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23rd Nov, 2014


Does anyone use Maploco?

I haven't seen any results since 16th Nvember.

Can these statistics be depended upon?

21st Nov, 2014

Are Prayer and Meditation the same thing?

During my life I have practised Christian Meditation and Contemplation - with 'less' rather than 'more' success I must admit. For a change, recently I have been following OPRAH & DEEPAK's 21-day Meditation Experience. which I find helpful and is a source of peace, possibility, and potential. The Hindu and Buddhist 'religions' have developed meditation into a fine art. OPRAH & DEEPAK's approach to meditation, however, has nothing to do with religious belief or doctrine.

I ask myself: Are Prayer and Meditation the same thing? If not, what's the difference?

prayerWhile there can be a crossover, they don't seem to be the same thing. Prayer deals with the notion that one's thoughts can alter reality from a distance, or influence outcomes in one's life which one has no conscious control over. In meditation, as I understand it, breathing is meant to clear the mind, to bring a person to a place of clarity, letting go of everything but the present moment. Prayer is different. In prayer, I am turning over my scattered thoughts to God. I am offering the past, the present, and the future. I am connecting with one outside myself, one who can effect change in the world by the work of the Spirit in human lives. Meditation can bring peace and even some degree of personal healing. But prayer goes further. Not only does it offer the benefits of meditation but is also a real connection to the God of the universe, a being outside ourselves who invites our petitions, our thanksgiving, our confessions, our pleas.

Much more commonly used by the lay person than meditation is simple prayer, and the relationship of prayer to meditation is an elusive one. While profound prayer probably cannot take place without entering what I might call the meditative mood, mechanical repetition of standard prayers in order to fulfil religious obligations does not require this special mood at all.

imagesZ5TTPTY4Prayer is nevertheless closely related to meditation in many ways. It is usually an inward state, undertaken in quiet, often in solitude. As in meditation, in prayer outward stimuli are reduced and a special kind of soothing, monotonous environment is created. The echoing intonation of ritual words and phrases chanted over and over again; reverberating music; candlelight; votive offerings; incense; the sound of bells; awe-inspiring architecture with symbolic decorations; a special posture held for a period of time; the closing or partial closing of the eyes – these are all traditional accompaniments of prayer intended to evoke a sense of reverence and union with the deity. Through them the meditative mood is often evoked in a highly effective manner.

The most important difference between meditation and prayer, I think, is that prayer looks towards God, gives praise, thanks, seeks forgiveness, consolation or assitance. Meditation is a more self-centred, goal-less absorption in which the outer world is shut out and some form of mantra is used to achieve this state.

19th Nov, 2014

International Colloquium on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman"

In a fantastic address on Monday that received a standing ovation from the colloquium's 350 participants British Rabbi, Lord Sacks, tells Vatican Conference: We Must Defend the Family of "Man, Woman and Child."

sachsThe full text can be found at:

In fact, the four best talks at the colloquium were by four non-Catholic speakers.

He bases his talk on the history of civilization; that it is a story of seven key moments, each of them surprising and unexpected: the birth of sexual reproduction, the unique demands of human parenting, the eventual triumph of monogamy as a fundamental statement of human equality, the way marriage shaped our vision of the moral and religious life as based on love, covenant and faithfulness, that marriage and the family are where faith finds its home, that the Divine Presence lives in the love between husband and wife, parent and child, and that science takes things apart to see how they work while religion puts things together to see what they mean.

As I say, it was a fantastic talk that I would recommend as well worth the reading.

18th Nov, 2014



We met, we married, a long time ago,
He worked for long hours and wages were low,
No telly, no radio, no bath; times were hard,
Just a cold water tap and a walk up the yard.
No holidays abroad, no carpets on floors
cuppaWe had coal on the fire - we never locked doors,
Our children arrived - no pill in those days,
And we brought them up without the State Aid,
No valium, no drugs, no LSD,
We cured our pains with a good cup of tea.
If you were sick you were treated at once,
Not fill in a form and come back next month,
No vandals, no muggings, there was nowt to rob,
In fact you were rich with a couple of bob.
People were happier in those far-off days,
cartKinder and caring in so many ways.
Milkmen and paper boys would whistle and sing,
And a night at the flicks was a wonderful thing.
Oh, we had to face our share of troubles and strife,
But we had to face it, that was life.
But now I'm alone and look back through the years,
I don't think of bad times, the trouble and tears,
I remember the blessings of our home, and love,
We shared them together, and I thank God!

------from Tintern Village Website (Wales)

16th Nov, 2014


I have spent over 50 years teaching but it is only in recent years that I have become afraid to pass groups of hooded teenagers gathered at the local Tesco outlet. What has happened to our youth I ask - both boys and girls?

My friend, Tomás, showed me an article on the topic in the "Guardian". It asks us to be more understanding of the poor 'disadvantaged' youngsters. We are not living in a decadent age: this 'modern' fear we have of teenagers is not something new!

An inscription on a 6000-year-old tomb in Egypt reads: "We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient. They frequently inhabit taverns and have no self-control."

Plato, in the 4th century BC asks: "What is happening to our young people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They ignore the law. They riot in the streets, inflamed with wild notions. Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"

Peter the Hermit (1274 AD) said: "The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. . . . . . As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behaviour and dress."

teen 1A modern American judge who regularly deals with teenagers says: “We always hear the cry from teenagers, ‘what can we do, where can we go?’ “My answer is this: Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons and after you’ve finished, read a book. Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun.

“The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in sickness and lonely again. In other words grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone and not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It’s too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you.”

But I'm still afraid to meet them on the street corners!

15th Nov, 2014


I seem to be returning to the subject of age again and again.
It must be getting to me!  Although I really feel the very opposite.

Anyway, here are some good words about age somene has sent me.

14th Nov, 2014


winter3There is a winter in all of our lives that makes us yearn for days that have gone or put our hope in days yet to be.

Spring is full of expectation with buds breaking, frosts abating, and an awakening of the first days of summer colour.

Summer sun gives warmth and comfort and colour to our lives.

Autumn gives nature space to lean back, relax and enjoy the fruits as the earth prepares to rest.

imagesLNTRYRHPThen winter, cold and bare, unwinds, sleeps until the time is right.

An endless cycle and yet a perfect model. We need a winter in our lives, a time to stand still, a time to re-acquaint ourselves with the faith in which we live. It is only then that we can draw strength and realize that all the time we think we are dead inside, beautiful things are being born in us.

13th Nov, 2014

Ageing Defined and Debunked

I'm afraid I'm not into science at all. I have never taken it very seriously. I have, however, been struck by a couple of lecturers who have been talking recently about the process of ageing.

They say that scientists are asking why we age and what can be done about it. Apparently they think they are finding answers. I myself ask why we worry about ageing at all. It's natural, and it must come to all of us. We're not going to live forever.

ageingThey claim that there are ways to have a healthier old age. A big problem with ageing , they say, is 'inflammation'. As one gets older, one's body gets more inflamed, it doesn't break down toxic byproducts as before and these irritate tissue and cause diseases like Alzheimer's and diabetes. Drugs have side-effects and are not the answer.

The real way to solve the problem, they say, is to eat less! Isn't that a terrible thought? - and I just heading down to tuck into a plate of bacon and cabbage! It's called caloric restriction. If you eat less, you live longer and have less toxic byproducts. There you have it.

These same scientists also warn us to always 'Ask for Evidence' in regard to claims about wonderful drugs, etc. that are being pressed on us. I wonder what evidence they have about the great effect eating less has on ageing.

12th Nov, 2014

To crèche or not to crèche?

Is a child better off in a crèche or with a childminder? That is the question facing thousands of new parents every year.

Yesterday there was a letter in the Letters Page of one of our newspapers from a mother of small children who, until now, has had to keep a job to pay taxes, mortgages, etc.

EDEL-KENNEDYShe has now decided to quit that job. She says, "No one will ever stand over my grave and say 'wasn't she great at paying her water tax' but it will be at that exact moment that my children will evaluate the quality of the years I gave them".

She continues, "The legacy of our politicians has resulted in our two children being raised in childcare centres like hens. We never financially over extended ourselves or left a bill unpaid, but still my two very young children are out of their home every day for longer hours than the average industrial worker ... as we work to meet another tax on our income. We work, breaking our necks and our children's hearts trying to keep up with tax after tax, with nothing left by the end of the month. As the Irish Government has chosen to protect those responsible for the financial crash and has seen many pensioned off, I'm choosing to protect my children."

"To do this, I will do whatever it takes to give my children back their childhood ... they will be at home, collected from school by me, and enjoy the security of a home life that should be an option afforded to every child. This will obviously mean a reduction to our income, resulting in overdue bills and unpaid taxes but that stress will be a holiday compared to the exhausting days we currently endure, dragging the children from their beds at 6.30am, starting and ending the day in a house filled with children's tears of frustration and confusion as we pay for others' greed."

Within hours of appearing in the newspaper this letter had clicked up 15,000 responses on Google - all agreeing with her sentiments. It has obviously touched a sore spot in many parents.

11th Nov, 2014


A clock stopped -- not the mantel's
Geneva's farthest skill
puppet2Can't put the puppet bowing
That just now dangled still.

An awe came on the trinket!
The figures hunched with pain,
Then quivered out of decimals
Into degreeless noon.

It will not stir for doctors,
This pendulum of snow;
The shopman importunes it,
While cool, concernless No

Nods from the gilded pointers,
Nods from seconds slim,
Decades of arrogance between
The dial life and him.

emily dickinson

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