Tag Archives: obedience

12 March, Human Will VIII: An Unexpected Reward for being less than 100% committed.


I trust Sister Johanna will allow me to continue reflecting on human will from another angle. WT.

Litter-picking is one of those fatigues that children in school resent. It’s one thing to pick up your own litter, another when it comes to other people’s. I try not to be resentful when I do my turn around our locality – turning over scraps of paper, bottles and cardboard coffee cups, instead of stones on the beach. But that’s more difficult when it comes to cigarette ends. (GRRRR!)

I tell myself the parable about the son who didn’t want to do what his father asked, while the other just made promises. Well, the first one: ‘afterwards, being moved with repentance, he went’. (Matthew 21:29).

My repentance was less than 100%! But a little reward came my way one day just before Christmas. Shining in a ray of winter sun, a very early snowdrop.

And better, surely, to do the job with a degree of anger than not at all? I was doing what I would have done had I been 100% repentant – and the job got done.




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15 February: Officers and Civilians


During the same Freshers’ Week Fair, and only a few paces away from the Paintball Monster, a slightly (but not very) different kind of recruitment was going on. Promising safe, lucrative careers to those newcomers from secondary schools, a British Army Officers’ Training Corps Tenet had a team ready to win over students to lives of military domination. Officers are paid to be good at domination. Students who have brains sharpened by A level mental discipline are just sufficiently self-assured about their talent for drilling others and keeping the world in line. Some might feel relieved to have difficult decisions about a fruitful direction to pursue in life to be taken for them by the military.

Psychotherapist Viktor Frankl observes that “boredom exists so that we will do justice to the meaning of our life.” From a utilitarian point of view, grief and repentance “appear to be meaningless” but when told to take a sleeping pill, “the grief-stricken person commonly retorts that his sleeping better will not awaken the lost one whom he mourns.” Through love “the gates to the whole universe of values are thrown open.” Dan Berrigan says that “one of the largest tasks of all… [is] helping other people to live by other  means than their fear, whether it  is fear of one another, fear of the enemy, fear  of the authorities, fear of prison, fear of disgrace, or fear of separation from their families.” Such inflation of reality is what “government [is] able to play on” till people can’t recognise fear of what might happen as different from what is actually happening.


Chris D.

January 2017.

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Autumn Evening Lectures at FISC: “What is theology saying?”

austinFr Austin McCormack will be speaking on Thursday evenings this term. I recommend these lectures to any Christian, including those from Reformation traditions who may wonder what we Catholics are all about. Please feel free to come to as many of these lectures as interest you.
Start time 19.00. You are asked to make a donation to cover expenses.
The subject of the course is:

“What is theology saying?”

7. 24/11: What about Original Sin?
8. 01/12: What morality did Jesus teach?
9. 08/12: Should we renounce the world or change it?
10. 15/12: Is there salvation in other religions?

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30 June, Mates in a very real sense: II.

darkcaveharry (800x480)

After a year I was beginning to believe I was a proper miner. Then one day as we were going on shift Tommy called out, ‘We’re shooting today.’

I thought he was joking, so quipped back, ‘The whole Board or just the chairman?’

‘No, this is proper shooting,’ Tommy replied. Then he explained that there were little spur lines bringing coal down from higher levels in smaller wagons. These loads had to be integrated into the main wagon lines, which was accomplished by what was called ‘shooting’, or sliding crowbars under the front wheels of these smaller trucks, and simultaneously jerking them so that they were switched to the main wagon line. The first time we tried this it seemed very tricky and Tommy had to bear the chief burden. As I began to get the hang of it and even enjoy the operation, there came an almighty crash and Tommy was shouting ‘Coal-oh!’ as we dived into the safety ditch which ran alongside the main wagon line.

Tons of coal fell in on top of us and I feared I would be suffocated as I was tightly pressed down into the safety ditch. Then what relief! I heard a rescue squad arriving and calling out to us not to move. In no time at all they cleared the coal that was covering us, gave us a quick check over and escorted us to the cage and up to the pit head.

Once we had cleaned up and checked over our bruises, the duty overman took us to the miners’ club bar where he stood us a double brandy each. ‘I was wondering if that safety ditch would do what they said it would’, he said. ‘Now I know it does. Well done lads.’


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29 June, Mates in a very real sense: I



There was news recently of a man dying in an accident in a potash mine in Yorkshire; a reminder of  the dangers faced by men and women at work the world over. in these two posts David remembers the community of comrades as well as the dangers of the work. (WT)

From the moment I arrived at the Beeston Pit I was in a totally strange world, full of strangers. Apart from the local Nottinghamshire men there were Welsh, Irish, Scots, Poles and Czechs. At first every aspect of mining seemed full of menace and every day there were accidents, some fatal. But despite the obvious dangers and the darkness of the pit, there was a sense of triumph in that men would descend into the bowels of the earth to extract this then vital raw material without which many industries could not function.

The first time I went down, after being kitted out with a helmet, a lamp, a whistle and a pick, I was paired off with a tough young Welshman, one Tommy Jones, who came from the same part of the Principality as myself, the hill country around Caernarfon. I was under Tommy’s wing: he would look after me, instruct me in my duties, and I would obey all his instructions to the letter, and would back him up at all times. We were mates in a very real sense and all the other men on the shift had similar relationships with those they worked with. Moreover, it was stressed that all the men on the shift were mates. It was run like a military operation under the direction of the ‘overman’ who was the ‘officer in charge’ and his sergeants the ‘leading hands’.

The pit was worked on the ‘room and pillar’ system, with one shift who would drill all around the coal face to create a room but would leave a pillar of coal in the centre to support the roof which would be reinforced by steel supports with pneumatic extensions. The cutting shift and the shift which prepared the next part of the coal face for cutting had all the most experienced miners, whilst the loading and clearing out shift was left to the younger miners like Tommy.

It was still a pretty tough job and in the first few weeks I was exhausted at the end of the shift when we would head for the newly built pit baths, a benefit of post-war nationalisation.

Generally speaking, the older miners preferred to have their wives wash away the dirt in the traditional way, in a tin tub placed before the range in their kitchen. I was in digs with one of the older miners, Ron Pritchard, and it was obvious when you saw his wife bathing him (and they were not at all shy about this ablution) how deep was their affection for each other. Ron had the ‘Dust’[1] and had been offered a job ‘up top’ for the same money as an underground miner but had refused as a matter of pride. As he put it he would be separated from his mates and would not feel like a miner, so he struggled on, coughing and wheezing.

After our bath Tommy and most of our shift would head for the very well-appointed and commodious miners’ club, which had a full-sized restaurant and bar, a large dance floor and stage, and a separate snooker room and lounge area. After working underground for six hours we were ready for a few ‘bevvies’ because we were totally dehydrated and would think nothing of downing five or six pints fairly quickly. But in over three years working at Beeston I never saw a miner drunk; it was not considered manly. However, I did on occasion see some of the miners’ wives and girlfriends get a bit wobbly on the club’s subsidised cherry brandy although this did not inhibit some pretty neat jiving.


[1] ‘The Dust’ or ‘Miner’s Lung’, is a respiratory disease clinically called pneumoconiosis, which left many miners unable to work due to irreversible lung impairment. In later years Ron would not have been allowed to continue underground.

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March 2nd: Called by Love, for Love

Picture Wed 2nd March

(Image from quotesgram.com)


(Deuteronomy 4: 1, 5-9), (Matthew 5:17-23)
With the journey from Egypt completed, Moses makes his farewell speech. Forbidden to enter Caanan himself, he encourages the people to occupy the land God had promised long before and prepares them for their new life by reminding them of God’s laws and renewing the covenant.  Moses urges Israel to obey God’s law.(Deuteronomy 4:1-14). The law is God’s regulation of the life of God’s people, affecting their relationship with Him and with each other.The book of Deuteronomy (meaning ”second law”) is all about the people’s relationship with God. God and His people are bound together not just by a treaty but by love.

Love led God to choose the children of Israel, rescue them and bring them to the Promised Land.  The people of Israel are called to love God in return and to show their love for one another through obedience to the detailed laws governing every aspect of life.
Love led God to give His only begotten Son to save the world.(John 3:16). God calls us again through Jesus, Who is the fulfilment of all the laws and prophecies, to be in loving relationship with Him: ‘

“As the Father has loved me so I have loved you. Now remain in my love (John 15:9). If you love me you will obey what I command. (John 14:15). My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.”’ (John 15:12)

Love and obedience are inseparable, like two faces of a coin. ”LOVE” is the deepest expression of God’s nature.  God’s love is fully revealed in the life and death of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the face of the Father’s merciful love, breaks Himself on the altar at each Holy Eucharist.  The All-powerful God becomes vulnerable out of love for us. Because of this, at each Holy Communion we can experience God’s presence in our hearts.

How can we better care for Him in our hearts during this holy season?


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29th February: Courage from faith and faith from courage

Picture Monday 29 feb
Image from www.mydailywalkinhisgrace.com

It sometimes happens that something good comes out of evil.

The Hebrew servant-girl taken to Aram may have seen only suffering in her situation, but she, like the Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable, was in the right place at the right time to help someone in great need.  She had the courage to tell Naaman about the prophet in Samaria.  In doing so, she showed compassion for someone who could have been her enemy.  Her simple, confident faith encouraged Naaman to make the journey to Palestine in hope of a cure for his leprosy.

In those times, kings were thought to be representatives of gods, so he went to the king.  When the mistake was sorted out, he was given a message from the prophet, Elisha, to bathe seven times in the Jordan.  Naaman was irate; having expected a spectacular ceremony of the type he was used to, but his companions persuaded him to obey the instructions.

Sometimes it happens that we just have to trust and do what God asks of us, even though we don’t know the reason. Naaman’s act of blind obedience led to his cure.

Like the Centurion at the foot of the Cross, this pagan was then moved by his personal experience of God to make a confession of faith.


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