I have just re-read what I said last year to make sure that what I say now is consistent with previous stories. After all, if I am to make up stories to entertain you I should ensure that at least they have an element of credibility with what was said previously.
We also have a rabbit, a cat and a dog as well as a number of fishes in the pond in the garden. We decided a long time ago that the garden is the best place to have a pond, because if we had it in the living room we might fall in it every time we got up to switch on the TV, or change channels. This decision was made pre-remote control era. See ... consistency in my stories.
Anyway, to continue ... 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 reaching 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, I tell you; but you should see his tail wagging left and right as his tiny tongue attempts to kiss me. I guess it's his way to show 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.
Also, 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 and I; and lives up to his name perfectly. 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 this behaviour in Gonzales 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 similar uncharacteristic behaviour?
I had a neighbour once who liked to imitate birds. She ate worms. But that's another story!
Thursday, 31 March 2016
Wednesday, 30 March 2016
“Father, is it possible that God stops loving us?” Roger asked Father Ignatius.
The priest stopped what he was doing and asked, “What brought this on? It’s rather a strange question to ask.”
“Well Father,” continued Roger, “We’re told that God loves all of us. But is it possible that sometimes He turns His attention to someone else, and we’re not in His good books, or in His priorities anymore?”
“Feeling neglected are we … is that the problem?”
“No Father … it’s that … I don’t know … I seem to be down in the valley at this moment in time. Sometimes I’m right up there and I feel great and all is well … and then at times I feel really down and things aren’t going so well …”
“Aha … I see …” exclaimed the priest, “remember, that in order to be up there, as you put it, we must start from a low point.
“There are times when our Faith is really strong and we feel at one with God … and then at times, we begin to wobble and wonder and doubt …
“It’s usually when things aren’t going so well in our lives. Is that what is happening to you?”
Roger hesitated. “Perhaps … yes, I feel a bit fearful about life in general … will I still have my job this time next year, with the financial situation being what it is? How will I cope at my age? Would I get another job … you know the sort of worries we all have …”
Father Ignatius remained silent for a while, allowing Roger to think about what he had just said. Then he asked:
“I was reading Luke Chapter 24 Verse 13 onwards this morning. Do you know what it is about?”
Roger shook his head.
“It’s an unfair question I suppose … to expect you to know chapter and verse by heart … not even a priest can do that!” exclaimed Father Ignatius.
“Just after Christ’s Resurrection, two of His followers were going to Emmaus,” said Father Ignatius.
“They were totally distraught about Jesus’ death, and even though they had heard news that His tomb is empty and that Christ is alive, they were still down-hearted and confused.
“Jesus appeared to them on the way. They did not recognize Him. They spoke with Him and told Him their news. They said that their Lord and leader had been crucified, and there were rumors going around that He was raised from the dead and He was alive again.
“Jesus did not tell them who He was but explained to them the prophets’ predictions about Him. He walked with them all the way to Emmaus, but still they did not recognize Him. It wasn’t until He broke and blessed the bread that they recognized Him.”
The priest paused again for a while; and then he went on.
“Why? I ask myself.
“Why did they not recognize Him when they first saw Him, or when He took the time to explain to them the writings of the prophets?
“Could it be that their minds were more pre-occupied with their own problems and their dilemma rather than listening to Him?
“You can just imagine how their mind worked and how concerned they were about their predicament.
“Their leader is dead. What are they to do now? Is it all over? Every thing He said and taught comes to nothing? And what of the future? What are His followers to do now?
“Can you see how their mind was working Roger?”
“Yes … I suppose they were frightened about their future,” said Roger.
“Just like you …” said Father Ignatius with a gentle smile.
“We are all just the same as those two disciples at times …
“Sudden events may affect our lives and turn it upside down. Events perhaps of our own making sometimes … or events that we did not contribute to, but they affect us all the same.
“And we panic. We fear the future, we fear matters getting out of our control and we turn our attention to our problems and our dilemma. Just like those two on the way to Emmaus.
“And from being on a high up there with our Lord, we’re suddenly plunged into the valley you find yourself in right now.
“Yet, all the time we are panicking Jesus is there, walking right beside us. Quite literally! He is waiting for us to recognize Him, to trust Him, and hold His hand in the full knowledge that He will see us through our darkest hour.
“It is our doubts, our fears and our worries which prevent us from seeing Him.”
Monday, 28 March 2016
There are times when a light turns on in your head and you see something clearly for the first time and you understand something new you’d never realized before.
Father Ignatius was a studious type of person spending many hours reading the Bible as well as many books on theology, ancient history and similar subjects which would soon send any lesser head spinning wildly.
One evening he retired to the room he called “my meditation corner” and after reciting the Rosary he started reading the Bible and cross-referencing certain passages with other books to better understand what God is teaching through His Word.
One passage in particular caught his interest. After Christ’s death and burial, we are told that Mary Magdalene visited the tomb and found the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple and told them what she had seen. Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb. When Simon Peter got in and went inside he noticed the linen wrappings lying there, but the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side.
There it was, in the Gospel of John Chapter 20 Verse 7.
Father Ignatius puzzled about this for a moment or two. He’d read that chapter many times and nothing specific occurred to him. But this time, as if a small voice buzzing in his head, he kept wondering the significance of what he had read.
“Why are we told that the cloth which covered Jesus’ head was folded and lying to the side? What’s so important about that?” Father Ignatius asked himself.
Yet somehow, John thought it important enough to mention it. Why?
Father Ignatius checked the other three Gospels but they did not mention this fact. “But why did John consider it so significant to point it out” he wondered silently.
After hours of searching other books and checking on ancient traditions he came upon something he’d never known before.
In ancient Hebrew tradition the folded napkin was symbolic between the master of the house and his servant.
When the servant set the dinner table he made sure that everything was perfectly set out as the master wished and then he would wait out of sight until the master finished eating.
The servant would not clear the table until the master had finished.
When the master finished his meal he would wipe his fingers and mouth with the napkin and then toss the napkin on the table.
The servant would then clear the table, because in those days a tossed napkin meant “I’ve finished.”
However … and this is the significant bit which Father Ignatius discovered for himself, if the master left the table but neatly folded the napkin and laid it beside his plate, the servant would not touch the table.
Because the folded napkin meant “I’m coming back!”
“He’s coming back …” mumbled Father Ignatius in wonderment.
That’s what John was trying to tell us in his Gospel.
Saturday, 26 March 2016
Tuesday, 22 March 2016
Sunday, 20 March 2016
A man dies and goes to Heaven where he is face to face with St Peter.
The keeper of the Pearly Gates taps his computer keyboard a few times and asks: “What’s your religion?”
The man eagerly replies “Catholic”; knowing full well that this is the one and only true Church which Jesus founded all those years ago. Jesus was after all Catholic Himself.
St Peter looks up and says “Catholic hein? Not another one!”
“Is that bad?” asks the man worryingly.
“It’s that we have quite a few Catholics in here,” continues the Saint, “and we get more trouble from them than any other religion.”
“How so?” gulps the man in a panic.
“Well … they think they know it all for a start. They’re so judgmental too. And they argue so much … There’s a chap we’ve put in a room by himself and he still argues when he looks at a mirror. Something about Latin being the only true Catholic language …
“Do you know … some of them believe they’re the only ones here! We’ve put all the Catholics in one corner of Heaven and told everyone else to keep very quiet when they walk by there so as not to confound their belief.”
“Is that where I’ll go … if I’m accepted in Heaven?” asks the man with some hope in his voice.
“Well …” replies the Saint, “your credentials are in order. We can let you have access to the whole of Heaven where you can meet everyone else; as long as you don’t go around saying that Catholic is best!”
“Agreed … I promise!” says the man with a smile.
“Oh … and one more thing,” continues St Peter, “always carry a tin of sardines in your pocket. In case you come across another Catholic who insists on eating fish on Fridays!!!”
And the moral of this story is: Do we as Catholics set a good example for others to emulate?
SIMILAR STORIES TO THE ONE ABOVE HERE
Thursday, 17 March 2016
Now sardines are not as clever as dolphins. Why else would they get into a tin and leave the key on the outside?
Every other canned fish you buy, tuna, salmon, pilchard and so on, you have to open with a can opener. But sardines ... they have a key on the outside. Why?
Unless of course you buy those tins with a ring pull. Again, on the outside ... so the sardines can't pull the ring and get out.
Anchovies thought they'd be clever by being so salty that no one would eat them. They were wrong. They've now become a delicacy much sought after and more fished than before.
And now about the original question ...
The symbol of a fish was found on ancient Christian monuments and buildings. It represents Christ.
The Greek word for "fish" is ICHTHUS.
If we take the letters of that word they provide the first letters of other Greek words.
Iesous Christos Theou Uios Soter
Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour
So the symbol of the fish suggests all this to a Christian. It may well have been a secret sign used by early Christians to identify each other.
Monday, 14 March 2016
What I'm referring to is attributing to animals human personalities and talking to them as if they understand our conversation and contribute to it even.
We have a dog, a cat and some goldfish in the pond; so I hasten to add that I do not talk to the goldfish. They are too dumb and would hardly understand anyway.
But I do talk to my dog and cat - but only when I want them to do something. For example I'd open the back door and say "Out" to the dog and he'd go out to do his business. Or say "Walkies" and he knows it is time for his exercise. I don't talk to the cat that often because he ignores me anyway. This kind of talking to animals is OK, of course. It is our way as humans to impart information or commands to animals.
But there are people who go much further and actually engage in conversation with their pets as if the animal is another human and understands and/or replies back.
Do you ever engage in a conversation with your pet?
Let's imagine this conversation between an old lady living alone and her pet dog.
Old Lady: You know Fido, it's been very cold today. That's why I didn't take you for a walk.
Fido: (Getting up from his bed) She called my name. I think it's time for a walk. (Waggles his tail).
OL: No Fido ... we're not going out. I said it's too cold outside.
Fido: (Barks and runs round in circles in anticipation). Hooray ... we're going out ... we're going out. She said so!
OL: Sit down you silly dog. You're lovely really, but sometimes you act silly.
Fido: (Sits and waggles his tail happily). Perhaps she's going to feed me. Is it dinner time yet? What time is it? I wish I could tell the time. I know I'm hungry.
OL: What a good boy you are, Fido. Who's a good boy? You are. Yes, you are! You're my lovely little darling, aren't you? Yes you are ... you are!
Fido: Come on hurry up you daft bat. Give me something to eat!
OL: Perhaps we'll go out for a walk tomorrow. We'll go to the park and you'll meet that pretty lady dog! You like her don't you? Yes you do ... you do!
Fido: I'm getting fed up with this. Are you going to feed me or not?
OL: You're such a good companion Fido I could just kiss you right now. Yes I could ...
Fido: After I've licked my privates perhaps ... since you can't be bothered to feed me.
OL: Oh don't do that Fido. It's so uncouth. Here ... have a biscuit.
Fido: It seems to work every time. Whenever I start cleaning myself she gives me a biscuit. She's a glutton for cleanliness.
OL: OK ... that's enough biscuits for now. Go to bed and I'll make myself a cup of tea.
Fido: I want to go out now ... I'm dying for a pee.
OL: Oh stop jumping again ... I told you we can't go walkies today. It's too cold. Maybe tomorrow.
Fido: Open the door you old fool. I'm bursting here.
OL: I said stop jumping, Fido. Go to bed!
Fido: Open the back door and let me out in the garden you demented dumb ass. Or I'll do it all over your leg!
OL: Since you're being such a bad boy I'd better throw you out for a minute or so to cool off!
Fido: At last ... I could hold it no longer. Pity humans are too stupid and dim-witted to be trained to understand us pets.
Saturday, 12 March 2016
So ... we blog and blog and blog. What for?
Is it to feed our egos? To proudly be out there on the Internet and read by everyone far and wide? Or is it to count how many people visit our sites and how many comments we receive; or how many "likes", (I nearly wrote licks!), or +1s we get on our Facebook and Google accounts?
I'll have you know that this blog constantly gets a number of hits in the double figures every month; if you consider that the first digit on the counter is always 0.
So ... why do I then spend so much time on the computer Blogging away day after day and night after night?
I think that as Christians, we all have a duty to do so if we possible can. It is our way of evangelising, to spread the Good News we believe in, to meet other Christians, to encourage each other, to discuss various view points, and most important, to pray for each other.
As some of you may know, I pray for everyone who comments on this Blog. I also pray for those who visit here without commenting, but have to be less specific and hope that God knows who they are.
So, in order to encourage prayers for each other may I direct you to DONATE A PRAYER - HERE.
Thursday, 10 March 2016
I got out a few days ago and found a whale in our back garden. Yes, a whale. There it was swimming amongst the goldfish in the pond at the back of the garden.
I don't know how it got there but there it was. I could not believe my eyes. Let me explain that it was the size of a very large dog, so it was not a fully grown up blue whale as you may have thought. But all the same, a whale the size of two Alsatian sheep dogs suddenly appearing in one's pond is quite something; I tell you. Maybe it had been dropped by a passing sea gull which picked it up from the sea. Although, judging from its size it must have been a very strong sea gull; unless it was a whole flock of them.
Anyway, there it was in my garden and I had to get rid of it. I did not have enough plankton in the fridge with which to feed it. And I was afraid that if it died of hunger I would not be able to flush it down the toilet because of its size.
So I called the authorities to come and help. The Pest Control Department would not believe that I had a whale in my garden. They told me a whale is not a pest so they could not come out to help. I asked them if they could bring someone with a net to take the fish back to see. They transfered my phone call to Annette in the Wales Department.
Annette was very kind and explained that she was from the Wales Department, the country; not Whales the fish department. She said there was not fish department at our Local Authority.
Eventually, I got someone from the Local Authority to come out and investigate. He confirmed it was a whale and suggested we entice it out by playing whale songs. He brought a CD player from his van and played a whales' songs CD.
"Oooohh Ooooohh" went the CD. You know how whale songs sound, dont you? "Oooooh Ooooooh". Long and soft sounds like someone exhaling with laryngitis.
And the whale in our pond responded "Oooooh Oooooh" back but did not budge from the pond.
For at least an hour we had this duet playing "Ooooh Ooooh" to each other.
All the neighbours came round to look at what was going on.
The guy from the Local Authority called in a helicopter with a view to lifting the whale up in a net and then taking it out to sea. That's a net made of ropes tied together and not Annette from the Wales Department - Wales the country not whales the fish.
The noise of the helicopter stopped the whale singing and it tried to hide behind the pond flowers and plants.
The man from the Local Authority then changed the CD and played "Nessun Dorma" very loud.
And that's when I woke up with a start because the radio/clock alarm had gone off.
Monday, 7 March 2016
Friday, 4 March 2016
Father Ignatius came out of the Sacristy after Mass and found Sharon still in church with her little three years old daughter Petra. They were standing by the Statue of Our Lady trying to light a candle.
“Are you still here Sharon?” he asked, “how are you these days?”
He must have touched a raw nerve because tears started building up in Sharon’s eyes as she said, “We’re well Father … doing as best we can …”
Father Ignatius sat on the first pew and little Petra left her mother and came running to him, handing him her toy bear.
“That’s a lovely bear” said the priest taking it from her hands, “what is his name?”
“John …” said Petra enthusiastically as she climbed on the pew and sat next to the priest. “John, you and me can now pray together …” she added, as her mother a few feet away knelt down by the statue for private prayers.
Sharon was a single mother. Her husband left her for another woman just after Petra’s birth and has not been seen since. Eventually, having no news whatsoever of her run-away husband, she divorced him in the civil court and brought up her little child as best as she could on Social Security Benefits.
After a few moments of silent prayers she joined the priest and picked up her daughter on her lap.
“I’ve been trying to get a part-time job …” she said, “nothing much, just a few hours a week to supplement my benefits and to become a little independent …”
“That’s good …” replied Father Ignatius gently.
“There’s just no work available …” she said, “I can’t go full-time because I have no one to look after Petra … and part-time work is either not available or is too far from home requiring two bus rides to get there …”
Father Ignatius said nothing as he prayed silently and handed the toy back to the child.
“I feel such a failure …” continued Sharon, “my life seems to be in a rut and stuck in failure … I’ve been rejected by my husband … rejected by my family who live too far away to care … and rejected by every employer in town and society in general …”
At this moment, almost by coincidence, the little girl on her lap said, “I love you Mama …”
“Well … you’ve certainly not been rejected by Petra …” said Father Ignatius quietly as Sharon kissed the child on the head.
“And I know you haven’t been rejected by Jesus either …” he continued.
Sharon smiled weakly.
“Rejection is very hard …” said the priest, “and we do sometimes feel as if we’re of no value or worth to others. But that is not always the case Sharon.
“We’re all valuable in the eyes of God, and we all have a contribution to make … you are very valuable to your little daughter who relies on you for everything.
“It’s good that you’re trying to find a job; and I feel deeply for you at what you see as rejection from employers.
“Rejection does not mean failure.
“Sometimes rejection provides you with clarity on where to go next. You say you’ve tried the local factories, and the electric company and the gas works for some clerical work …
“Perhaps your future does not lie there … I can’t say where just now … but maybe God is leading you somewhere else.
“For now it could be that you’re exactly in the right place where you’re supposed to be … and God wants you to spend your time looking after Petra.
“Sometimes He answers us by saying ‘Wait … not now … stay where you are and trust Me’; … do you see what I mean?”
“I understand …” Sharon replied smiling weakly again.
“I shall pray for you Sharon …” continued Father Ignatius.
“And now … would you mind doing me a favor please?”
“Yes Father …” she said.
“I’m having some trouble with the new speakers and microphone they installed in church recently. I wish to test the acoustics in here.
“Would you mind going to the lectern and read something from the Bible over there. Take Petra with you.”
Sharon walked to the lectern child in hand.
“Just read anything … I’ll stand over here” said the priest.
Sharon opened the Bible and read the first passage at the top of the page.
“That’s good …” said the priest, “wait a bit until I walk over there a little further back … now read again …”
She followed his instructions.
“The speakers here sound OK … I’ll go right back by the statue of St Peter … when I get there could you read again please.”
Sharon waited until Father Ignatius walked slowly to the end of the church by the exit door and then started reading the Bible.
He raised his hand in the air to stop her then walked slowly to the front once again.
“As clear as a bell …” he said, “I can hear your every word very clearly despite my old age … and if I can hear you, I’m sure everyone else can.”
“Sharon … we do need readers for Mass on Sunday. It’s really not fair to rely on just the same readers every week. You should really consider adding your name to the readers’ rota to help us out a bit.”
“But … I can’t read …” she exclaimed as she picked up her daughter tugging at her dress.
“You seem to have done OK just now … just think about it,” replied Father Ignatius, “you don’t have to decide right now …”
Sharon did think about it; and eventually she did join the readers list and did read on Sundays at Mass.
A few months later she also managed to get a junior clerical job working part-time at the local Catholic school leaving her child at the pre-school playgroup while she worked.