How do we create space for God in our lives? Reflections from Catholics exploring our relationship with God through prayer.
By Peta Edmonds
Walking into St Ignatius Church today, I feel God. I breathe in and smell the polished wood. It makes me think of an ark that has never sailed. Where the light comes in, a rainbow forms. My elbows are bent in prayer, and a prayer forms in my heart like a girl’s piggy bank, filling slowly, little by little with change. Some candles flicker.
By Andy Hamilton SJ
The house in Gerroa, on the South Coast of New South Wales, where I was staying in January, is on the edge of paradise. It looks down over the river mouth along the Seven Mile Beach to the Shoalhaven Heads. It is a family beach. Each day young families come down together to the beach. Mums and dads gently introduce toddlers to the water, jumping the waves together. They put the older ones on little boards, slap sunscreen and push hats on them, and stand by the edge of the water, watching to make sure all is well. They make sand castles and see the beach afresh through the eyes of their children.
By Helen Jacobs
I don’t know about you, but every time I hear a Mary MacKillop Mantra, I’m immediately ensconced in her thoughts and how they can ripple through our lives today. Take one of her ponderings to her mother, Flora, for instance: “remember we are but travellers here…” (1866). At first, I’m caught up in our physical journeys to visit people and places and things; new friendships, lost luggage, “oohs” of astonishment and “ewes” of unusual tastes; and how enriching these experiences – and many more - can be for ourselves and those we share them with – in person or vicariously through Facebook.
By Christina Rocha
New Year’s Day is one of my least favourite days. I suppose it’s partly because, as I grow older, I have more and more dreams that have not yet eventuated or that have been well and truly crushed. I am also confronted by my own inability to fundamentally change of my own will and accord.
By Duc Mac
As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, it's useful to go back and look at the readings about the holy family: A humble family making a long pilgrimage to Bethlehem in Judea for the Census, and then unable to return home due to threats to their lives. Their welcome into Bethlehem - much like the arrival of asylum seekers on Australian shores - was not a warm one.
By Peta Edmonds
Too often when I pray, I find myself asking God for something – something as big as a cure for cancer, something as little as a good result in an exam. But I have found prayer is not about my asking, it's about my own inner dialogue with God, allowing him to respond in a way that is good for the growth of my soul.
In a Jim Carrey movie, where he played God, he sat at his Godly laptop, and when all the prayers covered the room in trillions of post it notes, he just decided to answer 'Yes' to every prayer, which as you'll see in the movie created even more chaos. So prayer can never be about 'Yes' or 'No' I have sat in the biggest church, said my prayer, and dropped 20cents in the poor box (all I had in my wallet at the time), but what good is that if I don't have the faith that God has heard?
Is there some area of your life in which you are being asked to wait? I'm sitting here in rural Paraguay waiting, waiting for a hummingbird to settle on a flower for long enough that I can take its photo using my telephoto lens. It's quite a beautiful bird, and it flits and flies for a brief moment and moves on, always too fast for me to catch it. Here it's called a "picaflor", literally, a flowerpicker, and while it is reasonably common, it is elusive as well. It has become something of a symbol for me here, a call to patience.
As we enter the season of advent, we enter that rich time in the church's calendar where we "wait in joyful hope for the coming of our saviour."
By Christina Rocha
In my bedside table drawer is a collection of prayer journals amassed over many years and filled with reflections during prayer and with dialogue between myself and God. Once the last page has been written in, the journal is then moved to its new home in the drawer and a new journal is begun. Those old prayer journals rarely get re-opened, but in the last few days I’ve been flicking through some of them and finding messages I still need to hear. One entry from a few years ago has particularly spoken to me anew:
By Andrew Hamilton SJ
In the former Jesuit residence of the El Salvador Jesuit University there is a rose garden with eight bushes. They flower for Elba and Celia Ramos and for six Jesuits, Ignacio Ellacuría, Ignacio Martín-Barro, Segundo Montes, Juan Ramón Moreno, Joaquín López y López and Amado López. All eight were murdered there by the Salvadorean Armed Forces twenty five years ago, on the night of November 17, 1989.
By Damian Coleridge
The 150 songs we call the Psalms (meaning accompanied songs) and which in Hebrew are called Tehillim (praises) have an enduring voice. One way or another Jews and Christians of whatever persuasion have always sung the psalms and the variety of their musical settings, through the ages and across cultures, is extraordinary. They’re our great, shared songbook. The 20th Century German theologian and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said that ‘wherever the psalms are abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian Church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.’
By Gisselle Lapitan
Religious sisters, brothers and priests continue to bring gifts of reflection and pause to the church in a digital world besieged by distraction and increasing anxiety. My work at Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) has shown me this is tangible ways.
This realisation was reaffirmed a few weeks ago when I watched a musical concert at my son’s school. I found myself at the back row of a darkened school hall. After an impressive and rousing opening number, I saw a mother a few seats ahead with an iPad switched on, which I assumed was for recording her child’s performance. As we all settled in for the second number, beeping and other sound effects distinctly came from my right side where a child was intently playing a game on his parent’s iPhone about 10 seats away.
Coming to know God takes time; forming your faith is a journey upon which you encounter many influential people. Who are these characters? What can we learn from them?
I was reminded of this one Sunday when I met my former school chaplain, Fr Ebert. He was filling in for the local parish priest, and, as he did some 20 years ago, he made God so real, so close, and so pertinent.
Earlier this year, I went on a silent retreat for a week. It was my first retreat longer than just a few days, and it was my first silent one. What better, I thought, than a week of silence for an introvert?! It would be a perfect opportunity for getting all my discernment done in one go and ‘sorting out’ my life. So it was somewhat of a disappointment that the first thing I heard in all that silence was
- Let go of your agenda and of trying to get me to comply.
Rightio then. Glad we cleared that up.
In countries like Australia, the United States, New Zealand and Europe, urban centres tend to have their fair share people on street corners, begging for money, food, accommodation, all manner of things. For years, I've struggled with this. There are so many questions that this situation demands. Why? How do people fall through the cracks, how do we respond? Does giving $2 really help or would $50 be better? Will they simply spend the money on alcohol or will they indeed use it to acquire lodgings for the night? What does the Gospel demand of us? What did Jesus and his followers preach?
My mission began around two years ago in the remote town of Wadeye in the Northern Territory.
To get to and from Wadeye you must travel the unsealed Port Keats Road. I am going to start by explaining my journey using the analogy of this road.
The Port Keats Road is long, rough and very unforgiving with its deep dips in unexpected places (placement of these dips change every journey on the road and they can do great damage to your car).
Along the way you can find yourself completely panicked or stuck without reception, hoping for a visit from a Good Samaritan, limping along to the end of the road or coming out the other end remarkably unscathed but, it always leads to a destination at both ends.