Friday 29 March 2024

The Resurrection - Lies or Reality


As we celebrate the Resurrection of Our Lord let us remember that this particular event gave rise to many speculations and rumours all those years ago, and indeed over the years since then.

Let’s consider the facts as we know them.

A man claiming to be the Son of God was crucified and died a most horrible death.

After His death, His followers claimed that He rose from the dead as He had said He would.

Now let’s look at the rumours and the conspiracy theories.

It is possible that Christ’s disciples and followers stole and hid the body of Jesus to perpetuate the story that He is the Son of God and that His Father raised Him from the dead.

But if that were the case; what benefit is there to them to disseminate this story knowing full well that it is a lie? Why suffer persecution, imprisonment, torture and death for something you know to be false? Would you do that?

The other theory is that the Jews, the Sadducees or Pharisees, removed the body in order to stop any beliefs that Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God.

But if that were the case; then why not produce the body once the disciples said that Jesus rose from the dead and invalidate the story of the Resurrection right from the start? Isn't that what one would expect in such circumstances?

Another hypothesis is that Christ never died at all. He just lost consciousness or was in a coma, and He woke up once again and walked out of the tomb.

But the Romans were very thorough people. They made sure that those crucified were indeed dead by breaking their legs whilst hanging there. They did not do so to Jesus because when they checked He was already dead. Even so, they did pierce His side with a spear just to make sure.

And then; there is of course the fact:

Christ died on the Cross and rose from the dead.

Thursday 28 March 2024

Tantum Ergo



Wednesday 27 March 2024

Difficult to be Christian


In our front window, clearly visible from the street, we have a Cross. At Easter we also have the above poster given out to us in church. At Christmas we have a similar poster.

Not many people in our street, or in town, have such posters. And certainly very few have a Cross in their front window.

This makes my life difficult. You can't have a Cross in your front window and not act in a Christian way. You have to be nice always and kind to everyone. Especially when those door-to-door salesmen call and try to sell you something. And they won't take "No" for an answer. 

Or when those charity people call and ask for a donation. You have to be kind to them; and generous. The other day an old lady called and she said she was collecting for a new swimming pool for the elderly in a senior citizens home. So I gave her a glass of water.

As for those religious people who come to convert you to Christianity. Try as I might to explain I am a Christian, they'd rather I convert to their brand of Christianity. Like buying a different brand of soap powder at the supermarket. How can I manage to be kind, nice and "Christian" to them?

Other people I have to be nice to are those passers-by who eat chocolates, burgers, or other fast foods whilst walking and throw their garbage in my front garden. I know what I'd like to say, or do, to them; but I can't. Because of the Cross in my front window.

There's also someone who walks his or her dog. And when the dog poops, they pick it up as is the law over here. They then walk past and throw the plastic bag in my front garden. I never caught someone doing this; but as I pick up the plastic bag I find it very difficult to forgive other peoples' trespasses. 

On the back of my car I have a fish symbol.

This also causes me difficulty. I cannot tell everyone I am a Christian and then drive like a lunatic. I have to drive carefully at all times. And when someone cuts me up in traffic or does something dangerous I cannot give him a hand signal to tell him he is Number One. I have to be polite and smile and pray for him through clenched teeth.

And when he rushes in and takes the parking space I was about to get into; I have to drive past politely and find another space. Even if it is a million miles from where I'm supposed to be.

Oh, and I always have to obey speed limits. Do you know, I once was stopped by the police on the highway for driving at 40 miles an hour in a 70mph speed limit area. He followed me for a while and then stopped me. He said I was driving so carefully that he suspected something wrong; like was I driving under the influence of alcohol, or was it a stolen vehicle, or what? No one drives so carefully, he said. He then let me go.

You know, I'm convinced it is too difficult to be a Christian.

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Peter's first Easter


Discover how Peter spent his first Easter

Sunday 24 March 2024

Lenten Reflections


Then they threw their cloaks over the animal and helped Jesus get on. As He rode on, people spread their cloaks on the road. When He came near Jerusalem, at the place where the road went down the Mount of Olives, the large crowd of His disciples began to thank God and praise Him in loud voices for all the great things that they had seen. “God bless the King who comes in the name of the Lord. Peace in heaven and glory to God”

This is the story of Jesus as He enters Jerusalem in triumph. Yet this very crowd which praises Him now will soon be shouting “crucify Him, crucify Him!” Why did they change their mind so quickly? Was it because of fear of the Romans and the power of the high priests? Or were they just fooled to believe and shout what others wanted them to?

How about us today? Do we shy away from proclaiming our Christianity? Do we set a good example by the way we live?

While they were eating Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples, “take it,” He said, “this is my body”. Then He took the cup, gave thanks to God and handed it to them, and they all drank from it. Jesus said, “this is my blood which is poured out for many. My blood which seals God's covenant”.

It was at this very meal that Jesus predicted that one of His disciples would betray Him. Later He tells Peter that he too will deny ever knowing him.

Today we face so many temptations which can lead us astray from God. Let us pray that we do not give in to these temptations and in so doing we betray Jesus once again.

He went a little farther on, threw Himself face downwards on the ground and prayed, “My Father if it is possible take this cup of suffering from me; yet not what I want but what you want”.

Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him and although He asked His Father to take away all the suffering and the cruel death He was facing, He then accepted His Father's will for our sake. How often do we pray, “Thy will be done”? Do we really mean it or do we mean, “Thy will be done as long as it is what I want”?

Jesus was still speaking when a crowd arrived led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. He came up to Jesus and kissed Him. But Jesus said, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you betray the Son of Man?”

Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. But how about us? Do we too not betray Him when we miss an opportunity to proclaim our Christian beliefs? When we shy away because we're too frightened that people will mock us and laugh at us when we witness for Jesus.

When they had finished mocking Him they took off the purple robe and put His own clothes back on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him.

On His way to His Crucifixion the most pain that Jesus felt and suffered was on His shoulder. That's because where the heavy wooden cross rubbed on his skin and hurt and cut into his skin all the way to the bone. It was a very heavy cross indeed because it carried all of our sins.

Jesus said, “forgive them Father, they don't know what they are doing”.

It is very difficult when we're hurt to forget and forgive. The memories linger on, they don't go away, and we often remember the pain and hurt caused to us. When Jesus sees the scars in His hands, in His feet, and in His side, He too remembers and He forgives once again.

“I know you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is not here. He has been raised.”

“He has been raised”. This is the central message of Christianity and no matter what gloss or interpretation modern society wants to put on it, they may say it was all symbolism, it's not meant to be believed as it was written, it's just a story; the reality of Christianity is that Jesus, the Son of God, came on earth as a human being, He died and He was raised again.

“And I will be with you always to the end of the age.”

These words are very meaningful to me and they should be meaningful to all Christians because this is the promise made to us by Jesus when He was raised to Heaven after his Resurrection. He did not leave us. He is with us here today now. He is only a prayer away if we believe Him and trust Him.

Friday 22 March 2024



Auto-suggestion is when you believe in something that perhaps is not there but your brain or mind tells you that it is so. For example you could be at home alone and you think you saw something moving from the corner of your eye. Like someone was there and went away. What was it? A ghost perhaps? And you're convinced that you saw it. You were not alone at home as you thought. Spooky !!!

Or you could be outdoors and you look up to the sky and you think you saw something fly past. What was it? A comet? A UFO? Aliens from outer space? A flying Angel? Or your imagination?

I'm sure you've all had such incidents in your life and may wish to talk about them. What were they? Real or self-auto-suggestions? You think you saw something and your brain explains it by suggesting something else that sounds feasible, even though it may be improbable. 

The thing is, such a thing has happened to me recently. It was evening, dark, cold, moonless, and a little misty. All it needed was a howling wolf or coyote and it would have been the beginning of a horror movie. 

There were no such creatures, just a bat or two flying by to provide atmosphere, and me and my dog in the back garden. He was taking an unusually long time to do his business. Running up and down here and there checking on his domain. Sometimes he got to the end of the garden and I could not see him; then he re-appeared from behind some bushes.

I stood there freezing to the bone and looking around at no thing in particular. Then I saw it. It was no illusion. It was there in reality. At the end of the garden we have a huge oak tree. And I mean huge. And there, at the top of the tree was a bicycle. Yes, a bicycle. A real metal frame bicycle with two wheels there stuck in the branches of the tree.

How did it get there? Did someone come cycling down the lane so fast that he hit a stone and flew up in the air into the tree? Possible? Probable? Feasible? If so, where is that somebody? Should he, or she, for it could be a woman, not also be hanging there in the branches shouting for help? How come there's a bicycle up there but not an accompanying human body as one would expect?

I walked to the tree and searched everywhere for a human body dead or alive. There were none. And not a sign of disturbance like plants or flowers squashed into the ground by the weight of a falling body.

I looked up. The bicycle was still there. Could it have been a low-flying E.T. who got entangled in the branches? You know, like in the film. I never understood why he was flying on a bike. I fell asleep half-way through that movie. Unlike the movie "Babe". You know, the film of a pig which can herd sheep. I stayed awake throughout that movie, and when it ended I yearned for a bacon sandwich.

Anyway, I got the dog in and shut and double-locked the back door and looked once more through the window. The bicycle was still there up on the tree.

I was alone at home that night. The family had gone to London ... again.

I did not know what to do. I could hardly phone the police and say there's a bike parked on my tree. I did not sleep a wink. I stayed there on the sofa and kept the TV on for company. Weird programs at that time of night. 

Flicking from one channel to another did not help. So many X rated films, nudity, and channels dedicated to selling you things like vacuum cleaners, air-fryers and other things that I cannot do without at this time of night. And why is it they have so many scary films about ghosts, and haunted houses, and bad things happening at this time of night? 

One thing I noticed; in horror films, if it's about a haunted house and there are strange noises at night, women are always young and beautiful and vulnerable all alone. And they always get out of bed and go investigating any strange noises in their most revealing underwear. Even if it is freezing outside and the wind is howling through the open windows. Sometimes they even open the front door and go out searching where the strange noise is coming from. Or if there is a basement or secret door in the house they always go in all alone in the dark with only a lit candle for light. Never a million lumens torchlight. 

Well, I certainly will not be going out with a candle in search for a bicycle rider right now. I'm too scared even though I'm not wearing frilly see-through underwear.    

I guess I must have dozed off eventually in front of the TV. At first light the dog woke me up. I ran to the back garden. The bicycle had gone.

Now many of you will say this is another tall-tale. I can assure you that the tree is indeed tall; at least thirty feet. And up there in the air there was a bicycle that's now not there. 

What do you think?

Thursday 21 March 2024

Are you tuned in?


The closer you come to God the more attuned you will be to the evil around you. Evil in the world, in society in general and certain people in particular. You will even notice the evil in yourself.

Do not be distressed by this. Having come nearer to God's love and mercy you are now becoming more aware of the lack of such qualities in others. Even yourself.

You are now becoming more aware of your own shortcomings and sins. Let each reminder of such failings be an opportunity for you to confess to God, repent and seek His forgiveness. This will bring you even closer to His divinity.

And as you reflect on the evil in others around you, hand them and their situations over to God in the sure knowledge that He is in control and will overcome evil in His way and in His time.

We live in an evil world, and your closeness to God is making you more aware of evil's influence in every sphere of life. Resist it in your own life.

Ask the Holy Spirit to descend on you and to guide you and protect you.

Wednesday 20 March 2024

Stupidity on legs


Giraffes are stupid looking creatures. They consist of a funny shaped body suspended high up in mid air on four tall legs and then a very long neck reaching the sky with a tiny horse shaped head with horns.

Totally stupid if you ask me. Why the horns? To attack mosquitoes or low flying matadors?

And why such a long neck? By the time it eats something and it reaches down to its stomach the giraffe is hungry again. Surely it would have been better to have the stomach higher up; nearer the mouth perhaps.

And why such long legs? What is there up there that's so interesting to see?

Such a tall creature would have been ideal to play basketball. But it's so stupid it cannot bounce the ball and walk at the same time.

Have you seen it take a drink? It cannot bend its neck and get its head down like a horse would do. It spreads its front legs wide like a limbo dancer and lowers its front end until the head reaches the pool of water.

A friend of mine works in a zoo. He looks after the giraffes. One Saturday he had just one job to do and then the both of us would go to the football match. He had to take one giraffe from the zoo to another animal enclosure about four miles away. 

We got to the zoo early to perform the transfer then have the whole day to ourselves. He had a cage type trailer with an open top so that the giraffe would stand in with its head in the air; and then we'd drive slowly in the Jeep until we reach the enclosure. Should have been an easy job but when we got there the trailer had a flat tyre. He tried to fix it. No go ... impossible.

He got on a big step-ladder (he never knew his real ladder - joke!). He got on a ladder and tied a rope to the giraffe's neck just by the head. It was a special muzzle with a rope.

He asked me to take the giraffe out in the street and he'd phone a colleague to come and help and then lock up the zoo and meet me.

Easier said than done. The stupid creature would not move. It pulled back with me being dragged along. Eventually we managed to coerce him to walk along. I went out in the street and waited ... and waited ... People passing by looked at me and said nothing. They probably thought I was taking it for a walk.

Half an hour later his colleague arrived ... in a Toyota car. Have you ever tried getting a giraffe in a Toyota? Not possible. We didn't even try. His colleague said he would have brought another trailer had he been told what the problem was.

He told me to walk slowly down the lane towards the enclosure destination whilst he tries to fix the flat tyre.

The animal was now more co-operative. He walked slowly behind me and every now and then he would stop abruptly turning his head left and right as if he'd heard something. Perhaps his antennas picked up another radio station as we moved along.

At one point he stopped at a bus stop and just would not move. We waited for ten minutes, then a bus arrived. The driver shouted, "You're not bringing this creature in here, mate!" and drove off.

We continued to walk and stop and walk and stop until I arrived at the agreed destination and handed over the giraffe to its keeper for the weekend.

One word of advice if you ever have to take a giraffe for a walk. Don't stand too close. If he relieves himself you will not be a pretty sight ... or smell!

Monday 18 March 2024

Hot Couture


Saturday 16 March 2024

Christian lies and confusion


I wrote yesterday about "new wave" Christian teaching aimed at making people feel good and comfortable rather than proclaiming the Word of God.. 

Sermons these days rarely confront modern style living which tends to promote selfishness, greed and anger. There's too much anger in the world today, and very little caring and empathy. Many have lost their way and turn to materialism as a means to soothe their confusions and frustrations.

Preachers seldom talk about sin and the influence of Satan in our lives. He is sidelined and treated as a euphemism for evil, or for being a little naughty. And he prefers it this way because it allows him to do his evil work "under the radar" undetected by most people.

What was once considered wrong and against God's teaching is now viewed in a more positive light as if previous beliefs were archaic and misguided.

God is portrayed as a benevolent all-loving and caring individual that He will not really send anyone to hell for eternity. He will welcome all to Heaven and will eventually forgive everyone; even the devil. 

Such "comfort blanket" Theology soothes lost souls into believing that all behaviour is acceptable as long as it is well intentioned. 

For example, there's the false belief that God loves us all and does not want us to suffer. So if someone is terminally ill with no hope of getting better, or is in a coma, God would wish for an end to their suffering and it is loving and considerate for us to terminate life in order to stop their pain. A similar argument is advanced in support of abortion.

Every thought and action seems motivated by a feel good factor and permanent comfort and happiness.

This kind of thinking has permeated into personal marital relationships. There's a view pushed around that we are not meant to be  monogamous creatures. Married couples are encouraged to have an "open marriage" and to experiment with various partners, of either sex, as long as they both agree to do so. Such "open and honest" relationships would strengthen one's marriage (apparently) and in some cases  threesome intimacies in bed with one's partner are depicted as invigorating a "tired" marriage.

There's even a TV program over here which encourages choosing one's partners on Naked Attraction alone. Contestants are seen in full frontal close-up nakedness with various body parts discussed in details before a choice of partner is made.

All in all, the pursuit of permanent happiness, instant gratification and indulgent greed is acceptable in a society which has lost its moral compass and does not know where to find it.

Christianity seems in retreat and Satan laughs quietly.

Friday 15 March 2024

Sorry you're leaving us


Look folks, I feel that this post is likely to lose me some of my readers. I deeply regret if this happens, but what I have to say is too important not to be said.

We are living at a time when people seem to want all the good things in life as an entitlement owed to them by society, the world, the universe or whatever. 

They want instant gratification, permanent joy and happiness, and everything to be well in life as of right. You see it in the adverts, in soap operas and reality shows, and on social media. 

The message is that if you buy a certain product, or do a certain thing, then you will be happy for ever and the sun will always shine in your life. Constant subliminal messages aimed at vulnerable minds are influencing a new way of life, and a new way of death. Enjoy and be merry for tomorrow there's nothing.

This message is also pervading Christianity. There is the belief being preached by some that God loves us all, He created us all and therefore He will not allow any of us to go to hell. We are all welcome to Heaven and are destined to go there.

This is false teaching encouraged by the devil to lead us astray. He exists for sure and is cunningly, patiently, influencing people to peddle false lies to confuse naive minds who have not been taught anything about their divine origins as creations of God. 

Satan is not omnipresent. Unlike God, Satan is not everywhere, but he has his legions of demons all over the world doing his work for him.

The devil exists and tempted Christ. So we should not be much of a challenge to him. He waits for our weakest moment when we are tired, have gone through a difficult time, or we are in ill health and that's when he cunningly puts lies in our minds.

He speaks through people to spread his message. Using influential people, famous people, glamourous people and all those best placed to convey his false teachings in a sweet and gentle fashion to suit our lifestyles. 

There is a concerted effort and a push to push us away from God. Remember, the devil used Peter to tempt Jesus. When Christ foretold His passion and death, Peter, influenced by the devil, took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” To which Jesus replied, "Get behind me, Satan!" Matthew 16:22-23.

Today, the devil is just as busy and in some cases he is working through so called Christians who teach that all is well and that a loving God will not see any of us perish. I repeat that this is false teaching. Life is not a game of Monopoly and we don't all have a "get out of hell card" as an insurance policy to enable us to live as selfishly as we wish.

No ... we are not all destined to go to Heaven. No one goes to Heaven against their will. We are free to go elsewhere and many are sleep-walking their way to that destination.

Thursday 14 March 2024

Confessional Secrets


Friday afternoon was Catechism class with the youngsters from the local Catholic school. Father Ignatius duly attended every week to face the eager pupils who expected straight answers.

He knew that at that age he had to satisfy their curiosity as well as answer as honestly as possible their questions on church dogma and the mysteries of Christianity. He was blessed with a great sense of humour and certainly made liberal use of it to press his point home, or to alleviate any tense situation which might arise.

Today’s Catechism discussion was about the act of Confession.

“Did you ever have to hear a really naughty confession Father?” asked an inquisitive youngster.

“You know very well, a priest never tells what he hears in Confession,” replied Father Ignatius.

“Oh … come on Father … tell us … you don’t have to give names,” pleaded another pupil.

“What’s the worst sin you’ve ever heard?” added a third.

“Did anyone ever tell you they murdered somebody?” asked an inventive boy.

Their imaginations were running wild and the priest knew when he was beaten. He had to humour them in order to gain their attention. He gestured with his hands to beckon their silence. He then smiled and said, “When I first came here to St Vincent Church I did not know anybody. I arrived on a Friday evening and the next morning at ten I had to hear Confessions.

“I entered the confessional and said a few prayers whilst waiting for the first people to come in. And sure enough they did, one by one as you know full well.

“One of the many people coming to confession that morning said to me, ‘I am not from this town Father; just passing through.’

‘Really?’ I replied. ‘It doesn’t matter who you are. I don’t have to know your identity.’

‘Yeh … I’m with the travelling circus … we’re only here for a few days,’ said the voice on the other side of the confessional.

‘The circus,’ I said to the man kneeling there, ‘I’ve never been to the circus. Always wanted to as a child. What do you do in the circus?’

‘I’m an acrobat!’

“I was really excited to have an acrobat in my confessional. I’d always wanted to be an acrobat as a child, before becoming a priest, and I’d never seen a real one performing in the circus. So I decided to ask him something unusual.

‘Tell you what.’ I said to him, ‘Would you mind performing some of your act for me? I don’t have time to come and see you at the circus. The church is empty now, and as you’re the last one here, no one would know anyway. Would you mind doing some acrobatics in the side aisle and I’ll hide here behind the curtain and watch you.

“To my surprise and relief the circus performer said, ‘Sure Father, it’ll be a pleasure. A bit unusual, but a pleasure all the same!’

“He then got out of the confessional and started his little show by standing upside down in the middle of the aisle. Then he balanced on one hand and hopped about a bit; and then he hopped on the other hand. He followed this with a few somersaults backward and a few forwards in mid-air. Then he balanced a chair on his nose whilst juggling with a few candles he picked up from a statue nearby. He finished with a few more somersaults and hand-stands on the back of the pews!”

“Gosh …” said a few youngsters in amazement, “That’s fantastic. What happened next?”

“What I didn’t realize,” continued the priest “is that watching from the back pews were two elderly ladies.

“I heard one say to the other ‘Let’s go home; this new priest is out of his mind. I’m not doing any acrobatics as a penance for my sins!’ ”

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Sitting by the pool

 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralysed. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”

There is so much for us to learn from this short passage in John's Gospel.

I guess it was traditional for people to gather round that pool and await for the water to stir before jumping in. We are not told whether people actually got healed or not; but presumably so since people kept going there. 

Jesus too went there. He obviously did not want healing. But He went there for a purpose.

He saw a lame man and learnt that he had been an invalid for years. He asked him an obvious question: Do you want to get well?

Duh ... of course, otherwise I would not be here!

But the sick man does not answer the question. He says that he cannot get to the pool on time because others more able than him jump in first; and it is only the first one in who gets healed.

So Jesus simply says: Get up! Pick up your mat and walk! 

Note that this happened on the Sabbath. The day when the Jews were not allowed to work. And apparently, according to the Jewish leaders, they decided that carrying one's mat was in fact work.

Jesus could have said: Get up and walk. 

He did not have to mention the mat. But had He done so, the man would have walked away unnoticed and that would have been the end of the story. 

Jesus went to the pool deliberately on the Sabbath. He certainly planned to make a point of healing someone on that day to test the reactions of the people. 

Rather than rejoicing and praising God for another miracle amongst their mist; and celebrating with the man who had been healed after so many years; the Jewish leaders were nit-picking and fussing about the minutiae of the law.

Aren't we like that sometimes? Each interpreting our Christian beliefs our own way and certain that we are right and therefore everyone else is wrong.

Rather than rejoicing in what unites us in faith, we argue about what divides us and sets us apart.

Would we not much rather hear Jesus say: Get up and walk. Your prejudices have been healed.

Friday 8 March 2024

Speedy the tortoise


Any animal psychologists out there?

We have a tortoise which the family named Speedy Gonzales. We also have a rabbit, a cat and a dog as well as a number of fishes in the pond in the garden.

Suddenly and quite recently there has been a marked difference in behaviour in Gonzales the tortoise. Usually he sits or sleeps sedately in his box, or chews on a lettuce leaf for ages and does nothing else. But suddenly, perhaps inspired by our dog, his behaviour has changed.

As soon as I get home he comes rushing to me and jumps up high from the ground trying to reach my chest. He runs round in circles and jumps up again and again until I stoop down and pick him up. 

When I do so he licks my face happily and wags his little tail excitedly. It's very unusual behaviour for a tortoise, but you should see his tail wagging left and right as his tiny tongue attempts to kiss me. 

I guess it's his way of showing me his affection. It's like humans I suspect. Have you never been so excited to meet someone you like that you jumped on them and licked their face? No ... perhaps not.

When I'm out in the garden exercising our dog by throwing a ball the tortoise runs as fast as it can to fetch it before the dog does. Of course, the ball is too big for Gonzales' tiny mouth, so the tortoise let's the dog pick up the ball and then he bites the dog's tail gently so he could be dragged all the way back to me so we can start the game all over again.

Gonzales now insists on going out for walks with the dog. I have made a tiny collar which I place round his neck and attach it to a lead and take both creatures out together. I must say, for a tortoise he certainly keeps up the pace with the dog. He even, every now and then, lifts up his back leg like the dog, and pretends to do his business by a tree. The problem here is that sometimes he loses his balance and falls over on his back and is unable to get up again. He rolls backwards and forwards gaining momentum every time in order to finally tip over to his normal upright position. Either that, or the dog rolls him over with his nose.

I don't know how long Gonzales' behaviour will last. The vet had no explanation to offer and suggested it was "acquired transferable behaviour", whatever that means.

I wonder, have any of you readers experienced such unusual behaviour in your pets? Have you for example ever had a parrot trying to learn to swim? Or a guinea pig or hamster clucking like a chicken? Or any other similar uncharacteristic behaviour?

I had a neighbour once who liked to imitate birds. She ate worms. But that's another story!

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Stolen Treasures

St Vincent was the only Catholic Church in town so Father Ignatius’ parish covered a wide area including the countryside around the town.

Because he was such an approachable priest it was not unusual for parishioners to either visit him unannounced to discuss a problem on their minds, or indeed to phone him and expect him to jump at a moment’s notice. As happened last week.

He was about to settle down near the warm fireplace with a nice cup of hot chocolate and to listen to his favourite classical music when the phone rang and interrupted the London Orchestra.

“Who could it be at 10 o’clock at night?” asked Father Donald.

“It’s Mrs Montague …” replied Father Ignatius, “she’s just had a break in … she’s totally distraught and frightened and hasn’t even phoned the police … she phoned us instead …”

Mrs Montague was an elderly widow in her seventies who lived alone in a small cottage in the countryside. As Father Ignatius jumped in his car and rushed to her home, Father Donald phoned the police.

The priest could see the police car parked outside the house as he finally arrived at the scene. They had made a search of the property and the garden and found no one.

Apparently Mrs Montague was asleep in her armchair in the living room and was awakened by the barking of Rupert, her little dog.

Someone had broken into the kitchen and had plenty of time for a quick search and for making quite a mess. The kitchen door was closed so the little dog could not get to him. Eventually, the burglar must have run away, perhaps disturbed by her Guardian Angel. Luckily, he didn’t enter the living room and attacked the old lady, or worse.

“Have they taken anything?” asked the policeman.

Mrs Montague was too confused to even give a coherent answer. She looked around the kitchen, with everything strewn everywhere, and eventually realized that a small metal box was missing.

“They’ve taken the biscuit tin …” she cried, “oh no … not that … I can’t live without it … not the biscuit tin.”

“What biscuit tin?” asked Father Ignatius.

“A metal tin … it was that big … an old biscuit tin I kept here in this drawer … it’s gone … my life is all gone …” she broke down in hysterical tears and was helped to a chair by Father Ignatius.

“Did it contain any money, or jewellery?” asked the policeman.

“No …” she replied as she calmed down a little, “it contained all the love letters my husband wrote to me when we were courting … I read them often to remember him when I’m lonely … and photos taken when we were young … I miss him so much … I’m so frightened and lonely since he died …”

The two police officers made another quick search of the house and eventually left. Father Ignatius managed to hammer a few pieces of wood on the broken window to secure it for the night. As the elderly lady was far too distressed to be left alone, Father Ignatius decided to spend the night nodding off in the armchair, whilst Mrs Davenport, his housekeeper, came over too to provide her with moral support.

The following morning, whilst Mrs Davenport was preparing coffee for the workers who came to fix the window and secure the house, Father Ignatius, prompted by some unexplainable feeling, made another tour of the garden.

There under a rose bush he found the missing biscuit tin. No doubt the intruder found it full of worthless papers and discarded it in his hurry to escape.

Worthless papers to him, but a whole life in a box to an elderly lonely widow.

Monday 4 March 2024

Angel on the move


You remember I told you the story of the angel statue that I had moved from the old farmer's place to the cemetery, then back to his place, then back to the cemetery again. See HERE

Well ... the saga continues. But before I tell you about it let me tell you about Ernest.

Ernest is a nice enough member of our church always eager to volunteer to do anything that’s needed, although he doesn’t always get it quite right. 

When an elderly member of our church with no family died, a few of us, including Ernest, got together to arrange his funeral. After we sorted out the Order of Service, hymns, choir, burial and so on, someone suggested that it would be a nice gesture if, as the deceased was lowered into the ground, all those standing around the grave would release white doves into the air as a symbol of peace. I thought it was a stupid idea but said nothing. Did I ever tell you I have a University Degree in cowardice?

Ernest volunteered to obtain the white doves at little expense from a friend of his.

On the day in question, as we all stood around the grave, there stood Ernest with a large box in his hands. At the appropriate time he opened the box and started handing out white gloves to all around him! 

That's Ernest. Eager to help but unable to listen.

OK ... now back to my story. As you recall, we left it with me putting the statue of an angel in its rightful place on the grave of the old farmer's wife.
The other day I got home late from work and ... SURPRISE ... the statue of the naked angel was in my front garden!

What the ... How did it get there? I already have a beautiful statue in my front garden of a naked Superman with his hand outstretched towards the sky as he is ready to fly off. Now there's a naked angel next to it. What will the neighbours say? Whatever next? Michelangelo's David and Venus de Milo? 
I quickly had to hide the statue somewhere, but it is too heavy to lift into my garage. I can't ring any of my friends to help me as they will start wondering why I keep moving the statue from one place to another. As it is, they have all been complicit in one way or another in the moving of this naked angel. 

As I entered the house to ask the family what they know about the appearance of the statue, the phone rings. It is Ernest. He works as a gardener at the cemetery. He reminds me that we discussed the removal of the statue when he saw me placing it on the grave the first time, so to help me he and his friends removed it to my house as per my wishes ... WHICH ARE NOT MY WISHES AT ALL!!! 
Ernest got it wrong again. In trying to help me he is now guilty of removing it and put it on my property. If the police found out because a neighbour complained, seeing they already know of its previous removal when the old farmer reported it, they would now accuse me of stealing it. 

After a few expletive words down the phone I told Ernest that the statue belongs to the old farmer and he is to remove it pronto or else!!! He says he knows the farmer because he buys his vegetables from there! I slammed the phone down on him with a few more swear words ... I find it difficult being a Christian sometimes.

I wish I had not lost my temper. Late that night, Ernest turned up when we were all asleep, and with some friends, he took away the statue and delivered it to the old farmer's front yard.

I only discovered the miss-delivery the next morning when I called on the farmer for vegetables.

" 'Tangel's back!" he said, "Can't understand it! What's it doin' 'ere?"

Well ... what could I say? How can I explain that the idiot Ernest moved it from the cemetery to my house and from my house to the farmer's yard? Simple explanation to you my readers. But not so simple to the farmer as he would ask me why Ernest would move it to my house in the first place. To explain this would implicate me in the previous removals to and fro of the statue.
As I said ... I find it difficult being a Christian sometimes. I only started all this in order to be helpful, and now we have a statue that has moved several times to the complete confusion of its owner.

I promised him to get it moved one last time and to get it cemented on the grave of his wife at my own cost.

What would you have done?

Saturday 2 March 2024

Are you angry?

Are you angry about something or someone? Is it righteous anger? Or is it you being your usual self?

Read what Father Francis Maple has to say about it HERE.

Friday 1 March 2024

Missing Angel


About a mile or so down the road, just as you leave town, there's a small farm and an old farmer there who sells his produce by the way side. We visit him every so often for a chat and to help him out financially buying his vegetables at far higher prices than the supermarket.

He speaks in staccato monosyllabic mode with a lot of full stops (periods) in amongst his words. I call him "E I E I O" but not to his face, or his back even. Only when he's not there.

The other day whilst visiting his farm I saw a statue of an angel about three feet tall in his yard. I asked him about it. 

"Wife grave," he said, "damn heavy. Can't move it by meeself!"

I felt sorry for him. He lost his wife last year and the poor man is still grieving. He's obviously bought the statue and cannot move it to the cemetery.

That evening I came back with a couple of friends of mine. We planned to take the statue to the cemetery on his wife's grave. He was not there, but the three of us managed to lift the heavy angel and put it on the back of the truck and to the cemetery.

The next day I went to see the old man to tell him what I did. He was furious. 

"Thieving bastards!" he said, "took statue away. Called police. Missing angel!"

I panicked. I am good at it. The last thing I wanted to do is admit my good deed of the previous night. I sympathised and left.

That night I went back to the cemetery with another friend. It was raining heavily. With just two people carrying the heavy stone it slipped and fell to the ground. It got covered with mud. We managed to put it in the back seat of my car. It did not do the suspension any good, nor the back seat. Mud everywhere.

We waited until it was dark and put the statue back in the farmer's front yard and washed it quickly with water from a nearby trough for his cattle. 

The next day I visited the farmer nonchalantly. 

"T'Angel's back!" he said, "all by 'tself. Can't understand it. Meant t'be delivered t'cemtry! Not here. And it's had wash. Dirty it was!"

Well, the coward in me was in super-drive. I said nothing. But I wanted to help. It's pointless being a Christian if you do not help a poor man like him. What would Jesus do? Probably send a real angel not a heavy stone one!

That night I came back with yet another friend in another car. I hope all these friends don't ever meet and exchange stories otherwise they'll doubt my sanity. This time we planned to tell the farmer what we were doing. Taking the statue to his wife's grave.

We banged on the door. No response, Probably asleep. Or gone somewhere. 

Have you noticed I've started talking in staccato mode like E I E I O?

We took the statue and put it on his wife's grave.

Two days later I visited the old man again. Still nonchalantly.

"Can't understand it!" he said, "t'angel gone to cemtry by 'tself. Strange. Very strange I tell thee!"

I said nothing and bought some expensive vegetables we did not need.