I've fallen and I can't get up, the 4th commandment
That famous catchphrase from 80s is one most of us are familiar with, even finding it in memes and online jokes. And it was one I remember hearing on TV commercials while growing up, but it truly struck home when recently one night I was startled awake from my sleep by my mother calling out, “Stephen, my legs gave out and I can’t get up. Help.”
A few years ago, I decided to give up my place and move back in with my mom; she was living alone (my brother and niece had moved away a few years prior) and she was finding it increasingly difficult to live by herself, both financially and emotionally. She was still very active and strong at that time, but this past year has seen her physical strength shockingly diminish over a relatively short period of time. She went from still working at 76 (part-time) to starting to have to use a cane to help her balance by mid-summer, to now using a walker continually just to get around. She even needs help going up and down stairs; all this dramatic change in less than 10 months time. And her greatest frustration is not knowing why this is happening to her.
The 4th Commandment states: “Honour your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, so that your days may be long and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
— Deuteronomy 5:16 –
This is something that has become of a much greater reality to me over this past year with what it means to love and honour my parents, especially my mom in particular. For those of us who are parents, we understand the sacrifices we must make for our children: our time, attention, love, finances, heartache and so on. But it really did not become clear to me until this past year just how much the tables would turn, of how much I would have to sacrifice to help my mom as she struggles with her failing strength and the unknowns as to why it is happening.
The pain I see her in, the heartache, the anxiety and the struggle with depression, when she says, “you should trade me in,” or “maybe I should just go live in a nursing home,” or when she will say, “I’m so useless.” Each time it tears my heart a little, but I keep giving to her, trying to lift her up and help, to make each day a bit easier for her. I do not want her to feel abandoned or a burden; she is not that to me, even when I must sacrifice each day of my self for her. She’s worth it and so much more.
So, to me the 4th Commandment has taken on even deeper meaning this past year. Yes, it would be easier just ‘put her in a home’, to pass on the responsibility I have towards her, but I have come to realize that this is my cross that I am willingly accept out of love for her, just as Jesus bore his cross out of love for me.
Recently, Father Mike Schmitz did a video on “How to Love your Difficult Parents”. This was poignant for me considering some of what I’ve journeyed with recently, especially with his final reflections on dealing with an aging parent:
I pray that this helps you too on your own journey with aging parents.
The Marian month of May starts with the feast of the St. Joseph the Worker our Patron and Protector. In this edition of the Man Up-date, Sean Lynn reflects on how Mary wants peace and challenges men to pray!
Sanctuaire Notre Dame du Cap has been designated as the Canadian shrine to lead us in prayer for the end of the pandemic on May 23rd (Pentecost Sunday) . The intentions for that day are for law enforcement, military and firefighters.
Lead your families to join in on that day and surround our church, province and country in prayer.
I want to sincerely thank everyone for attending our virtual conference on March 19th & 20th. I hope and pray that you were able to get as much out of it as I did! I would encourage you to share it with a friend or someone that needs to hear the message.
Here is the link to access the conference talks for free:
That being said, we did incur expenses to be able to offer the conference; including stipends for our host, Father Cristino, and speakers that presented to us from St Joseph Oratory and British Columbia.
A number of you have already made donations to help. May God bless you richly in our humble attempt to express our gratitude.
We humbly ask you who can to prayerfully consider making a donation to help us with our mission. Please visit
(please send a separate email to the same address with information for a tax receipt).
St. Joseph Litany Project Update
In other news we had a very successful fundraiser in January, A Dram For St Joseph!
We are 2/3 of the way to our goal of $35,000.00 for our St Joseph Litany Project.
A big thanks
to all of you who attended and to our sponsors for such a fun evening. We raised over $6,500.00 in the silent auction and thanks to many of you, we were able to sponsor 52 Bishops, priests and deacons.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
We will see what God inspires us to do this summer when we can hopefully come together in person.
Invitation to Divine Mercy
We are entering Holy Week and preparing for the Easter Triduum, looking forward to celebrating the joy of the resurrection!
One of the traditional devotions that we do and encourage others to do is the Divine Mercy Novena. It starts on Good Friday and finishes on Divine Mercy Sunday (The Second Sunday of Easter, the first Sunday after Easter).
God Squad Canada has made it so that you can join us in this novena by going to https://godsquad.ca/divine-mercy-novena and find the daily meditation there for you to read or listen to, as well as the chaplet of Divine Mercy
In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:
“On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy … On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for these souls.”
“Oh, what great graces I will grant to souls who say this Chaplet. Write down these words, my daughter. Speak to the world about My mercy; let all mankind recognise my unfathomable mercy. It is a sign for the end times; after it will come the day of justice. While there is still time, let them have recourse to the fount of my mercy; let them profit from the blood and water which gushed forth for them.” (Diary, 848)
Spolumbo’s Fine Foods & Deli has been a landmark business in Calgary since 1992 when some football friends came together to create a 10 seat deli in Inglewood using tried and true traditional recipes passed down from their families.
Today, Spolumbos is an icon recognized by anyone who lives in or has visited Calgary because it is a dining experience everyone should partake of. Within the first few years of God Squad being founded, Spolumbos generously donated the food for the conferences for upwards of 500 men, which is no small feat! Since then, Spolumbos has sponsored the conference every year with their generous donations since 2003.
God Squad would like to recognize and thank them for their selfless service to the organization and the men who have benefited.
We thank them for their undying support and encourage people to participate in our efforts in supporting them at every occasion possible.
I was talking with my loving Wife Michele the other morning about our son Patrick introducing his friends to our low carb, high fat diet that many call keto ( I was thinking of branding it The God Squad Spolumbos, bacon, brisket and bourbon diet). Michele stated “I wonder how many people have started the keto diet because of us.” Michele and I have lost a bit of weight on it since we started shortly after Divine Mercy Sunday. I found some the weight I lost during this long and cold winter but will continue on getting healthier. After Michele’s comment I reflected and stated, “Imagine if we were talking how many people we introduced to our faith”
We have no problem sharing our diets with everyone: friends, family and co-workers. Why do we have so much fear sharing our faith with everyone? Why are we afraid to stand up and say life begins at conception? There are so many other truths that our faith carries that we don’t want say to anyone. Is it because people notice when we have lost weight and want to know how we did it? If that is the case, are people seeing the joy of the gospel in us and wanting that as well? Scripture says,”Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; “1 Peter 3;15 We need to show the strengths of our faith as there are many out there that show the fallen within our faith. The bible says “you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”1 Timothy 3:15
The reason that we gather at the God Squad conference each year is to strengthen one another and challenge each other to strive for that goal that we are challenged with, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1;16. Do we fall short? of course we do and that is why we have many of our priests at the conference offer reconciliation. Just like a football game where you practice and practice before the big game. You do the play until you get it right then when it is crunch time you execute the play as planned.
Our faith just like a diet will be hard at times but scripture says “In this you rejoice,[a] though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, 7 so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:7
How many of our friends, family and co-works would want to share our gold? Then lets share our faith that is more precious than gold!
I look forward to seeing you at this years conference.
I find myself getting old, far too old I think to become a saint. I don’t have enough time. Age has come upon me faster than I ever thought possible. Is that realization some measure of wisdom that comes with age or is it merely a recognition that what I want to accomplish in my life has increasingly fewer days left? A pilgrimage to the Holy Land, a major item on my bucket list, suddenly seemed a bit more urgent.
So here I am, walking down the steps to touch the cave wall that was the home of Mary, the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. An unbelievable emotion comes over me. I feel tears streaming down my face and a sense that there are steps in my journey of faith that may not yet be over. I have this overwhelming sense of awe in the love for God that our Blessed Mother Mary had. She was little more than a child, but she had the faith and courage of a lion. Her simple question to the Angel Gabriel was “How can this be, since I have no husband?” Though young, she would have known that if found with child she could have been stoned. Yet her faith and trust in our God was such that she was prepared to give her life. Her answer was simple and complete; “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.” She didn’t see ahead to the raising of a Son, the boy that was to become the new Adam, the saviour of the world. She didn’t see to the horror and pain of watching that Son be crucified in a most horrible death. She didn’t see that she would be assumed into heaven and become the Blessed Mother of all of us. She didn’t see she would continue to appear to her children in locations throughout the world; Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe, Medjugorje and so many others. She didn’t see her future pain and her future glory, and that makes her yes to God so remarkable.
And what of Saint Paul? Approaching Damascus, he was struck by a brilliant light that blinded him. He was as helpless as a child and had to be led by the hand into the city. His original plan was to round up all the Christians and bound in chains they would be led back to be slain. God had other plans and Saint Paul spent the rest of his life discovering and living God’s answer to the one question he asked, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
God calls each of us for his purpose and we are instruments for his greater glory. Not often does it come with the appearance of an angel or a brilliant blinding light. Most often it comes in the quiet voice that calls us or the gentle nudge we often feel to act or respond to defend and evangelize our faith.
I have felt God nudge me a number of times in my life. Sometimes I answered yes, but more often I think I answered no, often by not acting. That response was usually due to my own insecurities or fear that I might not be liked or accepted if I took a position that was contrary to the current world view. Then there are all the times when I am so busy with my own life that I am not even paying attention. It seems I have a number of great excuses to turn a deaf ear to God’s nudge.
The first excuse I liked to use was; “I need clarity. How do I know this is really God’s will?” At one point I was so afraid of what I felt God calling me too that I asked for a specific sign. Instead of the specific sign, he showed me I was afraid to trust him to provide the graces I needed to follow his request of me. What was missing was the courage I needed to take the next step. Often, we feel we need to have it all figured out and if we cannot see the end we should not start. It is important to realize that the only thing we need to do is to take that first step. When I look back at the times I said no to God, the clarity I sought was there. I just needed to trust that he would also give me the graces I needed to follow the path he had set out.
The other great excuse is the fear of asking God the same question St. Paul asked; “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Even I know, that if I ask, I will probably get an answer. That is scary! What if He wants me to do something I don’t want to do? In my selfish ways I inadvertently convince myself that it is better to close myself off to God’s call than be pushed to do something that might cause anguish in my life and disturb the comfort zone I long to be in.
Touching these cave walls makes me realize that we are never too old to become a saint. Every soul belongs to God and all things are possible with God. All we have to do is to trust and have the courage to take that first step, only the first step. Each and every morning we must pray and ask; “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The path to sainthood is to pray for the graces and the courage to say yes to the answer.
The theme for this years conference is “Be Not Afraid..To Be A Saint”! What is a Saint and why do we want to become one? According to the Oxford dictionary 1. A person acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death. 1.1 A person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the Church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession. The Church has declared over 10,000 to be saints worthy of veneration and models of exalted virtue. That said, I am not sure that the virtue of humility allows us to strive to be a recognized saint within the church. The goal with which we want to challenge the men is getting themselves and those around them to heaven.
This week I have had reason to ponder this challenge to its depths. It started with our daughter asking us to pray for the lady she was looking after as she was not doing well. We were able to pray rosaries and the chaplet of Divine Mercy for this lady before she passed on Monday at the age of 63. Then on Tuesday I found out that a young man was murdered who is the brother of my son’s best man and my other two sons are friends with the youngest brother. This came as a punch in the gut for my boys as they grieved with their friends. Details are still coming but it appears from the family he was coming to the aid of someone else and was shot. Then on Wednesday late in the day I learned that Sam Stambene had died of a heart attack on his way home from school. Sam had coached all 3 of my sons in football and we had worked together as both a volunteer coach and in working with youth at risk over the years. This one seemed to hit like a sledgehammer, as Sam is a few years younger than me and I had known Sam the most out of the 3 people that had passed away within the same week.
With society talking about toxic masculinity I would set Sam as an icon of what we promote at our conferences. He loved his family greatly and he gave of himself for the good of the community. Sam coached over a 1000 young men during his life. What I respected about him was that he promoted authentic manhood. He pushed the young men to work together and sacrifice for a common goal. He taught self control and discipline with the vision of football being the ultimate team game (I would argue with him that it was rugby). I remember working the sticks on the sideline one game and the game was quite heated. The other team was yelling and swearing when one of the Browns players started to swear back from the sideline to the other team. Sam and his cousin Joe confronted the player and had him doing push-ups to remind him that Browns don’t play like that. Another time I was working with a youth at risk who missed the try-outs and after some discussion Sam gave him a second chance and worked with him. That young man had missed 60% of grade nine but because the work Sam did with him, he only missed one day of his first semester of high school due to illness before his family moved away. I was so impressed with the years of his coaching I had witnessed that I nominated him a few years back for the NFL youth coach of the year. I could tell many more stories from the football field but I want to focus on Sam’s smile. He always had one every time you saw him. He always brought joy into a person’s day and he will be truly missed.
Back to being a saint: There are many ways to get there. Ultimately we count on God’s mercy whether it be the suffering which my daughter’s lady endured prior to her death, or the sacrifice of Jordan Moore trying to help another citizen which ended his life (Greaterlove has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends). Then there is Sam, who gave 1000’s of hours for the young men of Calgary. I remember talking to him about God Squad having a BBQ recognizing coaches for what they do. He stated that there was nothing in place for that, and all he had received was a $6 cafeteria chit. It was obvious that he was not doing this for worldly riches or recognition. So I pray that he hears these words ‘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.’ Then we will have a patron saint of football!