Earlier this week a priest who used to minister here in Griffith, became a chaplain in the Australian Army.
That may not seem like news, but it’s actually pretty rare these days and has had me musing on my own unique experiences when I was becoming an army chaplain at boot camp.
The first thing you lose is your name.
I went from being called Father Brendan to Private, which is a strange name given they stick you in a room with 37 other blokes.
In the army they sort out the men from the boys very quickly, so within 20 minutes I was in a bassinet.
But it was hard not to get in trouble!
I looked at the timetable on my first day, “Camouflage Practice at 0500 hrs. Breakfast at 0600 hrs.”
I thought, “they want me to get up out of my bassinet at 5am and crawl in the dirt to hide myself? I thought priests wore black priest clothes so people can find us? Nah, they don’t expect me at camouflage practice.”
So I had a little sleep-in but made sure I was at breakfast at 0600 sharp.
As I’m obediently eating breakfast, the sergeant bursts into the mess hall and shouts out in front of all the other soldiers, “Private Lee! Where’s Private Lee?”
As he comes towards my table I whispered to him “Pssst.. Sir, if you keep shouting out my name around the place it’s not going to stay private for long.”
He blared, “why weren’t you at camouflage practice this morning?”
I had to think fast.
So I replied “How do you know I wasn’t?”
He screamed back, “I didn’t see you!”
So I answered, “Sir, wasn’t that the purpose of the exercise?”
Okay, a little of the above is fiction; they didn’t put me in a bassinet … it was more like a cot for toddlers.
Seriously, last month NSW Coroner Michael Barnes recommended the Turnbull Government make it easier for the Australian Defence Force to take charge during terror incidents, given the evolving and complex nature of terrorism.
Australia's terror alert level is currently at "probable" after the recent Manchester terrorist attacks.
I guess the hippy deep down in all of us is a little uncomfortable about war and weapons and would much rather think about peace and love, but let’s face it, a country without an army is not a country at all.
When there is a country without an army it is always a country being protected by another country with one.
Why do so many people today not pray anymore?
There are many reasons, but one is that many of us don’t believe we have anything to pray for.
Life is pretty good, so why should I?
Perhaps if this is your story you could try praying for soldiers, good and bad, all around the world.
Most of us never think of soldiers in our prayers, but he or she has the weight of more than a gun on their shoulders.
Pray they make the right decisions.
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