Anxiety

While sitting in the aeroplane waiting for it to take off, I was casually watching the loading of passengers’ luggage into the underbelly of my jet.  I suppose I was actually looking for my own suitcase to satisfy myself that it hadn’t got lost on its journey from the check-in counter.  It should have been easy to see as I had tied a bright green ribbon onto the handle.

 As each bag progressed along the conveyor belt that stretched from the linked trailers to the luggage storage area under our seats I looked for the ribbon, but it was not to be seen.  In my mind I assumed it had been part of an earlier load, so I settled back into my seat and opened the novel I had brought with me.

 Then all of a sudden it dawned on me.  I sat bolt upright and looked more closely at the loading operations below my viewing window.  This time I was looking with much closer scrutiny than I had adopted a minute or so earlier.  Still no green ribbon to be seen!  And I now knew why. I wondered how long it would be before the airline company sent in their heavies and quietly, yet forcibly, removed me from the aeroplane.  How embarrassing, I thought.

 It was then that the announcement was made that confirmed my fears.  Our take off had been delayed due, supposedly, to the late arrival of a connecting aeroplane that had passengers booked on my flight. I knew I could explain away everything if given the opportunity, but my mind kept taking me back to earlier that morning when I had packed my bag and tied the green identifying ribbon around the handle.

 Whenever I go interstate I always take my travelling alarm clock and make sure I pack it in between the clothes.  A previous clock suffered a terrible fate because I had thrown it in at the last minute and the ‘not-so-gentle-ways’ of the airport handling staff had resulted in my need to purchase a new wake-up reminder.  So down in between the shirts and the socks I poked the new alarm clock along with my mobile phone charger, another item I considered fragile.  Just before the final zipping up, I had decided to have a glass of fruit juice.

 Going to the fridge, I noticed on the second shelf four of my favourite treats, firmly wrapped in their thin plastic film.  No! I thought, I can’t just woof them down because I wouldn’t be home for over a week.  But then, I reasoned, I was the only one in the house that loved cold sausages and a week, even in the cool confines of the fridge, might see them in the bin before my return.

 An instant decision later and I had them in my hand.  I would take them with me and enjoy them later in the day at my destination.  As I sat in the aeroplane, I knew that decision was the cause of the trouble that was about to descend upon me.

 I had stuffed the snags down in the same area of the bag as the other items I wanted protected.  Now as I sat in seat 23F looking franticly out the window hoping for even a small glimpse of my green ribbon, I could see in my mind the x-ray picture of my bag with the identifying tag that matched the one on my ticket.

 Inside the bag were four sticks of gelignite connected to what seemed to be a wire fuse, detonator and timing device.   I could envisage this shocking find by the jittery security personnel would cause at least half the airport to be evacuated, flights to be cancelled and travellers to be severely inconvenienced.  An army robot would be brought in and when it got close to my bag, its handlers would manoeuvre its TV eye to enable it to get a close up of, not only the suspicious object, but the number and name on the attached airline tag.

I knew I was in serious trouble and would probably be exposed as a terrorist.  I had no hope of expecting the authorities would believe my story as the robot would be given the command to take my bag to a safe place where it would be automatically detonated.  Any evidence that might be left after the explosion would only confirm their fears.  A mangled clock and electric wiring.  As for the snags, they would have disintegrated and cooked beyond recognition by the fire that ensued.

Sweat beads were forming on my forehead and I could feel my underarm deodorant breaking down under the perspiration strain.  It was then that the three men in suits entered the cabin.  I could see the hostess pointing down to where I was sitting.  They were making their way down the aisle.  This was it.  I was about to become headline news and all for the wrong reason.  Would anyone ever believe my story?

The men sat in the empty seats behind me.  The cabin door was closed and the aeroplane started backing across the tarmac.  I couldn’t believe it.  All my fears had been for nothing.

 It just goes to show how simple it is for us to create imaginary situations that cause us severe anxiety and undue worry.  On reflection, I can see how my waiting time could have been spent in a much more positive way.  But then, it is easy saying things like that with hindsight. 

 What we need to do of course, is to recognise situations that occur over which we have no control and deliberately try and avoid the onset of anxiety.  This will no doubt add to our life span and save us changing shirts more often.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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Flying in to vote

From those wanting to fully understand a situation you will often hear them say, “I wish I were a fly on the wall”.  Such a fly on the wall of a Polling Booth gets to see and hear many things.  It watches and listens as the voting day unfolds.

It hears the occasional voter’s cynical remarks about politicians in general and wonders whether the one making the comments would be prepared to put in the long, sometimes frustrating, hours working for constituents.

The fly also scratches its head along with some of the voters who have paid little or no attention to the media in the weeks leading up to the election.  As these people walk through the door of the Polling Booth, with a number of How-To-Vote sheets in their hand, some still have no idea for whom they are going to vote.

They line up at the table where their surname fits the initials displayed and they ensure the mandatory mark has been made beside their name on the voter’s register.  Armed with an official ballot paper, they make their way, still somewhat bewildered, to the enclosure that contains the sharpened pencil and the screwed-up remnants of the previous occupant’s ‘How to vote sheets’.  They mark their ballot paper.

               From the wall, the fly sees the crippled and the sick making extreme sacrifices to come to the polling booth, determined to cast their vote.  It sees young people, a little unsure of the system, voting for the first time.  It sees the concern on the faces of those, who do not have their name on the roll, because they failed to notify their change of address to the Electoral Commission when they moved into the area last year. 

The fly can’t help but hear the angry voters claiming they are being forced by law to vote.  These people plainly let the booth officials and everyone around them know they plan to cast an informal vote.  They proclaim they only came to save paying the fine.

Later in the evening when the booth has closed and the ballot papers are being counted, the fly wonders which of the informal papers belong to the angry voters.  Are they the ballot papers with scribble all over them, or the ones with unsavoury words and comments.  Maybe they are the ones where the voters add extra candidates whose names have been taken from comics or TV shows.  The fly wonders whether these people really appreciate living in a country with a democracy.

               As the count proceeds, the fly watches as scrutineers hover, waiting to get an early indication of how their candidate has polled.  On these faithful representatives it sees looks of anguish on some of their faces and elation on others as ballot papers are sorted into piles for each candidate.  Some of these people will be celebrating late into the night, while others will be licking their wounds, wondering where they failed.

The scrutineers mumble among themselves about the benefits and pitfalls of the preferential voting system.  They take notes and whisper into their mobile phones to officials at their party headquarters. 

The fly buzzes off out of the building before the lights go out.  It lands for a feast on a half-eaten sandwich, lying beside a rubbish bin full of ‘How to Vote Sheets’.

Another election is over.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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Polling day

His election day started badly because, upon arrival at the polling booth, he was unable to find a space in the car park area adjacent to the local hall. He was heard to be muttering as he reversed out and had to park some 50 metres up the road.  During his short walk back to the hall he was blaming the staff at the booth who he claimed must have taken up all the parking spots.

As he walked up the pathway to the front door he was offered How-to-Vote cards by the ever-smiling voluntary party representatives.  He snatched a card off each as they stepped out from under their candidate emblazoned colourful umbrellas and he stormed towards the entrance.

He found he had to join a short queue waiting to enter the voting area and this caused an outburst from him which enabled others in the queue to be well aware that ‘this whole show was a waste of time’ and that he ’would rather be out fishin’’.

When it came his turn to proceed to the registration table, he barged forward and placed his two palms on the table surface.  He then belched a concoction of last night’s beer and this morning’s bacon, eggs and after brecky fag.

Before the young male Poll Clerk had a chance to offer a greeting, the disgruntled voter blurted out a surname that sounded like ‘Johnson’ and then added, Michael John.

This was the Poll Clerk’s first election and although he had been trained on what he should ask, the sight (and smell) of the person in front of him took him off guard.  He fumbled with his list and looked up JOHNSON, but failed to find a Michael John.

The man in front of him was obviously getting agitated so he courageously asked how to spell the name.  The reply, J.O.H.N.S.T.O.N.E. was spat out, the letters coming in quick succession.

At last Michael John Johnstone was given a voting paper and as he marched off to the nearest vacant booth he informed the Clerk and others around him that he was only doing this so he ‘wouldn’t be fined’.

He cast his vote and threw the How-to-Vote sheets on the floor.  He made sure as many people as possible saw him place his folded voting paper in the box and then he stormed towards the exit still mumbling about the stupidity of the process and how ‘you couldn’t trust politicians anyway’.

Later that night as the votes were being counted, the Poll Clerks and the scruttiners wondered why a person would just put a large cross over the whole voting paper and render it informal.  Perhaps, they thought, such a person did not deserve to live in a democratic country.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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Death is a reality

Recently, I attended a funeral church service for a young man who had taken his own life.  It was a sad occasion for us all and especially for the young man’s family.  When the 83 year old priest spoke, I seriously wondered what he could possibly say that might bring comfort to the family and friends present.

His words were a revelation to me. He recounted many of the good things the young man had performed during his life for his family and the community and concentrated his talk on the ways he had helped and served others.

The priest spoke of a loving God who had been with the young man throughout his short life and who, he believed, would never abandon him because of a serious mistake he made at the end.  He recounted how Jesus had already died for our sins and wanted only to love us into eternity. I left that church with a better understanding of a God who loves us, rather than one who sits in judgement of our faults and failings.

Since that day I have often thought back over that experience and have come to the realisation that death should not be feared and that it is possible to actually embrace the thought of an eternal life. Death is something we should openly talk about.  It is seen by many as a taboo subject and if we raise the concept in a conversation, we are considered to be morbid and often advised to pick on a brighter subject.

Some people just see it as inevitable and prefer to put it out of their mind until faced with its reality.  Others either don’t believe in life after death or prefer not to think it might exist.  While others are just plain scared about the thought of being judged for what they have done during their life.

If there is a genuine sorrow in our hearts for the things in our life we could have done better, then our God must see and understand this. There is no doubt we will be judged after death. A look at scripture can give us the answer (Matt.25:31-46).  Without wishing to make this process seem too simplistic, it appears that the only criteria we will need to address is the answer to the Lord’s question, “What have you done for me”.

Our loving God accepts our human failings, but certainly would have a long memory when it comes to keeping a record of the ‘things we have done for Him’.  Let us try not to fear death, for death can be the beginning of an exciting new awakening for us in a place that has been waiting for us since we were created.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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Travel – Speed Week Australia 2013

It’s a long way from Brisbane to the salt Lake Gairdner in South Australia.  During the trip you get to see the full gambit of Australia’s scenery from the lush tropical forests to the gibber plains and all that is in between.  Generally, the roads are good with the exception of the last 140Kms of red dust and corrugations North West of Port Augusta.
Trip 1Trip 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On approaching the Lake for the first time you could be excused for thinking you had come across a massive ice rink.  I reasoned with myself that it couldn’t be ice as it was February and the temperature was over 40 degrees C. with a savage sun beating down unmercifully on the glistening surface.  It was salt.  Set that hard you couldn’t even start to drive a tent peg through the patterned surface.

Here was the site for the 2013 Dry Lake Racing Australia (DLRA) Speed Week.

Lake 1Lake 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event is now 23 years old and attracts entries from speed enthusiasts from all Australian States and also from some overseas countries.  Some of these drivers and riders have already qualified for licences which allow them to compete in numerous speed categories up to and beyond 299M.P.H.  Others are rookies and must obtain their speed licences before being eligible to be clocked at higher speeds.

Lake Gairdner is located in a desolate part of our country where saltbush, spinifex and a few dry spindly squat trees dot the red dust and rocky landscape for as far as the eye can see.  Emus and kangaroos seem to be the only inhabitants along with a few skinny sheep, although there is ample evidence of a nocturnal rabbit population.  It must be here that the Lord of the Flies lives along with his millions of pesky supporters.  For it is here that one hand must be free at all times to constantly perform what has become known as the Aussie royal wave – a windscreen like action that attempts to keep the face and food free of the little pests long enough to attempt to eat or talk.

There is no fresh water or even basic amenities provided at the camp sites and signs remind you that you must take out everything you bring in with you.  There are no mobile phone or internet signals available and no corner shop to pick up last minute forgotten items.  All this added together makes camping here a real adventure.

Camp 3Camp 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a challenge that once accepted, enables you to put aside the hardships and see in the barren landscape a place of immense beauty.  It is a place of real peace where the breeze murmurs softly through the saltbush tufts and dry tree limbs and the heavens at night are filled with stars, planets and man-made objects moving at various speeds across the sky.

Camp 2Camp 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you inject into this wilderness setting around 300 motoring enthusiasts vehicles, their owners, families and support personnel totaling around 1200 people who drive or ride every imaginable type of vehicle from vans to busses and pushbikes to B double container-carrying trucks then you have Speed Week 2013.

The salt lake comes alive during this week.  Pit crews set up their workshops and the D.L.R.A. volunteer organisation fires into action.  Considerable emphasis is placed on maintaining the salt surface of the lake in as pristine condition as possible.  All vehicles coming onto the lake must first have all excessive dust blown from them and are required to have waterproof tarpaulins under them when parked.  All rubbish must be taken off the lake when returning to camp each night and the organisers pay particular attention to mark traffic ways and instruct all those using the salt tracks in the importance of caring for this world heritage environment.
X6X7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are numerous vehicle classes for which owners, riders and drivers can register their vehicles to race against the clock in order to not only beat personal best times, but also attempt Australian and World land speed records.  This year there was a wide range of machines from a souped up version of the humble postie bike to the Slaughter Racing Group’s streamliner vehicle in which the owners will shortly attempt the world land-speed record on the salt at Bonneville, USA. This Aussie designed and made machine will soon be fitted with a helicopter T55 Lycoming turbine engine rated at 4,800 H.P. to attempt to beat the current 437 M.P.H current world record.

X2X1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speeds are measured in M.P.H. in keeping with the universally accepted timing mechanisms used and in conformity with the methods used at the only other salt lake venue in the world at Bonneville in the U.S.A.

 

X8       X9JPG            X9  X10

X11I was invited to be a crew member in a 4 person Kawasaki factory supported team who were attempting to gain the Australian land-speed record for a production motorbike in the 1650 P.P. class.  Our team consisted of Ralph Nicholls, motorcycle racer and mechanic; Leanne Knowles, team manager and performance coach; Anthony Mack (our son), crew chief and safety officer and myself the team photographer and race support person.

X12The Kawasaki bike we used was a 2012 model ZX 14R. As required by the Production Class regulations, everything about the bike was in accordance with the strict rules laid down for production bikes attempting record times.

Never having ridden on salt before, Ralph Nicholls only had 2 or at most 3 rides each day in order to qualify and become acquainted with the bike and the conditions.  While our primary goal was to set an Australian Production Class Record, this had to be achieved by riding in excess of 200 M.P.H.  When you consider that only 36 other Australians have ever passed this 200 M.P.H. mark driving or riding any vehicle in any Class, then this, in itself, was to be a major achievement. Of those 36 only 24 had ever passed this 200 M.P.H. mark in setting a new Australian Land speed record in any Class.

X13The team had prepared well for this event even to the extent of using tyre warmers powered by a portable generator prior to each ride on the 8 mile prepared salt track surface.  Tyre types and pressures were also given careful consideration.  By Thursday evening Ralph had managed to achieve a top speed of 197.737 M.P.H.  This was into a slight headwind.  With only one day left in the event and the possibility of only 2 more rides we were hoping for something special on the last day.

Friday dawned and we realised it was going to be one of those perfect mornings where there was no wind and the atmosphere was cool.  Fortunately, we were placed towards the front of the line-up following our 6 hour wait in the line on Thursday afternoon and were to be in the first 10 to move to the starting grid.

X14

It had been a big week.  We had learned a lot but we all knew this was probably the last chance we would have of achieving our goals.  Ralph was understandably nervous but sat in an easy chair on the shady side of our crew back-up van, mentally preparing himself for the ride to come.  Leanne was maintaining his water intake as it was hot for him wearing the full leather outfit.  Anthony was polishing the bike hoping to remove any wind resistance dirt or dust might provide.  It was an anxious time.

We were called. It was our turn to get the bike to the starting grid.  We removed the tyre warmers and wheeled the bike out of the rear of the van.  Ralph took it to the grid with the three of us following carrying Kawasaki umbrellas and proudly wearing our Kawasaki racing shirts.

The starter received instructions that the track was clear, the emergency response team was in position and the official timers were ready. We stepped back from the bike as Ralph revved it in his final warm up seconds. Then he was off speeding down the eight mile long track. We returned to the van each in our own way wishing Ralph every success.

X15

 The two-way radio crackled as the timer announced Ralph’s time at the first mile – 193.851 M.P.H. We looked at each other knowing that was a very fast speed to have attained after only 1 mile. Then the timer announced the speed registered at the 2 mile location. 208.153 M.P.H. (234 k.p.h).   The three of us screamed as one and those still at the starting grid knew something very special had just occurred.   Ralph slowed after that as he knew he had done his best but at that point was not aware of his recorded time.

X16It wasn’t until we met him after he had left the track that he became aware of our excitement and had difficulty taking in the enormity of what he had achieved.

To be one of only a few Australians to have exceeded the 200 M.P.H. mark was an amazing feat but to have convincingly beaten the Australian P – P record of 204 M.P.H. also puts Ralph into an elite group of record breakers.  The world’s fastest speed ever achieved by a rider on a production P – P Class bike is 212 M.P.H. To better this will be our future goal.

In conjunction with the Kawasaki organisation, plans are already being made for next year’s Lake Gairdner D.L.R.A. event. Naturally our team hopes it will prove to be as successful for us as this year.  It has been an exciting adventure for me and I feel fortunate to have been asked to be part of this record breaking team.  It is a special feeling to have been a small part of this history making journey.

Peter Mack

 

Travel – NEW ZEALAND SOUTH IS. – A pictorial essay

Begin   Begin 2

CHRISTCHURCH – The beauty that was

Ch ch 1        Ch ch 2            Ch ch 3  Ch ch 4

Ch ch 5        Ch ch 6            Ch ch 7  Ch ch 8

Ch ch 9  Ch ch 10

Ch ch 11  Ch ch 12

Ch ch 14  Ch ch 13

Ch ch 15  Ch ch 16

 

Lyttelton (since devastated by earthquake)
Lyttelton (since devastated by earthquake)

 

At Sumner Beach with Godley Head in the background
At Sumner Beach with Godley Head in the background

 

Church of the Good Shepherd - Mackenzie Basin
Church of the Good Shepherd – Mackenzie Basin

Lake Tekapo
Lake Tekapo

 

Near Twizel
Near Twizel

THE HIKE TO AORAKI (Mt Cook)

 

Hike 1   Hike 2

Hike 4        Hike 5            Hike 3 Hike 6

Hike 7 Hike 8

THE CATLINS COASTLINE where deep, relentless forces buckle the layered land hiding bays and beaches between long, low folds of mountains.  Here rugged rocky headlands are seen to be butting into the sea and rocky shelves provide a resting place for seals.

Catlins 4        Catlins 2            Catlins 3  Catlins 1

PARAKAUNUI FALLS

Parak falls 1  Parak falls 2

 

 

Waikawa Bay
Morning at Waikawa Bay

STEWART ISLAND

Stewart 1  Stewart 2

Stewart 3        Stewart 4            Stewart 6  Stewart 5

Stewart 7  Stewart 8

Our Number 10

It is strange how a number often becomes a part of your life

It can influence you, your children and your wife.

I saw it first as a child, it was way back when

The number on our letterbox was a shiny big ten.

 

I learned of the Ten Commandments, the laws of life,

Of the ten wise virgins staying out of strife.

We are asked to tithe a tenth of our wage,

Ten cents or ten dollars, only God can guage.

 

I wore that number on my back at football

My basketball singlet had that number and all.

Ten is a number I always pick for gold lotto,

Stick with number ten is always my motto.

 

Ten o’clock Mass that Sunday in eighty-two

A new priest was coming who, we hadn’t a clue.

From Corinda a parish South of the river

Would come our new preacher, our faith to deliver.

 

Fr Brian was with us for 10 years and a bit

Before it became his turn to quit.

He taught us to love no matter what our age,

For us he became a 10 on our gauge.

 

He was a large, happy man who smiled quite a lot

Was slow but sincere, definitely not a big shot.

Had a deep faith which he showed to us all

Attended all our parties, we all had a ball.

 

Our ‘gentle giant’, liked his tea in a mug

Each time you met him you’d get a hug.

His tight embrace and his willingness to share

                                 Was his way of giving each a special prayer.

 

For us it was a period of family effervescence,

The kids were growing through adolescence.

His wisdom gave us courage as we sagged in morale

He pointed to Jesus and how to love unconditional.

 

As I survey the canvas of my life

The good times, the bad, the fun and the strife,

There is a light that shines out among all men

It’s our Fr Brian, he is up there at number ten.

 

I’m Peter Mack and that’s how it is.

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The Miracle of the Peanut

I was just the size of a peanut
When you first cast your eyes on me.
Bobbing around inside you,
Like a bottle in the sea.

When God chose to bless your union,
It was then I came into being.
With fingers and toes and even a nose,
Soon I’ll be hearing and seeing.

                    The peanut became Lily Jane

From now on I’ll forever change your life.
I may be small but there is no doubt
We’ll have so much fun together,
Just playing and mucking about.

When we are three, you’ll think of me
With things you do and things you buy.
But I’ll only ever be on your mind
On the days that end in Y.

Thanks for wanting me as part of the team.
And letting me write this and wax lyrical.
But once we get through the birthing bit,
I’ll always be your very special miracle.

Love “Peanut”

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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Big Mack

 

I presented a Christian radio programme on radio station 4OUR in the 90’s called “The Living Years” 

This poem was written by Mike Smith and can be sung to the tune of “Big John”

 

Every Sunday at the station you could see him arrive,

Stood six foot one, weighed one ninety five.

Kinda broad in perspective, had a positive stance,

Said everyone deserves at least a second chance.

Big Mack……Big Pete Mack

 

Had a Bible at his shoulder, never carried a chip,

He said, put down the stones, help the ones who slip.

When it comes down to faith it’s not much of a test,

He just reckons the Man on the top floor knows best.

Big Mack……Big Pete Mack

 

He’s got positive news and that’s a definite plus,

Got redemption plastered on the back of a bus.

Doesn’t talk about failure, doesn’t preach about sin,

Just some simple reflections on the life we’re in.

Big Mack……Big Pete Mack

 

Has a thing about football, could’ve played AFL,

But he kicks other goals now with stories he tells.

‘Bout the ways of this world and the way that he feels,

You can still make the trip if you’re missing some wheels.

Big Mack……Big Pete Mack

 

So if you feel the urge on a quiet Sunday morn,

This could be your best offer of being reborn.

Try a slice of believing and a taste of ‘Big Mack’,

Odds on you’ll recover and a cert you’ll be back.

Big Mack……Big Pete Mack

 

 Mike Smith

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Diary of an Ordinary Catholic

CatholicJust as the sands of time continue relentlessly to pour from our individual hour glasses of life, so too are we coming closer to having to stand before our Creator and account for our actions.

Right now, throughout the whole world, there are an unprecedented number of people of varying ages and social standing who are claiming to be receiving messages from God that warn us of the need to wake up to ourselves before it’s too late. It’s easy to take a neutral stance and sit back and wait for the Catholic Church to thoroughly investigate each instance and attempt to determine its authenticity. However, we know these types of investigations can often seem to take forever. I believe we need to bite the bullet ourselves, use the gift of discernment given us by The Holy Spirit and sit up and take note of what God is trying to say to us all through so many different people.

Jesus was sent to us by God to show us the way to The Father. Apart from offering us a perfect example of how we should live, he gave us two simple instructions – we were to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbour as ourselves.

It seems the idea of having a loving relationship with a God they claim they can’t see isn’t favoured by many people in today’s society. Even those who consider themselves Christian often find themselves shying away from this issue because the idea of love in today’s world tends to be understood more as a sexual relationship or a means of satisfying personal needs. Some believe their actions in the past have been such that they would be considered hypocrites if they were to recognise that God exists in their lives, so they just go on living life as if God doesn’t exist for them.

As for loving our neighbour as ourselves – well, we’re very big on loving ourselves. We pamper ourselves with the good things of life and we protect ourselves from being criticised by others or being seen as someone who might ‘rock the boat’. Our neighbourly love can often take a very low priority in our day to day activities, unless of course there’s something in it for us.

So often we fail to see the devil in his boat simply named, “AU” nudging us as we gently float along in our little sea of complacency. Little do we realise, often not until it’s too late, that the devil in his not-so-good-ship “AU” (which, by the way, stands for “Apathetic Us”) is fishing for souls and we’re getting caught hook line and sinker.

There can be times when we come to Mass because it’s part of an ingrained ritual. Sometimes we can even leave the Church oblivious to what has been said during the Readings or at the Homily. It’s possible we can even file up to Communion because it’s our pews turn to move or start getting aggro because the mandatory hour has been exceeded.

When we leave the Church after a Eucharistic celebration it is to go out into our world taking the Jesus in us to others. This can often be forgotten as we go about the business of living, oblivious to the call God is giving us to be part of all our activities. Even our prayer life can take a hammering if we don’t have a regular pattern of speaking with God and allowing Him the time to converse with us. If we get around to it, sometimes we fit in the odd speedy prayer or two in between some of the busy activities of our day.

We can sit for hours watching television and then stagger into bed, often too tired to offer our God more than a passing mumble. We can become so engrossed in life itself that we don’t realise things could be handled so much easier if we invited The Holy Spirit to be a partner with us in everything we do, to help us in our deliberations and give us the wisdom to make correct decisions.

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if The Holy Spirit really exists for us or is this one of those difficult to understand parts of our faith we find would be more comfortable for us if we left its understanding until we went to heaven when all will be revealed. As kids we learnt about our Guardian Angel, but nowadays the thought of being protected by an angel in everything we do can easily seem like a childhood myth. We need to be careful or the important aspects of our faith such as the sanctity of our Mass and The Eucharist could also get lost in our complacency.

Maybe as Catholics we won’t really appreciate the value of what we have until through some quirk of fate, or a deliberate act of God, we are placed in a position where we won’t enjoy such an easy access as we currently have to The Sacraments and the Eucharist. So we should be thankful we have been given so much.

It is easy to critise one’s church and those associated with it because we see and we hear of so many instances where children have been molested or people’s lives drastically affected by the wrongdoings of priests, brothers and nuns. Criminals will be brought to justice, if not in this life, certainly in the next.  Jesus didn’t come on earth to create the Roman Catholic Church, irrespective of what we might have been taught as youngsters. The church is a man-made organisation and as such suffers the effects of human weaknesses.

We should be thankful we have been given the gift of faith by a God who loves us and remember the simple messages by which Jesus gave us in order to live our life. Our church and the richness of the Sacramental life can then be used by us to maintain this wonderful gift we have been given.

Perhaps it’s time many of us pulled our heads out of the sand and realised why we were created. Scripture tells us we know not the day nor the hour when our individual time on this earth will come to an end. So it stands to reason, we need to be prepared with our lamps, that reflect our light of faith, trimmed and ready to help, not only ourselves, but others find their way to God. Just as important is the need to have our light shining so God will be able to find us when He is looking to determine who will be chosen to be with Him in Paradise. And just being a Catholic won’t necessarily gain us automatic entrance.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s the way it is.

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