Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Category: spirtual serious

COMING IN


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/companion/”>Companion</a&gt;

it’s a lovely feeling telling your companions the truth.

COMING IN

I am sorry if I had to keep you all in any suspense for this confession. Please don’t get too up tense or hate me because I have told the truth about myself at last, admitting the actions of my unsuspected past. Mentally tormented, I cannot live another day without telling every one I know, in some way, about what I am and and feel and what I have been naturally forced not to do. Mostly I regret the unhappiness I may have brought on others by spurning relationships with my closest friends. Yet, you surely understand, I could not die without tying up these loose ends and letting my fans, my loved ones, my whole world hear all my admissions of my true self which are here unfurled.

I wonder, after this, how in the future I will be remembered by you all? Will my family be proud, saddened or just ashamed to read that I have said this of myself? Are there those amongst you who will think it worse simply because it is true? Will it be totally unacceptable to so many of you because I have refused to dilute my feelings, refused to lie? I have been told that in such matters political correctness forbids delay. Everybody must know everything and seem to have the right to know it immediately. That is the world in which we live today. So without more ado, this is what I must say, not knowing the price I may have to pay. My dearest friends, all of you I love. You now no longer have to wait. This is what I am. I am sorry if I offend any of you, I love you all too much to ever wish to do that.

“I am a Catholic Christian. I actually believe my prayers are heard and answered. I love all God’s creatures, especially sad sinners of whom God knows full well that I am one. But, above all, I love the fact that I am straight. I am proud of it.

AWE

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GBLTQandS


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/open/”>Open</a&gt;

an open letter to the intolerant

GBLTQandS

I feel I have to write what I really feel, believe and want everyone to accept about the whole modern approach to the sexual orientation question as it affects and applies to all of us today.

Firstly I want to look at the world from a purely biological point of view. It is now accepted that there is a group of people which can be identified as forming the GLBTQ community. More importantly it is acknowledged to be a minority grouping because more than half the world’s population would not admit to being part of it. But biologically it is incomplete, there is a letter missing. ‘S’. If you add this it includes all of us when those letters stand for: gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, queer and straight. So let’s add that S and see just what makes all the people under each heading different yet also the same as all the others. Watch. (Note all the = signs mean in a physical relationship, not mental, spiritual or social.)

G = a man who prefers sexually loving men. L= a woman who prefers sexually loving women. B = equals a man or woman who enjoys sex with both men and women. T= a man or woman who wants to, or already has, changed their gender because they feel they are biologically incorrectly gendered by birth. While preferring to be identified as their non-birth gender, they often still come under B for sexual enjoyment. Q = a person who actively seeks to flaunt their sexuality in order to seduce someone of their own sex. S = men and women who prefer to restrict their sexual love to a person who is of the opposite sex to themselves. But many in this category would have experimented with sexual relationships with people in the other divisions above but usually prefer someone of the opposite sex. Agreed? I hope so. The important thing about clarifying the biological aspect of the subject is that the vast majority of all people have a sexual drive of some sort, want to satisfy it and usually do in a wide variety of ways.

Ok, that is biology and it accounts for all of us and all our tastes in sexual relations. So why the fuss and the bad-mouthing of anybody for being a particular type of human being when it comes to how one wants to express one’s love and sexual attraction for another person? Well this is primarily a social question which can be divided into purely secular legal issues and religious teachings of right and wrong. Let’s look at the secular legal one first. In many countries now the law does not permit people to offend GLBTQ people purely on the grounds of their sexual orientation. Why not? If I tell a joke about a queer tranny, and it is really funny and is aimed only at being funny, how is it different to making a joke about a straight man’s mother-in-law? I have no idea, but I do know that minorities can have me arrested but majorities can’t. Daft. On the other hand I know offending people must stop somewhere.

I would be the first person to agree that openly bad-mouthing anybody for their sexuality is unpleasant, unkind, unnecessary and likely to provoke public disorder. It is simply not something anybody should do. But having a perfectly sensible discussion about how one feels on this subject, and saying that one does not like certain types of sexual orientation, is fine. In fact it is basically what I am doing here. But some idiots somewhere have decided to invent the word homophobia in order to make people who do not like homosexuality appear in some way in the wrong for saying so. Not only is that undemocratic, untrue and unnecessary, but more importantly it is completely inaccurate. A phobia is a fear not a dislike. The word homophobia is basically a neurotic anxiety condition describing people who have an irrational fear of a section of society. Well I do not like the idea of having any sort of sexual activity with a man, but it isn’t a fear. It is just my sexual preference. I have a lot of homosexual male and female friends and relations of whom I am very fond. It just stops there! Where we do have a problem, however, is when one set of people start telling others sets of people that, for religious reasons, being homosexual is wrong. And I mean wrong in the sense of sinful. That is rubbish and is not the teaching of any faith I have studied, and I have a doctorate in the history of world religions.

Where some faiths, and they are perfectly entitled to, condemn homosexual acts they do so on the grounds that the ACT is wrong, but the person can be forgiven. This is a very important distinction because it doesn’t leave anyone in the clear. In the Christian and Islamic faiths, for example, it is wrong to have sex outside holy wedlock. That’s all, that’s it. It is a sin for every GLBTQorS to have sexual activity with someone to whom they are not married. It doesn’t matter how you do it, who you do it with or anything else. Outside marriage it’s wrong. I know very few people in my world who manage to keep the right side of that blanket for the whole of their lives. Some, of course, but very few. It doesn’t make you a bad person, that depends on a whole host of other things, the main one is whether you are a basically good, kind, loving and caring human being. How you manage to stick to any other rules imposed by creeds which you might espouse is your affair. Just don’t point the finger at others on principle when you have no idea whether they are better or worse human beings than yourself. But I can’t leave this without touching on the really important social side of sexual acts. When do they become legally criminal?

I cannot excuse any sexual act that is not consensual, especially if it physically or mentally damages another person. Thus all rape, male and female, paedophilia, and seduction of those unable for any reason to fully understand what is going on, should be punishable by law and in most countries it is. The most difficult of those to decide sometimes concerns questions of the age of consent. For instance, is it wrong to pick up a thirteen year old call girl who looks seventeen? And is it really incest when two youngsters in the same family are just experimenting? Yes they shouldn’t, but it’s not a crime unless their parents let them. God what a world we live in.

Are you wondering what sparked all this off? No, of course you aren’t. That mass shooting in Orlando made a lot of us feel physically sick. But I felt more. I felt dreadfully sorry for the chap who did it! What sort of society did he live in that allowed him to be armed when law enforcement officers knew about him years earlier? He was mentally ill, all brain washed extremists are, and I personally included him in my prayers that night because I didn’t think anyone else would. You don’t send someone to hell because they’re bonkers.

AWE

PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/natural/”>Natural</a&gt;

explaining my natural contempt for psychiatrists

PHYSICIAN HEAL THYSELF

I was treated once by a psychiatrist who said

You’re doing nothing wrong by going to bed,

With someone for sex, when you’re not wed.

So throw all that unnatural guilt out your head.”

He said all natural feelings, except love of god,

Were normal and right and so I was a stupid sod

And thus mentally ill, for only trying to do right

And wasting my time saying prayers every night.

But he went even further, honestly, listen to this

He made the whole group give each other a kiss

Then share all their fears and acute mental pains

But banning talk of God, sex, or any fiscal gains.

Few of us took any notice of this, which backfired,

As he said he couldn’t cure any people who desired

To stay sunk in the depths of their natural depression

Which resulted, he said, from unnatural suppression.

I don’t know what they paid him to perpetuate my pain

And add lies to the confusion then torturing my brain,

But brain surgery, ECT, and alcohol he used on us a lot

So,when we committed suicide, he’d say,“see the sot

Took no notice of me and the medical advice I gave

He wouldn’t even give it a try or attempt to behave

Like a sensible natural person, doing exactly as he felt,

Instead of saying sorry for his sins as in prayer he knelt.”

AWE

 

PURGATORY


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/transformation/”>Transformation</a&gt;

                                                                 well it’s a type of transformation!

PURGATORY

My darling, how I should hate to miss my soul’s last flight on high,

 To be taken to heaven on angel wings when God’s paradise is nigh.

 Thus, when at length upon my deathbed, as some day I know I’ll lie,

I hope I shall be conscious, and well enough, to give him this reply

To his last important question, “Do you on my promises still rely?”

And finally say to him,“Yes my Lord,” in some loving way as I die.

However, should my God then say,“Come, enter my promised land!”

I will bring you with me, my darling love, and tightly hold your hand,

So I can explain this problem, while hoping in his mercy He’ll agree,

You too should enter paradise, my love, to be forever there with  me.

“My God, some say she is not worthy to enjoy your eternal love as well,

As she has questioned your existence, and so must now be sent to hell.

Well, I am sorry, my  Lord,  I can’t join you, if you cast my loved one out,

You see, I must stay to care for her, while she’s punished for her doubt.”

Oh how I hope, in time, my unselfish love will help my loving God to see

The reason I was forced to wait for him, and also ask him to wait for me.

It was so that he could, one day, embrace us both, always – for ever more

Rejoicing, eventually, with both of us, as he opened wide Heaven’s door.

But if I did all this in vain, and to hell’s purgatory you yet were consigned

I’d still descend there with you, my love, lest you should lose your mind.

 In that hell, my love, I’d still hold you close, to shield you from the flames

  Until God took pity on your soul, and to heaven’s roll added on our names.

So now you must see, my darling, that my burning love for you’s so strong,

I would happily endure any purgatory for you, however short – however long.

AWE

 

ONE BEACH, ONE HEAVENLY SHORE


ONE BEACH, ONE HEAVENLY SHORE

Asif felt the tiny make-shift raft bob up and down on the waters of the Aegean Sea. Land was in the distance, but far, far off. As far as he could see. Only his sister’s hand in his, as she slept, kept him in touch with any sort of reality. His mother and father had thrown them on their hastily assembled craft shouting “We love you. May Allah bring you safely to some foreign shore.”

Asif was only five years old and had lived all his days surrounded by angry shouting men, and ran rather than danced to the beat of guns. He knew he had to pray to Allah, but he had never been taught how. His kinsfolk had never had the time for luxuries like teaching between their daily forages for food in a land of mortar shells and flying stones. He looked at little Samia, a year younger than himself, and felt a glow of strength as he held her hand.

“Allah, whoever you are, wherever you are, don’t let my little sister die,” was all the little boy could ask and then, despite his new found valour, started to cry. A day and a night, a night and a day the little raft zig-zagged over the waves but Asif was sure the land was getting near. Samia had given him the few drops of water from the plastic bottle in her pocket and any crumbs that were left from their parents’ meagre pouch. Her big brown, sunken eyes looked pleadingly at her brother.

“Asif, I am hot and cold and hungry. Tell Allah for me, please.”  Once more the little boy begged his only source of hope to save them both, then brother and sister clung to each other all night for warmth. As daylight dawned on the third day they stared in amazement at the land ahead. A sandy beach was getting nearer every second. Their spirits rose as salvation seemed at hand. But a final hazard still delayed them. The wind got up and several yards short of sanctuary the raft at last gave out and sank. Samia could not swim but Asif made her cling to him, her arms round his neck as he made for the shallow waters from which he finally could walk to the beach. On land they both smiled and collapsed.

Father Francisco was taking his morning stroll along the sand before returning to say Mass as he did every morning on the tiny island with its hermit’s cell and altar. Other brothers would not visit him before lunchtime. Suddenly he blinked in disbelief, rubbed his eyes and stared again. He thought it was a mirage at first, a trick of the green sea light, but no, a little boy and girl lay on the beach. Blessing himself, thanking God and guessing their origin he thanked his Lord again  for teaching him some basic Arabic as well as Italian. He knelt and offered his hands to the little waifs.

Asif stared at this strange figure clad all in brown with a circle cut in his hair. He had but one thought in his head and, barely audibly, asked the hermit,

“Are you Allah? I asked you to help little Samia and me, and you did. Thank you Allah. Thank you.”

Tears streaming down his cheeks Father Francisco replied  in the little boy’s own tongue. “It was the will of Allah that you should be found, I am merely the person he chose to help Him. Come, I will find you some food.” As they walked towards his dwelling he  went on, “Children, there is only one God. He made us all. You call him Allah, I Christ, many people use many other names. But He does not mind. He is just happy that he has been able to show you how much he loves you by bringing you safely to this beach, this heavenly shore.”

AWE   

A SHADOW OF HIS FORMER SELF


the names changed but the facts kept.

A SHADOW OF HIS FORMER SELF

James was a shy little boy in many ways and for many reasons. He and his twin brother John had lived the first seven years of their lives always getting on well, laughing and playing but even so John thought his brother was often wistfully very sad.

“Hey, Jamie,” he asked him one day when they were seven and four months, “are you all right? You look fed up and frankly a bit frightened. I think mum and dad are starting to notice it too because they asked me the other day if you were being bullied. Are you?” Jamie took an enormous gulp, hung on tight to his twin’s hand and managed to say,

“Don’t be cross, Johnny. Please. I’ve got an awful problem that’s been getting worse and worse for over a year now. Please tell me what to do.”

“Well tell me the problem first,” John said in exasperation. There came another gulp.

“Very well, but you won’t like it. For ages now, Johnny, I’ve kept wanting to try on girls’ clothes. Whenever we go shopping I just look at them and wish they were for me. And I don’t like some of our rough boys games either.” John just stared at his twin. He had heard vague rumours, as one does at school at that age, that some children did not like the sex they were born with. However, he did not understand the subject at all. He was lost.

“But Jamie, how can you? What’s happened to you? Please try and tell me. I will help if I can.” His twin looked very relieved. “Well I’ve already put some of mum’s lipstick on. It felt great, Johnny. But I wiped it off at once in case anyone saw me. It’s the awful feeling I’ve got in my head, Johnny. It feels as though I’ll never be happy until I become a girl. I get so nervous about it too because it may be wrong. Then what will happen?”

John knew he had to do something, but what.”Shall I tell mum and dad that you are ill, would that help? You see you may be and then you really would have to explain your worries to people who can cure you. Dad told me once that people who get very worried always have to go to doctors. But they would understand if they thought you were very ill.”

That conversation was the start of an incredible nine months at the Smiths’ home. Peter and Esther had always been proud of their twin sons and had mapped out all sorts of fantastic plans for their futures. Peter was a successful tax accountant and his wife a leading member of the local SOS  group, an organisation that anonymously helped people in almost suicidal situations. She had already dealt with two such cases. She and her husband had several long talks with James, and Esther became really concerned that he had indeed got a serious anxiety neurosis about his gender and they agreed he should see a specialist in the field. Peter was frankly distraught at the thought of his son evincing such tendencies at the age of seven.

But worse was to come. First a health service specialist was appointed to supervise James’ case and became more and more certain that he should be allowed to cross dress if he wanted to. Peter said no, Esther said yes and the head master at their children’s prep school for mixed infants suggested that perhaps they could start by just letting James dress up at home but not in public. This only made the little boy more anxious and physically frustrated. So eventually, after Jamie had embarrassed his twin at school by telling his friends he dressed as a girl at home, the school relented and said he could change his sex and be legally registered as a girl at school. A special assembly, for the ten and eleven  years only, was arranged at which they were told of James’ illness. They were shown biological diagrams and were told gender change was normal. From the following week James would be coming to school dressed in a skirt and tights and would use his new legal name, Jennifer. How many children understood nobody knew, but they all promised not to bully ‘her’, as he would be, nor make fun of her.

Well, that day at school was called ‘skirt day’ and Jennifer was welcomed by everyone. She was over the moon. John had gradually got used to his brother’s serious mental illness, as the health service was legally obliged to categorise it until she was eighteen, and tried very hard to help her through the ordeal of their first ‘Jennifer’ day. The seven and eight year old girls in their year thought Jennifer was very brave and all wanted to play with her. Esther and Peter had arranged to be at home early to make sure everything had gone all right. Esther picked the twins up from school, and when they got home Jennifer could not help rushing upstairs to the study shouting, “Daddy! Daddy, it was great wearing a skirt at school today.” She dashed into the study, then stopped and looked at her father.

He was hanging from the ceiling light with a rope round his neck, swinging to and fro’, acccompanied by the shadow of his former self. 

AWE

DUMMY RUN


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/blank/”>Blank</a&gt;

a cunningly  concealed prompt

                                                DUMMY RUN

It often strikes me as amusing that many of the followers of my idle thoughts and memories believe me to have had an extraordinary life. A mixture of the greatest love, the most heart breaking tragedy; the enjoyment of celebrity and wealth, the suffering from a horrendous mental illness all my life and the terrible guilt at so seldom being able to live up to my own and my God’s ideas of the the sort of person I should be. And all this played out before the back drop of scenes in four continents and seventy three countries, covering seven wars and a host of peace keeping and diplomatic missions, that on reflection really do read like a novel no one person could possibly have lived. And yet I have, and have survived. Peace has mostly taken the form of dallying in the history libraries of five very old European Universities where five languages were also fully mastered. This was mainly for fun and to satisfy my natural polyglot curiosity,so often soothed into submission by my fingers on the keyboards of so many oddly tuned pianos.

I have been shot twice, survived two helicopter crashes, been blown up so many times I have honestly lost count and yet I have always just gone on to the next scene so that my life has almost been a long running series of films. Except it happened. Well, if I took it all too seriously I would have died of depression by now. Firstly, losing to illness and violence people I never thought I could live on without when they died. And now living with cancer, five strokes and a broken spine to add to my insanity. But I have always been able to see the funny side of existence as well, so I shall concede that I am an anomaly. But two things always help keep me sane; my ability to play music I adore, even If I cannot do this in front of other people, and being blessed with the help of a spiritual side to my life that actually cheers me up when chatting to two special saints who make me laugh when really they should be telling me off. So what is this wonderful build up, this blockbuster’s trailer, leading to? Some of you may have guessed, you have been asking for it for long enough. Yes, I have decided to complete, and be honest in writing, my autobiography. A few eyebrows went up there!

Well, what would you have me do? Hide my bushel in front of a light, thus consigning my life’s story to only the silhouette of its reality? There is no point in that now, for two of the three people whom I had recently promised not to hurt by ‘telling it like it was, is and will be’, have suddenly disappeared from my life. Yes that is sad, hard to take, hard to live with, or rather without, but the final supplicant of my silence has now said ‘Go on’. They did add, ‘it will take you so long to finish it I will probably be gone too by then, anyway!’ So for a while now my blogs may well be shorter than usual, a bit more brief rhyme, and yet everything designed to give me time to finish the most big headed thing a man can think; to assume other people want to read his life story. I often get suicidal at the thought of doing this. A lot of my life, from birth to the age of twenty nine, is already written in verse and yes, chunks of this may well be retained, but do I really want to tell my life story warts and all? Not always, it makes me feel positively suicidal at times. You’ll never guess what I have done to counter this unpleasant possibility.

Just in case I do find I am pressing a self destruct button in myself by determining to complete this literary venture, I have loaded a revolver with six cartridges which I shall keep beside me while I write. Should I feel like ending my life earlier than God would want, he’d stop me anyway, I will pick up that revolver, point it at my head and pull the trigger. The noise should frighten me into having a stiff drink, play a soothing piece of Liszt or Mozart and then resume my tale. I would not need more than six such shocks to finish my story. And I would finish it. I know, I loaded it myself! You see each of those cartridges is a blank.

AWE

MY BIRTHDAY POST


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/diverse/”>Diverse</a&gt;

five very diverse celebrations

MY BIRTHDAY POST

I’m not always 100% honest on this site, try as I might, but today I am. It’s my birthday. More importantly this is my 300th post – coincidence – and is also My Feast day (the reason my mother chose my name) – not a coincidence! Now be honest, did ANY of you know it was the feast of Saint Anton? Which of us do you want to hear about first? Let’s make it me.

These are just five of my most memorable birthdays in chronological order. My tenth birthday in 1952 stands out for lovely spring weather, the great fun in our huge mansion and grounds with 20 boys and girls at the party, and the first time I really felt I could not live without always being with one adorable person. The food and party were great, the games indoors and out were super, but then there was Glenda. We had known each other for five years by then and, when we crept away into the orchard and kissed properly for the first time in either of our lives, that day became simply unforgetable.

The next was in 1963, my twenty first. I was at University in Paris and also working in my spare time as a journalist. The family lived on the Ile St Louis behind Notre Dame in the middle of the Seine. Dad offered me money or a fairly expensive party for my 21st. You know me, I went for the party. The day was free, he paid for three of my best friends to come over from London and we had a whale of a time. My parents and sister and three friends had lunch at my favourite restaurant in the centre of Paris. We were well known there and it just went on and on until around four pm. The evening section was an enlarged party in our apartment at home and in the fashionable brasserie on the ground floor and corner of the street overlooking the river. It was Fairyland. We even threw tomatoes at passing gendarmes who could see it was a celebration and just waved. Not like today, children. But wonderful!

My next memorable celebration was only five years later. By then, 1968, I was Reuters’ News Editor for Indo China and living in Saigon. On April the 30th I flew to Vientiane in Laos to help set up the first diplomatic contacts which led to the Paris peace talks on Vietnam. I could not have written that fact at the time, everyone thought it was just a journalistic assignment, but I fortuitously happened to know the North Vietnamese consul in Laos from my university days. I could speak fluently to him, to the South Vietnamese representatives and of course the US negotiator, who the next year held a senior post in President Nixon’s administration. We thrashed out a format for both sides to at least start talking to each other. As a neutral, and the only person in the group who could understand all the others, I was almost Shanghaied into joining the diplomatic teams of three incredibly diverse sets of people. I liked my work too much to accept. But while away a major offensive broke out in Saigon on May 5th and four journalists, including three of my close friends, were killed that Sunday. I flew straight back. There followed two months of hell; running a major news service, arranging two funerals and writing to relatives of dead friends, making sure new staff understood what to do, and only one senior member of the company there with me. My May tenth that year would normally have passed unnoticed. But I had a lot of civilian friends in the British embassy, not least the  ambassador, a Scotsman who had known my mother when they were children, who would not hear of ignoring it. They all insisted we had a really great champagne knees-up round the embassy compound swimming pool to celebrate the most extraordinary birthday in my life.

And briefly two more birthdays that matter an credible amount to me. The first in 1990, the significance of which only became clear much later. My wife and I set out on a pleasant break to include my 48th birthday.  But when we settled down for a drink before dinner that evening she found she had gone off alcohol. Almost impossible. But it made her think and she told me she might, just might, be pregnant.  What a present! She soon found out she was and a fifteen year old prayer was later to be answered in the form of my youngest son. That whole story is more incredible than anything on this page and is told elsewhere. And fifth and most different to any celebration was my birthday in 2,000 ad. That was the day I received confirmation after a biopsy that I had a serious form of cancer. It changed the rest of my life completely when added to the other major illnesses I was fighting. But in one sense this is the perfect point at which to tell you about Saint Anton, or Antoninus as he is in Latin and as I was baptised.

Florence in 1446 was the centre of the Renaissance world. The greatest poets, philosophers emerging painters and  humanist statesmen were starting to question the Church’s right to make pronouncements on science and factual knowledge and political ideas which many wanted to see overthrown. As The Medici family in Florence were the richest people in Italy, probably Europe, and had even started using modern international banking techniques when trading, the world of the high middle ages and its spiritual obedience were coming to an end, as was the universal acceptance of Papal authority in affairs of state. But Florence had just lost its archbishop and fully expected Pope Eugene IV to appoint a princely, rich prelate to the very important post. He didn’t. He remembered regularly chatting to a Dominican Friar who so often pulled him up and advised him when he was about to sanction developments which might not be in the Church’s best interests. He told the City fathers and the Medici family that he was appointing a Dominican preacher whom they might not at first appreciate, but would eventually come to love.

Following one of the most inspired papal appointments of all time, Friar Antonino devoted the next thirteen years to teaching, by prayer, example and above all preaching the rich and somewhat ungodly renaissance Florentines what Christianity was really about. He kept a household of only four regular people. He sold all the cathedral treasures and gave the money to the poor. He housed beggars and the destitute in the vast cathedral rooms and built a huge new hostel for the sick and unfortunate in his city. But above all, by preaching quietly, with sincerity and conviction he managed to turn half the rich families of the magnificent city into the greatest philanthropists Tuscany has ever known. When he died, worn out through neglecting himself, in 1459, Pope Pius II insisted on personally conducting his funeral service. He was canonised sixty four years after his death. My mother knew absolutely nothing about him when she thought that the Anglicised version of Antoninus would be fine for her son.

To have a model like that to live up to is impossible. I pray every day of my life to be worthy to share his name, but I have to say that I have only succeeded in one way. I cannot turn away anyone in need, because God loves them. Be they saint or sinner, believer or infidel, this is the greatest virtue I have been blessed with thanks to all I know of what Saint Anton taught and did. I could never have devoted my life to God as he did, I have not got the will power needed to be that much of a saint. But the example of one man who did have has stayed with me every day of my life.

AWE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIFE LONG LETS LTD.


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/worst-case-scenario/”>Worst Case Scenario</a>

a dream under anaesthetic for major surgery

                                      LIFE LONG LETS LTD.

I was walking along this dreary suburban road in a town I had never see before and the whole place was deserted with the shops all closed and no people in sight. I was frightened and lost and felt a panic attack of loneliness and desertion coming on. Then I was suddenly in front of a real estate agent’s window which had only two advertisements showing. On the left hand window was  the following.

INCREDIBLE OFFER note terms and conditions at the discretion of the landlord.

2. Downhill Way,Gomorrah. And 22, Fast Lane, Sodom

Attractive basement apartments to let for incredibly low rent. They guarantee you centrally heated two room accommodation with opportunity to try them out for an initial period before moving in permanently. On signing the contract you will be given use of a free booze stocked fridge bar, regular visits from friends of either sex with overnight sleeping rights if desired. Also as much gourmet food as you can eat. Each apartment has a free television channel with all the porn you want. Also gamblers will be staked for as much as they wish, with a guarantee of winning big pots at least once a week. The landlord’s decision is final in any disputes arising over living conditions once permanent tenancy applies.

The rent is the minimal charge of just one soul, but please note. Once you have moved in permanently there is no cancellation or get out clause. 

The other window had the following advertisement and between the two was a large glass door with two salesmen each touting for custom. On the left was a man with horns above his ears and on the right a man all in white, a gold shining light round his head. His advertisement read.

BEST APARTMENTS EVER – and ever, Amen.

1. Paradise Buildings, Happy Valley.

Penthouse suite apartments to rent. Beautiful views over hillside with happy shepherds and permanently contented sheep. No charge if suitable applicant is prepared to live and work with fun team of charity workers. CV essential and must include proof of reasonable period of good work. Samaritan experience an advantage. Landlord noted for his forgiving nature and ability to get on with anyone who wants to help him. Hence his special monthly fatted calf dinners for all his prodigal sons and daughters. Also many occupants of the block find they meet up with old friends and are guaranteed they can be happy with them for ever and ever.

NB. As no rent is charged there is no deposit, everyone is taken in good faith.

Then both men looked at me and said in unison. “You have to pick one, there is nowhere else to go.” I still don’t know whether the operation was a success as I have yet to wake up. I don’t want to go to the left  but feel I am not good enough to deserve the right. I feel very odd indeed, my soul suspended between the two.

AWE

EYE TO I


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/the-artists-eye/”>The Artist’s Eye</a>

let he who as eyes to see, behold……

 

EYE TO I

I refuse to believe that anybody alive who has seen a painting, sculpture or any similar type of work of art has not reacted either positively or negatively to it in some way. I do not mean that everyone is an art lover, heavens no, but that art does not draw some level of response from the beholder I find very difficult to accept.

In my own case I am very lucky that I have travelled widely around the globe and seen many of the most beautiful paintings of all time. But which do I admire most in the sense that they have had the longest lasting, or made the strongest impression on me? Well given that I used to take visiting friends round the main galleries in Paris, London and Florence when I was at University you would probably expect me to be primarily a lover of Western Art. And then again a trip to the USA and their museums followed by my almost four years in the Far East could have touched a chord in me that reacted melifluously with Eastern art, but you would be wrong. Ever since I was about ten years old I was always fascinated by Byzantine inspired iconography and this reached its apotheosis when, in 1971, I spent a few days in Moscow and fell hopelessly under the spell of Andrei Rublev (c 1362 to 1429). Most art historians’ consider him to have been the greatest Russian Mediaeval painter. There are many, I included, who place him the greatest of all time.

But why should such basically not fully developed artistic works move me so much compared to the many later masters of other genres? A simple, single word answer. Love. He portrayed it as few others have ever managed, and more consistently peacefully and spiritually than anyone else at all. This is an example of his famous painting of the Holy Trinity, (see below) kept today in Moscow and through all Russia’s turbulent ages since it was painted around 1410, was always revered and guarded as a national treasure. It is the quiet, happy quality of the expressions of the mystery of God, his son and the Holy Spirit, happy and tranquil in their Trinity, that are literally a century earlier than any other school of art depicted anywhere.

Andrey_Rublev_-_Св._Троица_-_Google_Art_Project

Now my univrsity studies, mediaeval history, iconography, hagiography and philosophy never had any bearing on my future career as a journalist. But as I said it did give me the opportunity to take friends and relatives round famous galleries where most of them drooled over Leonardo, or the impressionists or cubists, – though how you could drool while squinting I cannot imagine – . Yet I always found myself going back to my early roots and to Byzantium and its following centuries of influence over Eastern European art for nearly a thousand years. I found myself lost in the universal good sense of the artist in realising, and managing to portray at the same time, the quality that is most important in spiritual love. His portraits show that anyone can love and forgive anyone else if they keep their feelings and emotions of revenge, anger and violence under total control when separating the person, the sinner if you like, from the the evil deeds they may have committed. Look at Rublev’s portrait of saint Paul, (below), that hangs in a Moscow gallery. Who else has ever depicted the writer of so many important letters on how men should live and behave to please others, and ultimately God, without a suggestion of censure in the face? And even more clever, note the way the majority of the head is bald, suggesting a wisdom beyond the ordinary. Few, if any, painters have captured those dual aspects of the author of so many early epistles.

800px-Rublev_Paul

But my favourite painting (below) of Rublev’s, which Mocow at the hight of the cold war also blessed me with, was Rublev’s beautiful picture of the Angel Gabriel telling the Virgin Mary reassuringly, “Don’t worry my dear. There’s nothing wrong. God has done something wonderful for you, you are to have his son.” And as Gabriel smiles, so we can just see the light of an uncertain joy starting to form on the face of our Lady. You may not believe the Christmas story, but if, like me, you do, then that work of art sums up the most beautiful moment in our history more perfectly than anything else I have ever seen. I may be a Catholic but I am so glad the Orthodox church canonised Rublev in 1988.

Annunciation_from_Vasilyevskiy_chin_(1408,_Tretyakov_gallery)

So all I have left to say to all of you, whatever you believe or like looking at, is have a very Happy Christmas, for that is what Andrei Rublev would have wanted you to have.

AWE

MY LAST FLIGHT


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/must-not-fail/”>Must Not Fail</a>

I think ‘would hate to fail’ would better express the prompt.

 

MY LAST FLIGHT

I would  hate to miss my soul’s last flight to the sky

To be ever with God in Heaven when eternity is nigh

So, when on my deathbed some day I shall lie

I hope I will be conscious enough to reply

To God’s question, “Do you on my promise still rely?”

And be able to answer “Yes”, in some way, as I die.

AWE

FEARS, PHOBIAS, KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/phobia-shmobia/”>Phobia, Shmobia</a>

on reading  of Richard Dawkins’ dislike of the term ‘Islamaphobia’.

 

FEARS, PHOBIAS, KNOWLEDGE AND BELIEF.

     The constant mistake of adding ‘phobia’ to so many words nowadays is ludicrous. Homophobia, for instance, is a non-word because for anything to be a phobia it has to be something of which one is unusually strongly afraid or irrationally petrified. If one has a good reason for strongly disliking something that is not a ‘phobia’.

     Homophobia is the most commonly used non-word in English. If one does not like the practice of people of the same sex loving and having sexual relations with each other that is not an irrational fear of their preferences, it is a dislike of them. I have many close homosexual friends but I never condemn the sinner when they act in ways I think they shouldn’t. I only condemn the sin. God knows I commit sins enough myself, but just not that one because it turns me off! I actually consider adultery a worse sin because it usually also involves breaking a solemn oath, taken at one’s marriage, not to do it. There are no laws in our country of which I am aware which tell us what we may legally like or dislike. It is what we do about our dislikes – violent actions or insulting and defamatory verbal remarks to peoples’ faces are common examples – that break the law, not the way we feel about them.

     Also there is a great disparity between marginalising people because of their natures and because of their actions when the predilections with which they are born are neither their own fault nor within their ability to alter. Medical science may allow us to make all sorts of changes to our physical sexual anatomy, but it cannot change how we started out when we were born. That is in the past. So it is quite unnecessary to single out anybody for censure or applause because of their natures.

     One exception here to the use of ‘phobia’  is when words like ‘Islamaphobia’ are coined to describe people who fear a religious or idealistic grouping. While I would never use such a spurious generality myself, I can see that some people might equate being Muslim with being a terrorist who could start world war three. It is very important to recognise that you can be afraid of both the physical threat of fanatics, or of a religious sect which might threaten members of your own religious group if you are a member of one. However, as a devout Catholic I can only say that I believe I should love all men, obviously not everything they might do, but they themselves as God’s children. After all the vast majority of Muslims are perfectly ordinary, harmless, nice people anyway. It is very hard when somebody of another faith deliberately blasphemes in front of me to get my back up. Yet much as I may dislike this the last thing I should do is trash their beliefs. That just alienates us more when I should be trying to befriend them. However, atheists like Richard Dawkins try to rise above this level of fidelity and infidelity by saying we both believe a lot of rubbish anyway. Poor man, I can think of nothing more sad than not being afraid that one might be mistaken. What dreadfully meaningless, hopeless lives atheists must live.

     But this leads to the whole question of why we fear some things or groups of people for good reasons just as much as for totally stupid ones. It is usually the conflation of knowledge and belief. Take the arch atheist-scientist Dawkins. A truly brilliant man in his field but a quite pitiable one in his passion for blindfolding himself to the obvious. He says that he knows God does not exist and belittles people who claim to believe that God does. How unscientific can you get? There is a very simple example of why nobody can ever prove that science answers everything or that God exists. Take a piece of string, any length you like, and cut it in half. Throw one half away and do the same to the half you have kept. There is no limit to the size to which you can reduce the piece you retain if you continue this process long enough. But something always remains for nothing can be made out of nothing.

     Do you see what this proves? It’s so simple. It proves that anything solid, any form of matter, can never be made to disappear. It can only be split up into ever smaller atomic and ultimately sub atomic particles. Then, in theoretical thought, there is no limit to how large any concept can be. It is self evident in maths, for instance, that there is no number to which you cannot add one. This is the proof of rational infinity and goes way out beyond our cosmos. It must, by definition. So if a scientist thinks that everything can ultimately be empirically investigated so completely that all existence is known and explained, all you have to do is add one to it and you will find there is an infinite, and ergo unknowable, scope to the field of  scientific discovery. Yes we can find out and empirically prove how everything originates, works, lives etc physically. But there will always be a limit to that knowledge.

     So if I was to say I know God made me, loves me and wants me to live for ever in heaven, that is only ‘knowledge’ as far as I myself am concerned. I really do physically love God, which helps a lot, but basically what I am doing is believing in God even though I cannot empirically prove His existence. But my belief is just as strong and likely as Richard Dawkins’ empirically provable knowledge, because while we are alive and on earth neither of us can know the limits of what we believe, nor how something must at some time  have been made out of nothing.

     I believe in eternity, and infinity beyond  human comprehension. A super mystery which one day I genuinely believe I will understand. But not while I’m alive. Dear Richard seems not to want this kind of really lovely hope, and is content to just dig deeper and deeper into discovering all the practical things in our cosmos knowing he will never reach the end of that search. I do hope he realises this before he dies, or at least thinks about it enough to like the idea of being in Heaven some day. Surely he is far too intelligent not to want to save his soul if he cannot, just by using empirical logic, prove that it does not exist. He is literally taking a helluva risk. 

AWE

THINKING OF ALL I LOVE


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/daily-ritual/”>Daily Ritual</a>

the prompt asks for a daily ritual

                               THINKING OF ALL I LOVE

 

I am not even sure if this counts as a ritual, but apart from attending to necessary bodily functions of filling and emptying myself, which are not rituals but necesssities, I suppose the only genuine ritual I perform is spending at least twenty minutes at night or when I wake up, occasionally both, thinking about all I love. This is the only deliberate thing I do so regularly.

Obviously if one says daily prayers, however long or short, and makes sure they are every day then that is a ritual. And, yes, that is something I do. But it is how and why I do it that made me give this pensee the title I did. To say set prayers by rote and without thought, while a form of devotion, can just become a thoughtless habit. So what I do when I pray is follow a set pattern of reflection on who or what I am praying for. I find that if I devote every prayer I say to God, because I love Him, and with each prayer I picture some person or good deed that I love personally or would love to see realised – relieving third world suffering would be an example – or any person who asks me to pray for a particular intention with which I agree, like recovering from illness. Then I am asking God to help them because their recovery is something I and they would love to happen.

But do note an important point here. When I say a short prayer for my wife and one each for my children it is because I love them and want them to be closer to God. So I could not extend such a type of praying to say a football team or a sports performance which might please me but is not sufficiently important to bother God. If my favourite teams win major trophies I will say thank you in my prayers because I have been made happy. But that act of gratitude is also one of love so is quite different to asking God before a game to make one side win. Again, gambling within modest reason, is just a leisure pursuit, but to put your last $10 on a horse and then nip into church and ask God to get you out of a hole by making the horse win is almost an act of sacrilege.

Where I find concentrating on love when I pray is most beneficial though is when I pray for someone who has committed a really awful act. Somebody has to pray for them because God loves us all, so we should too. That can really be hard but therefore worth so much more. But as I stand at the moment I have a total of twenty nine people or intentions  I always keep in my thoughts each day, in crises I may add one or two more. This is ritualistic if you like, but at least I know some love for those people and things that need it is hopefully reaching them on a daily basis.

AWE

 

 

 

AND SO TO ETERNITY


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/eat-drink-and-be-merry/”>Eat, Drink, and Be Merry…</a>

last supper before world’s end

AND SO TO ETERNITY

This is a nice idea for a prompt except for two things. Firstly, how would we know the world was going to end tomorrow and even if we did why on earth would we waste time doing anything unnecessary? But allowing for these two disputable points this is how I would spend my last day if I really knew it was.

The news bulletin on the television that interrupted all the rest of the programmes to tell us of the imminent apocalypse was couched in such credible terms that just about everyone believed it. I heard it at 9.30am and so had missed out on several hours which I could have used to do things that mattered to me before the end. Not least booking a ticket to the South Seas so I would get a few more hours of life.

Firstly I opened my notebook that I kept by my bed and in which I kept the names of everyone for whom I had been asked to pray.  They had to come first. I managed an hour of sweat pouring down my forehead as I begged my three favourite saints and God Himself and his family to forgive and save all my relatives and friends who had expressed recent doubts about the existence of God. I really prayed myself out for them because Heaven would not be Heaven without a lot of them and I just wanted to remind God of this. What an unnecessary thing to do!

Well, obviously I then had to visit those of my friends who lived closed to me but for some reason or other were lonely in their hearts or minds and had to be cheered up. Oh just think of them, poor souls. There was Andy who suffered from internittent depression and was never sure who his friends were. I just held his hand for fifteen minutes and at least raised a smile on his face when I pointed out we were all going down the same path at the same time and he was no longer on his own. His thanks were in his eyes.

Then I went round to one of my old girlfriends with whom I had never made love but who always enjoyed a few minutes with me because whenever we saw each other we laughed ourselfelves sick. My goodbye to her was deeply personal, intimate and comprehensible only to ourselves. She really was a poppet. I then knelt by my bed and conjured up Gemma’s face. It was the closest I could get at this late stage to contact with someone who had raised life on earth to a level that as a youngster I never believed possible. She called herself my spiritual advisor, but she was more than that. If you have ever had someone in your life who knew you better than you knew yourself then you know who I mean. She was thousands of miles away yet at the same time right next to me.

And finally I had a friend whose very existence was doubted by most of my closest relatives and friends. From a very young age, Saint Rita, had kept watch over me, encouraged me when the world was dark and my hopes were dying. She literally put her arms round my soul and quietly loved me in her beautiful soft Italian voice. As the patron saint of hopeless causes I had  to have so many chats with her, but she was always there. As I now pray at my bed and try to make up for all the sins I have committed in my life she is there and, as she promised, will be to the end. I am happy just to let her stay with me until God tells me how I am going to Heaven.

But how on earth could I eat anything in that state? It would choke me!

AWE

Faith’s Explanation


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/food-for-the-soul-and-the-stomach/”>Food for the Soul (and the Stomach)</a>

couldn’t face the food so putting up a poem instead:  for the soul not the tum.

Faith’s Explanation

Hope and Charity were both great fun
But Faith was very much more serious.
I asked her why the frown and furrowed brow,
The look so sad, and deleterious.

Hope chuckled, “Poor Faithy never grins or laughs
Like Charity and I. Just sits and sighs, as though
Every woe of the world was on her shoulders.
But we love her, we could never let her go.”

“Of course not,” Charity added “we’re the helpers.
Hope makes people think everything will be alright,
And I give what is lacking to the needy.
They smile, so do we.” And her smile shone bright.

“So Faith,” I asked again, “What worries you,
You only seem to see the darker side of life?”
To which she answered,” I deal with the despairing,
All I can tell them is how to fight life’s strife.

And trust the souls I try to point to Heaven
Will make it one day if they follow my advice.
For, unlike my sisters, I never see my labourers
Walk smiling towards the gates of paradise.

“No, all I do is offer love and trust, while
Begging God to give me more of what I am.
So I can give myself to doubters and to sinners,
But never knowing if they will die a wolf or lamb.”

Anton Wills-Eve

THE NIGHT MY MOTHER MET A SAINT IN HER PYJAMAS.


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/daily-prompt-4/”>Hello, Goldilocks!</a>

when I first posted this  blog wordpress were having a lot of ping problems and I have found that several of my followers never read itso, as it means a lot to me, I decided to post it again. I shall attend to Goldilocks after that.

 

THE NIGHT MY MOTHER MET A SAINT IN HER PYJAMAS.

 

in reply to  “which post would I most like to be remembered by.”

The date is forever engraved in my memory. It was the 18th of October 1961 and our family was enjoying probably the best holiday we ever had together. My father had spent the summer covering the Franco-Algerian peace talks in Evian on the banks of Lake Geneva, or Lac Leman as the French call it, and he and mum deserved their three week break. My sister managed to bunk off university in London for a few weeks and I did the same from the Sorbonne in Paris. Mum was terminally ill and we all knew it could well be the last time the four of us would get a proper vacation together. We planned a drive down to Rome, via Switzerland, Milan and Florence and were returning, first south to Positano for a week’s stay and returning via Pompeii and up the Mediterranean coast to take in Pisa, Genoa, Monaco,  Nice and the Rhone valley. Five days were to be spent in the Italian capital. The third of these was the most memorable day in my life.

Although an Australian, dad was the chief correspondent in Paris of a major American news agency and my mother was a retired entertainer of considerable fame in Britain whose health had cut short her career when she was thirty five, just after the start of the second world  war. Indeed my birth in 1942 was the last normal act on her part in her life. Being born and brought up a staunch Catholic in Glasgow in Scotland she made sure that my sister and I were educated at the best Catholic schools we could be. My agnostic father always kept his promise to bring us up as Catholics, making sure we never missed Mass on Sundays, but then as often as possible none of us missed a couple of hours at our local pub on a Sunday lunch time either. Mum was often bed ridden and had to spend her drinking hours with friends at home in our thirty seven room mansion near Richmond Park. You can see we were a rather unusual quartet. But the greatest thing about my formative years was that all the family had terrific senses of humour and, I can honestly say, really loved each other.

I grew up a Catholic who was wonderfully close to their  Faith and served Mass as often as I could. I quite shocked the monks at the Abbey which ran our school when I turned up at the sixth form ball in 1959, I would have been seventeen I suppose, with Teresa, the most stunningly beautiful girl, on my arm. She is still one of my closest friends although we were never sweethearts, but she did enough to dispel the certainty amongst many of the school staff that I was going to become a priest. Indeed she singled out the headmaster, she knew him because her brother was at the school, and said to him in a little louder voice than was necessary, “Yes, Father, Anton really loves God more than any boy I have met. But boy, Father, does he also love me. I think God’s got a battle on his hands with us!”

My mother was told of this story a few days later and phoned Teresa to thank her.  It was with this type of family background, both religious and public, that the four of us set out for Italy in the autumn of 1961. When we drove off from the family home on the Ile Saint Louis in Paris we were all determined to have a really good time. I was nineteen and a half and my sister not quite twenty one. The drive down was wonderful as we went both over and under various Alps, attended a concert at La Scala in Milan and swooned at just about everything we saw in Florence. But my sister and I could see the journey was starting to take its toll on mum. She had seriously advanced emphysema and used an inhaler most of the day. As the weather became hotter and the air less pleasant she began to find walking any distance at all very difficult. Indeed she had to miss the meal we had out on the first night in Rome with dad’s counter part there an American journalist who had known him for several years in London. He was a Catholic and told us that he had been keeping a really super surprise up his sleeve for us all. He turned to dad during the meal and said,

“Paul, you’ll all love this. Did you know that in two days it is the fiftieth anniversary of the overseas press club in the Vatican and a very select number of correspondents have been invited to meet Pope John and have an informal audience with him that evening? They desperately wanted a Catholic family to be part of this and I told the Bishop organising the audience that you, as an Australian journalist of note, your two English Catholic children and your well known Scottish Catholic wife were all in town and thanks to your job could represent the international media family. What do you think?”

In all honesty I thought he was joking. He knew how I would react and was quite right. We all said yes but asked if we could not tell anyone about mum because there was no way she would want to miss what would be one of the greatest days of her life. We were right. She said she would go if it killed her and the three of us genuinely feared that it could.  As the time to leave the hotel got nearer mum was getting worse, She donned a black evening coat and black lace veil saying she could hide her inhaler up her sleeve and not be seen as she used it. My sister also wore a black head scarf but refused to cover her face, not that anyone asked her to. Dad just wore a grey suit. Then came the real penance of the night.

Our taxi dropped us by the papal gate entrance to the Vatican palace just by the colonnade, but we were told we had to walk up to the ante room where the Holy Father was receiving the foreign press. Mum had got ready in extremely quick time and we were only concerned in helping her manage the stairs to the small hall and room where we were invited to wait for Pope John to arrive. How mum made it I will never know, but she did. Then came the high point of the evening, indeed for me, of my life.

A jovial, smiling octogenarian literally beamed his way into the room and the fifty or so papal guests were astounded at the informality and good fun that pervaded the whole forty five minutes we were with Pope John. But just as he was scheduled to leave the Holy Father cast all four of us into a state of almost disbelieving happiness. He did the most wonderful thing. Speaking in fluent French he asked if he could meet Paul, Sarah, Michele and Anton the Catholic family from all round the world who had come to see him. He approached us and in a few brief words told us all how glad he was to meet us. HE was glad to meet US! If he only knew. As he blessed us and let us kiss his ring I cast a glance at mum, the tears streaming down her face, and realised she would have climbed Mount Everest to go through that moment in her life.

Then came a lovely scene of real humour. The apostolic delegate to the media asked if any of us needed the lifts as the stairs often proved too much for elderly or sick people. Mum turned to dad and my sister and me and said, “It may have half killed me but I’m glad I walked up those stairs. It was worth it just to be able to say that I had met a Saint in my pyjamas. I was so ill I didn’t have time to dress tonight, that’s all I’m wearing under this coat.”

Dad and Michele laughed and she said, “Mum you mean the Pope, not a saint.” All mum replied was,

“I know what I said.” And the proof that she did is that on the 27th of April last year, on the 108th anniversary of mum’s birth, Pope Francis Canonized Pope John XXIII, officially raising him to the highest dignity possible for a human being to attain. I will never know how mum knew!

Anton Wills-Eve

TO END LIKE THIS


<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/last-words/”>Last Words</a>

in reply to wordpress prompt, write your last ever blog.

 

        TO END LIKE THIS

 

The specialist came  to my bedside again that morning and she smiled at me in a twisted attempt to be cheerful while failing totally to hide her approaching loss. She had done so much for me, but it was what she had to say that nearly brought a tear.

“I promised I would be honest with you James, and I cannot break my word. I never have in the four years we’ve known each other so why start now? My dear friend, you have about two weeks left at the most and if there is anything you really need to do while you still can then make it today or tomorrow at the latest. After that the strength of pain killers you’ll need will prevent you from writing or possibly even speaking normally. But at least you shouldn’t suffer. I’ll be back later this morning.” And there I lay, alone in my my private ward, with my laptop by my side  and the image of someone I had known for fifty years. I had known her  since she was five years old, but not seen in the last forty. So as my final act that I had to perform I composed the following email to her.

‘Oh Glen, I know God should have been here as well, and yes I can feel that He is. St.Rita too is always keeping a very close eye on me and fulfilling her promise never to leave me. But it is your face, your smile your complete occupation of my body and soul that is all I am really able to see.  So this is the last email I will ever send you, Glen. Don’t keep it to cry over in years to come. No, do something much more important with it. Read it, try to do what it asks, and try to believe that I WILL see you when your earthly life has also run its span.

When you told me, nearly four months ago now, that you no longer believed in God and that this world was all there was, I cried myself to sleep every night for a week. I also prayed so, so hard for St.Rita, God, somebody in Heaven to show me somehow that you had changed your mind. Oh why, Glen? Why? There are only two choices logically possible to us. Either God made us, our souls for Him to love and keep, and our human bodies for us to use to show how much we love Him; or else He did not. One of those two options must be true, Glen, so why on earth would you not at least HOPE that the former is the truth? I can’t prove it to you, no one can. But neither can anyone prove to you empirically that God did not create you.  What comfort, what solace of any sort do you get from giving up on the only chance you have ever had, and ever will have, of being granted a place in Heaven if the alternative is so genuinely hopeless and full of absolutely nothing?

You may have had a terribly hard and very sad life, I can think of few biographies more depressing or sad than yours. But in that suffering I can also see is the greatest test of all. Keep on loving God and telling Him you know He has tested you beyond endurance, but still holds you so very close to His heart. He doesn’t give up on those he loves, and He loves you, Glen. Give Him one more chance, please, if only for my sake so that I may die in peace. But don’t lie to me if you answer this. I will pray for you with my last breath.

No matter what you reply, if you reply at all, you cannot stop me hoping that you will again see your creator. Maybe my purgatory is going to be dying without ever knowing for certain whether you have regained your Faith. I can live with that. I suppose I should say ‘die with that’, but I know it won’t be easy. You see, my love, I have one enormous doubt about my own concept of all I have been taught about life after death. It may be so heretical it bars me from paradise too, but I do hope not. You see, Glen, I cannot believe in Hell. It was the French atheist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre who described it best. I have never heard an absolutely correct translation of the aphorism on which he based his tenets but approximately it was this. “Hell is other people as they behave here on earth.” Think about it. That sums up my concept of hell perfectly. As Sartre only believed in earthly life then, for him, he could only have been talking about mortal people.  That is when people are evil, unspeakably cruel, selfish everything we dislike, despise and condemn in our fellow creatures: when they act in ways we cannot tolerate. That is the great mystery of life whether spiritual or just human, where did the desire to harm and upset others come from? Where, in short, did evil start if God created everything? I don’t know. But I do know one thing. God tests our ability to always love Him, and through Him everyone else no matter how they behave. We may judge men’s earthly actions, but forgiveness is God’s province not ours.

So where do I stand over Hell? I believe it is having to accept the agonising side of life and admitting our own participation in the the pain and sadness that we bring to others. To live with the full realisation of that side of our natures, and have to face God with it when we die is the most terrifying thing that we can experience. And as we deserve it, because we have played out part in being evil, then we must also have deserved all the misery that we have had to go through on earth ourselves. So we come to judgement day, I am obviously here assuming that this happens, but think how God feels when He looks at each single sinner, naked before him, all their evil deeds exposed for everyone to see. What is the only thing God can do? He can weep! Yes,Glen, weep when he sees the sorrow in the faces of those he has created, out of love, finally reduced to a state of abject sorrow at having failed their God so dreadfully.

That, my Glen, is when he puts his arms round us, kisses us, forgives us and offers us heaven forever as His reward. It is the one great mystery that is kept from us, why does this need to happen at all? I don’t know, but then if I did my faith would be a provable fact and not an act of faith.  This is my credo when faced with the one side of spiritual creation that I could not otherwise accept. But if God and His saints love me, they understand when I am tottering on the brink of worrying doubt. Every night I thank them for holding me back from falling over the edge. God Bless.’

I did not sign my email, I knew I didn’t have to. True to her words the doctor gradually upped my dose of morphine each day as the pain got worse and my poor family came to see me reduced to such a state. I prayed for them and I prayed for myself and of course I prayed for Glen. Charity is the virtue of living a good life when dealing with others. Faith is the degree of our spiritual belief in and depth of love of God, but the greatest virtue of all is Hope. It is always available and active and will be right up to man’s last breath. I wonder how many more I have?

 

AWE

 

 

 

Veni Creator Spiritus


I<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/bone-of-contention/”>Bone of Contention</a>n response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Bone of Contention.”

for the first time I have entered two posts in response to a prompt. One humerous and one serious. I enjoyed doing both. This is the serious one.

                 Veni Creator Spiritus.

Leaving aside spiritual love, faith, charity, being a nice person or an absolute sod, there exists for all of us the question did God create us and the world we inhabit or is the whole idea of a creator God just nonsense?

Well there is a straightforward, logical answer to this and everybody, whether they like it or not, has to accept it. The answer is that ‘pro’ or  ‘con’ neither idea can be proved  empirically either way.

If God created us and wants us for eternity, or if the whole spiritual ‘thing’ leaves us cold, the fact still remains that one of those two  possibilities MUST be true and one MUST be false. Given that this is so, how on earth, or heaven for that matter, can anybody take the chance of putting two fingers up to God and risk going to hell for ever and ever and ever?  Make the second choice and you’re a conceited nutter. But the other choice involves doing what God told us to do while on earth, a task usually beyond anyone to achieve. Even so, surely it is better to TRY to make something everlasting out of your life than throw the whole idea of eternity out of the window and risk everlasting unpleasantness?  I know which I’ve chosen, appalling example of everything I ought to be that I am.

Anton Wills-Eve

Ginny’s Journey


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In Good Faith.”

<a href=”https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/in-good-faith/”>In Good Faith</a>

Ginny’s Journey

She was one of 14 children, born in the decades between the wars when families of  Catholic Irish origin in Britain were still praying for the conversion of England, and backing their prayers with a big contribution to the number of Catholics per capita. She grew  up holy, pretty and modest. A model little girl who actually loved the stories of God that her family told her every night. She also loved the atmosphere of the Latin-Mass congregation who understood little of what they heard or said but still very obviously loved each other. She really enjoyed going up to receive Communion and then battling the petty sins of puberty and the first temptations of the teenage flesh as she met a boy she really loved. But Ginny would never  commit a sin of impurity. You see, she did not want to go to hell. She did not fear hell fire, no  it was just that her favourite saint would not be there. 

She knew Saint Rita had led a difficult life in Mediaeval Italy but  ended it by fulfilling her religious vocation and becoming a nun against all the odds. Ginny knew her as the patron saint of hopeless causes  and her aim in life was to try to help really hard  done by people herself. But how could she know, well she couldn’t, that the person who was to be most sorely tormented was she herself. She was about to marry her childhood sweetheart when she was twenty but a month before the wedding he was killed in a plane crash. She put her whole heart into Saint Rita’s keeping, weeping and begging to be kept true to her Faith despite her awful loss.

Two years later she met a young man who she did not love romantically so much as want to help. He had not long recovered from a mental breakdown and she wanted to lead him back to a normal life. They married and he recovered very well under her prayers and encouragement. She was so glad for them both. But it was not he who was to suffer. Their first child was still born, their second was seriously mentally retarded and their third both deaf and dumb. But still Ginny hung onto the hem of Saint Rita’s habit and begged her to keep her close to God. Her truly loving and rather sweet devotion was known only to herself, but worse was to come. He husband had a relapse under the strain of his children’s suffering and took his own life when he was forty and Ginny was only thirty seven. In those days many Christians believed that all suicides were unforgiveable and went straight to hell and the thought of this nearly drove Ginny mad herself. But from somewhere deep down, in the depths of her soul she dragged up the last vestiges of Faith and Hope that she could find and begged Saint Rita to help her live through her purgatory on earth because she was really getting close to losing God altogether. The final crisis came a few weeks after her forty fifth birthday in 1979 when both her parents died of very painful  forms of cancer within a couple of weeks of each other. The sacred thread holding Ginny to God snapped and she wandered away, lost and broken as she cursed everything she had ever held dear. Never would she pray for help or love again.

It was some fifteen years after that that she was struck down with cancer herself. Friendless, horribly depressed, unable to face her deformed offspring and abandoned by her family, she wandered into my church and asked me if I would hear what she believed would be her last confession. There was almost nobody in the church that day and she let the full story of the sorrow that was her time on earth just pour out of her.

“Father, I gave up God because he gave up me. But I’ve been told I shall be dead very soon. Just in case, just if perhaps I’m wrong, please forgive me and ask God to as well. That is if He  exists at all.” I attended her funeral very soon after that and as I was walking away from the graveside, where less than a handful of mourners had bothered to remember her, I felt a hand on my shoulder and a beautiful Italian voice whisper to me,

“Grazzie, father. I never let go of anyone who loves me as she did.”

Anton Wills-Eve

Five types of love


I recently came across some old notebooks from my school days and found the following few lines,jotted down in Latin, presumably from an RE or Ancient History lesson in the upper sixth form. Anyway I like the idea expressed and, for what it is worth, this my translation. The ideas are all the hermit’s.
From the ‘lex penta amore’ by Phillipus of Egypt (floreat circa.175 AD)—-I wish I could remember who he was!

There are five ways of loving and of responding to that love.Three are physical and two spiritual.

physical

1) heterosexual (From the first sight neither of you are in any doubt. You make love)
2) homosexual (Give in; or wonder whether you should restrain yourself; if you do your reward is usually a broken heart)  ;
3) In all cases, if unmarried, practise total abstention (lest the sin into which you lead the other should condemn you both to perdition.)

spiritual

1) You fall in love with God (if you live by the laws of his love for the whole of your life you naturally hope you will reach Heaven).
2) If you try to be good, but fail, whatever love you indulge in you will be judged by Him in His mercy. A very beautiful thing  indeed

I wish I could find further references to him and examples of his thought.