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!

Monday, 4 December 2017

AS I QUOTE MYSELF



... ... after the evening meal, my boss, a woman in her early thirties, went up to her room. Before she left the table she asked me discretely to follow her a few minutes later. She gave me a duplicate plastic card to use in that contraption which opens the hotel room door. She said she wanted to discuss my annual appraisal report.

I was hesitant at first. I sipped my coffee slowly to waste time and to gather enough courage to decide what to do. My boss was not one to argue with. When she said, “Jump” we replied, “How high”, rather than question her request – or should I say her command.

A few minutes later I entered her room and it was empty. I said loudly, "Hello ... anyone here?"

Her voice replied from the bathroom, "I'm in the shower. Come in!"

I was astounded and frightened at this request which, as I said earlier, sounded more like a command.

My boss had a certain reputation amongst the office gossip grapevine but I never quite believed it. It seemed that now was the time for me to sample such a reputation.

I did not know what to do, especially since my future career at this firm depended so much on her and her appraisal of me. I hesitated for a while.

"Get a move on," she cried impatiently from the bathroom, "I'm not going to wait all night!"

Those were her exact words; I still remember them clearly. She obviously meant business and my future life flashed in front of my eyes.

I was totally confused. I sought guidance from my abbreviated Catechism which I carried in my pocket but I could not find an answer in a hurry. They really should have a better index in those books.

I took off my jacket and put it on the back of the chair. Then I took off my shoes. I had a big hole in one of my socks!

Before I could go on any further she came out of the bathroom fully clothed and speaking on her cell-phone. Apparently you get a better reception in the shower than anywhere else in her hotel room.

"Why have you taken your shoes off?" she asked.

"I did not want to dirty the carpet!" I replied unconvincingly.

I wonder if she believed me. Fortunately I got a good annual appraisal although she did say I often get the wrong end of the stick.
 *******

AS I QUOTE MYSELF is not a biography of a famous celebrity, or other well known personality telling you how they made it good from extreme poverty to being as successful as they are today. Instead, these are the memoirs of someone you’ve probably never heard of, (unless you’re related to him), but yet with a story to tell.

A series of calamities and misfortunes with humourous outcomes which are sure to make you smile, if not laugh out loud. At least that’s what he hopes! AS I QUOTE MYSELF are the memoirs of no one in particular except the one from whose memories they originate.
*******
FOR MORE HUMOUROUS MISS-ADVENTURES 
BUY THE BOOK
AS I QUOTE MYSELF


Sunday, 3 December 2017

Future Foretold


The fair was in town once again with all its amusement stalls and tents pitched in the park opposite St Vincent Church. The lights were shining bright on the big wheel, the round-about and other rides, whilst the music blared for miles around.

Father Ignatius was in the church’s car park when he overheard some youngsters talking loudly:

“I’ve had my fortune told by Mystic Matilda. She looked into the glass ball and it turned all full of smoke inside.”

“What did she tell you? You’re a loser and will always be a loser …”

And somehow, just these words, a snip of an overheard conversation became the basis of Father Ignatius’ sermon on Sunday.

He approached the lectern and asked: “Did anybody here go to the fair last night?”

A few nods and yeses greeted his unusual question.

“I hear there was a fortune teller there. Did anyone go to check their fortune?”

Not many volunteers this time.

“Interesting thing telling peoples’ future … it’s all nonsense of course; but then you all know that, don’t you?” asked the priest with a smile.

“Let’s suppose for a minute that it is not nonsense at all. Let’s suppose that the fortune-teller in the park opposite can really tell your future.

“Let’s suppose Mystic Matilda, for that is her name I believe, can really foretell your future and it is really accurate every time. Every little detail of it. And unfortunately for you she predicts a bad future.

“She says that you’ll lose your job within six months. You’ll suffer a terrible painful illness. You’ll have an accident … I’m sure you know what I mean ….

“And you’re certain the fortune-teller is always accurate and these things will happen. There’s no escaping your fate. How do you feel about that?”

Total silence greeted his piercing question; so Father Ignatius pointed to the children sitting up front, “How about you … you look very intelligent to me. Can anyone tell me how you would feel if you knew your future will be bad?”

A young girl raised her hand and said, “I’d feel terrible and very frightened.”

“Yes Louise … you’re right. You’d feel terrible and very frightened indeed. You’d be terrified and most likely want to change your future at all costs.

“Now let me tell you about someone who knew His future well in advance. Probably from the age of twelve; just the same age as you sitting here up front. When He was found by His parents in the temple in Jerusalem.

“He knew then what was going to happen to Him all His life. He knew He would be betrayed by His own follower. He would be arrested. Beaten, spat upon, mocked and tortured. A crown of thorns put on His head. Made to carry His own Cross and then die a most horrible painful death Crucified between two thieves.

“He knew all that throughout His life. Being human He must have shared the same human emotions we have. He would have been very frightened and terrified just like young Louise said.

“Being human He most probably had nightmares about His whole future. How often I wonder as a young teenager did He wake up in the night having seen His future in His dreams. Can you imagine how terrible this must have been? Knowing what would happen to you and there’s no escape?

“Daily His future must have been on His mind. Just seeing the terrible suffering that He had to face must have been in itself a daily torture for Him. All that evil that is to come His way at our hands!

“But did He give up? Did He try to run away from it? Did He try to change His future?

“When He prayed in the garden before His arrest the devil did tempt Him. Jesus did ask God His Father to make it all go away … but then accepted His terrible terrible fate just for us.

“He was both God and man, and as man He suffered all that pain and that horrible death on the Cross, just for us.”

Father Ignatius stopped for a few seconds, then continued.

“And now I want to address you mothers … how would you feel if you knew for certain what would happen to your children? Your loved ones. And you were told for certain that the future would be terrible for them.

“Can you imagine for a moment how Mary felt throughout her life?

“She knew from the moment she presented the baby Jesus in the temple when Simeon told her sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart. She knew then what would happen to her Son.

“Can you imagine that? Raising a little child, hugging Him, loving Him and caring for Him. Teaching Him to take His first faltering steps, teaching Him to talk, feeding Him and looking after Him every day like a devoted loving mother does.

“And knowing every moment she does these loving things what is to happen to her precious child. Knowing every detail that is to happen to Him. How did she cope with her own Cross to carry throughout her life?

“Not only did she carry this terrible pain in her heart throughout her life, but she lived to witness it as well. For she was there, at the foot of the Cross, when her Son breathed His last breath. She held His dead body in her arms. My heart breaks just thinking about it …."

The priest stopped for a while and silently thanked our Lady for accepting her ordeal on our behalf.

“Now what are we to learn from all this?” asked Father Ignatius in a soothing voice.

“Our future is uncertain; we may be concerned, frightened even, about what is to happen to us and to our children. The financial situation in this town is in a very bad state with many losing their jobs. Prospects are none too good, and it is understandable if we sometimes feel a little apprehensive and doubtful.

“Let us learn from Jesus and Mary and take courage. God was always with them and at no time did He abandon them. Nor will He abandon us.

“When we’re feeling anxious and worried let us turn to Mary and ask her help. Let’s implore her to come to our aid. She has lived through terrible times and she’ll know exactly how we feel. And I’m certain she’ll console us and help us to go on; just like she did all those years ago.

“Let’s honour her right now by reciting the Hail Mary …”

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Sound Of Laughter


My regular readers will know that I sometimes post humourous stories here as well as my more serious Christian articles.

There are two reasons for this:

First, I have discovered by studying the statistics that about 80% of my readers are first time visitors. They come here looking for funny stories or jokes, (probably through search engines), and then hopefully, they might be interested in reading my Christian articles.

Secondly, it is because I have been blessed from an early age, (I was born as a baby you know), with a sense of humour. I have always found the funny side in most situations. For example, I remember well, when I was born in hospital in Ward 2, 3 and 4, (I was a big baby), the nurse gave me a slap on my bottom, looked at my face and punched my dad.

Laughter is the best sound you can ever hear in your life. It tells you that someone else is happy and for a while he or she has forgotten all the worries and problems that life throws at us and is enjoying a moment of release.

We humans are the only creatures on earth who laugh. No other animals, insect or fish does it. Imagine for example you are having a shower and your pet dog or cat comes in the bathroom. Chances are he will not laugh; and just as well, I say. The last thing you want when standing in the shower is your pet smirking at you.

What is laughter? I asked myself the other day and did not get a reply.

Laughter is like a pressure valve lodged there deep within you, just close to your stomach and your asparagus. When you hear or see something which you think is funny, the pressure valve gives way and releases a very loud sound out of your mouth. From anywhere else and you are in trouble.

As a young man I used to compare variety shows touring round from village to village and raising money for charity; or playing in old peoples' homes to entertain the pensioners. We used to have singers, musicians, dancers and so on and I used to introduce the acts and tell a few jokes.

I discovered then that jokes can be quite territorial. For example, I could tell a joke in one village hall and they would all laugh. But the people in the next village would not even raise a smile because they were too far away to hear me.

I'd say - Have you heard the one about the two flies walking up a mirror? One says to the other, "That's another way of looking at it!"

Or the one about the skunk running down the forest. Suddenly the wind direction changes, and he stops and says, "Ah ... it's all coming back to me now!"

Quick one-liners usually go down well with an audience about to fall asleep. Which usually happened when I was on stage.

My grand-father used to say to me, "Always fight fire with fire!" That's why he lost his job in the fire brigade.

Whereas my other grand-father told me, "Always take everything with a pinch of salt!" Mind you, he made a terrible cup of tea.

My other grand-father, on the other hand, was very wise and often gave me good advice. He said to me once, "Remember son, if you walk a mile or two in someone else's shoes you'll be arrested for stealing them!"

Then another grand-father I had was a clown by trade and profession. He always looked like himself. I remember sadly going to his funeral which we had arranged previously at a great cost to the family. Unfortunately he did not turn up as he was on holiday at the time.

Eventually he died at the age of 96 of tiredness. What a day the funeral was. All his colleagues turned up playing music and singing and juggling and dancing as he would have wanted.

The hearse he was brought in kept honking every few minutes, the doors fell out and the steering wheel came off in the driver's hands. He was laid in his coffin in full clown's costume with his face painted and wearing a red wig. Unfortunately they could not put the lid on because his big feet protruded from the coffin.
I find that humour comes to me at the most inopportune times and sometimes I have to be careful not to speak too soon before engaging my brain. Like the time I was at a management convention and there were people there from every walk of life. Accountants, (they did not walk, they were so rich they came by car), lawyers, (they were rich too and shook hands one finger at a time to charge you more later),  doctors, (you could tell by the rectal thermometers behind their ears and their pencils ... in their top pocket), and many other professionals. Anyway, I mingled amongst these elite people and one of them introduced himself as a Funeral Services Undertaker. Without thinking I said, "I bet people are dying to meet you!"

Talking of accountants ... I went to a good fee paying school when I was young. The sort of school where they welcome you with a calculator in hand. All the children there came from good families with professional parents. You could tell the children of accountants because they had an electronic abacus. On one occasion the maths teacher asked the son of a lawyer, "If you have 10 apples and I take half of them, what will I have?" The lad replied, "You'll have a law suit on your hands for stealing you thieving ..."

The Religious Instructions teacher once asked me in class, "Who broke the Walls of Jericho?" I replied, "It wasn't me. I was at Music lessons playing the trumpet at the time!" The teacher phoned my father and told him what I said. Luckily, he vouched for me because he had driven me to Music class that day. The teacher told the headmaster what had happened and the headmaster agreed to pay for the damage from the buildings maintenance budget.

So there you have it. Humour and laughter seem to be a part of my life from an early age. That and singing too. We were all good singers in our family. We had to be because the toilet door had no lock on it. Sometimes I used to sit in the toilet with my leg outstretched behind the door. Unfortunately, it opened outwards.

As I write these few words here I imagine you reading them, and raising a smile, or a titter, and it makes me feel good that someone, somewhere, has enjoyed a few moments of valve release because of me. I may not hear you laugh out loud, but then that's probably because you live too far away from me.

Whatever else you do today, go around with a smile on your face and cheer up as many people as you can. Sooner or later someone is bound to ask you: "OK wise guy; what's so funny on such a miserable day like today?"

MORE FUNNIES HERE

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Close Encounter of the Medical Kind


I went to hospital yesterday. It was a routine visit to check that I still had a sense of humour. At the waiting-room I took a ticket with a number on it from the dispenser and waited for my number to appear on the big screen overhead. Meanwhile I read some of the newspapers lying around. Terrible news about that ship called the Titanic sinking. There was no mention of it on the TV News but there it was as a headline in the newspapers.

Eventually my number came up and I entered the doctor's insulting room.

As soon as he saw me he asked, "Are you a private patient who will pay for treatment or are you on the Government's Free Treatment Scheme?"

I asked, "What's the difference?"

He said, "If you're on the Government Scheme I am allowed to insult you and hurt you!"

"Oh ... In that case I am a private patient," I said.

"OK ... sit down fish face!" he replied.

I was upset by what he called me and I protested, "I thought you would not insult me if I am private!" I exclaimed.

"I am allowed to insult you," he replied, "because I don't like you."

"But how about doctors having a good bedside manner and being kind and caring and sympathetic?" I asked.

"Oh that's all phooey!  Just nonsense to advertise the profession and attract new people to become doctors. In reality we doctors can do anything. From when we take the hypocritical oath we can miss-diagnose, give the wrong but more expensive treatment, or do unnecessary operations; and all our mistakes are buried six feet deep!"

I was astounded at his laissez-faire attitude, and he wasn't even French. I thought I'd better say nothing in case I made a faux-pas. 

"What seems to be the problem fish face?" he asked.

"I feel a bit run down."

"I'm sure the police will catch the driver who ran you down," he said. "When did it happen?"

"Oh ... yesterday evening, a mile up the road from here," I told him.

"Did you have a good look at the car which ran you down?" he asked.

"No," I said, "But I can tell you exactly which tires he had. He left an imprint all over my shirt!"

"Are these the clothes you were wearing at the time?" he asked looking me up and down.

"Yes, why do you ask?"

"Because I have found a piece of cloth exactly like the shirt you are wearing caught in my front car bumper!" he declared.

"That's a coincidence," I said, "you must have driven past a few minutes after my accident and the torn cloth from my shirt got caught in your car!"

"Yes ... that's probably what happened. What did you do after the accident?"

"I went home and watched the football on TV," I told him.

On hearing this he put his hands on his ears and shouted, "say no more ... say no more ... I have recorded the game and I have not watched it yet!"

"What about me feeling run down? What shall I do?" I asked him.

"I suggest you got home and destroy the shirt you are wearing," he advised, "and all will be well."

I got up and thanked him, and as a special favour he reduced my private patient's bill which came to £126.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Would you play poker with the devil?

Would you play poker with the devil?

The question is somewhat academic since the devil would not engage in such a discussion or game-play with you. And in any case, in this day an age not many people believe in him anyway; (to his undoubted delight). They see him as a euphemism for evil rather than an actual living being, albeit in a spiritual sense.

The devil exists all right. We cannot possibly believe in God and not believe in the devil. But he is cunning in camouflaging his existence from a sophisticated modern world which does not know what to believe any more.

The devil will use your past and your future to ruin your present.

He will take an instance or an event from the past and let it prey within your mind weighing down your progress and enjoyment of life today. Say for example you have had a disagreement with someone in the past. Something serious that has hurt you badly and has been left unresolved. The devil will use such hurt to make you resent what has happened and perhaps withdraw any forgiveness you might have given. Or, if you have indeed forgiven, he will use such hurt to remind you that the other person has never sought, nor cared for, your forgiveness. This is particularly poignant if such a person has passed away and therefore there is no opportunity for reconciliation.

But you must remember this, such a person is now in another spiritual world and has seen the instance of disagreement in all its clarity. If indeed he has been in anyway remiss, this is now a matter between him and God; and has nothing to do with you. There is no profit in allowing the devil to torment you further. If, on the other hand, some blame is attributable to you, then admit it and seek forgiveness from God; and accept such forgiveness lovingly given. To do otherwise would allow the devil an opportunity to overcome you; for our regrets of the past are the toys he uses to suppress us.

As for the future, we all have our doubts, fears or concerns as to what will happen then. Be they worries about old age, sickness, or our fears for the safety or well-being of our loved ones. This too is fertile ground for the devil to manipulate and lead us astray from God our Creator; and to spoil our enjoyment of the present. Giving way to such fears is both playing poker with the devil and a great disservice to God Himself, since it betrays a lack of trust and faith in Him on our part.

Christ too was tempted and tormented by the devil many times. He overcame such attacks through prayer and strengthened faith in God His Father. Let that in itself be an example for us.

The devil will never show his poker hand, but rest assured he is holding at least five aces!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Advice on a First Date


A young friend of mine surprised me the other day by asking me for advice on a first date. Why he chose me for advice I do not know. He is in his early twenties and I would have thought it more appropriate to ask someone his own age; but there you are. For some reason he asked me. Maybe he was testing me to see whether I was modern and sophisticated, as one should be in this day and age; or perhaps he was genuinely seeking help and advice on matters of the heart.

Anyway, his reasons aside, I decided to take his request seriously and give him the benefit of my experience. We went out to a quiet pub where we will not be disturbed and told him all I know. In case any of you readers may benefit from what I had to say, I record my thoughts here:

First of all you must remember that you only get one chance to make a first impression. The way you appear when another person first sees you is what will stick in their mind as a first impression. Any subsequent meetings will be a second, third or more impressions. That is if you are fortunate enough to go on another date with that person.

So bearing this in mind, make sure that the first impression is what the other person will remember. A flamboyant tie, a handkerchief in the top pocket of your jacket, or a cravat round your neck are all examples of a first impression. Personally, I have found that wearing underpants on my head really hit the mark when I used to date.

Making conversation is also important to get to know the person you are dating. Ask the lady you are with questions and show interest in her answers. Women generally like to talk about themselves. No woman has ever said, "What a bad date that was. All I did is talk about myself!"

Ask deep meaningful questions, this will make you know your date better and, should you be fortunate enough to have another date you can use that information to good effect.

Questions which in the past I have found effective are:

What is your favourite colour?

Do you like ants?

What is your opinion about investing in the automotive industry as opposed to banking or insurance?

If the person you are with happens to be Catholic; ask her what she thinks of Vatican II. Otherwise, ask her if she believes there are animals in Heaven; and if so, what would she say when she came face to face with the Sunday roast admonishing her for having eaten it.

I once asked a lady whether she liked ants, and used that information when we subsequently went on a picnic in the park by taking with me a can of ant spray. Unfortunately some spray went in her face and I had to rush her to hospital. I never saw her again after that.

Another lady told me her favourite colour was red. On a later date I met her wearing a red nose like a clown. This is because our local gas station shop did not have any red roses; so I thought a red nose would do. I never saw this lady either after that.

Always be careful about what you order during the meal. Some foods are a real no no on a first date. Spaghetti is a good example because as you slurp the long snake like pasta you risk showering her with splatters of tomato sauce. Also, be careful not to order a whole poussin (small chicken), or half a chicken. They are notoriously difficult to cut, especially if you have a blunt knife, and they are likely to slide all over the plate or even fly off the table. This happened to me once when the chicken flew right onto the floor and a passing waiter got his foot caught in the large aperture at the bottom of the bird. He walked away with my meal in his foot, and the lady I was with thought I had already eaten the whole bird bones and all.

Also, be very careful not to order foods that have a special connotation in peoples' mind. Venison for instance reminds people of Bambi; or at Christmas of Rudolph and his companions. Rabbit remind them of a pet rabbit they may have had as a child, or some cartoon character or other like Bugs Bunny; or in the case of duck, of Daffy Duck or Donald Duck.

Ordering of food is such a delicate subject full of elephant traps and you can so easily get it wrong and upset the young lady you are dating. That is why I always take my dates to a fast food outlet where they can have a hamburger and French fries, or if she is a vegetarian she can have a fish cake in a bun or a salad sandwich. It is cheaper too than a proper restaurant and you can flamboyantly pick up the whole cost of the meal.

Ordering drinks on a first date can also be tricky. These days there are so many different cocktails with confusing names that you can easily order the wrong thing without meaning to. And then there's the wine list with just as confusing names like Chateau Expensive or Chateau Exorbitant; which to be honest all taste exactly the same and the only difference is the label on the bottle and the price thereof. That's why I always go to a fast food outlet where the milk shake, or the fizzy drinks prices are reasonable. Be careful, however, not to drink too many fizzy drinks as you'll need to go to the bathroom during the meal  giving your date an opportunity to escape.

Finally, be a gentleman and after the date never let the young lady go home alone. That's why I always go on first dates with a bicycle meant for two.

Hence the song:

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I’m half crazy over the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage
But you’ll look sweet
Upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Recorded for posteriority


You know … if you drive non-stop for 23 hours and 55 minutes you’ll be 5 minutes from Tulsa!

Anyway … as I was about to tell you before I interrupted myself, what an eventful day today has been.

I started the morning by visiting my doctor.

The poor man was not well and I thought it’s kind to visit the sick.

As soon as I entered the doctor’s surgery he asked me to lie down on the couch. I asked him why and he said: “I want to vacuum clean just where you’re standing!”

Then he looked at me and asked “Do you get severe headaches in the morning, followed by stomach pains and trembling of the knees?”

I replied “No … why?”

“Because I’ve been getting these symptoms for a week and I wondered if you knew what they were!

“Anyhow … what are you here for?” he continued.

I showed him my arm and said “I’ve hurt myself in three places …”

He replied, “Stop visiting these places!”

“And another thing doctor,” I went on, “when I drink tea I get this very sharp pain in my eye.”

“Take the spoon out of the cup before drinking!”

As I got off the couch the doctor asked me, “Tell me, do you have a horse?”

“No I don’t!”

“Pity,” he said, “I have some horse pills I got from a vet … you wouldn’t like to try them do you? You’ll soon be off at a gallop!

When I returned home I found the postman in my front garden.

“Is this letter yours,” he asked, “the surname’s obliterated.”

“My surname is Moubarak” I replied.

He gave me the letter. It was from a lawyer. I had been left two valuable items in Aunt Matilda’s last will and testament.

I took the items to an antiques dealer and he confirmed them as a genuine Stradivarius and a Rembrandt.

Unfortunately, Rembrandt was bad at making violins and Stradivarius was a terrible painter!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Great Expectations


Life isn't always as it seems. We might be going on with life as normal, or so we think, and then suddenly something unexpected happens.

Like for instance that day I went upstairs to visit the bathroom only to find out I live in a bungalow.

That really threw me that did. And then there's the time when my neighbour and I went to an antique auction. Let me explain. We have this program on TV over here where they invite you to go somewhere locally, like a stately home, museum, or such like with your old possessions and they value them for you by experts and then, if you agree, they auction them for you.

We had one of those events locally and my neighbour, who is 85 years old, wanted to go and show them a collection of old dentures which had been bequeathed to him by his grand-father who used to be a dentist. As my neighbour could not drive, I took him to the stately home and subsequent auction. What I did not expect is that the dentures did not sell; but they sold my neighbour for £10.

And that's what I mean by a totally unexpected turn of events.

Like the time I bet on a horse that did not even exist. Let me tell you straight-away that I do not bet. Never have, except this once. A friend of mine took me to the races and suggested I put a small bet on a horse just for fun. I did not know how to do it. He said, "Just go to the betting window over there. Tell the man what horse you think will win, and give him a £1. A small bet just for fun."

I went to the window and the man there told me my horse does not exist. To be fair, he asked, "Name?" I told him, "Vic Moubarak." He replied, "There is no such horse racing here today!"

I looked at him in a dumbfounded way and asked, "Why would anyone name a horse after me?"

He said, "Who?"

I replied, "The people who own, or race the horse!"

He searched through his booking papers and said, "I have looked everywhere. There definitely is not a horse called Vic Moubarak."

I said, "I didn't expect there to be. This is my name."

He told me to step away from the window or else he will call security. And that was an unexpected turn of events. What are the chances do you think that there is no racing horse bearing my name, yet that betting man thought there was, because he searched for it in his books. I can't understand why he thought someone would name a horse after me. It's not as if I am famous or anything like that.

I also remember another unexpected thing that happened to me some years ago. We were on holiday at a sea side resort and we went out on a tourist boat out to sea to swim with dolphins. As soon as I got into the water all the dolphins swam away. They said, "We don't want to swim with him!" and left. Now you wouldn't expect that in a "swim with dolphins" tour, would you? I should have taken the cheaper tour and swam with sardines instead.

But I tell you folks, the most unexpected thing that ever happened to me. And only recently too. It is fashionable these days that instead of moving home to a new larger house, people tend to expand or extend their present homes instead. It is cheaper building an extension than having to move to a bigger house, pay removal expenses, lawyers' fees and government taxes, estate agents costs and so on. And even in the new house, there will always be things you need to do, like decorations, new carpets and so on which will cost money. Better to extend the house you live in.

So I called an architect and explained that we needed some extra room and asked him to design something that will look nice, modern and fit with the local environment.

He suggested we put a couple of motor homes on top of the roof. We took off the wheels, welded the vehicles back to back to make one open space, and with a big crane we fixed them on top of the house, and hung a rope ladder at the back of the house so we could climb up there when we want to.

That architect explained that as an optional extra, for £53, we could have a helicopter landing pad on top of the motor homes. We did not go ahead with this because we thought it would be too ostentatious, and anyway, we do not have a helicopter.

So we got an instant expansion of our present house with two motor homes on the roof.  An unexpected outcome and a tourist attraction also, I gather!!!

Have you had anything unexpected in your life?

How about clicking HERE for some.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Ancient Romans


THE ANCIENT ROMANS 

History can be a dull subject to learn and teach depending of course on who’s doing the learning and the teaching.

As a child I once talked in class and the teacher threw a piece of chalk at me. He then said: That’ll teach you to talk in class!

And as it happened a long time ago it is history; so I learnt then a history lesson which I remembered to this day.

If you pay attention; you’ll learn a bit more history in the next few minutes or so.

Let’s go back to Roman times. When men were tough and strong and women told them what to do. Women always had the ability to make men obey their wishes by hiding the remote control even then. But I digress.

In ancient Roman times there were a lot of sculptures of Roman emperors and famous people; these were usually sculptures of their heads and busts and faces, although you could also get sculptures of the whole person if you were rich enough to have one done.

The history behind all these sculptures is quite fascinating I must say.

You see, in Roman times there were a number of check-points by the Roman guards along the Appian Way. That’s the strategic main road connecting Rome to Brindisi and Apulia. The road was named after the Roman censor Appius Claudius Caecus.

He it was who held a census in the year something or other AD, and having discovered that most Romans did not like broccoli was frightened out of his census.

Anyway, the Roman Centurion guards along the Appian Way always stopped all chariots and checked that the drivers had a driving license.

Unfortunately, as cameras had not been invented at the time, all owners of chariots, such as emperors, senators and the like, carried a sculpture of their heads or faces with them as a form of Roman Identity Card.

That’s why there are only Roman sculptures of famous people and not the peasants and plebs.

As I said, some Romans were rich enough to carry a sculpture of their whole body with them in their chariots rather than just the head or face. Unfortunately the statues were so heavy that they often broke the chariots and fell to the ground.

This happened to a Roman lady called Venus whose statue fell off the chariot and the arms got broken. Historians have still to work out why she was not wearing any clothes when her sculpture was made; and exactly where her arms were when she posed for the stonemason.

When asked by Venus’ angry husband whether she had posed in the nude for him, the stonemason tried to deny it and said that he did the statue from memory. This didn't help his case and the husband punched him on the nose.

History also teaches us that ancient Romans collected urine. By that I don’t mean that they resisted going to the toilet and walked around cross-legged. I also don’t mean that they collected it like you or I would collect stamps, or books or whatever else people collect as a hobby.

No … they collected urine in large tubs left around in the street. People would walk by and when nature called they deposited their half-pint in the tub – there in public!!!

The collected deposits were then used in washing all those white togas. Apparently the ammonia in the urine acted like a bleaching agent and turned the togas extra clean and white.

And when all the senators met and debated in the senate and some jeered at one of them making a controversial speech by shouting “You stink!” – they meant it quite literally as well as referring to his speech.

And whilst we're on this subject ... what subject? 

Keep quiet and pay attention!

I want to mention another person born in Italy who was a famous Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, astronomer and all round big head know-it-all.

His name was Archimedes and although he was a Greek he was born in Syracuse in Southern Italy. No doubt his mother was on vacation there at the time; but the least said about it the better!

Anyway, one day this Archimedes fellow was asked by King Hiero II to find out whether a crown he had made was pure gold or whether it contained silver; which is cheaper.

Archimedes thought hard about this problem, especially since he was not allowed to break or damage the crown in any way. 

One night as he got home tired he decided to have a bath. Now in those days they didn't have baths like we do today with running water and drainage. All they had was a metal tub which they placed in the middle of the living room and sat in it washing themselves and watching TV.

As TV had not yet been invented they normally put a statue in the corner of the room and watched that instead. 

Anyway, as Archimedes entered his house pondering about the crown dilemma he discovered the tub there in the living room with water already in it. He was so tired that he gladly took off his clothes and jumped in the water thus displacing some of the volume therein.

Unbeknown to Archimedes, his wife had filled the tub with sea water and put a few crabs there to keep them fresh until lunch.

Archimedes jumped out of the tub and ran in the street naked shouting "Eureka" which in Greek means "I've found it". However, he also added a few other choice words in his native language which loosely translated mean "Who is the **** who put crabs in my bath? My manhood will never be the same again!"

Later on, as he calmed down a little and nearly got arrested for indecent exposure, he realised that as a body, (his and the crabs), is placed in a tub of water it/they displace an equal amount of water as the volume of said bodies. That didn't mean much to him; so he Googled his crown problem and solved the mystery of how to ascertain whether it was pure gold or not. He could of course have checked for any Hallmarks as we do now and save himself all the trouble of an encounter with a dozen crabs.

This concludes our history lesson for now. I hope you’ll remember what you’ve learnt here today. 

More funny stories HERE

Monday, 13 November 2017

Earthly Science - Facts you should know.

Today's lesson is about the most important planet in the universe - the earth.

Just think about it. Why is the earth the most important planet in the universe? Simple. If there were no earth we would all be flying through space and bumping into each other. This would make dating very difficult, as well as meeting a partner in life, and having children. All you would have is a lot of people floating through space and no sooner you meet someone you might like that person would have flown away bumping their head into someone else.

With the existence of the earth we can all have our feet firmly planted on terra firma, (or is it terra cotta?) and feel safe once more. The presence of the earth is like having a tree in your garden. It is comforting. Imagine placing a ladder against a tree and climbing to the top. If the tree was not there then you would be climbing up the ladder and finding nothing.

Years ago, people wondered how big the earth really is. They saw the moon at night and deduced that it was smaller than the earth. They believed that the moon was no larger than a few feet in diameter and had completely not taken into account that distance made it look small. On the same principle they believed that the stars were no bigger than a couple of millimetres in diameter.

So these ancient people decided to measure the earth. They quite rightly deduced that the largest part of the earth would be in the equator; because they had noticed that as some people get a little (or much) overweight, usually the area that is the largest is around the middle - near the belly button. So they bought a very long measuring tape and started measuring the earth, at the equator, six metres at a time. This task took too long, putting the tape on the ground, measuring its length, marking the spot, moving the tape over and measuring once again, and adding it all up. Unfortunately, this task was never completed because they reached the sea and many of the people measuring the earth drowned in the process.

It wasn't until many years later, at the time of Galileo in Italy, that a pizza salesman discovered that the earth's circumference, at its largest point around the equator, is just under 25,000 miles. Apparently he had read it in a book somewhere.

Now that fact is important - remember it. Around the equator, the earth's circumference is just under 25,000 miles - let's call it 24,000 miles.

Since we know that the earth goes round a whole revolution, from left to right, in one day, then it is right to assume that if I stood at the equator facing East, I would be travelling at 1000 miles and hour: 24,000 miles divided by 24 hours = 1,000 miles an hour. In fact, it is faster than that because as we said earlier, the circumference is just under 25,000 miles.

At that speed my wig would fly off. As I do not wear a wig, then my hat would fly off. And any lady standing there wearing a dress or skirt would have her own Marilyn Monroe moment.

And if I stood at the North pole, right at the top of the world, I would spin round ever so slowly and get back to the original point where I started in 24 hours - and I'd be very tired standing all this time without a toilet break.

However, if I stood at the South pole, right at the bottom of the world, all the blood would rush to my head because I would be upside down.

And if I were in Australia I would always celebrate the New Year first and all the fireworks seen on TV would show that country before all others.

Hence the saying: Do not worry about tomorrow. Because tomorrow has already happened in Australia.

And the saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. And if you want to keep everyone away try garlic.

More lessons for your education and edification and without obfuscation here soon.
 
Make sure you return otherwise we will start without you.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Let's talk sense


In Catholic churches we have incense burning at certain Masses - e.g. Christmas, Easter and special occasions. It's nice I suppose and reminds me of ancient traditions when people burnt incense in churches and homes. The wise men, as we know, brought incense to baby Jesus as a gift. Burning incense traditionally was part of worship. The smoke going up to Heaven no doubt took up our prayers with them.

Does your church burn incense during services?

Do you burn incense at home?

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Nun on the run

It was Friday evening and Father Ignatius was alone in the Parish House listening to his favourite classical music. He sat in his armchair by the fire, eyes closed, and with his hand slowly moving his index finger in the air as if holding a baton and conducting an orchestra. Just as the music reached his favourite piece of Verdi’s Aida … The Triumphal March … just then, the front doorbell rang and interrupted his grand moment of triumph.

He jumped off his chair, switched off the record player and said sotto voce, “OK … hold it there all of you … we’ll return to this piece presently …”

He opened the door to be confronted by Sister Martha.

“I’m not interrupting anything?” she asked.

“Oh … only Giuseppe Verdi …” he replied.

“Yes … I’ve heard him through the open window … he’s getting better under your leadership … mind if I come in?”

He moved aside and let her in.

“Would you like tea or coffee …” she said as she made her way towards the kitchen.

“Tea please,” replied the priest as he walked back to the living room.

Sister Martha was in her late sixties yet she was as youthful and energetic as anyone half her age. She lived at the Convent nearby with a dozen other nuns, and she taught at the local Catholic schools. She often called in on the priests at St Vincent for a chat and a cup of tea on her way home, especially on Fridays when she stayed a little late at the school.

Moments later she entered the living room carrying a tray of tea and ginger biscuits; the priest’s favorite, as she knew very well.

“Ah … I didn’t know we had ginger biscuits,” said Father Ignatius, “I didn’t find them earlier on when I looked …”

“Mrs Davenport has shown me where she hides them …” said Sister Martha pouring two cups of tea, “she told me if you’d find them you’ll finish the whole packet …”

A few minutes of silence later as they slowly sipped their tea Sister Martha was first to break the quiet.

“Ignatius … have you heard about Sister Cecilia?” she asked.

“No … I can’t say I have …” he replied, “what’s the problem …”

“I am not breaking any confidences Ignatius … she asked me to speak to you … she’s already spoken to Mother Superior today …”

“Sounds ominous …” said the priest putting his cup down.

“Well … she works at the hospital as you know … she’s a nursing assistant there … well, not to put too fine a point on it … she’s fallen in love with a young doctor there …

“She told me she doesn’t know how it happened …” continued Sister Martha, “they got attracted to each other and she feels she can no longer continue her vocation …”

“You say she spoke to Mother Superior?” asked Father Ignatius.

“Yes … today. She told her she’d been thinking about this for about a month or so … she wishes it didn’t happen but it has … she wants to leave the convent and pursue a new life with him …

“She told me that Mother Superior was very understanding and suggested that she leaves the Convent for another one down South to give her time to think …

“But Sister Cecilia doesn’t think it will help … she wants to leave her vocation altogether.”

“I see …” said the priest calmly, “and you say Cecilia asked you to speak to me …”

“Yes … she wanted your advice …”

Father Ignatius smiled weakly.

“The poor soul …” he mumbled, “what advice can I give her Martha?” he asked rhetorically.

“When we decide to take up our vocation to serve the Lord,” he continued, “we do so after a lot of soul-searching, a lot of prayers, and a lot of training. It takes years as you know Martha … this is perhaps deliberate to give us a chance to think seriously on what we’re doing and the commitment we’re undertaking …

“Yet … despite all that … it does sometimes happen as in this case, that individuals can no longer continue their vocations and wish to leave. It happened some years ago to a priest I knew well … he has left the church and is now married with a family of his own …”

“It’s terrible …” Sister Martha said quietly.

“I suppose it is …” he replied, “as a Church we frown when people break their marital vows and divorce or separate … and I suspect this is no different …

“When a priest or nun break their vows and no longer wish to continue their vocations … it is perhaps the same as couples seeking divorce …

“Yet Martha … whilst I understand what people like Cecilia or that priest I spoke of are going through … I cannot condemn them …”

The nun looked up at him with a frown.

“I cannot condemn them, Martha …” he repeated, “I agree that it is wrong to break the vows they made freely … but at the same time … who am I to stand in the way of true and genuine love … if that is what’s happened in this case. I know it was exactly what happened in the case of that priest … I knew him very well.

“He fell in love with a teacher … he shouldn’t have … but he did … He wanted to leave the Church … just like Cecilia … He confessed to me … it was heart breaking … he told me he could not go on serving as a priest.”

“What did you do?” asked Sister Martha.

“I forgave him of course …” replied Father Ignatius, “how could I possibly withhold absolution … He was repentant and he knew that he could no longer serve as a priest … even if he gave up his lover and was moved to another Parish … He knew that he would not be a good priest and that deep in his heart he’d be a fraud … He’d be serving against his will and would be cheating the Church as well as God Himself …

“Yes …” said Father Ignatius thinking back to that event in the distant past, “I forgave him and absolved him …

“When we forgive someone else, we touch his very soul with the merciful love of Jesus Christ our Lord. How could I stand in the way of such love?

“Eventually … the bishop let him go … and as I said, he’s now married with a family.”

“What do you want me to say to Cecilia?” asked Sister Martha.

“Tell her that I’ll be praying for her …” he replied, “tell her to think about what Mother Superior advised … and that I’ll be always available if she wishes to have a talk with me … How old is she?” he asked.

“Thirty … last month!”

“She’s young and no doubt very frightened …” said Father Ignatius calmly, “I believe that whatever we do … our role is not to condemn but to forgive … She is doing what she feels is right for her life …

“Our Lord forgave many sins when He walked this earth … who am I to stand in the way of true repentance?”

MORE FATHER IGNATIUS STORIES FREE FROM HERE

Monday, 6 November 2017

How Time Was Invented


Have you ever wondered how we first learnt to measure time?

Here's a quick lesson you'll never forget.

Many years ago at the time of the Romans there was an Italian called Role. He was the tenth son of a tenth generation of men called Role - in fact he was known as Role the Tenth. Which in Roman times was written Role X.

Anyway Role X, and everyone else for that matter, noticed that it was sometimes daylight and sometimes night. "But how do we measure such a recurring occurrence to see how long is daytime compared to night time." thought Role X.

So he asked the opinion of his friend Galileo who at the time was looking up at the sky and wondering why the sun was always in different locations.

This is not the Galileo physicist, mathematician, astronomer and philosopher who lived between 1564 and 1642 - but most probably an earlier ancestor of his; which shows that the Galileo family were very clever for generations. But I digress. 

Anyway, after a short discussion with Galileo, Role X planted a big candle which he had borrowed from his local church right in the middle of his garden. (The candle was in the middle of the garden - not the church. Just pay attention).

He measured the candle carefully. He waited until the sun was right above the candle, (i.e. no shadow), and he lit the large candle and left it lit until the following day when the candle had no shadow again. He then blew the candle out and measured the bit that was left. From this he deduced how much candle had burnt over the period it was lit.

He then got another candle with exactly the same dimensions and marked with his pen 24 equal segments from top to bottom. That's the candle's bottom not his bottom! Are you really paying attention?

He called each segment "hours". He quite rightly thought that if he lit the new candle at the same time as the previous day, (i.e. no shadow), he will call that MIDDAY and then every segment as it burnt down would be an HOUR, until the following day when there will be no more segments on the candle; and when there was no shadow (i.e. MIDDAY again).

Are you still paying attention? Good.

Role X decided he'd call the 24 segments one DAY.

He lit the candle and waited. But the experiment did not work because it was windy that night and the candle blew out.

He prepared a third candle which this time he kept indoors. That did not work either because the sun did not cast a shadow indoors.

So in total desperation, Role X bought himself a watch and solved all his problems about time.

Well ... I did promise you a quick lesson you'll never forget. Go buy yourself a watch and forget about lighting candles in the wind.

THERE WILL BE MORE HISTORY AND SCIENCE LESSONS HERE SOON

SO MAKE SURE YOU RETURN AND LEARN SOMETHING YOU DID NOT KNOW

THEN IMPRESS OR CONFUSE YOUR FRIENDS WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE

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