Tuesday, 22 February 2011


The apple of her eye, the jewel in her crown...such was the celestial cat to my long-deceased aunt. It was 'Truffles' who always had the cream from the top of the milk bottle. Aunt had the skimming! Truffles would only eat first grade salmon; aunt had to be content with making the most of third grade. She relished this kind of sacrificial love for her adorable cat. Truffles deigned to accept this as being no more than fitting. Both sides of this engagement agreed that nothing but the best was good enough for this most superior of cats. And Truffles, like most self-respecting, well organized cats, spent most of its life sleeping.

Truffles possessed the smug virtue of one who had never had the need to steal the cream; the complacency of the wealthy who can survive without having to resort to the knavery of robbing a bank. But here I pause to reflect on the white-collared fat-cats who in recent times have engaged in massive financial swindles!

Truffles had the sense to know when enough was enough and the serenity (or laziness) not to go along with the adage that stolen fruit is always sweetest. In fact, Truffles was the embodiment of contentment. Having either been spayed or neutered this sleek, serene creature did not have to wrestle with temptations of the flesh, with all its longings and frustrations. In the case of Truffles, "what had never been enjoyed was never missed."

Feline beatitude, indeed! The attainment of heaven ---here on earth? You think so? I feel certain most high-spirited cats would disagree. For them bliss was to be found in pouncing on a mouse; entertainment in toying with its captive, enjoyment was to be found in a meal that had been earned. And what of the exquisite triumph in winning in the conflict of the mating game. What to compare with the ecstasy of screeching cats clawing and wrestling in the moonlight while the spouse-to-be relished the idea of being worth fighting for!

Truffles enjoyed the limited beatitude described in the Book of Revelation, "All tears would be wiped from the eyes; no more death, and no more mourning or sadness or pain," (cf. ch. 21). Comfortable and trouble-free...the life of Truffles. Is this all self-respecting cats are meant for? And, for that matter, is that all we self-respecting human beings aspire to, all we need forus to be satisfied and contented? Sadly, I find, there are those who would gladly settle for this -the tranquillity of inertia!

Most of us want to get more out of life and to put more into life. There's something splendid in acquiring skills and in using them creatively for the benefit of others; something so rewarding in building up and sustaining deep friendships; something noble in overcoming adversity. There's something inspiring in accepting God's call to live as befits His children, and, by His grace, not making too bad a job of it.

We human beings are at our best when we strive for that fulfilment and perfection that is beyond our grasp. Achieving an awareness of God is so wonderful, even though inevitably, so inadequate. This is how it is, "Now we see only reflections in a mirror, mere riddles, but then we shall be seeing face to face. Now I can know only imperfectly; but then I shall know just as fully as I am known," (1 Cor. 13.12). This is the spice of Christian life. Here there is hope, striving, anticipation and expectation...dreams that come true as in, "I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, 'Look, here God lives among human beings. He will make His home amongst them; they will be His people, and He will be their God, God-with-them,'" (Rev. 21).

I reach God mywaygodsway, by weighing up 'Fat Cat, Truffles, of the Grade 1 Salmon' and finding it wanting -wanting in the appetite for the feline thrills it was made for, pitiful in being satisfied with far too little. I am reaching God by going for more than whatever perfection lies within the grasp of my natural capacity. I reach God by grasping for all that He has on offer..His very self. "We are already God's children, what we shall be in the future has not yet been revealed. We are well aware that when He appears we shall see Him as He really is," (1 Jn. 3.20).

Peter O.P.

"Give me a hand please!" In a fortnight Isidore will suggest how that appeal can help us to meet God.

Monday, 7 February 2011


I've a good friend who's doing scientific research. She's part of a team trying to find a cure for a particular form of cancer. Hour after hour, day after day, month after month, year after year she pours over a microscope. She and her colleagues study the way cancer cells react to various chemicals. Meticulously they record their findings. There are other such dedicated teams of scientists all round the world.

Hopefully, one day they will find a cure. But that may take years. My friend and her many colleagues recognize they may never see the success of their research. They may never gain any credit for all their dedicated hard work. And yet she and they press on, fortified by the hope, the conviction, that one day all their efforts will have proved worthwhile. They will have helped to save lives.

Such a researcher must be a very special kind of person. It means not expecting instant success and personal glory -though that would be marvellous if it came! Most likely my friend and her colleagues will have built on other people's efforts. Probable other people will come along later and build on their labours. For such dedicated people eventual success, rather than personal glory, is what really matters.

That means being prepared to take the long view, while realising the importance of concentrating on the here and now of focusing on particular cells. Such researchers must live in the present while living a life of hope and perseverance, despite set-backs and false trails. They must accept that they are part of a team in which rivalries and jealousies would undermine their work.

St. Paul puts this approach beautifully when he reproves the Corinthians for rival personality cults of particular preachers,
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants, or the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose...For we are God's servants, working together,"
(1 Cor. 3. 5-9).
My researcher has shown me the importance of not looking for instance results. I must not even expect to see any success for all my efforts. That, indeed, is the lot of the researcher and preacher. Instead, our hope must be on things unseen. We build on other people's labours, and others will come after us to develop our work and perhaps take credit for the eventual success. None of us is likely to achieve anything of lasting value if we are loners, seeking instant success and glory.

Such acclaim ultimately depends upon God and is due to God. He gives the scientist the personal skill and temperament to develop techniques to conduct fruitful research. He's with the preacher in preparing and delivering a sermon. He touches the minds and hearts of those who hear it. He gives both of us the patience to cope with setbacks and the lack of immediate success.

For all of us, in whatever we achieve, the ultimate glory must be given to God. With the Psalmist I exclaim, "Not to us, but unto your name belongs the glory," (Ps. 115). With Paul I must be convinced that, "we are God's servants, working together" -working together with each other as a team; all of us teaming up together with God. That kind of teamwork must be essential to my meeting God.

And with my scientist friend I must be prepared for God to work in His own good time and way. If we are not to give up in frustration and despair we must be convinced that what we are doing is in itself worthwhile, even though we may never see the results of our labours. Without laboratory researchers no wonder drugs would ever be discovered to cure the patient. And without the preacher the Good News would not be heard and believed.

My researcher friend has shown me the importance of being prepared to take the long view, without becoming discouraged, even when I never seem to achieve anything worthwhile. If I'm to meet God I must learn to place all that I am and do in His hands and leave the outcome to Him. That means leaving Him the freedom to act in His own way and in His own good time. According to St. Peter God's way of measuring time, is certainly very different from ours, "With the Lord one day is like a thousand, and a thousand years are like one day!" (2 Peter3. 8). My researcher friend has taught me the importance of waiting for things as yet unseen -the greatest being meeting God Himself in His eternal kingdom. He's worth working for; He's worth waiting for!
Isidore O.P.
In a fortnight's time Fr. Peter will reflect on meeting God through
'A Fat Cat, Feline Beatitude, A Heavenly Cat'