Tuesday 31 October 2023

I'm running out of priests

Father Ignatius usually waited at the door of the church to greet the parishioners on Sunday as they left after Mass. He noticed that for the last few weeks there was a new face amongst his flock. A man in his mid-thirties, always alone, speaking to no one and leaving in a posh new car. Unlike the old rusty cars that normally frequent this church in a poor desolate town hit hard by the downturn of the economy.

One Sunday, the priest introduced himself to the newcomer as he was leaving church.

"You're new here," he said, "welcome to our parish. I am Father Ignatius!"

"Hello Father," replied the man, "how remiss of me not to introduce myself. Perhaps we can go somewhere to talk. After the congregation has all left, that is."

Minutes later, both men were sitting in Father Ignatius' office enjoying a cup of coffee and biscuits.

"I'm not from this town," explained the man, "although I have been visiting churches in this town, and others, for the last six months or so. I visit a church for a few Sundays and then move on to another one."

"I see," replied the priest with a smile, "you're not like one of those Michelin or Egon Ronay people who visit restaurants and publish guides giving each restaurant a number of stars depending on quality, are you?"

The man smiled. "No," he said, "not quite like that. But I am searching for a priest actually, rather than a church!"

"I don't understand," replied Father Ignatius,"what is this priest's name? Perhaps I know him."

"You see Father," continued the man, "I am running out of priests to confess to. I want, and need, to confess to a priest I can trust and respect. And sadly, there aren't many around these days!"

Father Ignatius was taken aback by the man's response but thought it prudent to say nothing. He picked up the pot of coffee and replenished the man's cup as well as his.

The man continued.

"Let me explain, in the first church I used to attend the priest there used to preach about the sanctity of marriage. How marriage is a Holy Sacrament and it is for ever; and how divorce is wrong.

"I was married at the time and we went to that church for some time, my wife and I.

"Then things went wrong and we divorced. The priest tried his best, to be fair, to get us to reconcile and to save the marriage. But it didn't work out and we divorced.

"He warned me about the Catholic Church's position regarding divorce, re-marriage or even co-habiting with another woman; and explained how difficult it would be to get an annulment of the marriage from the Church.

"Anyway ... I continued to go to that church for a year or so. Then we discovered that this very priest had an affair with a parishioner and that he was leaving the priesthood to marry her.

"I saw him a few months later in the street. I asked him how come marriage is for ever and he can leave the priesthood when he feels like it? He replied that circumstances change! What sort of answer is that?"

Father Ignatius said nothing. It was obvious that this man had a lot on his chest he wanted to get off; and that he was indeed very angry at what seemed to him to be double standards.

"In another church I moved to after that," the man went on, "in conversation, the priest there told me that he did not like the wine because it made him dizzy. I asked him what wine, and he said, the wine in church.

"I was amazed. I said hesitantly that this is not wine, it is the Blood of Christ.

"He smiled and said to me, yes ... some people like to believe so. It is all symbolism, really!

"How can a Catholic priest believe and say something like that openly, Father? It makes me so angry. How can the Catholic Church have priests who believe such a thing? Why don't they make them leave the Church rather than spread their personal beliefs? In another church the priest said he preferred to celebrate Mass in Latin, and with his back to the congregation; like in the old days. He said the current Catholic thinking is wrong."

Father Ignatius was about to speak when the man continued, somewhat irritated.

"I left that church too after a while. In another church the priest there preached from the pulpit that Catholics should be responsible and not breed like rabbits. His very words. When he was asked later whether he condoned contraceptives he said 'NO' and people should use the rythm method instead. What's that? Having a rythm and blues band in the bedroom with you?" asked the man in anger.

Father Ignatius remained silent.

"I'm sorry Father," the man continued after a moment's silence, "I shouldn't get angry with you. I hardly know you and here I am shouting at you.

"But as you can see, I am very upset with the Church and the priesthood. I am just running out of priests to confess to. How can I go to Confession to a priest whom I do not respect; or trust that in a few months time he will not leave the priesthood to get married.

"I can give you many other instances of bad priests I have met in my time. Like the one who was so interested in golf that he postponed a funeral arrangement so he does not miss out on a tournament he was playing at. Or another one, whom I asked to celebrate Mass for a dead relative, and I gave him a generous donation; yet he never celebrated that Mass for my dead parents. Despite two or three reminders.

"Is that Christ-like? Would Jesus have behaved like these priests?"

"I doubt very much that Jesus enjoyed a round of golf," replied Father Ignatius trying to lighten the mood a little.

The man laughed heartily.

"You see," continued Father Ignatius, "you're expecting too much from us priests. No one is perfect. Except God, and Christ, that is.

"Priests, like the original disciples, are ordinary men. With their own faults, weaknesses and foibles. Men, chosen by Christ, who are like the rest of us sinners, full of doubts and confusion.

"Now I am not either excusing or condoning the behaviour or utterences of the priests you have mentioned. I agree with you, there are some priests who perhaps do not meet the standard expected by society or indeed which they owe to our Lord.

"Priests are men who have chosen to follow our Lord by preaching His message to the world. As such, they have a special responsibility and duty to our Lord and they will be answerable to Him one day when they meet face to face.

"As shepherds, their duty is to care for the sheep and to lead them to Heaven. Not risk losing the flock by their behaviour or by what they say or believe.

"I am truly sorry that you seem to have met some priests who have disappointed you. I shall certainly pray for them as I will for you."

Father Ignatius stopped for a while. Something he often did when he wanted to get a point over forcibly.

The man smiled and said nothing. The priest continued.

"Your relationship should be a one-to-one relationship with God. With Jesus; with the help of the Holy Spirit.

"Your responsibility is to Him alone. To love Him and to love your fellow man as best you can.

"The priests and the Church, or Churches from other denominations, are there to set guidelines, road maps, blue prints as to how we can best follow God's message in our lives. These guidelines should be based on Bible teachings and where necessary supplemented by guidance from the priesthood.

"Sadly, as you have found out, not all priests meet the standard expected of them. But this does not take away your responsibility to build a one-to-one relationship with God and to seek His help and guidance when in doubts or in difficulties.

"I hope and pray that you will find a church, or a priest, whom you can respect and trust; as you say. A priest you can discuss matters with, or even go to Confession to.

"My request to you, is that you do not judge us too harshly. Indeed, we are all sinners; some of us perhaps deserving more forgiveness than others."

The man smiled and thanked Father Ignatius for his time listening to him. As he departed, the priest said a silent prayer for all priests who fail to set the good example expected of them.



Monday 30 October 2023



I was in France many years ago when I was young. I stayed at an auberge in Paris just by the river. For those who don't know, an auberge is not a large aubergine; it is a small hotel with a pub and restaurant all in one. I remember a man had drunk so much that he fell into the river. He was in Seine!

Anyway, back to my story. That night as I lay in bed in my small auberge room I heard a noise. I sat up and a frisson went down my spine - I guess in London it would have been a shudder. I ran towards the door to reach the communal bathroom and I tripped on something on my way out.

It was a ghost. Not a small ghost, but the ghost of a fully grown small man. He told me, in French, that his name was Too Loose LeTrick. 

I'd never met a French speaking ghost. I always assumed they spoke in English. Although as I recall, a friend of mine said he met an Italian speaking ghost when communicating on a Luigi Board once. All he got from him was a recipe for pasta.

Back to my story. The French ghost, Too Loose Le Trick, told me that when he was alive he had studied to be a doctor, but he was so short he could not see above his patients' knees. So he became a chiropodist instead. 

I was very frightened at seeing such an apparition, small as it was, and I was desperate to go to the bathroom. I must have cried a little because I felt tears trickling down my leg. 

He was polite and tried to communicate in English. "Are you zee frightened monsieur?" he asked.

"Oui ... un peu ... a little" I mumbled.

"Moi aussi ..." he said, "me too ... I am zee afraid of my wife ... Madame Penoir. She eez zee big monster all zee ways complaining." 

At this point a clock somewhere struck 10:35pm.

"Oh ... I must go to my wife," he said. "she gets veree upset when I am zee late! I tell her zat I am haunting tourists in old auberges; but she eez not believing me. She says she can see right through me!"

And with that he vanished.


Sunday 29 October 2023


Every so often Fathers Ignatius and Donald held “Any Questions” evenings when parishioners would gather at the Parish Centre for tea, coffee and biscuits and ask any questions for the priests to answer. On this occasion Father Donald was away on business and his place at the top table was taken by Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the rich benefactor and friend of the two priests, since one item for discussion was the re-development and extension of the Parish Centre which Theodore’s building business was to undertake.

Once the discussion about the new building was over, the discussion moved on to other topics. One of the parishioners at the meeting asked if God tempts us to see how we would react in certain situations. Before Father Ignatius answered, Theodore jumped in with his usual “speak first think later” responses.

“I can resist anything except temptations, what?” he quipped as the audience laughed, “for example, I just like those little pork pies they make at the Bakery Smith in town … the little one which are one mouthful size. So I ask God if I should buy some when I’m driving to town. I say to Him that if there’s a parking space in front of the shop, then it’s a sign to stop there and buy some … if not I’ll move along. And sure enough after driving ten times round the block there’s always a parking space!”

The parishioners laughed even more. Father Ignatius waited until they settled down and then said, calmly and politely so as not to upstage his friend Theodore, “God does not play games with us. He will not tempt us to see how we would react in certain situations, as Graham just asked. God already knows how we will react in all situations. He allows temptations to come our way, perhaps to teach us how to improve in our Christian life and to make us better followers of His Word.

“God allows the devil to tempt us, but within strict limitations. Remember that the devil tempted and tested Job. He also tried to tempt Jesus in the desert, so we should not be much of a challenge to him.

“Jesus taught us in the Lord’s Prayer to say ‘lead us not into temptation’. This mean we ask God to keep the devil away from us and not tempt us to sin. So, I would say to you, Graham, no … God does not tempt us to test us. He allows the devil to tempt us and often, through prayers, this makes us better people as we resist temptations!”

“But how do we do that?” asked Freda, sitting up front, “how do we resist temptations? Prayers are not always the answer, especially at times when the temptation is too much to resist!”

There were a few subdued chuckles amongst the people gathered there, so Father Ignatius stepped in quickly and diplomatically, “A very good point, Freda” he said with an encouraging smile, “I’d like to read something from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Let me find it here …”

He searched in his Bible and continued, “At the time, Corinth was a thriving Greek city and the Capital of the Roman province of Achaia. Paul had established a church there; but there were problems regarding Christian life, faith, immorality and various other sinful behaviours.

“In 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Paul reminds the people about all the sinful behaviours of their ancestors in the wilderness. He mentions worshipping idols, sexual immorality, grumbling about their situations and so on … then in Verse 13 he says, and I quote … ‘The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.’

“I repeat … God is faithful. He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our capability to resist the temptation in question. He will show us a way out on how to avoid the temptation.

“But we must take the way out. We don’t just sit there and hope all will be OK. We must take the way out. If our temptation is immorality for instance then we should stop frequenting places or people who lead us into those temptations. If it is a weakness for drinks then we should stop frequenting pubs and liquor stores … you understand where I’m going with this. God will provide a way out, but we must take it. Action is needed on our part.”

He stopped for a few seconds to allow the point to sink in. And then he continued, “The way I see it, God is not in the business of losing His followers. He loves us all as His creations. His desire is that we return to Him for eternity in Paradise. But we should want to go there. We should respond to His invitation and do something about it.

“Sure, temptations will come our way, but they do so to make us stronger. To teach us to resist and to focus on Him through prayers.

“Jesus resisted the devil’s temptations in the desert through prayer.  When He was tempted yet again before He was arrested, He asked His Father … Can all this pass me by? Then, in prayer, He obeyed God and said; Not my will, but Yours.

 “Likewise, our prayer should be, ‘lead us not into temptations … not my will but Yours Lord.”

Saturday 28 October 2023

Would you Adam and Eve it?


There they were, Adam and Eve going around happily in the Garden of Eden totally naked and not worrying about anything, except perhaps getting too close to the cactus, or standing near a hot radiator or oven.

They were enjoying their nakedness when one day they met a snake!

Now I don't know about you, but if I were naked and met a snake I'd quickly cover up my bits in case he took a bite.  

If the snake actually talked to me ... well ... I'd probably poop in my non-existing pants rather than engage in conversation with him.

Anyway ... what I don't understand is, after they ate the forbidden fruit, how did Adam and Eve know which are the naughty bits they should cover?

Why not cover their knees for instance? Or their elbows?

Can you imagine? If they'd covered their knees instead; today we'd all be going around naked wearing our underpants down on our knees!

As you know, they did not in fact eat from an apple tree. Nowhere in the story does it say what tree it was. It could have been a mango tree, or figs, or a variety of other fruit trees. All it says is that it was a fruit tree.

What if it was a broccoli? The whole course of human history would have been different because I doubt they'd been tempted.

Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree and committed their first sin.

Now a lot of us consider this to be the sin of disobedience; which in fact it was. But this is not the most serious sin which they committed.

Their major sin was that they wanted to be like God. That's what the snake (devil) had fooled them into believing. They will be like God. They will know good from bad.

To some extent that's what happened. They got to know good from bad, right from wrong, and suffered the consequences.

I suspect that these days there are many who do not really know right from wrong; or choose not to care.

That's how Adam and Eve's story affects us in our lives.

How often do we also try to act like gods? And want things our way?

If only I could get that job, or that promotion at work, or get so and so to love me, or ... 

We just tell God what we want and expect Him to obey us. 

It's amazing how many people serve God in an advisory capacity. 

We just tell Him, what we want Him to do for us. Rather than trust Him to know better.

Thursday 26 October 2023

What's the last thing you said?


Imagine it's just happened suddenly. A loud noise and thunder in the sky and it's all over. It's the end of the world. 

One moment you were doing what you were doing, and the next you are no more ... just a soul. Waiting for judgement and your long future into eternity.

What was the last thing you said before it all happened? 

Was it a happy, positive conversation encouraging someone perhaps? Or expressing love and friendship? Or were these words spoken in anger? Bitterness, spite and hatred perhaps? 

Whatever we say, whether positive or not, has an effect on someone else and indeed defines us for life.

How are we to be remembered when we're gone? The jovial always smiling and optimistic, encouraging person? Or the face like a mile of bad roads always critical, moaning and pointing failures in others?

Did you know that research has shown that if a child is told he is stupid, thick or clumsy often enough by his parents, he will grow up showing and experiencing such tendencies in life thereafter? What a legacy to leave one's offspring.

It's only words ... but words are all we need ... to pave our way to hell.


Tuesday 24 October 2023

Lord save us from Marriage Counsellors


I volunteered as a translator at a local charity community centre. They also have volunteer lawyers, accountants, nurses and so on giving their free time to help. I am called in when someone does not know English well.

There was this French speaking couple, (I don't know where from). They were here on holiday, and they told their friend where they were staying, that they wanted a divorce. Their friend brought them to the centre to meet a Marriage Counsellor. As they spoke no English I was called in to translate.

After the introductions, the Counsellor started with the first question, "How many times a week do you have sex?"

"You can't ask them that," I told her instead of translating.

"Why not?" she replied looking at me sternly.

"For a start it is a personal question," I said, "and secondly, judging by the size of him, he would pulverise me!"

"It seems to me that you are afraid of the question," she said accusingly, "are you afraid of being intimate?"

"The only intimacy I am afraid of is his big fist against my face," I said, and not timidly either.

"So ..." she continued, "we have a couple here wanting to divorce. The first thing to find out is how close, how intimate, they are to each other. Do you consider you will ever divorce?" she asked me.

"No ... never ..." I replied emphatically.

"Why not?" she asked.

"Because I love my house," I said, "and the car too. Just bought it and would hate to lose it in a divorce"

"I think you and your wife need Marriage Guidance too," she advised, "my husband is also a Marriage Counsellor. Why don't we all four meet. Me and my husband and you and your wife?"

"I'd rather not," I replied more emphatically than before, "for a start it's too personal, and secondly our bed is too small for the four of us!"

In the meantime, the French speaking couple sat there silently. So I took the lead, and moving a touch backwards for security, I asked the huge man in French and in a French accent, "Monsieur ... do you love your wife?"

"Mais oui ... yes, very much so," he replied. 

I was taken aback. I then asked his wife, also in French and in a French accent, "Madame ... do you love your husband?"

"Mais oui ... yes, more than very much so," she replied looking at him.

I was surprised but could not go back any further because my chair was against the wall.

I then asked, "why then do you want to divorce?"

It transpired that it was cheaper. In their country, two single individuals pay less tax than a married couple. So it would be better if they were divorced and living, and loving, together.

I said, "but isn't your love for each other worth the extra tax you have to pay?"

She wiped a tear or two from her eyes. He suddenly got up, and before I could move, he kissed me on both cheeks and they then left.

"What's going on?" asked the Marriage Counsellor.

"They've decided to hire a room and go make love!" I said.

Monday 23 October 2023

I say ... I say ... I say ...



Happiness is when you know that you are happy.

A tight shoe reminds you of your feet.

A wet man on the beach does not mean he came from the sea.

People believe what they want to believe.

A three-wheeled bicycle is not a car with a wheel missing.

A pencil with no point is pointless.

Wearing a woollen hat makes it easier to pull the wool over one's eyes.

Don't be so open minded that your brains fall out.

Man who keep feet firmly on ground have trouble putting on pants.

He who run in front of car get tired; he who run behind get exhausted.

Say it with flowers
And chocolates too
Say it with jewellery
Or a good meal for two
Say it from the heart
Say what you think
But never be careless
And say it with ink 
Don’t worry if your job’s a joke
And your successes few;
Remember that the mighty oak
Was once a nut like you!

Sunday 22 October 2023

What things that are God's?


Then the Pharisees went out and conspired to trap Jesus in His words. They sent their disciples to Him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that You are honest and that You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You seek favour from no one, because You pay no attention to external appearance. So tell us what You think: Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”  

But Jesus knew their evil intent and said, "You hypocrites, why are you testing me? Show Me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought Him a denarius.

"Whose image is this," He asked, "and whose inscription?" 

“Caesar’s,” they answered. So Jesus told them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:15-21

The Pharisees were learned people of the Law and knew how to trap Jesus. Had He said "Yes ... pay taxes to Caesar," they would have accused Him of siding with the occupying Roman Empire and was thus the enemy of the Jews. The Herodians, who were loyal to Herod, the Jewish King, would have reported Him to their King as a traitor.  

But if Jesus said don't pay taxes, He would have been seen as opposing Caesar and His occupying forces. 

So what does Jesus' answer, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” mean?

Let us consider all the gifts that God has bestowed upon us. Our health, our families, our talents, strength, abilities and so on. None of us is where we are in life without God's love, generosity, mercy and gifts.

Whatever our talents ... skills at doing difficult intricate work like science, medicine and so on, talents in music, the arts, sports or whatever ... anything we are able to do is the result of God's gifts to us. We did not make ourselves clever at learning, inventing, creating or whatever we can do in life.

These are the things that are God's. 

We should use our skills, talents or whatever we are able to do in life for the betterment of others less fortunate than ourselves. 

"Love one another as I have loved you". Use your gifts for the glory of God.

Saturday 21 October 2023

Why is space dark?


A few days ago, on this Blog, I made a joke that if there are an infinite number of stars why is space dark?

SANDI said this was a good question. Visit her HERE.

So I set up researching and asking someone far brighter than myself. Here's an explanation.

Light travels from the sun to us on earth. When it reaches earth it hits a tree and we see the tree. Actually, we see the light reflecting back from the tree to our eyes; so our eyes and brain identify the tree. Take out the light and we see no tree. Because light is not reflecting off the tree.

OK ... this was lesson one.

Lesson two. Light is made of "little bits of light" we shall call photons. These photons are travelling from the sun to us on earth at the speed of light - very fast. 300,000 km/sec (186,000 miles/sec).

So if you were out in space, sitting there on your armchair, your eyes are not fast enough to see these photons passing by. So all you see is black. Dark space.

The other reason we can't see photons is that they are not close together. If they were all close to each other we would see a blurred line of light. But they are not close together. They travel lonely at high speeds so fast we can't see them.

It's a bit like being in Formula 1 car racing or such like. You're standing in the audience and the cars are passing by so fast that you can hardly see the mole on the driver's nose. Only photons are much faster than a racing car.

Deep under the sea it is very dark. So how do fish see and not bump into each other? 

Their eyes have evolved to detect a lower number of photons so they see the darkness as light. If you were to lift a fish from deep down up to the surface the chances it will be in agony and go blind because of the light up here on the surface. More photons per square metre than deep down in the sea. 

Lesson three. Space is forever expanding. Einstein, Hubble and Stephen Hawkin and others said so. Look them up if you wish to learn more.

Let me explain it in simple terms for my simple mind to understand.

When a baby is born all his insides are within his skin. We'll call the insides the universe. As he grows into a child, an adult and a well built rotund person his skin expands accordingly and so do his insides. His heart, lungs and so on are bigger and further apart from when he was a baby.

The same for the universe. It is expanding and the planets, moons and stars are becoming further apart. BUT ... this is important ... they are not getting bigger like the heart or lungs. The earth is the same size but further apart from other planets. It is moving away from other planets and moons. 

This theory has been proved by scientists although I find it difficult to understand. 

My query. If the universe, which is in fact everything - sun, moons, planets and so on - is expanding; what is it expanding into? If the universe is everything (i.e. there is nothing outside it) then how can it expand into nothing outside it?

Anyone out there can help with an answer?

ADDENDUM: Maybe the problem is one of definition. Instead of saying "the universe is all the stars, planets, moons, galaxies etc ..." perhaps we should say the the universe is a collection of all the stars, planets, moons, galaxies, solar systems and so on contained in a limitless space. They are all in space.

If you take a certain amount of clothing and put them in the fast-spin drying cycle of your washing machine the clothing will fly outwards towards the edge of the spinning drum. It is called centrifugal force - the tendency of an object moving in a circle to travel away from the centre of the circle.

Now if you put exactly the same clothings in a bigger spinning drum, the same will happen. The clothes will go towards the edge of the drum. And again in an even bigger drum, and the same effect will happen. 

The clothes are moving further away from the centre of the drum; but they are not getting any bigger.

It'd the same with all the stars, planets and so on. They are spinning round and round in an ever expanding circle celled space. But they are not getting bigger.

Now I am not a scientist; but that's how I understand it.

Also, I believe that a Creator God knows what He is doing; even though expert scientists can't understand it.

Friday 20 October 2023

Are you following me?


Either the world has gone mad or I sat on a cactus and did not realise it. 

(What does that mean?)

I don't know. Nothing makes sense any more. The world does not make sense. I think I'm the only sane one around here.

(Where's here?)

Here is where you want it to be. Wherever you are is here for you. It may not be here for someone else who is over there, but it is here for you.

Let me explain what prompted this post. Just hang in there (here) with me for a moment.

We were discussing various social medias the other day and someone said he had over 700 followers on his FB, (or was it Twitter?), account.

How can that be possible, I thought but said nothing. How can someone have over 700 followers? That's more people than I have known in my entire life. 

And it's not just social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and the like. It's happening on TV as well this not making sense thing. 

I'm sitting watching the adverts and I'm told, "this advert is wasted on you. Do you know who that person is?"

"No ... I've never seen her before ... who is she?"

"It's XYD, she's a famous singer, and the reason the advertisers used her is because she has a great following amongst her age group on social media and if she promotes this product then it will sell by the millions!"

"Oh yeah ..." I mumble unimpressed, "I bet she puts on her pants one leg at a time like every one else, whereas I lie on my back on the bed with my feet up in the air and I get dressed with both legs simultaneously! That makes me special."

I get ignored, as happens so often, with retorts of, "what's that got to do with anything?"

This celebrity thing is not just on TV. It's the same with newspapers. I pick up a paper and they say that someone famous has died whereas I did not know the person even existed. 

Or there's a news headline saying that a certain individual has divorced another individual. So what? Why do they need to tell us about celebrities and other important people getting married, separated, divorced, having a baby and so on? Does the world really need to know that? 

I read the other day that the cousin of a celebrity had stubbed his toe against the edge of the side-walk and was driven to hospital. Now that was worth headline breaking news don't you think?

Why do newspapers and TV report inane news about various famous people or celebrities, and what has happened to them, or their cousins, or their grocer's children, their dogs or whether they squeeze their toothpaste tube from the middle? Do we really need to know all this nonsense?

The answer is simple - it sells newspapers. It fills in time in the TV News hour. It provides the media an opportunity of a scoop news before everyone else.

And of course, there are a lot of people out there living life vicariously through the lives of someone else they admire. 

Their lives are so empty that they have to "follow" someone famous and be up-to-date as to what they are doing every moment of their lives.

And that makes them feel important. They know something you don't; or before you do. And that makes them believe that they are themselves important ... famous even. And they go on social media and write about themselves.   

Not me ... I just walk the streets and every so often make a statement about myself. Like, "My feet hurt ... I love pickled onions ... Yoga hurts my backside ..."

So far I have two followers ... wearing white coats and with butterfly nets.

If you have to follow someone - follow Jesus.

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Lost in traffic

Father Ignatius was on his way to the big city. He hadn’t been there for some years, and quite honestly, he didn’t regret it. He preferred his gentle life in a small town Parish church to the hustle and bustle of the big city and the Cathedral. Anyway, the reality is that he hated driving in the big city where everyone seems to go at high speed and never give you a chance to think where you’re going. Just point the car in one direction and drive – seems to be the maxim of the big city!

He had been invited by Father Gerard as guest speaker at their Youth Club. An invitation he had postponed many times mainly because of the driving involved; but he was now running out of excuses. He tried other modes of transport, namely the train as his only option; but this involved a long journey, changing trains twice, and costing a fortune. So driving it had to be.

As he approached the outskirts of the city he tried hard to concentrate and remember which turning he had to take to reach the Cathedral. He could see the large dome at the top of the hill and the golden Cross gleaming in the midday sun.

But the one-way system, and the detour he was forced to take through the park, meant that at one point he was required by the traffic system to drive away from the Cathedral; only to reach it by a circumvented route, which the town planners had devised with the specific aim of raising one’s blood pressure and to teach you tolerance and patience no doubt leading to time off Purgatory.

“And to think that these town planners go to university to learn how to create such chaos …” thought Father Ignatius as he concentrated hard not to get lost.

But as luck would have it, or was it the town-planners, he took the wrong turning at a junction and was compelled by the one-way system to drive even further away from the Cathedral. There it was in his rear view mirror getting smaller and smaller as he drove further and further away from his destination.

Eventually, he found a safe place to stop and asked a man for directions.

The man stood upright by the side of the car and looked forward in the direction the car was pointing. He scratched his head and mumbled something which the priest, sitting in the driving seat, could not hear properly or understand.

The man then turned round and looked towards the back of the car where Father Ignatius had just come from. He could see the minute Cathedral on the hill. He mumbled something else incomprehensibly and looked forward again.

“Are sure you want to get to the Cathedral?” shouted the man looking back up the hill once more.

“Yes …” replied Father Ignatius hesitantly.

“Only the Cathedral is so far away … and difficult to get to in this one-way system … I could direct you to somewhere else near here perhaps …” continued the man in a loud voice to compensate for the traffic noise.

Father Ignatius did not reply, he waited patiently in the car and said a short prayer under his breath. Eventually the man shoved his head in through the open car window and said: “If I were you Father, I would not start from here!” then he walked away leaving the stranded priest in total astonishment.

Father Ignatius drove uncertainly on not knowing where he was going. A few minutes later he saw a taxi rank with a number of taxis parked there. He stopped his car and walked over to the first parked taxi.

“Could you take me to the Cathedral?” he asked the driver.

“Yeah … sure … jump in,” replied the driver.

“No … I’ve already got a car, parked over there. You take me to the Cathedral and I’ll follow you!”

Unusual as it might seem, but that’s how Father Ignatius got to the Cathedral in good time for the Youth Club meeting.

He started his speech thus:

“What a terrible traffic system you have in this City of yours …” a few people cheered and applauded in agreement.

“I got lost … and I will need your help to drive out of the City again …” A few hands were raised and one or two shouted “no problem …” “we’ll help you out …”

He smiled and thanked them. Then, as they calmed down a little he continued:

“I stopped to ask for directions to the Cathedral … the man I asked was more puzzled than me … he looked backwards from where I came … and then forwards once or twice … scratched his head and eventually gave up and said … ‘If I were you I wouldn’t start from here!’ ”

The audience laughed.

“How lucky are we …” continued Father Ignatius, “how lucky are we that Jesus never says ‘I wouldn’t start from here!’

“No matter how sinful we are … no matter what we have done in the past … our evil deeds … our wrongdoings … our shameful history … He always says ‘I forgive you.’

“If we truly repent our sins, if we truly promise and try not to repeat them … He readily forgives us …

“He does not look way back where we came from and how we got into the terrible state we’re in now … down-trodden and broken down by the weight of our sins … He doesn’t say … ‘if only you did not do this and that all that long time ago …’

“No … He is willing to start from right here … at this very point in our lives … regardless of our past and what we have done. If we accept our sins, repent, and promise not to repeat them … Jesus will forgive us right now.

“Just ask any priest for an honest and truthful confession and that’s your starting point.

“And what is more … Jesus will not walk away like that man did to me. But like the taxi driver He will guide you all the way, step by step, mile after mile, throughout your life, all the way to Heaven.

“And unlike the taxi driver, Jesus will not charge you a fortune!”

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Doe men listen to women?


I wonder how many men will write in and answer this question honestly? Do men really listen to women or do they just nod, and smile, and keep repeating "yes dear ... yes ... I understand ..." and keep watching sports on TV or doing whatever it is they are doing?

In my case, I keep getting interrupted when doing something very important, like watching TV. 

I may be watching a documentary and they show a country somewhere ... say Canada for instance ... and I'm interrupted by "Justin Bieber is from Canada ... so is Shania Twain ..."

Well, that information certainly enriched my life. By the time I digested and ignored this ground-breaking piece of non-information I have missed what they were saying on TV.

Or other inane information ... "I had a friend in school who came from Canada."

Come on men, tell me whether this ever happens to you and how do you deal with it.

The other day we had to go to a wedding in a town I'd never visited before. I was not looking forwards to the journey. I thought about the poor man getting married and committing himself to a lifetime of incessant listening. 

I switched on the GPS navigation system in the car and it did not work. Great ... now what? My wife got out the map book. I then remembered my cell-phone has a GPS navigation app too; so I switched that on and we drove off.

A couple of miles down the road the car GPS system came online too. And my wife was following the direction on her map book.

Pretty soon the two women on the GPS systems disagreed. One suggested I drive straight on the other said turn left. 

Brilliant ... I had two women I never met telling me to do different things, and my wife suggesting I stop and ask for directions. Who from? Those cows in the field? Or the sheep over there? How do you ask directions from someone who is not there?

Eventually she won. I stopped in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. We waited for a few minutes. No one ...

So I decided to leave the car and walk around a bit to stretch my legs and perhaps meet someone. Eventually, I saw a farmer in a field. I asked him, "Could you direct me to Notlob, please?"

"Oh ... it's too far to walk from here," he said.

"I've got a car ... about half a mile from here," I replied.

He scratched his head, looked left down the road, then right up ahead, and after a while he advised, "To be honest ... if I was going to Notlob I would not start from here!"

I suddenly thought of a city near Notlob and asked him about that, "do you know where that is?" 

"Oh yes ... I go there once a week to sell our produce," he replied with a smile.

"Good," I said enthusiastically, "can you tell me how you get there?"

"My brother takes me," was his reply.

I walked back to the car and drove off to the sound of three women telling me what to do. Eventually we got there to witness the man vowing to listen to his wife for eternity

DISCLAIMER: For comedic purposes only. This post has been vetted by my wife and two GPS ladies.

Monday 16 October 2023

It makes sense


When I was young I liked reading all the super heroes stories in magazines. Superman, Batman and Robin, The Hulk, and all the others. My favourite was Spider Man. He was bitten by a spider and developed super powers of flying through the air making spiders web everywhere. No doubt followed by Super Clean, a hero with a vacuum cleaner and brush, clearing the cobwebs left behind.

As a child I was bitten by our small dog Santa. We called him that because when we first got him he left us little presents everywhere. It was not much of a bite. Just a nip really. But I was certain I developed special powers like Spider Man.

From that day, I was convinced I had a heightened sense of smell. I could smell in the dark and round corners. A gift which I have retained to this day.

I could tell people by their smells. My grandma for instance always smelled of lavender. Why do old people have that distinguished smell of plants or herbs? My other grandma smelled of pot-pourri whereas her sister, Aunt Gertrude from Australia, smelled of eucalyptus. At the time I did not know what eucalyptus was, but Mom told me it's a plant grown in Australia. Apparently, Aunt Gertrude used oil of eucalyptus in cough drops and sweets. She gave me one once. It tasted awful and made me cry ... inwardly of course. Because real heroes don't cry.

I also had an uncle who wore a black suit that smelled of moth balls. I did not know that moths had such large balls; but Mom explained it was a chemical disinfectant to keep moths away from clothes. My uncle only wore that suit at weddings and funerals. The rest of the time he smelled of whisky. Dad told me it was his after-shave lotion. Mom added that it was called Single Malt distilled in Scotland.

In church we had an old confessional made of wood. It was a wooden booth where the priest sat and the penitents would kneel on either side and confess through a small window. I remember once in Confession, as I knelt in the confessional I told the priest that I had hidden my grandma's motorcycle helmet behind the couch. She did not ride a motorcycle, she just wore the helmet as a precaution in case she got mugged ... so she said. 

Anyway, the priest told me to keep my voice down because he could smell my grandma kneeling on the other side of the confessional. He did not tell me which grandma it was, the lavender one or the pot-pourri one.

I was very proud as a child of my super powered smelling abilities. It compensated for being bitten by Santa.

I'm still proud of the power of super smell. I can tell as soon as I enter the house that my wife has cremated another dinner. I wish we still had some of Aunt Gertrude's eucalyptus oil.

Sunday 15 October 2023

The Parable of the Wedding


After Mass on Sunday, when the congregation had gone home, Theodore Luxton-Joyce, the eccentric millionaire and church benefactor, called in at Parish House for the customary cup of tea and ginger cake with Mrs Davenport, the priests' housekeeper. 

As they sat in the kitchen by the open fire, Father Ignatius came in.

"That's quite a sermon today, Padre ... what?" greeted Theodore.

The priest thanked him as he sat at the table and Mrs Davenport served him tea and cake. 

"What was the sermon about?" asked Mrs Davenport, "I missed Mass this morning because we had an emergency with the boiler not working and I called the engineer to fix it before the winter colds ..."

"Oh ... I wrote it down Mrs D ..." Theodore said enthusiastically, "It's in Matthew 22:1-14. Jesus tells a story about a man getting angry and swatting people on the head ... and quite right too, I should say!"

"That's not very charitable," replied Mrs Davenport, "I bet he wasn't a good Christian, behaving like that. He should have been kind and gentle, shouldn't he, Father? Why did he behave like that? Is he one of our parishioners?"

Father Ignatius put his cup down and explained gently, "It is  a parable about a king preparing a wedding feast for his son. He invites many guests who do not turn up, so eventually, he invites all the people his servants can find in the streets until the wedding hall is full of guests."

"That's very generous," she said, slicing more cake.

"I bet they didn't have your delicious ginger cake ... what!" chuckled Theodore.

The priest continued, "In this parable we are told of a King who prepares a wedding feast for his son. The invited guests do not turn up and some beat up and kill the King's slaves who go out with the invitations. So the King invites everyone from the streets until the hall is filled.

"The King here is meant to be God. And His Son getting married is Jesus; marrying His Church here on earth - this means everyone, you and I included.

"We are all invited to God's Kingdom, but many don't answer the call. Some even respond violently to the invitation by beating and killing the messengers. The prophets of the Old Testament, the disciples and followers of Jesus, and even today the many persecuted Christians all over the world. So the King in the parable responds accordingly towards the murderous people.

"Now ... at the end of this parable there's an intriguing bit. The King enters the hall full of guests and sees a man not wearing wedding clothes. He is angry with him and gets him tied up and thrown out into the street."

"I didn't quite understand that bit, Padre ..." said Theodore.

"It does seem confusing at first," replied the priest helping himself to another cup of tea, "It is rather harsh treatment for someone not wearing the right clothes. Until we stop and understand Jewish tradition.

"Jesus was talking to the Jews who understood very well that there are special clothes to wear at weddings. Almost every family had such special clothes in case they were invited to a wedding; even the poor would either have such clothes or borrow some.

"No one would dare go to a wedding without special clothes. Even more important, traditionally the host of the wedding also provided special garments for those who did not have any, so they can borrow them for the occasion. So it was more offensive to the King for this guest to wear no wedding garment provided free.

"This guest in the parable just did not bother; he showed disrespect to the King and his son; and was thus thrown out."

"I get it ... quite right too," interjected Theodore, "no ginger cake for him. Out in the cold with gnashing and grinding of teeth."

"What if they are old and with no teeth?" asked Mrs Davenport innocently.

"Then gnashing and grinding of dentures I shouldn't wonder!" replied Theodore.

The priest waited patiently and then continued, "Let's try to understand what Jesus is teaching in this parable.

"There is a clear distinction between those invited guests who refused to attend and the one with no special clothing. 

"Those first guests are the people who refuse to accept God and to love and follow Him. 

"The guest with the wrong clothes are the people who half-heartedly accept God as an insurance policy ... just in case ... they do not really believe and follow God. Believers in name only. To them, Christianity is just a badge they wear, not a way of life.

"But how about us? What are our special clothes for our entry into God's Kingdom in Heaven?

"Our wedding clothes are our good deeds here on earth. Whatever we do for anyone in need, however small, constitutes our wedding clothes. 

"Remember what Jesus said ... Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

"It is just not enough to spend a lifetime on our knees praying, or going to church, if our deeds are far from what is expected of us as followers of Christ.

"Jesus also reminds us in Matthew 7:21 ... Not everyone who calls me Lord will enter the Kingdom of God, but only those who do what my Father wants them to do.

"In other words ... action not words."