Sunday, 17 December 2017

Saints' Legacies

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

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

Yet this was a man with a mission.

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

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

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

His legacy to us?

Courage and Obedience.

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

How often are we presented with the opportunity to speak about God, about our religion and our Christianity. Do we shy away and miss a good opportunity to witness for our Lord? Or have we got a tiny fraction of John’s courage? And obedience?
When Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel all those years ago, times were very different.

It would have been a great scandal for an unmarried woman to become pregnant. Her family would be shamed and she would most probably have been shunned by everyone. It was even more outrageous to claim that the baby is the Son of God. That would have been blasphemy surely!

Yet despite her fears of shame, rejection and ridicule, not to mention fear for her own safety, Mary trusted God and said "Yes".

She agreed to be the Mother of Jesus.

So, what is her legacy to us?

Obedience and trust.

Obedience and trust in God despite what must have been a very dangerous situation for her, and her family.

Are we that obedient and trusting when God speaks to us?
Joseph is not mentioned often in the Bible. We read about him before the birth of Jesus when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and asked him to take Mary as his wife. (Matthew 1:18).

Imagine his dilemma. He was engaged to Mary when she found out she was due to have a baby by the Holy Spirit. At first he considered doing what many men with a pregnant girl friend whose baby is not theirs would have done - run a mile in the opposite direction.

Being an honourable man he decided to break the engagement privately so as not to disgrace her.

Then the angel appeared to him in a dream; and based on that dream alone he decided to marry Mary and raise her son as if He were his own.

He was there when Jesus was born in Bethlehem and we read about him when he took Jesus and Mary to Egypt to escape from Herod (Matthew 2:13) and then when they returned to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19).

He is also mentioned when the boy Jesus was twelve years old and found in the Temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41).

So as Jesus' foster father he was there during His early years protecting Him from Herod and providing a loving family for the Son of God.

What a wonderful man he must have been. Working quietly in the background, without much recognition, doing God's will in raising His Son on earth.

So, what is his legacy to us?

Obedience and trust.

Despite what his common sense told him to do, he did not walk away from Mary. He trusted God and decided to stay with Mary. He decided to provide for her and a child Who was not his. He taught the child carpentry and raised Him up as his own.

May his obedience and trust be an example to us all.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Language of Love

I went to visit a psychiatrist friend of mine the other day. As well as being a psychiatrist, in his spare time he is also a carpenter, a painter and decorator, as well as being a baker. As soon as I entered his insulting room he asked me to lie on the couch. I asked him why. After all, I was not there as a patient but to ask him to come and fix my car which was behaving rather oddly of late.

He said, "It's a new couch. I made it myself!"

I humoured him and lay on the couch. It was a bit wobbly because it had one leg shorter than the others. So he put a book by some fellow called Freud under the short leg. I asked him, "This looks an important book. Are you sure it's OK to put it under the couch?"

"Oh it's boring," he replied, "full of words and no pictures at all!"

He sat on his chair beside the couch and opened his notebook.

"What seems to be the problem?" I asked him from my supine position.

"My wife doesn't understand me," he said wistfully.

"Is it a personal marital problem?" I enquired.

"No ..." he said, "she is Greek and does not understand a word of Austrian!"

"But the language of love is international," I said trying to sound knowledgeable in the affairs of the heart.

"Not when she feeds you moussaka every day," he answered sadly, "I told her I don't like aubergines but she does not seem to understand!"

I said nothing for a while and wondered how the two of them had met. I asked him and he replied, "I was in Athens on holiday and met her at a small taverna. She was the local wrestling champion. After the meal I inadvertently broke a plate and she took that as a sign of amourous intent. Before I could say moussaka we were married!"

"I understand ..." I said, more as a token of sympathy rather than comprehension.

"Oh ... for a plate of rindsuppe," he sighed, "or gulasch, followed by a big slice of apfelstrudel. But instead, it's moussaka every day!"

"But surely you can reason with her," I suggested.

"I do ..." he said, "but she always beats me at arm wrestling. So moussaka it is once more!"

At this point a large woman entered the room and spoke in a language I did not understand. It was all Greek to me. She had a Greek recipe book in her hand and showed my friend various delicacies such as stuffed vine leaves, youvarlakia, avgolemono and baklava. Before I could ask him what these foods were, he kissed his wife and the two of them left hurriedly the insulting room, leaving me lying down on the short-legged couch.

Ah ... the language of love!

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

How much is that piggy in the window?

Man enters pet shop and looks around. Shop assistant approaches him.

Man: I would like to buy this Guinea pig please?

Shop Assistant: Certainly sir, let me get him for you.

Assistant picks up Guinea pig and puts him in a small box with holes on cover for it to breathe. Buyer looks at animal which instantly rolls over with feet pointing upwards.

Man: Hey ... this Guinea pig is dead. He is as stiff as a board. Look how he rolled over.

Shop Assistant: He is not dead, sir. He is hibernating.

Man: Hibernating? It is the middle of June!

Shop Assistant: Yes sir, he is from South America. They hibernate in summer in South America. If he was from Northern Europe he would hibernate in winter.

Man: So he will remain stiff until winter?

Shop Assistant: Not necessarily. A quick ten seconds in the microwave oven will soon revive him.

Man: I don't believe you. He seems dead to me. Look, his eyes are wide open, and his fur is beginning to fall off.

Shop Assistant: All right. I'll let you have it for half-price.

Man: Half-price? I'd expect a bigger discount for a dead hamster.

Shop Assistant: Guinea pig ...

Man: All right. A dead Guinea pig ...

Shop Assistant: I tell you what ... I'll let you have it for free if you buy another Guinea pig as well.

Man: OK ... I'll have that one too.

Shop Assistant places another Guinea pig in the box.

Man: He seems rather slow moving to me ...

Shop Assistant: That's because he has a bit of a migraine. He was at a party last night. You know ... all that dancing and singing ... and the drinks and the girls ... He must have a bit of a hangover this morning.

Man: A party? He was at a party?

Shop Assistant: A funeral actually. And a get-together afterwards to celebrate the deceased's life.

Man: Who died?

Shop Assistant: This other Guinea pig. But he did not turn up to his own funeral.

Man: Why not?

Shop Assistant: He was up for sale at a reduced price!

IF YOU LIKE MY KIND OF HUMOUR
WHY NOT TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT IT ON YOUR BLOG?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Agony Uncle Vic

Dear Agony Uncle,

This is the first time I write in to your Newspaper Column. I am a woman over 35 years old and, not to put too fine a point on it, I find that with age certain parts of one's body travel South. I fear I am not as attractive as I once was when I go on a date. Any advice?

Dear Anonymous First-time Writer,

Fear not. They say the sands of times in an hour glass go down not up. Whatever that means. Rest assured that your problem happens to most of us, men and women, and short of spending the rest of your life walking upside down on your hands there is nothing much you can do. Even that would be embarrassing when wearing a dress or a skirt. They also say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so dating someone short-sighted might help. They also say that beauty is skin deep. So you may want to try wearing many layers of clothing so your date will take longer looking at you.

Whatever you decide to do, do not go for the option my friend did. When he went on a strict diet to lose weight he ended up with a lot of loose skin hanging about his body in the chest and lower area. So he went for a new treatment where they "pull up" the loose skin up his body a bit at a time, and they stretch the skin upwards so much that any extra skin is then somehow tied up and hidden behind the back of his neck. It worked so well that now he looks twenty years younger. Unfortunately, his bellybutton (navel) is on his forehead. He also has a new unusual tie too.

Dear Uncle Vic,

As a newly married man, I get embarrassed when I go to the rest room and break wind noisily. My wife could hear me. What do you suggest I do?

Dear Thunderblast,

Such foods like beans, sprouts and cabbage, nice as they are, tend to create gaseous substances therein which need to come thereout, sometimes accompanied with heightened decibels. Short of avoiding such foods, I suggest you do like me and take a radio with you to the rest room and play it loudly to cover up other unwanted sounds. I suggest playing "Blowing in the wind" by Bob Dylan is very effective in this respect.

Dear Agony,

I have joined a new Dating Site on-line and gave them all my details. Unfortunately, instead of posting my picture I accidentally sent a photo of my dog instead. What do you suggest I do?

Dear dog lover,

Yours is a relatively minor problem easily solved by writing to the Dating Agency. I once sent in my real photo to such an agency and they returned it back with a note saying; "We're not that desperate!"

Dear Agony Vic,

I live in an apartment block and the walls here are too thin. To get straight to the point - I cannot sleep at night because I hear the young couple living next door making very personal noises from their bedroom. I have tried sleeping with my head under the pillow to no effect. What do you suggest?

Dear Sleepless Nights,

What you are doing is very dangerous. I knew a man who slept with his head under the pillow and the Tooth Fairy took out all his teeth.

Dear Agony Uncle,

I am writing to you from hospital. The instructions on the Quick Cook Rice packet said: "Take one sachet from the packet and stand in boiling water for 5 minutes." I did just that and burnt my feet.

Dear Master Cook,

I sympathise with you. I think instructions on food packets should be clear for any idiot to understand.

Dear Uncle Vic,

Our dog keeps biting the postman.  He also chewed the postman's hat. What shall I do?

Dear Careless Dog Owner,

First of all you should keep your dog under control and take responsibility for your dog's and your actions - or inactions. Secondly, buy him Woof Woof Dog Food. It is the only dog food that tastes of a postman's leg. That should deter him from doing it again.

Dear Know-it-all Agony Column Idiot,

I did not like the way you responded to my last letter about my dog's behaviour. In fact I do not like your attitude!

Dear Dog Owner,

It is not my 'at he chewed; it's the postman's at he chewed!

Dear Agony Uncle,

I am caught in a heart-breaking situation. Do you remember the song "Torn between two lovers" by Mary MacGregor in 1976? Well, I am in this very situation. I have fallen in love with two men. One of them is young, my age really, he is a multi-millionaire, drives a Lamborghini, lives in a palace and adores me very much. The other one is a little older, he is not that wealthy, poor even, he is an archaeologist, and says he loves me very much. I love them both, but do not know who I should marry. What do you think?

Dear Lover,

I think you should marry the archaeologist because the older you get the more interested he will be in you.

Dear Vic,

We have ants in our house and cannot get rid of them. We have tried everything. Can you help?

Dear Ant Invasion,

Indeed I can help. Get a flat stone. Place on it a mixture of sugar and pepper. The ants will be attracted by the sugar, breathe in the pepper, sneeze, and knock themselves dead against the stone. Simples!!!

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Divine Detour



It was Christmas Eve, early evening, and it was already dark. It was freezing cold with blinding snow still falling and winds making driving conditions perilous to say the least. Weather warnings on the radio advised people to stay at home.

Yet Father Ignatius was on the road. Driving back slowly towards St Vincent Church determined to be there to celebrate Midnight Mass.



He had been away the previous few days and had planned to return home early on Christmas Eve; but the bad weather held him back. Missing Midnight Mass was out of the question for the determined priest, and as he set off on his journey home the skies were dark and the roads were clear; until suddenly he was caught in a snow storm and had no alternative but to proceed onwards towards his Parish church.



The shortest way home was through treacherous country roads, which he knew well, yet never drove on in such conditions. As he turned a sharp bend on the road he noticed just in time a fallen tree blocking his way. He managed to brake in time and avoided hitting it or sliding out of control into a ditch.



He had no option but to reverse carefully and take another way home.

A few miles further on, just before entering a village he saw a car crashed against a tree. He stopped to help.

He’ll never forget the sight that greeted him.

There in the driving seat was a man covered in blood. He was breathing heavily and still conscious.

“Can you move?” asked the priest, fumbling for something to say.

The man shook his head, then slowly mumbled “my leg … trapped …”

“I’ll go for help …” said Father Ignatius.

“No … my wife … she’s gone to the village …”

The priest decided to wait with the injured man until help arrived. He got a blanket from his car and covered him to keep him warm. He tried as best he could to place another blanket on the man’s chest to stop any bleeding from a wound which, although not clearly visible in the dark, was obvious by the bleeding.



It was still snowing and Father Ignatius was freezing. Yet he stood outside the crashed car leaning through the broken driver’s window, trying his best to comfort the driver.

In between heavy sometimes gasping breaths, the man noticed Father Ignatius white collar and asked, “Are you a church minister?”

“I’m a priest,” said Father Ignatius.

“I’ve never had time for people like you …” said the man, “I suppose I’ve never been able to believe … I tried mind you … but just couldn’t believe in God … Jesus …”

Father Ignatius said nothing but prayed silently.

“Do you think it’s too late … you know … can I believe now … or at least try …”

“It is never too late to put your trust in God. Just accept Him in your heart, right now, as best you can. Tell Him you believe in Him.”

The man breathed deeply once or twice. “Yes … I do want to believe, if He’ll help me do it …”

“Can I baptize you?” asked the priest daringly.

“Ah … it hurts more now … yes  … do as you say … tell your God I’m sorry … tell Him to forgive me for any wrong I've done Him by not believing ...”

Father Ignatius quickly prayed with the man consciously sitting there and baptized him.

As he made the sign of the Cross on the man’s forehead he heard him say “Is that it? … that was painless …” as he forced a smile.

Father Ignatius held his hand and waited for a further twenty minutes or so, praying all the time, and speaking with him until an ambulance and a police car arrived almost simultaneously. He remained conscious throughout, breathing ever so heavily and obviously in great pain.

Father Ignatius eventually drove to the village and phoned a worried Father Donald from a small shop which was still open. He stayed there for an hour or so by the fire to warm up a little and, determined as ever, decided to continue on his way home.

He made it for Midnight Mass all right, but he was too tired and almost frost bitten to celebrate Mass. He sat at the front pew, by Our Lady’s statue, praying for the crash victim.

He learnt a few days later, from the man’s wife, that he never made it to the hospital. He died in the ambulance on the way there. It was then that Father Ignatius remembered that had it not been for the fallen tree blocking his way, he would have got home much earlier and avoided the accident altogether. Obviously, God wanted him to go to the man’s aid.

A tragic Christmas in human terms, perhaps. But a joyous one in Heaven, welcoming a new soul.

FATHER IGNATIUS BOOKS HERE

Friday, 8 December 2017

Meditation


Tuesday, 5 December 2017

A Sandwich Short of a Picnic


Have you ever dreamt you are a sandwich?

If so, what sandwich were you?

If it was a dainty triangular cheese and cucumber sandwich then you are probably from the English aristocracy and well-to-do; or aspire to such a position. You probably drink tea with your little finger sticking out whilst holding the cup.

According to an article I read, you can tell what sort of person you are by the kind of sandwich you dream.

If you dream you're a cheese and pickle sandwich you're probably not so aristocratic in Britain, and maybe you drink your tea from a mug.

If you dream you're a peanut butter and jelly (jam) sandwich then you are probably American and proud of it.

If you're a burger sandwich/bun with lettuce and cheese and other relish, you're probably too busy in life and eat on-the-go.

If you're a ham, sausage, chorizo, salami, mortadella, luncheon meat or other such type of sandwich then you are a strong no-nonsense carnivore.

If you are a boiled egg with mayonnaise sandwich, (possibly with cress or salad), then you aspire to greatness but can at times be self-opinionated.

If you are a chocolate spread sandwich then you are good natured and kind with an optimistic outlook on life.

If you're a bacon sandwich, with ketchup or brown sauce, you are probably British. Bacon, cheese and egg is the American version. Also bacon, lettuce and tomato.

There are many other varieties and variations of sandwiches.

So ... what sandwich do you dream you are? Let us know what you are, and we'll check on your personality.

Personally, I like peanut butter and raisins sandwich. I spread the peanut butter on the slice of bread then carefully place, one by one, enough raisins in straight rows; they should be equidistant from each other, (I use a ruler for this), before covering it with another slice of bread. Then I cut it in four squares of exactly the same size.

I suppose that makes me a fruity nut!
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