The PrayerBlog

How do we create space for God in our lives? Reflections from Catholics exploring our relationship with God through prayer.

Friday, 04 December 2015 16:14

Making 'Xmas' more Christian

By Michael McVeigh
Celebrating Christmas in different parts of the world can be an interesting experience. One year, I was visiting my sister in Dubai. It was an amazing experience to visit bright shopping malls, covered in tinsel and other non-religious festive decorations, playing non-religious Christmas tunes, with not a Christian symbol in sight. The celebration was there, and there was a significant warmth to it. But it had become something very different in the majority Muslim culture - Xmas, or Christmas without Christ.  
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 16:11

The discomfort of the Gospel

By Christina Rocha
Social media has been awash recently with memes about the Syrian refugee crisis and Western governments’ attempts to control the influx of people across borders.  One meme in particular that I’ve seen circulating has a photo of a nativity scene with the caption: “If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about Middle Eastern people seeking refuge … and being turned away by the heartless.”  Another meme shows a painting of Jesus teaching the crowds, with the following dialogue: “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you.”  “But Jesus, what about if they’re Muslim?”  “…Ok, I’m going to start over from the beginning.  Let me know where I lost you.”
Tuesday, 24 November 2015 10:07

When bad things happen to good people

By Brendan Nicholls
The abhorrent attacks in Paris two weeks ago have been at the forefront of our conversations. Sadly our world has seen these types of events before, in both affluent and in impoverished countries. We of course take more notice when these things happen in ‘safe’ places.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 11:05

I struggle, therefore I am

By Genevieve Nicoll
I wonder whether I am brave enough to write about this. I am a 29-year-old woman and I know that there are many life experiences I haven’t had, sorrows whose depths I haven’t plumbed. I honestly believe, that no matter who we are or how old we are, our lives have significant bumps in them. There are times of intense pain and struggle where we wonder how we can go on. There are times of hurt and betrayal where our hearts feel like they are crushed, torn, broken and bleeding. All we want is to be fixed, made whole again and never ever have to bear this pain again.
Monday, 09 November 2015 11:54

Do you have any change?

By Michael Walter
I’m lost in Melbourne walking down Little Lonsdale St attempting to find a Japanese restaurant where I’ll later meet some friends. As I walk towards Elizabeth St I see a lady with a pram about to cross the road. She looks me straight in the eyes and asks if I have any change. I’ve developed a habit where I try as much as possible to give some money or food when asked. 
I used to justify not giving change, telling myself, ‘I’m doing them a favour because they’ll spend it on drugs, which will harm them.’ Or, ‘I already donate to a charity, which will eventually help them.’
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 14:53

My Communion of Saints

By Christina Rocha
I have just returned to Australia after spending some time with family overseas.  It was a time of joy and consolation, of much laughter and story-telling, and of feeling completely at ease in the presence of those who have known me and my kin since before I was born.  It was also a time of grief as family friends were farewelled and buried, and as goodbyes were said before embarking on the plane back to Australia, in the knowledge of the very real possibility we may not see each other again in this world.
Thursday, 22 October 2015 09:58

Cups of Tea with the Queen of Heaven

Peta Edmonds
The Sisters of Mercy first came into my life on the eve of the millenium. They were plain clothed nuns.
I had just got out of hospital and had nowhere to live when I came to reside at Regina Coeli, meaning Queen of Heaven, across the road from the old Children’s hospital. 
I was battling psychosis and I felt like an endangered species. 
I remember Sister Judy taking my hand in hers on a visit to the doctor, and how we sat in the waiting room under a portrait of the man who discovered lithium. 
Afterwards, when I was numb from the diagnosis, she took me to a cafe and shouted me a hot chocolate and we talked, and she was like a tortoise sticking her head out from its shell.
Tuesday, 20 October 2015 10:54

the music of encounter

By Michael McVeigh
I was talking recently with a Catholic liturgical musician about the songs that people enjoy hearing at Mass, and the conflicts that take place over what's going to be played and sung on a particular Sunday. I had an embarrassing confession to make: 
'To be honest, I don't really like any of the music I hear at Mass', I said. 'When I hear about people arguing over 'traditional' or 'modern' worship music, it sounds to me like two people with completely different aesthetics to me arguing which one they want to impose on me. '
Tuesday, 13 October 2015 12:12

The Gift of the Mass

By Genevieve Nicoll
I have a confession to make: I’ve become a Mass junkie. There’s a hunger that’s developed recently that seems to be a grace. I have been wary of it, asked myself if it’s authentic, but the sense of consolation I feel makes me believe that the Lord is blessing me at the moment. 
My junkie-esque attendance at mass is a really recent occurrence; it happened only in the last half of this year. At the beginning of the year, I started going to mass more regularly and as time passed, it became more and more important to me.
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 12:20

My heaven, my castle and my joy

By Maddy Kuyken
The idea of heaven is that of clouds, people in white clothing, angels and God waiting at the gates for us. Yet for some people their view is slightly different. For me I imagine all of my family and beloved lost pets waiting for me at the gates, waiting with open arms to be able to embrace for me all eternity.
For most people some glimpse of heaven can be achieved before they pass away. 
Friday, 25 September 2015 14:01

All creatures great and small

Written by
Beth Doherty
Full disclosure here: I rather like cats. The site of a little mangy abandoned kitten can reduce me to sobs. Pope Benedict XVI apparently liked them too, and according to one source confided to the Father General of the Jesuits that the cats hanging around St Peter’s Square were ‘the audience that listened to him.’ 
Pope Francis, while there is some confusion about what he meant, is also said to have comforted a child, and told him his dog would go to heaven. ‘One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,’ said the Holy Father, according to Italian news sources.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015 10:04

Shalom: Judaism through a Christian lens

By Helen Jacobs
Last week, on 22 September, Yom Kippur was celebrated in the Jewish tradition. The holiest day in the Jewish calender, Yom Kippur is the day of atonement. We bring you this blog from a Catholic Canberra writer who had a privileged visit to a Synagogue as part of an interfaith excursion. 
Carefully frosted on the glass are the words: ‘I have set God always before me’. 
There's a beautiful curtain underneath whose colours dance joyfully, hinting at what's behind them; when drawn to the side, a collection of scrolls are revealed. 
Tuesday, 15 September 2015 12:29

Patience really is a virtue

By Helen Jacobs
Virtues are good habits for a reason. They are the coaches and spectators of this marathon called life, whole-heartedly advising you and cheering you on, wanting you to become a better person. 
I know this because recently I’ve had to spend a significant portion of my time – five weeks in fact - reacquainting myself with my lounge. You see I required reconstructive knee surgery (sounds fancy doesn’t it?) after a silly stack at the snow. I wish there was a story there but sadly not. 
Thursday, 03 September 2015 10:14

A journey back to mass

By Genevieve Nicoll
Despite growing up Catholic and attending Catholic schools, until recently I had stopped regularly attending Mass. 
It wasn’t in protest or because I was struggling with questions of faith or disagreed with church teachings. 
I had just wandered off, mesmerised by the distractions with which we can too easily fill our lives. I am, however, beginning to see that in the past two years God has been drawing me back. 
Thursday, 27 August 2015 13:34

The Refugee Bishop

By Aoife Connors
As part of Migration awareness month (August) Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen shared his journey from fleeing Vietnam as a refugee, to his ordination as a Franciscan, to finally being appointed a Bishop in Melbourne. 
Bishop Long is quietly spoken, and considers each word. He is intelligent and well-read, studious and pastoral. 
His experience I share here, knowing that his story could change hearts and minds on this important issue. 
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