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Blog - do we stay engaged with our children? Marist Laity Australia
30 June 2022
When you are married in a Christian or Catholic Church, you are often asked the question “do you promise to raise your children in the Christian faith and guide them?” But when couples have babies, things start to get busier and busier. As children they grow, there are more and more demands on parents. In the busyness of life, we forget the original words and our promise. But are they first about words of faith? Saint Francis said, “preach the Gospel and where necessary use words”. This suggests that we are called to primarily embody the Gospel, rather than starting with religious words. Can we teach the Gospel without even speaking. Could the words that we use, are rather the fruits of our lived experience. But we often place things the other way around. Words first. Karl Rahner said “the Christian of the future will be a mystic, otherwise there will be no Christian”. The Christian of the future must move more deeply than just the words we use.
 
Blog - to be people of the Beatitudes Marist Laity Australia
23 June 2022
Jesus did not say “Blessed are those who are happy”. Jesus did not say “Blessed are those that make money”. Jesus did not say “Blessed are those powerful and in control”. Rather Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn”. Rather Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are poor”. Rather Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are humble and persecuted”. It is so that the love of God might be seen through you and me. We are called to become instruments of God’s love. We need to realign our values and choices. We cannot do this alone. To be people of the Beatitudes is to choose the road less travelled. Not to choose suffering. But to choose to be instruments of hope. To be chose to be beacons of hope. So that the love of God can flow through our hearts.
 
Blog - Does being a Christian matter? Andrew Dumas
12 June 2022
No. Being a Christian does not matter. At least for the 80 to 90% of Australians who in the past 40 years who have walked away from various Christian Churches. There are an assorted reasons why “the church no longer matters”, but at its core, is the loss of faith in Jesus Christ. Our culture today places importance on continually being happy, on constant entertainment and on earning money. Did Jesus say “Blessed are the happy” .No. Rather, he taught blessed are the poor”, “Blessed are those who mourn” and “Blessed are the persecuted”. Constant happiness, entertainment or earning money fit into the culture of the ego and places the individual in the driver’s seat. Being a Christian does not cut it.
 
Blog - hard to accept the election Marist Laity Australia
22 May 2022
As Australians wake up this morning, they have a new government. But not just a new party in power, but a new way of doing government. Change can be a very hard thing for some. Like the process of dying. We cannot accept the reality and instead create in our heads reasons for this false reality. When Donald Trump lost the November 2020 election, he created a storyline of a “rigged election”. It is hard for our ego to let go of how things were or how things should be. We ignore facts and prefer the way we think.
 
How are Christians called to engage with people of other belief systems? Marist Laity Australia
20 April 2022
Recently, I helped lead a retreat with year 12 students. In the small group which I ran, two students openly talked about their use of rocks and crystals for healing. They spoke about how these different types of rocks, such as jade, had healing properties. Immediately I thought “this is wrong” and “isn’t the Christian teaching that Jesus is the Son of God more correct and ultimately more powerful?” But….I realised in that moment I could create a slanging match or debate about who is right and who is wrong. “Of cause, I am right” I thought… But are these questions at the level of my own ego. Where my ego has an ambition always to be right and always be in control.
 
Blog - what advice would you give married couples? Marist Laity Australia
19 April 2022
About 6 weeks ago my seven year old son had COVID. I woke at 2 am in the morning to the words “I cannot breathe”, “I cannot breathe”, I cannot breathe”. Racing to my son’s bed I smacked his back to help clear the flem which was preventing him breathing. The flem cleared and he began to throw up. He was sweating.
 
Who do we think God is? Marist Laity Australia
13 April 2022
When a baby is born it clings to its mother’s chest. Gaining an insight by touch and smell of the mother’s closeness. The heart beat it knows very well. The father hopefully to will hold their baby. Research shows that the father too greatly influences the development of the baby through their connection. In this beginning moment in time the mother and the father may seem like God to the baby. Providing everything.
 
Blog - How do we taste God? Marist Laity Australia
12 April 2022
A house builder does not start with the roof or the tiles. Our relationship with God are within stages like a builder building a house. You need to start with a foundation. The beginning stages is the laying of the cement. There is a natural beginning when we draw upon the natural elements and building blocks of our own lives. God speaks to us most fully through our own life experience.
 
Blog - Forget about God Marist Laity Australia
11 April 2022
There is a forgetting that is occurring in Christian communities. A loss of the importance of being a follower of Jesus Christ. At a recent year 12 retreat I helped to facilitate, some students wrote in their evaluations “I am not religious” or “I am not Christian”. Some parents I know who were brought up Catholic have decided not to baptise their Children. Even in my own immediate family my own children say “why do we have to go to church”. It would seem I am fighting a loosing battle.
 
Blog - My children asked what is inflation? Marist Laity Australia
16 March 2022
In Australia the price of living is going up sharply. The cost of vegetables seems to have doubled or tripled. The price of fuel has never been this high. I said at the dinner table last night “inflation is increasing”. My children responded, “what is inflation?” They have never experienced inflation in their lifetimes. My ego and mind immediately thought “how do we make more money to get by?”
 
Blog - Teaching our children to walk through the desert of prayer Andrew Dumas
03 March 2022
During Lent we are called to follow Jesus’ last moments of his life. Often the last moments of a person’s life can be quite difficult. This can be like a desert. Prayer helps prepare us for this moment. It connects us to God and raises our minds beyond what we can see to a deeper reality.
 
Blog - Blessed are you when you are bored Marist Laity Australia
29 January 2022
“Blessed are the poor”. This is the first line in the Beatitudes of Luke’s Gospel. There seems to be a flipping of values of what seems important. When our modern culture says “Blessed are those who are successful” or “Blessed are those who are rich”. What is wrong with riches and success? They can prevent us from accessing God’s kingdom. They close our hearts to the possibility of something more. Through our pride or continuous greed.
 
A lay Marists New Years Message 2022 Marist Laity Australia
01 January 2022
The “Marist Millennium Pledge” is a Formation tool which can use to help structure our discernment and way of living as Marists. Across a total of 12 months a person is invited to discern about ten things where God is calling them to follow Mary and Jesus. These commitments will take time to emerge. Over several months, through our own prayer life and our encounters with spiritual friends or Marists these pledges will begin to appear.
 
A lay Marists Christmas message - December 2021 Marist Laity Australia
25 December 2021
Two years ago, in the summer of 2019 to 2020 Australia experienced the worst fires in modern history. Estimates of up to 3 billion animals have died according to the WWF. Whilst 17 million hectares were burnt down according to government estimates. For the past 2 Christmases Australians have been blind-sided by the COVID pandemic. We have been asked to isolate and this year epidemiologists recommended us to isolate again
 
Hearing the hidden voice Marist Laity Australia
18 December 2021
Recently, I was watching the movie “The Two Popes”. It follows a dialogue between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis before Francis becomes pope. In it pope Benedict says “I can no longer hear the voice of God”. But, once Benedict said “I have decided to resign as being pope” he again could hear the voice of God. Is this because he was ignoring the voice of God? More, broadly, is it because each of us have stopped listening and rather ignoring. This is a reciprocal thing. We tune out to God’s voice. Maybe, we don’t know the language or vehicle of how God communicates to us.
 
Is the Catholic Church in Australia stuck in 3rd gear? Marist Laity Australia
11 December 2021
I have three children. Two of who are in their early teenage years. They have arrived at the tipping point of “dad, why do we need to go to mass?” Over the past 6 weeks I have taken them to a neighbouring parish hoping for them to gain an experience of an engaging Australian priest who would enliven their desire to go to church. I was very careful to pick from the roster a mass which this priest would attend. But despite my efforts, each time we would attend a priest from overseas presided. They were very friendly priests, but the same result. A foreign priest with a very strong ascent. We would even sit in the front row despite my kids reluctance. On driving home each time my kids would say “dad, what did he just say?” I thought to myself, this mass may well have been in Latin, as
 
The Immaculate Conception is for everyone Marist Laity Australia
08 December 2021
Today is the feast day of Mary the Immaculate Conception. This celebration is not just about Mary but all of creation. The teaching of the Immaculate conception says that Mary was born without original sin. This does not mean that Mary in her life time could not sin, but rather, chose not to. This provides all of us hope against a theology that says that all of creation has fallen and that humanity is depraved. Rather, creation has the divine spark of grace in the beginning and this is seen in Mary.
 
Find a new way to love Marist Laity Australia
19 November 2021
As a married man, forgiveness to has been one of the keys of keeping my relationship with my wife together. There have been many times when we have fought with one another and listened to one another about hurts and a lack of awareness or will. There have been countless occasions where I or my wife have had tear filled eyes. And the words “I am sorry” are spoken.
 
We must learn humility Marist Laity Australia
02 November 2021
Our Western culture has a different way - the perfection game. Where we want to climb the ladder of success all the time. We celebrate our successes and ignore our failures. We have turned religion into this? What are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Is life all about image? Is life all about achieving an honour point system? How many points have you scored?
 
Why have young people stopped going to church? Marist Laity Australia
23 October 2021
Leaders of the church have been asking for about 40 years “why is it that young people have stop going to church”. This question has now become “why is it that nearly everyone has stopped going to church”?
 
How should parents teach their children about sex and sexuality? Marist Laity Australia
17 October 2021
In Western culture there is a conundrum. By late teens or early young adulthood when a person is becoming more sexually active the question arises “how do we teach our children about sex and sexuality?” This question, may have been ignored by the parent as the child has grown through childhood and teenage years. The parent may seem lost in an array of questions such as “What do I teach my child?”
 
Blog - Stop the Violence Marist Laity Australia
09 October 2021
In 2020 there are estimates that people world-wide spent $152 billion on computer games. Most of these computer games promote violence. Some of these top games include Hitman 3, Resident Evil Village and Deathloop 2021. These games simulate killing where users glorify murder.
 
Praying with Sarge 2 - Social leaning Marist Laity Australia
20 August 2021
Guided meditation and a reflection on Social leaning. Meditation is a form of prayer. Focus on your breathing. Breath in and breath out. Breath deeply. Focus on the prayer word Maranatha or Come Lord Jesus
 
Having fun with our children Marist Laity Australia
01 August 2021
My children have been on school holidays. Always, entertaining kids can be quite difficult. Take yesterday. My wife had to work leaving me, dad, to look after the kids. We had planned to go to the skate park.
 
Blog - A case for Women in leadership in the Church Marist Laity Australia
15 July 2021
If we are to truly reflect the divine feminine and masculine image, we must consider women in leadership. Yet, our culture and our Catholic tradition choses to say “this is not our practise”. This is not just about who is right and who is wrong, but rather, if we do not embrace more women in leadership, what will that do? I can see what it has done, and this has been devastating.
 
Blog - 5 minute Reflection on Simplicity Marist Laity Australia
29 June 2021
Simplicity is a very important for both Christians and Marists. It asks the question - 'What is the most important thing in our lives'? We are called to let go of what is not as important. Yet, this is very hard. Especially in our culture and society that encourages the opposite.
 
Blog - Are you really Christian? Marist Laity Australia
23 June 2021
As we enter July here in Australia we enter one of the coldest months of the year. One of the saddest memories I have of volunteering for St Vincent De Paul Night Patrol is arriving at Central Station park on a -1 degree July Night many years ago. The wind was blowing, and it was freezing. At 11.30 pm we were to pack up and go home to a warm bed and shower. But one of the last visitors was a couple with a stroller. They had a young child pushing her along. Maybe 2 years old. After a hot milo and some fruit which we had left, they decided to spend the night in the park in freezing conditions. A family of 3. My heart when out to them.
 
Blog - ‘Who do you say I am’ is transformational Marist Laity Australia
19 June 2021
Jesus poses the question to his followers “Who do you say I am?” in Matthew 16:13-16, Mark 8:27-29, and Luke 9:18-20. When we listen to the question, we hear a surface level answer “some say John the Baptist, still others Elijah, while others one of the prophets”. But Jesus is looking for a deeper answer “who do you say I am?” Simon responds, “You are the Messiah”. But in in effect the Messiah was something they did not expect. Jesus was not a political Messiah who would free Jews from the Romans. But are we today to answer also with surface level answers? Jesus’ is someone far beyond our words or labels. In effect, the question is an existential question. A question which could have an infinite ending. When Moses asks the burning bush for a name God answers, “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14).
 
Feast of Pentecost Marist Laity Australia
23 May 2021
In ancient times in Judaism, The Jewish feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) was primarily a thanksgiving for the first fruits of the wheat harvest (from Wikipedia). Pentecost celebrated the many fruits and gifts which God would provide.
 
200 Years of Catholic Schools amongst the persecuted Marist Laity Australia
22 May 2021
On Monday May 24, we will celebrate 200 years of Catholic schools in Australia. Most schools will celebrate with a mass. Yet, in this moment, do we remember the first 40 years of British settlement (From 1788 to 1820), where the Catholic church, many other churches, religions and Aboriginal customs were outlawed. Thus, many religions, and many churches began in Australia like the early Christian church, with oppression. Where the government of the day sought to stop their practise. With many lay people hidden in homes continuing religious traditions. Do we celebrate with the 200 years anniversary the many people who risked their lives for their religious faiths and traditions? This causes us to think, where in the world today are religious groups oppressed? As Catholics and people of religion, are we not called to identify and help the oppressed groups?
 
Just Mass and Liturgy are not working Marist Laity Australia
16 May 2021
Recently I was having a conversation with another parent whose daughter finished school 3 years prior. She commented that during her daughters schooling religion and spirituality focused on academic and priority on thinking. Sadly, since leaving school, her daughter has completely abandoned religion. I thought to myself, this is typical for most young people in Australia. Someone in the teenage years, faith, religion and spirituality do not grow up.
 
Blog - People of the Resurrection Marist Laity Australia
07 April 2021
We have gone away for a break. This reminds me of how Jesus would go off often by himself for some rest. Into the wilderness. By himself. After such as a crazy year of uncertainty, of Covid, of my mum being in hospital 3 times, changing jobs, of many fires in Australia and recently floods. It is good to step away from craziness. To find a space to rest.
 
How can lay people model Mary and Joseph? Marist Laity Australia
21 March 2021
We live almost 2000 years later, in a very different culture, religion, and country than Mary and Joseph. Yet, Mary and Joseph’s life has something very deep to say to us about the loving way they had with God. But in the busyness of our world today, taking care of our own children, going to sport, housework, work, or even watching Netflix or Disney online we can lose a sense of the connections that Mary and Joseph modelled.
 
BLOG - Why do I need to go to church? Marist Laity Australia
16 March 2021
Yesterday it was raining very heavy in Sydney. I thought it would be a good chance for my family to go to church on Sunday morning. Since COVID 19 our regular Sunday mass attendance, as a family, had almost disappeared. Instead, when it is sunny my family goes and spends 2 or 3 hours skateboarding at the local park, whilst, I would take my mum to church. It was hard because the local church, up until recently would only accept 100 people total. Thus, having a family of 7 (with grandma) is much harder than just mum and me (2).
 
a Jewish Sabbath Marist Laity Australia
07 March 2021
On Saturday. For Jewish people, Friday Sundown to Saturday sundown is the time of Sabbath. The Sabbath was a time to stop and reflect. It is not just simply because God commanded the Sabbath (Exodus 20:11), on the seventh day, to rest. But on the seventh day God rested. Thus, to rest is to follow God’s own example when God created the world.
 
Laudatio Si the Big Furry Spider Marist Laity Australia
15 February 2021
On the weekend I was blessed to participate in the “Laudatio Si Action Platform” Zoom conversation with Father Joshtrom Kureethdam and Father Bernard McKenna and 90 other Marists lay people and religious. As I listened, in my heart I pondered “are these just words?” Sure, I agree with the philosophy and rationale behind climate science, but how does this change me? How does this change my own community? How does this change my family?
 
Nazareth Renovation Marist Laity Australia
31 January 2021
Recently, my family visited some friends and relatives and their home. It was a very friendly household. We spent much of the time speaking about their home renovations. Painting the all the walls. Installing a new kitchen. A new bathroom. A large TV. Inside of me there was a temptation saying, “I want this too”. A perfect home with nothing out of place.
 
How old are you? Marist Laity Australia
29 January 2021
This question was raised by a colleague at work yesterday. We responded 44, 47, 34 and then my colleague answered “I turn 60 this year”. She said it as if there was something wrong. I pondered to my self, “why is it our western culture devalues our older generations?”
 
It is too hard to pray Marist Laity Australia
14 January 2021
At times I find it hard to pray in my family. A few days ago, I posted the “Retreat in the life for couples” with every intention to pray and reflect each day with my wife and partner. But. This has not happened.
 
Contemplation on the New Year Father Ben McKenna SM
05 January 2021
Christmas and New Year have provided us with the opportunity to pause, to watch, and to wonder at the event of the Word continuing to be made Flesh in our time. Perhaps we have found ourselves pondering with Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi at the unfolding of a Revelation among us that draws us to wonder, to encounter, to hope, and to be replenished with a new Divine-given energy.
 
A New Year’s Resolution Andrew Dumas
31 December 2020
Watch this 5-minute video from Marist Laity Australia. Download the Prayer sheet. Pray the prayer individually or share with your family or community.
 
How can the church evolve? Andrew Dumas
28 December 2020
I would like to propose a reason for the rapid decline of church participation in Australia. From the 2011 to the 2016 Australian National Census Christianity declined to 52.1%. From the percentage 90% of whom do not regularly practice their faith. I propose that these two percentages are actually linked. They show the devolving nature of Christian participation. This is not just a decline in numbers, what individuals can be we’re engaged simply by attending, but reflected that the reason than simply being upset or displaced from the disillusionment of the church. Some reasons may include the lack of women in leadership positions, the royal commission into the sexual abuse of children, or the treatment of the LGBTi Community. These are important issues, but the devolving nature of the church goes to a deeper reality...
 
Being Rejected at Christmas Andrew Dumas
24 December 2020
On Wednesday, my own home church contacted me and, asked “Can you give up coming to church on Christmas day this year because the government had just halved the numbers of people who can attend church?” When I told my mum of eighty, she was quiet upset. All her life she has gone to church on Christmas day.
 
The enemy this Christmas Father Michael Whelan SM
22 December 2020
In our search for possible factors within the Catholic system that might have had some bearing on the incidence of sexual abuse and the poor way it was handling, we turn now to the question of belief and, more specifically, how we think of Jesus Christ.
 
A Climate Emergency Father Ben McKenna SM
22 December 2020
Yesterday, 12 December, on the 5th Anniversary of the Paris Climate Agreement, Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, called on the leaders of the world's nations to declare states of 'climate emergency' in their countries to spur action to avoid 'catastrophic' global warming.
 
Screens zap imagination and ideas Manoush Zomorodi
20 December 2020
Neuroscientists show that when you get bored, this can be the most productive and creative time of your day. Yet with social media and smart phones we have removed this time. When we are folding the laundry or walking to work, but that is when our brain gets really busy. Once you start daydreaming your brain moves from the conscience to the sub-conscience and this allows different connections. In boring time, you can solve some of the most nagging problems. But now, we chill out on the couch, watching TV while replying to email at the same time. Neuroscientists tell us when we multitask, doing 4 or 5 things at once, we are not multi-tasking, but using more energy to shift between different tasks and we have a limited supply of energy. Dr Gloria Mark says when people are stressed, people shift their attention more often. As people get less sleep, the more likely they are to check Facebook. We are in a habitual cycle.
 
A Christmas Reflection for 2020 Andrew Dumas
18 December 2020
As we conclude 2020, this year will be forever marked as the Covid year. Where many parts of the world have struggled and continue to struggle to contain the Covid virus. As Marists, we feel called to go out into the community. To care for the poor, the outcast and to the edges of our society. There is a certain level of guilt not to have done some of the things we could do to work to care for others. The question, “Where would Christ and Mary be amongst this”? Who are the good angels?
 





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