HOLY OF HOLIES

HOLY OF HOLIES

ChurchI was praying at the Adoration chapel within St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, taking in the wonder of being present there. I was trying to make sense of all I have seen and learned in the last 2 weeks in Israel. It has been rather overwhelming. We traveled up and down the country of Israel walking where Jesus and the generations before him walked.

We made our way to Jerusalem where every Jew would go to the temple to present a sacrifice. The temple housed the Holy of Holies (the Ark of The Covenant), where the High Priest could only enter once a year. He would have to purify himself to enter the Holy of Holies for fear of death upon entering without doing so.

WesternWallHere we were visiting almost 2000 years after the temple was destroyed and the Ark was taken out a century before that. You can go today and see people praying at the wall that is as close as a Jew can get to where the Holy of Holies was. If you follow the tunnel system you will find women praying in a spot that is considered the closest a Jew can get to where the Holy of Holies was (Muslims control the Temple Mount).

There are thousands of prayers daily with many written and inserted into cracks on the wall. These prayers are collected up and buried in the Jewish cemetery as a communication between you and God.

Jesus changed all this with his becoming man and dying for us. He has made it possible for anyone to approach him in the tabernacles of the world. From the grand Basilicas to the small simple chapels we can approach God, He is truly present. We can receive Him body, blood, soul and divinity at Mass. Looking at the Western Wall, my wife Michele commented “its just a rock”. We have Jesus!.

In closing you don’t need to travel the world to find God. He is at your local parish waiting for you. You can enter the Holy of Holies without the fear of death. You can go and be with God!

Keeping The Faith

Sean Lynn

St Joseph – Humility for the ages

St Joseph – Humility for the ages
Mark-Weibe-and-Sean-Lynn

Mark Wiebe and Sean Lynn in front of the side altar dedicated to St Joseph in St Peter’s Basilica

Michele and I have been on the pilgrimage of a life time. We went to to the Holy land with Jeff Cavins and his wife, Emily. There were 180 pilgrims, 23 from Canada. We visited so many of the holy

sites, that it may take months to comprehend it all. We decided to add Rome to our itinerary on our way home.

Many of you know that I have a great devotion to St Joseph and have relied heavily on his intersession over the years. I just did another novena before Christmas asking him for assistance in finding a speaker for the 2015 God Squad conference and completing our house renovations. He has never failed to help my family including making the pilgrimage a reality.

During our time in the Holy Land I saw a simple church dedicated to St. Joseph next to the Church of The Annunciation, which was massive. St Joseph’s humble workshop is housed in the basement of the little church. I inquired of our guides if there was a spot that is St Joseph’s resting place. There was not.

Then in Rome we toured the excavation under the Vatican to see St Peter’s bones which are located under the High Alter at St Peter’s Basilica. This led us into the Vatican Grotto where many of the popes are laid to rest. We then proceeded into St Peter’s Basilica where we were able to pray at the tombs of St Pope John Paul II and St Pope John XXIII. It was a little later in our visit that I located the side alter dedicated to St Joseph.

That was where the pilgrimage, and all I had done and seen, hit me hard. I had been on this trip due to St. Joseph’s intercession and there was very little recognition of him anywhere. He was so humble that his final resting place is not even recognized. I asked myself how this could happen? I struggle to imagine how it was that he didn’t brag about his boy – “Did you see how Jesus blew away the Rabbis in the Temple when he was 14?”

This was not him though. There is very little recognition of him and his role as the foster father of Jesus and the head of the holy family on earth, in the churches we visited. I found out that of the 66 basilicas in Rome one bears his name but it was only started in 1912. Pope Pius IX declared him Patron of the universal church. He wasn’t even included in the mass for the first 1900 years. Pope John XXIII added him to the canon of the mass and Pope Francis just added him to 3 of the eucharistic prayers.

Canadians are so privileged to have St Joseph as our Patron Saint (which could be why we are so polite). We have 2 basilicas dedicated to St Joseph, including St Joseph’s Oratory, which is the 3rd largest dome in the world. He is finally being recognized after 1900 years of sitting in the shadows.

I pray that I can begin to follow St Joseph closer, walking in humility.

LookingOutFromMtOfOlives

Looking from the Mt of Olives

 

Wake Up Parents!

I say that in my loudest firm police voice!

It’s the day after Thanksgiving Day and I want to scream. I listened to the news about how a 12 year old girl in Florida committed suicide after being bullied on-line by two 12 and 14 year old girls. The 14 year old posted IDGAF when she learned of the girl’s death.

I picked up my son from school later that day and he talked about a survey they did in Religion class that day. He said that only 3% of the class attended mass regularly (I told him that meant he was the only one) and half the class didn’t even believe in God!

My question in both of these situations is, where are the parents? I must have missed the part in the 10 commandments where it says that you must have Facebook account! Why is a 12 year old girl getting bullied for a year on social media with neither set of parents figuring it out? It was allegedly over a boyfriend. Why are 12 year old girls even worried about boys? We have sexualized our kids way too young and adults encourage it as being so cute. I remember watching a dance show on TV where Paula Abdulla was asking a young boy and girl between the ages of 7 and 9 years old if they were a couple. Seriously!! If I could have grabbed her through the TV I would have given her my best Fr. Sean speech.

Then there are all the grade 10’s that don’t even believe in God, let alone attend Mass. They didn’t get to that point on their own. I understand that they may start questioning the faith at that age but to have the epic failure of faith? It took time to get there. Parents, why are your kids in the Catholic school system if you don’t pass on the faith to them? Teachers, how does a kid get through 9 years of religion class and not believe in God. We are failing these children because when they have troubles like the bullying listed above, they do not know that there is a loving God to turn to.

It is important that you lead by example by attending Mass regularly (it’s one of the precepts of the church). Give your children room to make the faith their own by attending solid Catholic youth events or camps. Talk to them by having family dinners at least 5 nights a week. On holidays attend historical churches and places. It is also ok to say no to Facebook, Twitter and cell phones. Get some good parental controls on your computer if you do allow them so you can monitor inappropriate conversations (some programs will notify you if certain words are used).

Most of all don’t give up the fight to be a good father or mother. It is easier to give in to the world pressures, to have the latest greatest thing. You will thank yourself later when you are not are trying to figure out what to do with the 20 something year old living in the basement playing Grand Theft Auto 5 (over a billion dollar in sales) for 15 hours a day. Start today by being that example that your kids desperately need.

Novena to St. Joseph

Novena to St. Joseph
st-joseph-and-baby-jesusIn the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Come to my aid, O God.  O Lord, make haste to help me.  Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of all good gifts, I come before you to honor you in your saints and ask their help in my many needs.  You promised those who ask, would receive; those who seek, would find; those who knock, would have doors opened to them. Hear the prayers of your church, grant my requests, and pardon my sins.  Amen

St. Joseph, just and true, with a father’s care you raised the Child Jesus, and with a husband’s love you shared your life with Mary, his mother.  I entrust myself to your care and place in your hands these requests of mine.

(Personal intention)
In quiet Nazareth long ago, the Holy Spirit spoke to your heart and you followed God’s will with wonderful faith.
In the quiet of my days, and in the hard choices I must make, help me follow the Spirit’s guidance and believe when I cannot see.

Day 1

 O God, guide of those who listen and helper of those who hear your voice, speak to me, as you did to St. Joseph, and help me accomplish the things you give me to do.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 2

O God, you love your people and bless the ordinary lives we quietly live. As you blessed St. Joseph, bless what I do,however hidden and simple it may be, and let all I do be done with love.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 3

O God, ever faithful, you remember us always, and in time reveal your blessings. Help me trust in you, as St. Joseph faithfully trusted, and never let me lose faith in the wonderful gifts you promise me.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 4

God of families, bless the family that’s mine. Keep us safe from harm, and never let evil come between us. Let peace remain in our hearts.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 5

O God, who loves children, be kind to our children today. Give them eyes of faith for seeing far, a loving heart for welcoming life, and a place always at your side.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 6

God of our heavenly home, bless our home on earth.  Let the spirit of Mary and Joseph rest at our table, shape our words and actions, and bring blessing to our children.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Day 7

God, Our Father, give your fatherly spirit to those who are fathers now.  Like Joseph, give them hearts of devoted love for their wives and children and strength for forgiveness and patience.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 8

Give shelter, O God, to those who need it, and bring together families divided. Give us enough to eat, and decent work to earn our bread.  Care for us, O God.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be 

Day 9

Bless all families, O Lord, especially those in need. Remembering the life of your Son, we pray for the poor, for those who lack a good home, for those in excile.  Grant them a protector like Joseph, O God.
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be

Feast of St. Joseph

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
imageAs 2012 winds down with the beginning of Advent, it has been a very eventful year for the God Squad. As always we had another conference in March where we were blessed to have many of you in attendance. This year differed however as we have unveiled the new barbecue outreach ministry with a shiny new trailer. The men seemed to respond to the new ministry by consuming over four hundred Spolumbo’s sausages and 30 kg of beef on a bun! As a new ministry it is been a very busy first year. After the conference we cooked for 150 at risk youth for the Power Play Program at the Calgary Police Service. We then went on and did a beef dinner for 500 elders of the Mormon church and then fed 300 at one of our at risk high schools. We barbecued for all the youth that were incarcerated at the Calgary Young Offenders Center and then barbecued at the One Rock concert. We’ve also done barbecues for youth football teams, diocesan conferences, one wedding and also appeared at BBQ on the Bow.
Just recently I attended the opening of the new Calgary police service Chapel in which the statue of St. Michael donated by God squad Canada to Chief Hanson for his contribution at our 2011 conference, held a prominent place within the Chapel.
I want to thank all of you for the ongoing support of God Squad Canada as we try to reach and challenge men, especially young men in fulfilling the role God has given them. We will continue to need your  support going forward as we hope to do more true outreach. Please consider a year end donation to help us continue our work as we seem to have more money tied up in doing these events, not to mention deposits for speakers for our upcoming conference.
I pray that you and your family will have a blessed Christmas and New Year. May you seek the intercession of the holy family to protect and provide for you and your family.
Sean Lynn
President, God Squad Canada
P.S. Mark March 8 and 9th in your calendars for our annual conference which will be held at St. Peter’s Parish in Calgary. We are pleased to announce our speakers: Michael Coren, Joseph Hyland and Michael Chaisson.

Recognition

Recognition

recognitionI was recently at the 50th anniversary of St. Francis High School in Calgary. They have started a wall of distinction and inducted several individuals who’ve gone on to do great things as graduates from the high school. There were over 1200 people in attendance at the party and I’m guessing many of them were reflecting on their own accomplishments since they graduated, many wondering if people have noticed their contributions within society. At work many of us look for recognition to get promoted or move ahead, which often brings more recognition.
In my work where I assist and encourage youth who are at risk of falling into gangs, this is the issue that most of them are looking for; being part of something to be recognized. Then there are those looking for their 15 minutes of fame at whatever cost in our reality TV society. There is a strong desire be noticed built within us as we worship our sports stars and movie stars. How do we balance this with humility, which is one of the virtues that we attempt to model for our children and our young?
At a recent men’s study they asked if anybody knew who Chester Arthur was. For most reading this article I could also ask who Charles Tupper was. In the study they compared Chester Arthur to Louis Martin. All these men lived at the same time. Both Chester Arthur and Charles Tupper would be considered very successful in the secular world. Yet today the vast majority of us do not know who they are. Chester Arthur was the 21st president of the United States and Charles Tupper was the seventh Prime Minister of Canada. Louis Martin lived a humble and quiet life in the North of France as a husband and father whose youngest daughter went on to be known as “The Little Flower” (St. Therese of Liseux) and a doctor of the Church, one of only 33 in history. While Chester Arthur was considered successful in his time, his identity and life have been forgotten by the vast majority. Louis Martin, on the other hand, whose life was spent in obscurity, has recently been elevated to the honorable position of blessed by the Church and will be remembered for all time. The ultimate example and role model for us is our patron St. Joseph who is not quoted as saying anything in the Bible. He is only mentioned a few times but each time he did what he was asked by God. Patronage to St. Joseph only began in the middle ages. It is not until recent history where he is been truly recognized by the church and named patron of the universal church in 1870.
So I challenge you men, as you continue your daily lives striving to do God’s will to be an example of faith and charity, working in humility that may go unnoticed within the world. It is noticed by God our Father who is the one that we strive to ultimately be noticed by. These are the words that we wish to hear at the end of our time. “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master.’” Matt. 25

Parenting Tip 101

Parenting Tip 101

FatherSonMany men are drawn to the God Squad conferences because they are Dads and want help and advice in raising children in today’s environment. Our youth today are faced with a very different world than many of us grew up in. The technology and expectations are very different; the world is a much smaller place and everyone knows what is going on.

I have been working with youth at risk and it seems that there is always a crisis or drama happening. These crises or dramas are perpetuated by texting and chatting on social networks. There are fights and threats of fights over every little issue. None of the young men want to be punks, so they will never back down or ignore a sleight. Then they need 5 friends to watch their back as they won’t stand on their own when they show up for the fight. The rules of fighting have changed from meeting face to face in the school yard after school to today where the young person tries to jump their prey when they can out number their opponent.

Where is all of this coming from? This is my opinion and not scientific research: In the media for several years there has been an onslaught of reality television shows. The only thing that keeps them on TV is if they can top the next show with more trash talk and drama. The problem is that our youth think this is the way life should be lived. We used to watch drama for entertainment but our kids think they need to be part of it.

I am a father and I will tell you some of things that happen or don’t happen in my house and how they may be helpful. These may seem over the edge to some, but they have been working for me as I have 3 grown children out of the house who made it through the teen years with their faith, integrity and purity intact. First of all, expose your children to the beauty of our Catholic faith in their terms; youth groups, conferences, camps etc. I don’t allow the majority of the reality shows to be watched and definitely no adult themed ones (my wife likes watching about needy families getting new houses). These are the reason our young people think they need to always have drama in their lives. I have even cancelled the cable at different times as it is not a right but a privilege (this is hard for the parents, as watching the Flames or Stamps must be given up). There are no cellphones allowed until they become a necessity and/or the child is 18 and can afford the payments on their own. If the kids are responsible enough to be on a social network, we, as parents, are friends to oversee what is happening. Finally, there is no dating until they are 18 and hopefully they have a better understanding of what the church’s teachings are in this area.

Parents, you need to live the example. If there is a personal issue in your life or relationships, don’t display the drama in front of the children. They do not need front row seats for your domestics or hearing about what’s going on with the Jones’s. Do show them the example of what a loving couple /family does on a daily basis. Listen to your children and try and help them navigate through today’s society. Love them unconditionally. Teach them to talk to God who can help them in their darkest times.

Smoking Hot Evangelism

I was at a gang conference in Orlando and went to a talk by a pastor from Boston who joined with other churches reaching out to the youth in high crime areas. They went out on Friday evenings and walked around the neighbourhood.  He said it took approximately 6 weeks before anybody asked what they were doing.  After that they were able to gain the trust of the youth and start the conversation with them and start addressing their needs.  A week later some the God Squad team were at the One Rock concert and Bishop Henry was saying mass, the wind was howling and the rain was threatening. It was very hard to hear Bishop Henry as he was saying his homily because of the wind and approaching storm. I was given a realization later as I reflected on how hard it is for our young men to hear the voice of their shepherd with all the distractions and storms blowing around in their world.  If I, a committed Catholic father and husband, was struggling to hear Bishop Henry who is one of the loudest and clearest voices we have in Canada today, how much harder is it for these young men, who are easily distracted?  It only confirmed my resolution to fight fire with fire and where there’s fire there’s smoke.  If you watch the many Food Network shows such as Barbecue Pit Masters or Best in Smoke, you might notice that food has an interesting way of getting men’s attention.  Women have known this since the beginning of time.

At our last God squad meeting it was passed that we set up a barbecue trailer to begin our barbecue outreach ministry and evangelize our men, especially young men. We believe that this approach will have much faster results than the pastor from Boston who took six weeks before anybody would talk to him.  My experience with the barbecue is that it will take about 6 min. before some guy starts talking to you about what you’re cooking and how you’re cooking it.  It gives God Squad an opportunity to promote what a godly man is, how important a family meal is, and be that role model for these men as shown in studies. (Please check this study)

So if you are able to support this endeavour by being available to assist at different functions, say a novena to St. Joseph, make a donation, or find a sponsor who might be willing to advertise on the side of the trailer, please do so.

 

P.S.  If you have a good deal on a cargo trailer please let us know.

Supporting Our Bishop

A couple of days later I was at a luncheon where someone said they were from Thunderbay and I mentioned that my buddy Bishop Henry had been there.  There were comments from a few ladies that he needed to get a slap and shut his mouth due to his outspoken challenges that he sends out to the faithful through letters and the media. It would appear by these comments that he does, in fact, speak out on the current issues facing society and how the Church addresses them.  In the media recently there have been several ongoing attacks against our Pope trying to link him to the sex scandal in Germany based on erroneous information. It helps us to understand why priests and Bishops struggle with what to say and when, for they will be attacked.

While reflecting on the comments made by the above mentioned people I was struck by a movie I had recently watched called “Passchendaele”.  The movie is set in WWI and there is a part where a small platoon of men move up to support the line as they are getting hit hard. On the arrival of this platoon the company thinks they are relieved and fall back.  The platoon is stuck in the foxholes trying to hold the line and keep the enemy at bay while being bombarded with enemy fire.  It reminded me of our priests, deacons and our Bishops trying to hold off the enemy and hunkering down in their foxholes trying to survive the battle while most of us sit at home complaining that they are not doing enough or they are not doing it right.

Just like in the movie I want to challenge all the men in our Diocese to join the battle against the enemy and support the front lines by encouraging our priests, deacons and Bishop.  With the number of Catholic men in the Diocese we should be able to send in a field army and overwhelm the enemy. There are going to be casualities in the battle, as we might have to stand up for the faith at work or with a friend or worst of all in the community.  This might mean the loss of a friendship, promotion, or being persecuted for taking this stand.  The eternal rewards should encourage us to surge forward anyway. We should arm ourselves with the knowledge of what the church teachings are and read what the Bishop and Pope have said or written.  Do not rely on the “facts” that come from the secular media who often taint the truth. If we hear people in the parish saying Fr. X did this or Fr. Y said that, we should challenge them on what are they doing to support the faith.

Let’s finish off the year of the priest with no priest, deacon or Bishop wondering if there is anyone supporting them in the battle.

Holy Holidays

Holy Holidays

sl_disneyMost families will book a vacation for at least a week, if not longer, during the brief summer months while the kids are out of school and mom and dad have vacation time off of work.  That means staying at your destination for one or more weekends.  Weekends at home are like a mini vacation where you might take the time for leisure, rest, and a little excitement for a day or two.  When you are at home, there is a routine.  Shopping happens on days when mom or dad can get to the store, laundry gets done on specific days or when needed, chores have to get done and, oh yes, mass is on Sunday morning.  Unfortunately, when planning for a vacation, mass is not included in the itinerary when, in fact, it is a great opportunity to see the history and the beauty of the Church in the area where you will be spending your time.  It only adds to the holiday experience.

It becomes an adventure for the children to be taken into different places of worship as we have found out on our current holiday; whether it’s the newly renovated church we saw in Denver, the Cabrini Shrine in the US Rockies, or the basilica in Santa Fe which is celebrating its 400th anniversary. The history in Santa Fe is astonishing and most of what we learned about it came through going to the various churches in the area.  We went into the San Miguel mission, the oldest continuously attended church in North America, where there is a bell that was cast in Spain in 1356.  The story goes that it was made in honour of St. Joseph after the Spanish drove the Moors out of Spain.  How it ended up in Santa Fe is a bit of a mystery, but to be able to see and touch that kind of history is just amazing.  There is a legend that says that if you ring that bell, you will most certainly return to Santa Fe.  We were sure to ring it!

What amazes us the most is that wherever you go in this world, there is a Catholic Church that you can go to and celebrate the mass and know that it is the very same sacrifice, once, for all; the same Eucharist, the same sacrament that you receive at your home parish.  No matter where we are at the time, when we enter into the mysteries of Holy Mass, we are at home.  This even applies in places like Disney World where we attended Mary Queen of the Universe Shrine or a beautiful church in Key West called Mary Queen of the Seas.  We try to fill our senses with the most we can on a vacation through sightseeing, partaking of the local cuisine, soaking up the sun or just relaxing and doing nothing – a departure from our normal routine.  When we enter into the celebration of the mass, it is also designed to fill up our senses through the prayer responses, the various postures during the liturgy and, of course, receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.  Don’t let this wonderful opportunity pass you by when you plan your family’s vacation this summer.  Invite The Holy Family to come with you in prayer and in practice by attending mass at the local parish.

Bon Voyage!