The meaning of life

The Beatles conversed with a Guru on a mountain top in Nepal as they searched for the meaning of life. They returned still questioning in their own mind the purpose of their existence.

The hilarious Monty Python team, in attempting to fathom the problem in their film, did so by exploring the various stages of life starting at birth and finishing with a visit by the grim reaper. Sadly, while there was much to enjoy watching the movie, there was no definitive answer to the film’s title.

Throughout history the search for life’s meaning has occupied the minds of many people from different walks of life and different cultures. We have been given a wide variety of answers based on scientific, theological and philosophical speculation which leaves one wondering.

For those who believe in the God of our creation, they look for the answer through their personal understanding of God, the use of their free will and their belief in the afterlife. They look inwards to the existence of a soul and their interpretation of the difference between good and evil.

The scientific theories would probably be based more on facts about our survival within our universe, whereas many people would just see the need for happiness as their response to the question.

Whatever we conclude as our own understanding of the meaning of life, we should always remember when something is created it is always done so for a purpose. So maybe the simplistic answer as to why we are here and what is the meaning of our life lies in what the creator had in mind for us at the time of our creation.

The answer could be as simple as just trying to be the person our creator wanted us to be in this life. The emphasis here is on the word ‘trying’, for we all know no one is perfect. How this can be achieved is perhaps seeing our God as a God of goodness and love and then trying to emulate these qualities.

So, let’s be good, do good and love good.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Take it easy

I find that sometimes our God can talk to us using the lyrics from well-known songs. Maybe we should listen more closely to the words of a song and not just enjoy the melody. It is possible there might be a personal message in the song which particularly resonates for us beyond what the lyricist intended.

Take for instance the great Eagles song, ‘Take it Easy’. The lyrics tell us of the singer’s quest to find true love in his life that has so far been unsuccessful. It seems, it isn’t the casual affairs but true love which he desires more than anything else.

He tells himself that in his search he should “take it easy” by approaching the situation with a cool head and not to ‘let the sound of his own wheels drive him crazy!’

It is a bit like our search for our God throughout our life. We generally recognise God, or some higher being exists, but our busy life doesn’t always allow us the time or the inclination to really get to fathom out what this relationship is all about. The song tells us to ‘lighten up while you still can.’

While the lyrics refer to ‘a girl my Lord in a flatbed’ ute, they also raise the unanswered question of the Lord that says, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’. It is recognised that in our life, ’we may lose and we may win’, but that ‘we will never be here again’. And as part of our search for true love ‘I may be ‘running down the road trying to loosen my load’. However, I find ‘I’ve got a world of trouble on my mind’.

While we may only find the peace we seek during our stay on this earth in our God who truly loves us, many of us can be very conscious of our shortcomings and our worthiness, so we tend to go ‘lookin’ for a lover who won’t blow our cover’. We know ‘we got it easy’ but the question in the song to our God repeats itself again, ‘I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me’.

As if in response to our request, Jesus reaches out and tells us to come to Him all who labour and He will give us rest. He will help us find true love. He will be the one to give us the freedom we need to ‘Take it Easy’.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Fair dinkum

We all need to be able to help our mates especially when it is obvious to us they are going through a hard time.

A concern about a particular mate’s situation might cause us to feel we may be able to help him in some way. By just being there for him is sometimes all that might be required.  However, should he wish to discuss his situation with you, it is important we listen carefully without wanting to interrupt or offer helpful suggestions unless we are asked for them.

Sometimes, just giving a person the opportunity to open up and share his problem is sufficient in itself to enable your mate to resolve the problem himself.

Other times, if you are required to offer a response, we need to be conscious of our own knowledge and ability and determine whether we might not be qualified to offer effective advice. In which case, our suggestion would be that he might seek professional help.

It is important we find a way of not only empathising with our friend but praying for him as well. Perhaps we might feel our mate would be embarrassed by openly praying with him on the spot. So, we can keep our prayer for him between ourselves and God.

Scripture tells us it’s the Holy Spirit within us whose job it is to help us with our prayer life. Hence, we should ask the Holy Spirit to help us pray for our mate that he will be assisted in becoming the person God wants him to be, rather than the person we think he should be.

Relying on the Holy Spirit to take our requests and needs to The Father does make praying so much easier, giving us more time to praise and thank our God for his goodness.

This way we can then confidently sit back and watch how God is answering our prayer.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Easter in Aus

The supermarkets give us ample warning that Easter is approaching.  Hot cross buns, chocolate novelties and eggs of all sizes and colours are given highly visible promotional locations throughout the stores.

For some people this is what the season of Easter is all about.  For others, the season has a deeply religious meaning.  It is a time to think about the sacrifice a man called Jesus made for the principles in which he believed.

Perhaps we could spend a portion of the holiday break counting our lucky stars we are living here in Australia.  A democratic country not ravaged by war, border conflicts or ethnic cleansing.

Yet, are we really the lucky country, when we see around us our youth sacrificing themselves to drug addiction and providing the statisticians with one of the highest suicide rates in the world.  Domestic violence and homelessness are becoming serious problems and racism continues to fester. 

Are we too busy looking after our own adult interests and perhaps lost in the Aussie ‘I’m all right Jack’ mentality, to notice that there are many people in our community who are crying out for help in different ways?  They not only need our support but they need hope and encouragement just to survive.

The man who died on the cross 2000 years ago left behind him a message that spoke of love and caring for one another.  Perhaps this Easter could be the time when we look a little closer at that message and what it might mean today to each one of us here in this country of ours.

Perhaps we might look beyond just having a holiday from work and filling ourselves with chocolate. Perhaps we could resolve to do something positive that might help some of those less fortunate with whom we come in contact within our own communities.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Brokenhearted

When two people first find they love each other in a deep and meaningful way, their hearts are filled with an ecstasy that overwhelms all other emotions.

As their love grows, they promise each other a lifetime of pleasure, excitement, generous giving and open sharing.

Sometimes the joy of the relationship can fade if the promises are broken. The effervescence of yesterday’s overwhelming feelings of love can be replaced with today’s heartaches.

As we interrogate ourselves over and over about our commitment, our actions and even the words we used, we can find ourselves at the point of despair where we even question our own ability to love.

The cry of the broken-hearted lover was heard on Calvary as Jesus called to His Father for support.

During those times when both promises and hearts are broken, we need to reach out and seek the help of our God who has experienced what we are going through.

During our rough times it’s a lot easier if we don’t have to go it alone.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s faith.

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Field of dreams

I liken our schools to a field of dreams. From the movie of the same name, we learnt that ‘if we build it, they will come’.

Apart from the school infrastructure that needs to be constructed and maintained, we also need to become more aware of the importance and necessary work we expect our professional teaching staff to undertake.

In bygone years students existed under a threat of sometimes severe retribution should they not pay attention or perform according to the strict instructions of their teachers.

Fortunately, that concept doesn’t exist in the same form today. However, discipline is still a problem and can cause our educators considerable concern, energy and time either in the classroom or out in the playground.

Teachers are required to strictly adhere to Education Department subject curriculum from which the students will be assessed. Comprehensive written assessments for each student are required progressively throughout the year, enabling parents to be fully aware of their child’s progress in each subject.

Apart from the teacher’s physical presence in the classroom, the preparation and documentation of lessons for students and individually challenged students, is an on-going daily requirement. Other areas in which our educators are involved, and often in their own time, include discussions with individual students concerning their curriculum plans, the preparation of students for school sporting teams, and academic and community representation.  

Teachers are often required to provide support to students when breakdowns occur in friendship groups, or at times when they wish to discuss general difficulties being experienced in their lives outside the classroom. Generally, in their own time, our educators attend staff meetings and parent/teacher interviews, subject selection nights and prepare work for sick or injured students to complete at home.

Our teachers need to maintain their own professional standards through study and course attendances. To say teachers get more holidays than the average worker, is grossly unfair. They are only paid for 25 hours work per week and spend many hours of their normal, private and holiday time doing unpaid school work.

In essence, teachers generally are a dedicated group. They become very aware of how each of their students see their own individual ‘field of dreams’ and are most conscious of their role in educating our young people to be productive future citizens.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s life.

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COVID – The last two years

Two years ago, the first Covid case was diagnosed in Australia. Since then, we have seen this pandemic spread throughout our land. We have seen thousands affected with the virus and sadly, many deaths have occurred.

We have heard how nurses have interrupted their duties to sit and hold the hands of the dying whose family were not allowed to be with them.

Nowhere have we heard of how our bishops and priests sought permission to wear full PPE and offer to sit with the dying.  What would Jesus do in this situation? He certainly had no compunction about touching and being near those with leprosy who sought to be healed.

Our priests and bishops were closely following the government’s directives lest they and their congregations might contract the virus. But what of those who had already contracted the virus and those closely associated with them?

The clergy found it was safe to get into their vestments and perform the Mass ritual in front of a camera, social distancing of course, so Catholics could watch on their TV sets.

But, what they failed to understand was that we are a missionary church and we don’t come to church just to partake in the Mass ritual.  We gather to gain strength from each other, to be nourished by the Word and fed by the Eucharist so we can return to our missionary roll with new enthusiasm.

So, what was done to enable us to receive the Eucharist? We are told the Eucharist is the summit and source of our faith, yet it seems the only way we can be nourished by receiving the body and blood of Christ is to attend mass in a church.

People were in lock-down for months in some cases and at times when some churches were allowed to operate, we needed to have a pre-booked ticket to attend the Eucharist. What consideration and arrangements were made for those who couldn’t get in? Could tents have been erected outside and a TV service provided. Could local school accommodation be used effectively? What special arrangements were even considered for the unfortunate people unable to acquire a ticket?

Jesus told Peter three times to feed his lambs and his sheep. I think that made it fairly clear what He wanted done. But then at the Last Supper Jesus said ‘Whenever you do these things, you do them in memory of me’. He asked the Father to bless the food and drink they were having and through this means He gave Himself to them. I see no mention in scripture where only Catholic priests should be the only ones to continue this procedure.

As baptised Christians, I believe we are direct descendants of the first Christians. In John’s Gospel, Chapter 8, we read how Jesus was talking with some Jews who believed in Him. He said, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

 For those in lock-down and those unable to attend a church, how edifying it would have been, if while viewing the Mass on TV, they could have shared a meal as Jesus did and with reverence know that the Holy Spirit alive in each one of us converted our food and drink into the Blessed Eucharist.

If you are in isolation and you need food you can ring Coles or Woollies and get whatever you want delivered to your door. The same with a pizza and meals from other fast-food outlets. Yet, the Eucharist is not available, be it by home delivery or from a central point perhaps beside the church.

I think maybe our bishops couldn’t allow free access to the Eucharist because that would seriously affect the control they believe they have over us with transubstantiation.  Yet, it is the Eucharist that is our ‘food for the journey’.

Early in the pandemic days I suggested to the Victorian bishops that the church could set up an Australia wide phone centre manned by priests who would be available to receive calls from Catholics who were undergoing stress and family difficulties and needed some spiritual counselling. I didn’t even get a reply.

For eighty years I have lived out the teachings of the Catholic church but sadly it is only recently I have come to realise the church hierarchy form just another business organisation. So much is written that I have devoured and believed but I have had first-hand experience with the way I am supposed to accept what is written as against the reality of what really happens.

Statements have been issued telling of the new transparency within the church concerning victims of sexual assault by priests and religious. My experience has proven the hierarchy are not prepared to assist in bringing culprits to justice. Nor are they at all concerned about the needs of victims or victim’s families.

Nowadays I am content to determine what I believe the merciful Jesus would do in different situations and follow this prompting. No longer do I want to belong to a church whose hierarchy is only interested in controlling the people and maintaining the organisation. I just want to maintain a close relationship with the Blessed Trinity and love my neighbour as Jesus has instructed.

Peter Mack           26 January 2022 (Australia Day)

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Recognise me…!

After the resurrection and just prior to His ascension, Jesus said to his disciples, “Know that I am with you always”. He then proceeded to disappear into the heavens.

No wonder the disciples were perplexed. He had just told them he would be with them always and then disappeared from sight.

To understand the real meaning of what had been said we need to go back to the day Jesus died. We read in scripture how about the ninth hour Jesus ‘yielded up his spirit’. He breathed his last breath. His body had died as his spirit left him. The Blessed Trinity was reunited in heaven.

As Jesus had promised that he would return, this obviously happened, for there are many stories relating to his reappearance. Interestingly though, as a spirit he chose to be recognised by appearing as the body they knew. He appeared in the locked room where the disciples were gathered and asked Thomas to touch his wounds. He also ate meals with those present. All this was  to convince them, and us, he had risen as he said he would.

This was no magic trick, the spirit of Jesus appeared and disappeared as he wanted. It even took the 2 disciples on the way to Emmaus all day to recognise him.

When Jesus said he would be with us always we must assume that he is referring to his presence with us as spirit. If this is true then it is the Blessed Trinity that is with us, for the spirit of Jesus is one with The Father and The Holy Spirit.

How then can we recognise the Blessed Trinity in our lives? Many will point to creation and nature to ‘see’ the hand of God in operation. Others will ‘feel’ the presence of God in their lives at special times. But if our God is with us always, how do we recognise this presence on an on-going basis?

Perhaps we need to realise that God does not control our lives. We do that ourselves. How then does our God give us the constant support we need to assist us in maintaining our control and how do we even know this is happening?

The Father, our creator, gave us life in our mother’s womb. When we entered this world, our life began by our first breath. Our life continues with every breath we take until, as Jesus did, we breathe our last breath and give up our spirit.

Surely then, with every breath we take we should realise it is The Father who is maintaining us as his creation. With the presence of the Father also comes the Spirit of life we have in us. The Holy Spirit that has so many gifts to offer us in maintaining our existence, if we but recognise this presence within us. Jesus, as ‘The Word made flesh’ is also available to nurture and teach us if we reach out to this source of knowledge and understanding.

So, do we travel our pathway of life like the disciples on the road to Emmaus and only recognise Jesus at the end of the day and then realise he has been with us all the time. Or do we recognise our God is true to his word and is with us always with every breath we take?

I’m Peter Mack and That’s how I feel.

January 2022

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The Soul Survival Company

Deep within our very selves there exists a thriving little business called The Soul Survival Company.

The General Manager is Jesus who has said He will be with us always. He took up his position along with the Spirit when we were baptised. Of course, The Father is there as well to take submissions and determine what action should be taken as a result of the various requests that come in from time to time.

Jesus manages the day-to-day activities and is constantly available for consultations and the dispensing of free advice. Because we can only get to The Father through Him, He makes available this direct avenue for us whenever we ask. The Spirit is always on hand to inject specific gifts as required and works closely with Jesus and The Father.

The Soul Survival Company’s general office work is conducted by our Guardian Angel who also has the security role. Whoever was appointed to this position has been active on our behalf since our birth and set up the office while waiting for our Baptism to occur.

Our Guardian Angel is also responsible for connecting us with other Saints with whom we wish to relate at a specific time or for a specific purpose. There are direct lines to Mary and others we might require on a regular basis, such as St Anthony, when we lose things, St Joseph when we need assistance with our work and other family member Saints who are well versed in our specific needs.

It certainly is a busy little private company we have embedded within each one of us and each of the operational staff really enjoy our recognition of their presence. Should this occur both first thing in the morning and last thing at night as well as numerous times during our day the staff would be most impressed and always willing to assist as required.

Sadly, some of the Soul Survival Companies in some of us don’t always get the recognition they deserve. However, the staff eagerly await any call to action that might be forthcoming.

So, let’s ensure we keep our individual Company staff on their toes by being ever aware of the Company presence and let’s not forget to always thank them for their work on our behalf.

I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.

May 2020

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The Rule – What’s behind this story?

We say as part of the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God, born of the father before all ages. God from God….”

‘The Rule’ offers a way in which this might have occurred. While the story is primarily written so it might be adapted into a stage production, it challengers us to question within our own minds whether we are a true Christian and really believe in Jesus and His teachings.

So often we hear the term ‘Born Again Christian’. Jesus says, “we cannot see the kingdom of God unless we are born again”, being ‘born again’ seems then to be the most urgent task for those who hope for heaven.

Some might see being ‘born again’ as a process, often associated with what some Christians refer to as a ‘baptism in the Spirit’. I see being ‘born again’ in Christian terminology, as a decision made at some particular stage in our adult life when we come to the personal realisation that we really do believe in Jesus and His teachings. Being ‘born again’ is a decision we make and not just a feeling or an emotion.

In ‘The Rule’ we see Jesus as ‘The Word’ being created by The Father, God from God. When Mary made the decision to say ‘yes’ to becoming the mother of Jesus, she accepted Jesus as her saviour and He was born again, this time in human form. And thus, it could be said that, because of that decision, Mary became the first ‘born again’ Christian.

Although we may have been raised in a Christian environment, been baptised, taught about and read about Jesus this, in my opinion, does not qualify us as ‘born again’ Christians.

Just as The Father created Man and woman to populate his earthly creation, He is the one who determines when the miracle of birth will occur. He is the one who creates us with individual fingerprints and DNA characteristics. While we might often question whether a birth should ever have occurred, there must be an underlying reason why The Father created each individual human miracle.

As we live our individual lives, most of us become exposed to Christianity in its numerous forms. Maybe, we gain knowledge from a young age or are influenced towards Christian thinking at an older age. Maybe, we have serious reservations about what the Bible contains and how we see some Christians live their lives. Maybe we are happy to just see our Creator in the nature that surrounds us.

I believe our God allows us to find him in the way most suited to us as individuals. Some might call this the ‘gift’ of faith, others might see it as the ‘grace’ of discovery. When we consider that we were created so we might spend eternity in heaven, our God has to give us all a chance to become the person for which we were created.

It is my belief that at some time in our lives we are given the opportunity to make the decision that says ‘I truly believe’.  It is at that moment we are ‘born again’ and reciting The Creed takes on a whole new meaning as does our understanding of who Jesus was and the importance of ‘The Rule’.

So, let’s take another look at ‘The Rule’

“Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:25)

When you think about it, this represents a really serious form of loving. We must question ourselves whether we really understand the true significance of loving at this depth? How do we go about having a love affair which, under normal circumstances with an earthly partner, can often be a difficult ask?

Our God is unlike any partner we might encounter and therefore the enormity of the task might seem insurmountable. Yet, if this is what we must do to get to heaven then let’s together find a way in which we might fall totally in love with God.

As with the start of any love affair we need to find out as much about our lover as we can. If we are fortunate enough to have been raised in a Christian environment this gives us a reasonable background of understanding. If we have only recently found we have been given the gift of faith then we have some catching up to do. The basic book of knowledge of course is the Bible, but it is such a massive tome we need some balanced help to gain a broad picture of our God’s operation from creation to eternity.

There are certainly mountains of books available which, if you spent much of your time reading could seriously hamper the time you give yourself in which to get deeper into your loving relationship.

A love relationship is a two-way street. Partners need to be totally open and honest with each other just to get the relationship off the ground. So, let’s look at what God is prepared to put towards cementing our loving union. Well firstly, God’s main claim to fame is that we were created as unique individuals. We have been placed in a world created to provide for our every need. All around us we can use our senses to see, feel and touch this evolving creation. This must be considered as a reasonable contribution.

History has shown it became obvious we weren’t recognising the love God had given us and many were refusing to even recognise God’s existence, preferring to do their own ‘thing’ in furthering their individual causes in this world.

After many warnings, the Father sacrificed His own Son who was called Jesus to prove the love our God has for us all.

Apart from giving us the directions we need to create a wonderful love relationship with God and with each other, Jesus told us he was the way to the Father and then proved the love our God has for us by suffering and dying for us. Not only that, but He made a covenant or total commitment to always be available for each of us.

So, it is patiently obvious our God has already fulfilled all the needs of a great loving partner.  How then can we fulfill our side of the bargain? Just as with a human partner, true love is more than a feeling or an action, it is a decision. We jointly decide to love one another. Our God has already made the decision to love us, so we need to make this decision before going any further in developing the relationship further.

This is where the proposed love affair gets tricky. With a human partner you can embrace each other, you can see the look in their eyes, you can feel their heartbeat in unison with your own and you might even enjoy a sexual relationship. There are just so many emotions you can share which helps cement your relationship. It would seem this human form of relationship cannot be duplicated with our God. Or can it?

We can certainly be aware of the presence of our creator if we look at and feel the breeze blowing through the trees or stop and listen to the birds chattering in the branches. We can see our God in the beauty of a sunset or the glory of the sky as it lights up to start a new day. We can see the creator’s work in the simple beauty of a baby, the caring look on the face of a friend or the amazing strata of an exposed cliff face. The power behind an electrical storm, the wonder of our planetary system and the constant ebb and flow of the tides are also other indicators.

While we might live in the midst of the wonders of God’s creations, sadly we tend to take it all for granted. Perhaps this could be where our love relationship could start. We could just recognise God’s presence in our lives.

For our human love relationships to survive we need to be good communicators and we need to respect and be honest with each other. So, how might we achieve these aspects of our love affair with our God?

Instead of seeing our God as an almighty entity who lives in eternity and who seems beyond our reach, perhaps we could focus in on a just a simple relationship with Jesus. The advantage of this is that Jesus was human like us and lived in our world. We can seek Him out because he wants us to find Him. We can talk to Him as a brother, involve Him in all that we do and ask Him to help and support us as He has promised.

Let us see Jesus as an integral part of our lives and constantly thank Him for helping us in so many ways. Let’s not wait until we look back on our yesterdays to see how Jesus has helped us. Let’s thank Him constantly and we will soon become aware of all the little things that are happening in our lives thanks to our ongoing friendship and love affair with our God.

Thank you Jesus for your inspiration.

Love

Pete

Link to The Rule

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