins … they represent the countryside. You’ll note there’s much fewer of them and they’re all out of town. They are Catholic farmers in the main who not only donate generously financially but also in kind. Many of them donate food and produce from their farms, which is distributed by the St Vincent Society amongst poor parishioners.”

“That’s admirable Ignatius … admirable” nodded Father Frederic.

“And as you may have guessed Father,” Father Ignatius continued, “the yellow pins represent those parishioners who are helped by the church. They are recipients of our generosity rather than contributors.

“Now … would you like to see our weekly accounts of Sunday collections, and how the money is used? Kim here has prepared all the books for you to examine.”

“No that is not necessary …” said Father Frederic, “I’m in a bit of a hurry and have to visit another Parish. This is splendid Ignatius. I’ll explain to the Bishop and he’ll be most impressed ….”

After the visiting priest had left Kim spoke for the first time.

“This map Father,” she said, “and all those pins … does every pin represent a parishioner in St Vincent?”

“Of course not …” replied Father Ignatius with a smile, “I couldn’t possibly remember every parishioner and their personal circumstances and pin them on the board just a few minutes before he arrived …

“I just put a few red pins in the poor area of town. And a few green ones in the countryside … and the others I spattered here and there …

“I’ve met these young enthusiastic priests before, eager to impress the Bishop. Just show them a map with a few colored pins and they’re most impressed at your efficiency and grasp of the situation.

“Strictly speaking, what I said is correct. We have more poor people in this Parish than those able to contribute to our funds.

“If I’d said that, Father Frederic would have asked more questions and wanted more details. But show him a few colored pins on a board and he’s as happy as a child with a new toy!

“I’m far too busy looking after my parishioners, and I prefer to help them in their difficult lives rather than squeeze a few more pennies out of them.”

Father Ignatius paused for a moment or two as he took off all the pins and returned the map to Kim.

“I wonder if our Lord had a board and pins when He helped the poor and the sick …” he asked.

Saturday 12 August 2023

Motivated by fear

“Father … is it wrong to go to Confession for the wrong reasons?” asked Leonard one day whilst helping Father Ignatius in the Sacristy.

“And what do you consider the wrong reasons?” asked the priest gently.

“Well Father … I think a lot of Christians are hypocrites … they only go to church and go to Confession because they’re afraid of going to hell!”

“I would have thought these are the right reasons,” replied the priest with a smile, “but I see what you mean …”

“The thing is …” interrupted Leonard, “if there was no hell, or fear of hell, I wonder how many people would bother to go to church?”

Father Ignatius laughed.

“Many have said that the church invented hell to keep the faithful under control.” said Father Ignatius, “but then … Jesus did warn us many times about hell … so it must exist.

“When God loved us He also invited us to love Him back in return. He did not wish to force our hand in any way … It’s a choice we have to make freely. To love Him back or not.

“God’s love for us is so much that He wishes us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. That’s His invitation to all of humanity.

“The alternative to going to Heaven is going to hell. To be separated from God and from His love for ever. It’s a bit like the many parables that Jesus told about someone having a party, or a feast, and inviting everyone yet people choose not to attend.”

The priest paused a little, as he usually did when he wanted to press home a point.

“God loves us … and He invites us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven,” repeated Father Ignatius slowly.

“Or we may choose to turn down His invitation and spend eternity in hell.

“Now is that forceful on His part do you think? It seems a pretty clear choice to me … go to the party or the feast to which you are invited … or turn Him down and go freely your own way …

“I can see how some people might think this unfair … and that we really have no choice because the consequences are so horrendous that any sane person would choose to accept God’s invitation. Yet … having said so, there are many who do turn down the invitation, and choose not to believe in God’s very existence, never mind accepting His love.”

Father Ignatius stopped once again. He thought that maybe this was getting a bit too heavy for poor Leonard to grasp. He tried another approach.

“Ideally Leonard … we should go to church because we want to … because we want to thank God for what He has done for us … and because we wish to receive Him in our hearts through the Holy Sacrament of Communion. It’s like visiting a friend whom we like very much, and we like being with them and in their company.

“Ideally … we should go to Confession because we are truly sorry that we have hurt God … because we feel remorse for what we have done … and because we promise we will genuinely try to do better with our lives. It’s like making up again when we’ve fallen out with a friend over an argument …

“This is all ideally … as I say.

“Yet … as you say … some people do these things out of fear. They attend church out of fear, take Communion out of fear and go to Confession for the same reason. They see God as a vengeful master who will punish them unless they do these things.

“It shouldn’t be so Leonard … and I suspect God is hurt when He sees us doing things out of fear. This is the very God who sacrificed His Son who died horribly on the Cross for us. He did it out of love … not as a means to command fear from us …”

“Yes Father …” mumbled Leonard.

“OK …” continued Father Ignatius, “let us consider how that fear you speak of … the fear of hell … gets into this whole matter and muddles our thinking.

“Who introduced fear into the equation do you think?

“It is the devil … is it not?

“He whispers into our ears … you really don’t want to be here in church do you? Especially on a lovely sunny day like today. You’re only here because you’re afraid of God. In fact everything you do is because you fear Him … take courage … stand up to Him.

“Sounds familiar does it not? Almost the same words whispered to Adam and Eve when He told them to stand up to God.”

“Gosh … I never saw it this way …” said Leonard.

“So to answer your original question Leonard …” said Father Ignatius, “it is wrong to go to Confession, or to church for the wrong reasons …

“But the wrong reasons are not the fear of ending up in hell, these are genuine reasons all right … the wrong reasons are listening to the devil and putting credence to his tricks …

“Do you see and understand the subtle difference?”




Thursday 10 August 2023

Close encounter of the feline kind


I had a most odd encounter yesterday. It was a beautiful, sunny, somewhat warm day. A bit unusual for this time of year seeing it is summer. 

I sat in the park in town reading my newspaper. A few minutes later a young pretty woman aged about 30 or so came and sat on the bench next to me. She had her face painted like a cat. I thought it was unusual and said nothing, continuing to read my newspaper.

She opened a lunch-box and started nibbling at a tuna sandwich. I knew it was tuna because of its aroma. I thought, "Tuna ... cat ... makes sense I suppose," but still said nothing.

A moment or two later she said, "My humanoids hurt me badly!"

I was astounded and puzzled at the same time, in that order, that she would be so personal. I hesitated and then replied coyly, "have you tried Preparation H?"

She continued eating her lunch and said nothing for a moment or two. Then she said, "I have been with them for a while. And now they're gone ... I miss them."

I stopped reading the article about the increasing price of frying pans. I was confused and did not know what to say.

She delicately sipped a drink from her Thermos flask and then, hesitating, she stood up and said, "Walk this way ..."

I thought, "Why should I? I don't have humanoids!" But again I said nothing. 

I pretended not to have heard her and continued reading my newspaper. It was obvious now was not the time for me to discover why frying pans are so expensive.

She looked puzzled and annoyed. She sat down near me again. Hesitated a little and then asked, "Are you known as Fire Balls?"

What a cheek, I thought. It is none of her business what I am called in the privacy of my own home. I mean ... I will not be insulted by a woman painted as a cat. How direct and so personal can she get? I've a good mind to report her to "Feline Weekly".

She noticed my subdued, hidden anger, silent reaction and then apologised saying, "You do look like Fire Balls. The picture I have got is all creased and you do have a lot of wrinkles on your face; a bit like a bed that's been slept in!"

I was fuming yet retained my composure. Now that is really personal. What business is it of her what the state of my bed is in the morning and what I am called when I am in it? 

I would have liked to have answered something intelligent, pointed and articulate but I did not have my dictionary with me at the time.

Before I said anything, she got up and left.

I hate it when people walk away with the last word. Not giving me a chance to respond.

"My face is wrinkly is it?" I thought to myself, "well ... ... your sandwiches still had the crust on!" Whatever that means ... but at least my mind had composed an answer albeit it was too late as I saw her depart.

Wednesday 9 August 2023

Ave Maria


Father Francis Maple
Father Francis sings Ave Maria 
on the occasion of his
Diamond Jubilee

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Where is God in all this?


There was a discussion on TV the other day between a Christian and an atheist and I must admit the atheist was making a good argument. If anyone watching was uncommitted and trying to make up his mind he would be much more persuaded by what the atheist said. 

He described the world today: wars, persecutions, poverty, illness and diseases, starvation and so on, and he asked "Where is your God in all this? Why is He allowing it to happen?"

The Christian fellow tried to explain that God is in control, He does not make bad things happen, He allows them to happen, but he was not making much progress. The atheist maintained that if God loved people He would make all the bad things stop. The fact is that He does not exist.

The reality is that we don't know where God is in all this suffering. If we believe that He exists, then we know that He is suffering with us to see what we have made of this world and His many gifts to us. To put it bluntly, He left us in control and we messed up. If He took the reins once again He would be taking our free will from us and reduce us to mere robots following His will.

But try explaining all that to someone who does not believe in God's existence anyway.

The atheist turned his attention to Christianity and outlined how many wrongs Christians did over the centuries. How many wars Christians fought believing that God was on their side and how much evil they inflicted on society. 

Yet again, a difficult point to defend. The reality is that we should not judge Christianity by the behaviour of Christians. Many Christians are far from being that, and Christ Himself would be ashamed to be associated with them. Many use the term Christian as a badge of identity rather than a way of life. For example, In the UK about 47% of people identify themselves as Christians. Yet regular weekly church attendance (all denominations) is around 5%. According to my maths this implies a lot of people are lying.

Indeed, Christians have done many wrongs throughout history and still do. Cynically, I would say they are exercising their free will to do so. However there is a great difference between Christianity and the way Christians behave.

Christianity means following Christ. Believing that He is the Son of God, that He died and was raised from the dead to redeem humanity, and to obey His Commandments. Namely to love God and to love one another. It is a difficult way of life. Some would say impossible. 

Living every day as Christ's example. Loving and caring for everyone we meet. Not just feeling sorry for those worse off than us and needing help; but also being compassionate enough to do something about it. Forgiving those who have wronged us no matter how much we have been hurt. Being a true Christian role model for others.

This last one is really difficult. Being a true Christian role model for others. 

When we look in the mirror, what image of Christianity do we portray. One that others would wish to emulate or avoid at all costs?

Now that's the real test of our Christianity. Not just a badge or a description of who we are, but a way of behaving that would identify us as different.

Saturday 5 August 2023

Is God responsible?


It took me a while to understand that God is responsible for our well-being.

As any good parents who are responsible for the up-bringing and well-being of their children, so is God, our Creator, responsible for humanity's development over the years and its well-being. 

He is responsible that no harm comes to us. He is responsible that we are not led astray by Satan and into sin. He is responsible that all should return to His Kingdom for eternity. 

Christ told us this so many times in His teachings. Jesus taught that birds don't sow grain yet God feeds them and that we are worth more than many birds. Matthew 6:26

Jesus said that God knows the number of our hairs on our heads, and cares for us. Luke 12:7

He also taught that as a good shepherd would leave the ninety-nine sheep and go searching for the one which is lost, and rejoice when he has found it. So, in the same way, God is not willing that any of us would perish. Matthew 18:12

We waste so much time in our lives concentrating on ourselves and our loved one's. It's only natural of course, some might say. We care about our future, our jobs, our health and so many other things besides. Yet all the time we forget that this is all God's responsibility really and that He will never let us down.

Although it is God's responsibility to see that we are well looked after and on the right path to return to Him in Heaven as He truly desires; it is not a one-way street. We have a responsibility too.

What is our responsibility in this deal? 

As any well-brought-up and loved offspring, our responsibility is to respect, love and follow God our Creator. We do this by obeying His Commandments first and foremost. Something that many seem to have forgotten or not even know about. Others seem to have re-interpreted them to suit their own personal selfish desires.

With every passing generation, each discovering for itself its God given freedom to choose, we have managed to alienate and distance ourselves from God our loving Creator. So much so that many have even abused that freedom to the point of denying the very existence of God Himself, and encourage others to do the same.

And as any good parent, God grieves for a wayward child, and continues to love and care, longing for the day of the return of the prodigal child.

The ultimate struggle; man wants to be in control of his own destiny.

And God lets him be.

Thursday 3 August 2023

Beetroot Cake?


The thing is about the T'Internet is that you get to meet a lot of nice people on social media sites like Blogger and you read what they write and you comment and they reply and ... and ... and ...

And on one of her posts, Mevely mentioned shop bought items as opposed to home made. I commented that I make my own chocolate beetroot cake?

What? Beetroot in a cake? With chocolate? You must be joking.

I kid you not. Here is the recipe. Quick and easy. Try it and let me know what you think.

I've tried this a few times. It looks odd when uncooked but it works somehow. The beetroot should be pre-boiled and clean - not pickled in vinegar. Just plain boiled peeled beetroot.


50g Cocoa powder

175g plain flower

1.5 teaspoon baking powder

200g caster sugar

250g pack cooked beetroot

3 medium eggs

200ml sunflower oil

100g dark chocolate finely chopped


Preheat oven 180*C - Gas 4

Grease cake tin

Sieve cocoa, baking powder, sugar and flour into large bowl

Drain and half beetroot. Blend in food processor. Add eggs one at a time with machine running. Pour the oil. Blend.

Stir wet mixture into dry mixture in bowl. (Looks really odd and brown liquidy). Mix in grated chocolate (optional).

Cook 45 minutes or until it is ready.

Somehow, the oil makes it light and fluffy. You can alter the sugar depending on how sweet you want the cake.

Wednesday 2 August 2023

À la recherche du temps perdu.


À la recherche du temps perdu. In Search of Lost Time 
by Marcel Proust
When I have nothing to write about here I just go out in the garden and sit on an easy chair and think. I just think about anything and before I know it ideas come to mind on what to write about. 
Today for instance, as I sat there in the sunshine I heard a cock crow. Some neighbours nearby keep chickens. As you'd expect, one thought followed another and I wondered, which came first, the chicken or the egg? So I ordered both from AMAZON and I'll let you know when they arrive.
By the way, are you one of those people who click on words in blue to see what the link is? I often do, but only on Wednesdays.
As I was saying, I was sitting there in the garden when I heard a noise overhead. It was a hot air balloon. You know ... the ones with a wicker basket underneath. In a town not far away from here they have a weekend of hot-air balloons enthusiasts. They all gather in a large field and fly away. This one must have lost his way. As he flew overhead the man up above shouted "Where am I? Where am I?" in a foreign accent.
I replied, "You can't fool me Mister, you're in the basket hanging off the balloon!"
Thinking back, I believe he had a French accent. I like to use French words in conversation sometimes. It adds a bit of je ne sais quoi to what I say. Once at a business lunch in a restaurant to impress my guests I ordered the whole meal in French. Despite my impeccable accent the waiter did not understand one word. It was a Greek restaurant.
Why is it when we're a bit melancholy we think back to times gone by ... times lost for ever ... and we try to tease out some comfort from our past? 
I had a difficult childhood. I often did not know myself. The only way to find myself was to play hide and seek alone. My parents avoided me. I used to get home from school and discover they moved to another town.
We were very poor. We lived in an old cold house. It was so damp we had a permanent rainbow in the kitchen. And in summer it was very hot. No air-conditioning in those days. It was so hot the hens laid boiled eggs. It was so dry that the trees fought each other over one stray dog.
By the way, did you know that in the desert the wild dogs run faster because the trees are further apart? But I digress. 
I was not loved or wanted at school either. You know when they pick two captains and they have to choose from the pupils who would be on their team to play football? One captain chooses a pupil, then the other chooses another and so on. I was always the last to be chosen; and at the end the two captains would fight as to who should not have me. 
I was so unwanted that even the mirror refused to show my reflection.
In those days my parents often made me walk the plank. We did not have a dog.   

Did I mention we were poor? I kept asking my parents to have a dog. Eventually they decided that in order to get me a pet we'd have to save on essentials like towels. We used to dry our hands on the dog and then put him out in the garden to shake himself.
I liked my dog. He was a bit confused at times. I called him Sit.
Our elderly neighbour at the time was inspired to get a dog also. He called him Help I think because I recall one day hearing him shout all day, "Help ... Help ..." He must have eventually found him because he stopped shouting. We never found out why there was an ambulance outside his house the following day. We never saw him again since. 

Anyway, enough thinking for now. Share your thoughts below. And also share this Blog with your friends.

CAUTIONARY NOTES: This post is for entertainment purposes only. No truth should be implied by anything written here and readers should not be concerned about any people being lost in a hot air balloon. Chances are the balloon has been caught in a tree somewhere anyway.

Tuesday 1 August 2023

Little Known Facts


Little Known Facts You Can Live Without

Q: Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?

A: Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called 'pygg'. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.' When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a bank that resembled a pig. And it caught on.

Q: Why do men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's clothes have buttons on the left?

A: When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid's right. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. And that's where women's buttons have remained since.

Q: Why do X's at the end of a letter signify kisses?

A: In the Middle Ages, when many people were unable to read or write, documents were often signed using an X. Kissing the X represented an oath to fulfil obligations specified in the document. The X and the kiss eventually became synonymous.

Q: Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called 'passing the buck'?

A: In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.

Q: Why do people clink their glasses before drinking a toast?

A: It used to be common for someone to try to kill an enemy by offering him a poisoned drink. To prove to a guest that a drink was safe, it became customary for a guest to pour a small amount of his drink into the glass of the host. Both men would drink it simultaneously. When a guest trusted his host, he would then just touch or clink the host's glass with his own.

Q: Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?

A: Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and stage lighting by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, performers on stage 'in the limelight' were seen by the audience to be the centre of attention.

Q: Why do ships and aircraft in trouble use 'mayday' as their call for help?

A: This comes from the French word m'aidez -meaning 'help me' -- and is pronounced 'mayday,'

Q: Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?

A: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.

Q: Why are zero scores in tennis called 'love'?

A: In France, where tennis first became popular, a big, round zero on scoreboard looked like an egg and was called 'l'oeuf,' which is French for 'egg.' When tennis was introduced in the US, Americans pronounced it 'love.'

Q: In golf, where did the term 'Caddie' come from?

A: When Mary, later Queen of Scots, went to France as a young girl (for education & survival), Louis, King of France, learned that she loved the Scot game 'golf.' So he had the first golf course outside of Scotland built for her enjoyment. To make sure she was properly chaperoned (and guarded) while she played, Louis hired cadets from a military school to accompany her. Mary liked this a lot and when she returned to Scotland (not a very good idea in the long run), she took the practice with her. In French, the word cadet is pronounced 'ca-day' and the Scots changed it into 'caddie.'