Thursday, 30 October 2014


I'd enjoyed reading the book -a brilliant, imaginative and convincing fantasy. Seeing it on a small screen was a revelation to me of the creative skills of the experts in computer technology. It was also a big let-down. How could I be impressed by imagery, no matter how exciting or romantic, when men and women appear no larger than toy soldiers and elephants are as small as my pet gerbil?!?
Everything changed when I was taken to see the same drama on a large cinema screen. Loud speakers were distributed throughout the auditorium so that all of us seemed to be encased in a capsule of sound.
There was I with my brothers engrossed in watching the film, "Jurassic Park." We had just been given an episode that was as serene as the Garden of Eden (NB -before the Fall !).It was so relaxing and reassuring to be drawn into a world that seemed to be totally at peace with itself. Small wonder I had drifted off into a cosy, dreamy doze.
And then enormous, fearsome dinosaur filled the whole screen, silent, poised, menacing. Unexpectedly, a huge roar reverberated throughout the cinema. The thrusting monster leaped me, seated in one of the front rows, nearest the screen. Without a thought I rose from my seat and in terror yelled, "Oh, God!" at the top of my voice. Never before and never since have I felt such an urgent need for God to come to my rescue.
Of course, the spell of this day-time nightmare was immediately broken when everyone in the cinema began to laugh at impressionable me. For my part, I was shaken, emotionally exhausted. It had been so real. But then there were my brothers to bring me round to laugh at myself.
Only much later was I able to reflect on what had for me been a shattering experience. I was much sobered by the thought that I, and I suppose all other fellow human beings, do not have control of our emotional reactions. We cannot turn them off and on as easily as we can the images on our TV screens. Images can be so over-powering that at the time we are unable to distinguish between the fictional and the factual. We simply enter and identify with what is being presented to us.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I have wept when viewing DVDs of 'Les Miserables' and 'La Boheme.'  Who has been left cold and unmoved when watching on-screen drama which is violent or sensual? Let no-one tell us it's only a film and these actions are being acted out! And that they're not reality!
True enough! Up to a point! Beyond that point we are liable to be influenced in our thinking, our attitudes and possibly our behaviour by what passes for Reality Shows and Virtual Reality. They can be for us an occasion of sin in which, without thinking or consenting, we identify with screened hatred, jealousy, spite and vengeance or with lustful cravings. There will be those who will be inclined to act out in real life what they've seen acted in the world of fiction, without realizing that the seeds of these dispositions were sown during a time of recreation.
At the very least God has taught me to reflect on my outburst in the cinema and to question seriously the effect the Mass Media of Communication has on the innocence of my imagination, my desires and fears, and ultimately on my conduct.  I ask myself what influence on me did that rampant, roaring, lunging dinosaur have on me. It was merely fictional; I was/am very much an impressionable human being.                                                                      

In truth, 'Only a Film?  Eh!       But what a film!

Peter O.P.

Thursday, 9 October 2014


I was born and raised in England. For over forty years the Caribbean island of Grenada has been the context, the environment, of my priesthood.  In this beautiful setting I have been fulfilled and challenged. Here I have felt ‘at home’ and yet ‘home-sick.’ Lofty mountains, golden beaches, grim fortresses and interesting buildings have been my friends.                                                    My somewhat stiff English body has learned to sway to the beat of the drum and the steel pan. My ears have become attuned to the rhythm of Calypso and Reggae. I have known the tense,  bewildered  excitement  of the rise and fall of a Revolution and the fear-filled insecurity of a hurricane blasting, grinding, my home, my church, into rubble. 
When members of my family and their friends have come to visit me it has been my joy and my pride to ‘show them around.’ I’ve introduced them to ‘MY’ Grenada.    What they’ve perceived through the lens of my experience has had a texture that has fitted well around the detailed information, the spectacular photos that can be found at any Travel Agency or on any computer.
They’ve seen the face of this tropical island through my eyes. Through my soul, my heat-beat they’ve felt something of its throb, its heart-beat.  
It could be that I’m claiming too much for myself. After all, in spite of my many years in this part of the world I will always be a ‘stranger in paradise.’ I shall never, ever, have that understanding that belongs to those whose grounding, culture, mind-set, and inborn attachment and loyalty are rooted in the local soil. 
It was in 2002 that Pope John Paul 11 gave to world the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. In so doing he shared with us these inspiring sentiments, "With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer… To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
Mary was there! She saw it all, she felt it all, she lived it all with her Son, Jesus, and now she shares it all with us as we meditate upon everything associated with the Word of God becoming flesh-of Mary’s flesh, and dwelling amongst us – as a child shares his life, his very self with his mother.
At the moment of writing, through my very being courses the question of the Lenten hymn, “Where you there when they…?” Then follows the response, “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” Yes! Mary was there with Jesus through it all. Sometimes she must have trembled with excitement and joy; at others she was there trembling with fear, sorrow, and horror.                                                                                             Luke in his Gospel wrote that after the shepherds departed from the stable outside Bethlehem ‘As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart,(2.19).  I detect here an intensity of feeling that she dearly wants to share with us.
Through the lens of her own experience she leads us into the Mystery that was the life, death and glorification of her Son, Jesus-for our sake and for our salvation.
I dare to suggest to you that I have journeyed with the people of Grenada for many of the significant years of its history. The pulse of my emotions has throbbed with something of the same pounding as has their own. I dare to suggest that because ‘I was there.’ I have been able to share with others something of what all this has meant to me.
The vocation, the mission, of Mary who was ‘There’ throughout the whole of the ‘Jesus Story’ is now to share with us all that it meant to her personally.  This is far more than an emotional autobiography. For Mary, for you and for me this is to a spiritual journey of discovery in which we discover Jesus and in so doing discover  ourselves.                                                                              This is what reciting the Rosary, by the grace of God, can do for us.
Peter Clarke, OP