the first part of "The Search, What Do You Seek?" and had some
excellent discussions in our Safe Sharing Small Groups. "What do you
seek? What is that deep longing in our hearts all about? We're all
living for something, and we all strive for that something out there
that is ultimately going to make us happy. But what is it? For some
this questions is on their minds every day. For others, life goes by
in a flash without even asking the question." We learned,
so far, that people seek happiness in many different ways and things
that don't satisfy, and it is very important to ask "What is the
purpose of my life? Why am I here?" to find true meaning and happiness
in your life.
We had a great talk from Chris Stefanick on Formed.org. He taught us how to find and face the negative self-talk we do to ourselves, and how to tell ourselves the truth, and that God loves us, and He wants us to be happy.
Fr. Jonathan gave us an excellent presentation on Sin, about the Ego Drama vs. the Theo Drama, that sin is an offence against reason, truth, and right conscience, and a failure of love for God and neighbour. He also used The Lord of the Rings story, and some video clips from the movies, to teach us about this and other related concepts.
Deacon and Dr. Tom O'Toole spoke with us on the Tools of Catholicism. We are often unaware of the richness and depth of our Catholic heritage. We are not called to be blind followers. Mary questioned God, "How can this be done?" We wrestle with these big ideas. Deacon Tom taught us many different areas of the Bible have great tools to help us live, and he we have the Catholic Tradition, and the Magisterium to guide us even more as we deal with life's biggest questions and challenges.
Fr. and Dr. Peter Doherty gave us an excellent talk on how to forgive others and be healed ourselves. He taught us about false myths in apologizing and forgiving, the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation, and how we can forgive others who have hurt us.
book, "Forgiveness: Breaking Free and Moving On," in which he explains
more on how to forgive, is available here: Forgiveness: Breaking Free
and Moving On.
We had a review of Fr. Cristino's excellent talk to us on Prayer, and some great discussions.
Matthew and Jim looked back and presented a review of some of the best concepts we've learned in our past meetings. They reviewed Discerning Your Purpose, Dr. Bob on Goals, and Dr. Bob on Leadership. We heard a lot of great ideas, and we had lots of fun discussions.
Fr. Julian Studden gave us a great talk on The Good Samaritan, and how we are called to be Good Samaritans, to love those around us in our everyday lives. He also taught us the allegorical meaning of The Good Samaritan, how the elements in the story represent Jesus and how he came to give us healing, redemption, and salvation.
Jolene Smith, the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary's University, gave us a great talk about her personal journey in Catholicism, what theology is, why theology is important and how it has helped her in her life.
Ryan Fox gave us an excellent presentation on "The Way of Beauty." He presented three great truths of our Faith, from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation "Christus Vivit": God is love, Christ saves you, and He is alive now. He presented each truth with beauty, with visual art, music, the written word, and discussion.
Fr. Jonathan gave us a great presentation on "The Catholic Imagination in Dante’s Divine Comedy as it exhibits Unity, Harmony and Radiance." He showed us the three sections of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven that Dante travels through, and the 9 levels of Hell and the sins in each level, the 7 levels of Purgatory and the sins they purge, and the 9 levels of Heaven. He explained many details and how these teach many aspects of our Catholic Faith, and gave us lots of great lessons.
Deacon Dr. Thomas O'Toole gave us a great talk on "Mariology," the theological study of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Mariology connects doctrine about Mary to other doctrines of the Catholic Faith, such as those concerning Jesus and redemption, intercession and grace. He showed us what the scriptures show us about Mary, and of course including that Catholics revere Mary but we don't worship Mary. He showed us how difficult it must have been for Mary at key times, and how she still said, "Let it be done according to God's will."
therapist Dr. Mark Kolodziej gave us a great talk on "Dealing with
Stress." He taught us stress is something that is important to you
that you don't have 100% control of, and how our brains react to
different levels of stress. He taught us four point breathing, and
other specific strategies to relax, like doing something fun before an
exam, or going for a brisk walk to burn off some of those hormones (20
minutes of moderate exercise will increase your performance on an
exam). If things are getting stressful in a relationship or a
situation, you can take a break, try a different approach, or get some
help. Avoid multitasking, because it lowers your efficiency and
increases stress. And, make sure you do at least one hour of self care
every day, or you won't be the person God meant you to be.
If you are worrying, distract yourself by doing something fun to reduce the worry. We need enough exercise, sleep, and good nutrition to work against stress in the long term. We need to socialize. We need to pray, read scripture, and participate in the sacraments. When we forget about God, when we fail, we try harder, and we get depressed. God won’t intervene in your life unless you ask him. But when you do, he is right there.
would like to reach Mark, you can reach him through his website: www.martha7.com.
We watched the God Squad Catholic Men's Conference speaker, Brett Powell, streamed live from the conference to our meeting. He gave us a powerful talk on "Kingdom Leaders for the New Springtime." He taught us, God had something very good in mind, when he created you. You are the good God had in mind. You have a role. The gift of yourself is the highest vocation. Grow to be a leader. Influence through service. Be tender and fierce, at the right times. Bind the broken hearted.
We had an awesome presentation and discussion from Dr. Bob Schulz ("the" Dr. Bob!), on "Sensing, Seizing, and Achieving Your Goals." He taught us that you need to start at the finish line (your goals), and work backwards. We need to be aware of our personal past, present, and possible futures. He told us some great stories of how he learned this in his life, and gave us some ways to think about this and make decisions about our goals. He taught us to build a great life in our careers, personal lives, and spiritual lives, that as one door closes, another opens, and to trust in the Lord!
Fr. Adrian Martens gave us an inspiring talk on The Psalms. He taught us that the Book of Psalms is the Prayer Book of the Church. He said there are many refernces to the Psalms in the Gospels. He showed us the structure of the Book of Psalms. He explained that the Psalms move from lament to praise, in individual Psalms, and in the book as a whole. He said all human emotions are in the Psalms, and that praying the Psalms can be a conduit to express our emotions and be healing, as well as help us to pray. Fr. Adrian really inspired us to want to pray the Psalms more.
Fr. Dan Gurnick, from the Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre, gave a great talk on St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscans. St. Francis is the most popular saint of our time. Pope Francis named himself after St. Francis, to emphasize how important he is 800 years later. Fr. Dan told us about the life of St. Francis, and how he was converted to the religous life. He taught us about the values St. Francis had, and how he got them from the scriptures. And he told us about a number of great things that St. Francis did.
Dr. Peter Baltutis, a historian, Religious Studies professor, and passionate lecturer from St. Mary's University, gave us a great talk on Saint Dominic and the Dominican Tradition. He talked about the fascinating life and vision of Saint Dominic de Guzman (1171-1221), the founder of the revolutionary Order of Preachers (better known as the Dominicans). He discussed the core spiritual values that animate one of Catholicism's most influential and vibrant spiritual movements - the Dominican Tradition - that has produced a remarkable number of saints, theologians, mystics, activists, and artists. He also focused on the unique role that the Laity play in the Dominican Family, both in the Church universal and Diocese of Calgary. It was an awesome talk.
And we had some great discussions and lots of
laughter in our Safe Sharing small Groups, and after the main meeting,
when we played a couple great games of that game we play after each
If you don’t know the rules of the game, it’s really
hard to play well. When you play the game of Life well, it leads to a
lot more happiness (and a lot less pain) throughout your life. Otherwise
... life can really suck.
We talked about the Bishop's Four Rules (Always do the right thing. Always do your best. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were them. And, you are special!), and about some other great rules to have a great life, including never lie to yourself, seek the truth in everything, feel your feelings, be optimistic and thankful, and of course, love God, and love others as yourself.
Everyone contributed great examples, questions, comments, and we had awesome discussions.
Fr. Julian Studden gave us a great talk on "Gratitude, Generosity, and Joy." He showed us many places in scripture with many people, including Jesus, giving thanks to God, and that gratitude really enhances our lives. He taught us that life is about giving and receiving, that God is generous to us, and that we are fully alive when we are giving, as well as receiving. And, he taught us that we are built for joy, and that joy is different, that we receive joy when we stop looking for joy, and seek Christ and put our trust in Him.
Fr. Jonathan gave us a brilliant talk on "St. Augustine, the taming of his restless heart: a story of an ancient man who speaks to millennial adults." He went over the four levels of happiness, and used examples from St. Augustine's life for each level, that were written by St. Augustine himself in his great book, "Confessions."
Here is a PDF of the Power Point of Fr. Jonathan's presentation.
Fr. Cristino Bouvette gave us an excellent talk on Ethics. He introduced us to the Catholic Church's teaching on ethics, that every moral act should be judged on it's object, the intention of the person acting, and the circumstances of the act. He gave us some great examples of challenging moral situations, how to apply each criteria to determine the right thing to do, and he answered some great questions from us.
Fr. John Wright gave us an excellent introduction to the prophets, where they fit in the Bible, and in history. A prophet is someone who speaks for someone else. They speak for God, warning us to repent to avoid the consequences of sin, and to turn to God and the great life God offers us. Fr. John also gave us a more detailed focus on the prophet Amos, who called people then, and now, to follow Christ and to act with justice, mercy, caring and serving others.
Deacon Stephen Robinson gave us a great talk on "More Truth and Lies," including that lies are wrong, to develop our innate sense of truth, and about morality. He taught us if you want to know what is moral and true, look to Jesus' works and deeds. He reminded us of the golden rule, that gossip is a form of lying, and taught us some standard fallacies. He said look for the truth, recognize where someone is undermining the truth of who you are, and that you are beloved sons and daughters of God.
We also had some great discussions in our safe sharing small groups, on science and reason and truth, and relationships.
Dr. Peter Baltutis, a historian, Religious Studies professor, and passionate lecturer from St. Mary's University, gave us an excellent talk on "What is Vatican II, and why does it matter?" He explained what an ecumenical council is, the history of the 20th century that led to the calling of the Second Vatican Council, how the council was structured, who was there, what their mandate was, and that they went back to the scriptures and early sources of the Church. He also covered two documents and how they changed how we do liturgy and how the laity participates in the Church today.
We had some great discussions in our safe sharing
small groups, and some great questions, plus our a fun ice breaker game,
We had a talk on Affirmations, which are positive
ways to love others and to help others be happy, plus our usual safe
sharing small group discussions, a fun ice breaker game, and
Deacon Stephen Robinson gave us a great talk on
"Truth and Lies," including that the truth is important, there are many
lies on the Internet and in the media today, Jesus is the ultimate
truth, and ultimately you will have to decide if you believe in faith of
the Catholic Church.
We had a great meeting on the Joy of Volunteering.
Jim and Matthew shared some of their volunteer experiences, followed by
everyone else. It was beautiful! And we had a great ice breaker game,
safe sharing small group discussions, and fun playing after the meeting.
Fr. Jonathan gave a great talk on "How can we say God
exists in a world like this?" He taught us about physical evil (in
events) and moral evil (from free will), and that God allows evil in
order for it to create a greater good. Jesus experienced the full weight
of human moral evil, and is the counter weight to all the evil in the
Sr. Helena Burns, fsp, gave us an awesome talk on the amazing Theology of the Body. The Theology of the Body is the why to the Catholic Church's sexual teaching, and so much more. It starts with human body and leads into theology and philosophy. It's all about what it means to be a human person - body and soul - and what comes next when we get our bodies back at the Resurrection of the Body!
Here are the three handouts that Sr. Helena sent us for the meeting:
On Wednesday, June 23, 2021, Sr. Helena also did a second presentation to our whole Parish. And, after that, she also generously sent us these two great list of excellent resources:
Cristino gave us a great talk on How to Pray. He taught us that
prayer is a relationship with God, and gave us many ways to build
this friendship, by sharing our thoughts, feelings, and concerns
with God. And he gave us some great tips and examples on how, when,
and where to pray every day.
McGinn talked about how to get a great job in tough times. He gave
us lots of tips, and encouraged us to go for our dream job at our
dream company, to get the job you really want, and that you can
really use your gifts to help people.
Dominique Ma, gave us an awesome talk on "Overcoming Fear" with lots
of tips to deal with day to day stress, fear, and anxiety, and how
our Catholic Faith can also really help us with overcoming fear and
having a great life. If you have any questions for Dominique, you
can reach through her website: www.dominiquema.ca.
Fr. Jonathan gave us a great talk on the 4 levels of happiness. Here is a PDF of his presentation on Four Levels of Happiness.
therapist Dr. Mark Kolodziej gave us a great talk on "Depression and
What We Can Do About It." He taught us do something when you don't
feel like it, set goals and find purpose, be thankful for all your
many graces, and do emotional self-care for one hour minimum per day.
He also showed us how these are all taught in the Catholic Faith, and
he explained how and why these work. If you would like to reach Mark,
you can reach him through his website: www.martha7.com.
We had an awesome presentation and discussion from Dr. Bob Schulz ("the" Dr. Bob!) on "Leadership and Purpose in Your Professional Life." He taught us, with lots of great stories and examples, and with his great energy of course, that most of leadership is doing what you would want others to do to you, and to look and see if you are making other smile.
And you can
listen to this great talk right here: Dr. Bob's Talk.
We had an
inspiring Lenten prayer and message from Pope Francis. Then Fr.
Jonathan explained how Lent is not just a time for giving up things,
but in giving up some things to make room for generosity of spirit,
giving of your time, generosity towards others, and through prayer,
generosity towards God.
shared our favourite photos, we had our usual "safe sharing" small
groups for interesting discussion and socializing, and we played
Skrblio at the end.
Here is the
poster of the beautiful Prayer for Lent from Pope
Francis, and the inspiring Message of His Holiness Pope
Francis for Lent 2021.
Wright explained the geography of Israel and the Middle East, and how
it affected many wars and conflicts in the Old Testament. He also
included many photographs of the area to show us what it was like for
Jesus and before him in the Old Testament, and he explained some very
powerful symbolism in the language Jesus used, and why it was so
powerful at the time.
Our Deacon Tom O'Toole gave an inspiring talk on "Sacramental Praxis in a Pandemic."
Deacon Stephen Robinson gave us a great talk on "In the Fullness of Time, The Real Meaning of Christmas" and all the hope that our Catholic faith gives us at Christmas, and that hope is faith extended forward in time.
Fr. Cristino gave us an inspiring talk about Advent and the process the Church goes through before canonizing a saint.
We also watched this short video on Advent in 2 Minutes.
Fr. Arjay told us his personal story of how he became a priest. It was an inspiring talk.
We also launched our 2020 Advent Bible Prayer Challenge. Click here for the 2020 Advent Bible Prayer Challenge - Check List.
Bishop William McGrattan gave us a great talk on "Rejoice and Be Glad, On the Call to Holiness in Today's World," a summary of the Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness. Here's the PDF with his power point slides.
Fr. Jonathan did a great presentation on "How to Pray." He showed us some of the Biblical basis of prayer, the main types of prayer, and he explained Lectio Divina. His hand out is here: Lectio Divina Handout.
Then Jim went over Fr. Mario's basic step-by-step guide on how to do daily prayer. His hand out is here: How to Do Daily Prayer, Step-by-Step.
Fr. John Wright showed us how incredibly connected the Old Testament and the New Testament are, and that God has been working throughout history to bring about our salvation.
Fr. Jonathan did another great Bible study with us on Philippians 4, the final chapter of the "Letter of Joy."
Fr. Cristino gave us a very interesting talk on "What is the Church an Expert In?" including humanity, what an expert is, and that an expert helps you to become an expert.
Fr. Jonathan did a great Bible study with us on Philippians 3, the "Letter of Joy."
Deacon Stephen Robinson gave a great talk on "We are called to be in relationship to God and others. It's in our DNA. How does our Catholic culture influence our relationships?"
Fr. John Wright gave a great talk on how, in this very chaotic world, we find enormous joy, which is much better than happiness, in finding out what God wants us to do, and doing it. God says, "Do not be afraid." Read the Bible and find out what Jesus wants you to do, and do it, and you will have great joy!
We had a workshop on Discerning Your Purpose, that gave everyone an opportunity to work on discerning their life purpose. It was beautiful.
We also had a challenging and fun Bible Quiz game at the beginning of our meeting.
Fr. Louis Madey, from the SS. Cyril & Methodius Seminary in Michigan, U.S.A., did an awesome and loving talk introducing the Ten Commandments.
Fr. Jonathan did a great Bible study with us on Philippians 2.
And of course we did some other fun things, as usual!
Fr. Cristino spoke to us on vocation, on what is your true purpose in life. He showed us the philosophical proof that God loves each of us and that God created us each with a purpose or purposes in mind.
Fr. Jonathan did a Bible study with us on Philippians 1.
Fr. John Wright spoke to us on Hope. He showed us how hope is infused into the Bible in to both the Old Testament and the New Testament, and how this affects us today.
Fr. Jonathan spoke on "Living our lives from the Mount when we feel way down in the Valley." Here are Fr. Jonathan's notes from the meeting.
And here is the link to the God Squad webpage with Fr. Jonathan's talk on the four levels of happiness.
And here is the link to the website with the list of Masses that are Streamed all over the world, at different times. The times are in our local time (check the clock in the upper right area to verify it is our time zone).
This meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
Fr. Jonathan gave a great talk on Forgiveness and the
Sacrament of Reconciliation. Here is the document he gave us:
Examination of Conscience - 7 Deadly Sins.pdf
And here's a link to the humorous video we watched: Crisis at the Confessional.
The movie we watched was San Paolo, from the formed.org website. If
you want to watch the movie, ask us and we will tell you how to access
it (for free).
Fr. Jonathan introduced the Bible, Part 1 (Part 2 coming soon). We will be posting notes from this talk.
Here are the videos from the presentation:
Here are the two videos from the presentation:
This is quite a big presentation, with a lot of
details. If you missed the meeting, you should go through this
presentation. It's really worth it. The main presentation was "Why would
an all-loving God allow Suffering?" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's website.
This link goes directly to the presentation:
As with our previous meeting, there are 3 guides on the webpage for this presentation (which is Presentation 19). Here are the links to them:
2. Little Book - Volume 19 (43 pages).
3. Big Book - Volume 19 (119 pages).
We also watched a video clip of Bishop Robert Barron,
on "Religion and Happiness." If you want to see it again, it is here:
On a different topic, here's a good article, by Fr. Michael Cummins, on the Word on Fire site:
Dear Young Adults: 6 Reasons Why You Need the Church
This was a very powerful presentation. If you missed
the meeting, you should go through this presentation. It's really worth
it. The main presentation was "True Happiness" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's
website. This link goes directly to the presentation:
There are three other documents that go with this presentation.
1. Presentation Guide 13 has copies of the slides, the Personal Reflection handout, and a few other details. The double sided handout we gave out at the meeting, is on page 19 and 20 of this PDF. Or you can click here to get a PDF of just the double sided handout.
2. There is also a PDF called "Credible Catholic, Little Book - Volume 13, Four Levels of Happiness." This book is 47 pages, and it has lots of details about the topic, and detailed instructions on how to change yourself to have more happiness. The single page handout we gave out at the meeting, is from page 12 of this PDF, and the multipage handout from Fr. Jonathan is from pages 17 to 29 of this PDF. Or click here to get a PDF of just the single page handout, or click here to get the multipage handout.
3. There is also another PDF, called "Credible Catholic, Big Book - Volume 13, Four Levels of Happiness." This book is 80 pages. It covers the same material as the Little Book, but in more depth.
If you want to really apply the lessons from this presentation, get the Little Book or the Big Book and work thought it. If you find yourself getting confused or stressed out while working on this, contact Fr. Jonathan and make an appointment to discuss it with him.
The main presentation was "Why be Catholic?" from Fr.
Robert Spitzer's website. This link goes directly to the presentation:
We also watched a video clip of Bishop Robert Barron, called "Called by God: Bishop Barron in Washington, DC." If you want to see it again, it is here:
The main presentation was "Proof of Jesus’
Resurrection and Divinity" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's website. This link
goes directly to the presentation:
In the large group debriefing, after the small groups, we also discussed some ideas, which are presented by Peter Kreeft (among others) in this excellent article, The Divinity of Jesus Christ:
There are also a number of excellent articles on Peter Kreeft's website.
The main presentation was "Evidence of God's
Existence from Philosophy" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's website. This link
goes directly to the presentation:
We also had a sneak preview of Emily Wilson, who was speaking at One Rock this year, called 30 Non-Relgiouis Reasons for Not Having Sex Before Marriage.
The main presentation was "Medical Evidence of a
Soul" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's website. This link goes directly to the
We also had a sneak preview of Ken Yasinski, who was speaking at One Rock this year, called How to Get Motivated (Quickly).
The main presentation was "Scientific Evidence of
God's Existence" from Fr. Robert Spitzer's website. This link goes
directly to the presentation:
If you have any more questions on any of the presentations, or the discussion at a meeting, or any other questions about the Catholic Faith, or about life, or any difficulties you are having in your life, please ask your questions.
You can ask your questions in the group at our meetings, you can write your question down and put it in the Question Box at our meetings and this can be anonymous (Fr. Jonathan will answer your question to the group at a meeting), or you can ask me, Fr. Jonathan, directly. I would be happy help you with any questions you have.
Brilliant theologians have been studying the questions of life for many centuries. This may be hard to believe, but it is extremely unlikely that your question or a variation of it, hasn't already been studied intensely. If I don't already know how to answer your question, I can get the answers from our great experts in the Catholic Church.