Light the lamp that feeds on the oil of the spirit

Faith is the lost coin that the woman in the Gospel seeks diligently.

We read that she lit a candle and swept her house. After finding it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, inviting them to rejoice with her because she has found the coin that she had lost.

The damage to the soul is great if one has lost the faith or the grace that he has gained for himself at the price of faith.

Light your lamp. “Your lamp is your eye” (Mt 6:22), that is, the interior eye of the soul. Light the lamp that feeds on the oil of the spirit and shines throughout your whole house.

Search for the coin, the redemption of your soul. If a person loses this, he is troubled, and if he finds it, he rejoices.

— St. Ambrose (333 – 309)

Opportunity of Sin

Recently we had our staff retreat for my office. We had a wonderful retreat leader who began the day with some powerful reflections before giving us most of the day to unpack the wisdom and let the Holy Spirit work on us.

The biggest impact might have been a conversion in her own heart throughout the day. She had made an off the cuff remark that maybe wasn’t the fairest to some others in ministry. I didn’t think much of it, but it obviously pierced her heart over lunch that she had done a wrong.

What happened next was to begin the afternoon she completely explained her action, how she came to realize the error of her ways, and that God didn’t shame her. Instead, God asked her a question. The question was this:

“What are you going to do about it?”

We all reflected on the power of God’s mercy, and that it isn’t so much a blank slate of forgiveness to abuse, but really an opportunity. God was inviting her to make a change, to do penance. To make amends.

This struck me as often I find myself apologizing in ministry almost as much as I’m doing the ministry God called me to. My wife Sharon often tells me to stop apologizing and saying sorry for things I don’t need to apologize for. And she’s right, I am often too much a people pleaser and don’t stand up for myself. But I also tell her that I kept screwing up! So I have to apologize!

But I think I often fail at the more critical next step. I often apologize, but I don’t answer God’s question of what am I going to do about it, and then act on it.

So I just spent tonight (when I wrote this) apologizing and seizing the opportunity to act in direct response and make a change. I’m not perfect, far from it. But I can be better, so I need to try.

So I ask you as we wrap this season of Youth Ministry, what opportunity is God placing before you to make a change?

Share and let’s hold one another accountable this summer! #SummerofOpportunity

Don’t Forget About Lunch

It is easy sometimes to forget what’s important. By that I mean drink coffee. Coffee is essential for me.

I love my life, but with a six-year-old and almost two-year-old running wild and gloriously free in my house, I require caffeine. I want to say I enjoy roasting, grinding, smelling, and then making coffee. But not really. Having coffee right now is an act of utility. Maybe one day those finer points of producing a cup of joe will bring deep levels of satisfaction.

But as true as that all is for me, I catch myself often miserable during the day saying, “Did I have coffee yet?” How is that possible? I don’t have a great answer, other than saying it happens. So, the question is what am I to do about it?

70 for 70: Ode to My Father

aka Happy Birthday Dad!

My father turns 70 today. He’s currently off gallivanting with St. Francis and my mom in Assisi. Therefore, no big dinner party can be done with him on the other side of the world. So I had to get creative to show my love for him. So inspired by the 30 for 30 ESPN documentary, here’s 70 things I’m grateful he’s taught me for the 70 years my dad has been around.

My dad isn’t perfect. I’ve learned from his mistakes and flaws as much as from his talent and virtues. He might even think he’s not the best dad in the world.

  1. Dad raised me a Habs fan. We can stop the list here. That’s how grateful I am.
  2. He refused to leave the table till I ate everything on my plate. I mean everything. We had a few hour long stand-offs with slices of ham. He never balked. Well played father, I now like ham.  Mother thanks you.
  3. My favourite 2 hours of the day; Tea & Biscuits on the couch listening to News Hour with Jim Lehrer followed by Star Trek the Next Generation. A mix of both of our interests. I care about society and politics, and also now have an unhealthy love for Jean-Luc Picard (as any well-adjusted male adult should). The kicker was only getting to watch the end of the episode if at the last commercial break I brushed my teeth, changed, and had my things ready for the morning. Star Trek hacked bedtime! Legendary.
  4. You played rough with me. Sometimes too much it got annoying … But you taught me never to back down. I  learned to stand up for myself. Maybe you realized I was getting bullied at school or didn’t … Either way, in the long run, you helped a young boy be confident and beat the haters.
  5. The power of a scruffy beard. Whenever Ezra grabs and rubs his face on mine I think of all those times I did that to you.
  6. How to take care of a lawn mower & mow grass properly. Might seem random, but part of being a dad is teaching life skills. I’ve gotten a lot of wicked farmer’s tans due to this discovered skill and chore outside.
  7. In later years having our TV shows together. Third Watch, Law & Order, Amazing Race, etc.
  8. Your silent but reverent posture at mass. I knew not to mess around because you acted like it was important. It is important.
  9. You took me to all my sporting events. I wasn’t the best player or worst, but you always cheered me on. You were never shy to give feedback, even to another teammate which was kind of awkward at the time. All you wanted was us to be competitive and play hard. You lost it on us when we were lazy on the field. I appreciate that now. Effort matters, the results will come.
  10. Ice cream from DQ after soccer. More often than not I got my post game review over an ice cream cone from DQ. It helps to listen to critics when they give you sweet, sweet ice cream. Often one on one, it was the first thing I did with Jacinta when she started soccer.
  11. Mourning & praying for the dead. We experienced a lot of loss in my childhood with losing my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles from your side of the family. The way you mention them in your conversation and pray for them is inspiring. Remembering their anniversaries, getting masses offered, etc. it taught me practically the communion of saints.
  12. Going out of your way to travel for funerals shows a need to mourn and be with family. We don’t show a lot of emotion as Leynes, but we try not to miss the big stuff and be there for each other.
  13. Blood is Blood. Our Family has gotten spread out over time, but you’ve shown me that distance doesn’t need to weaken the bond. The way you try to stay in touch with family back in Ireland shows no matter what, your family is family and always will be. Blood is thicker than water.
  14. Try not to mess the big stuff up. All five of us kids are fairly well-adjusted adults. We all went to university (apparently the boys were too smart so didn’t need to finish. That’s our story and we’re sticking with it!), got decent jobs and careers. We all know what love is and are working to live it out best we can. No one would call any of your children jerks. We’re the nice family. We’re friendly, easy neighbors, and decent human beings. We all have struggled and have had dark periods but we work through them together.
  15. When we fight we say sorry, eventually! Sometimes you and mom take the quiet route and need time. But eventually, you always say sorry.
  16. You showed me a penitent heart. You always do things to show you’re sorry often before you say it. Sometimes this is the bigger impact.
  17. You dragged us to church.
  18. You played outside with us when we were kids.
  19. The yard was our home in the summer. From street hockey, basketball nets, volleyball or badminton, we lived to spend time outdoors in the summer.
  20. A good day is when you end exhausted from hard work.
  21. You worked your tail off to provide for our family.
  22. The fact your retirement party was filled with workers of different generations and some who probably didn’t like you because you were a tough boss! But all respected you for your integrity and work ethic. I am proud to have a father others respect.
  23. Work hard, play hard. I love seeing you relax after a hard days work.
  24. You need good friends over the decades. Having old colleagues and friends drop by and swap stories helped me realize you don’t get through life alone. The best life experiences are with others.
  25. Keep attention to detail. Ok, this one sometimes might get extreme with you, but the point is clear. Being sloppy and lazy shows a lack of focus, effort, and respect for others and your craft. And that’s not in the DNA of a Leyne.
  26. House parties. You knew how to have a good time with lots of friends.  The home should be a hub for relationships and celebrations.
  27. You weren’t the best cook of all time, but you’ve developed a love for the BBQ. That has now been passed on to me.
  28. You cook a mean steak, salmon, and baked potato. So Irish of you.
  29. That routine isn’t a bad idea but ensures part of our day is spot on. Just like that cup of tea.
  30. Speaking of tea, you taught me how to make a pot of tea properly. This has saved the world from unspeakable horrors I’m sure.
  31. Your horrible old instant coffee taught me to love fresh ground coffee. Hopefully, I have since enlightened you to this as well.
  32. A bizarre love for ginger snaps  (I didn’t say all would make sense)
  33. Love your wife unconditionally the best way you can.
  34. Travel. Your magnets from traveling for business inspired me to see the world. Go figure … And now I have a desire to collect fridge magnets.
  35. Be proud to be an Irishman. We have a great birthright to be Irish … Know our history, culture, and music and live it out!
  36. A profound love for The Pogues because of how you would rock the wheel as a drum when driving when The Pogues cd was playing!
  37. Driving. Those first few lessons were painful, but look at me now! Sharon is right when she says Colm’s favourite place might be the car.
  38. Long drives with no destination. I still remember the countless weekends we’d go explore on drives to nowhere. Especially that one day just the two of us that went from Calgary to Rocky Mountain House, to Jasper, to Lake Louise, Banff, and home … Epic!
  39. Spirit of adventure and learning. You always helped stoke in me a discipline to not give up and learn how something was done.
  40. Proof of that was allowing me to “help” with all the little projects and DIY things around the house. I wouldn’t call myself a handyman, but I’m definitely not incompetent!
  41. You explained golf and curling to me. I’m indebted to you for no longer making fun of sports I’ve realized I’m completely horrible at.
  42. Summers at the driving range and par 3’s. The only reason I got up early for morning mass to head out there wasn’t because I loved golf or am good at it, but because I had the day with you.
  43. You didn’t do my homework for me.
  44. You taught me how to paint begins by wearing awesome painter clothes. Who knew you were a fashion expert? Not mom …
  45. You’re a friendly neighbour. Seemed every project outside was a collaborative effort of the neighbors. Community in action.
  46. You and your video camera. Often ridiculous, but we’re thankful for the memories.
  47. Your encyclopedic mind with random facts, family history, and knowledge always amazes me.
  48. Your interest in our ancestry has made me see the value in knowing and appreciating our story.
  49. Your love for the Republic and defending Irish liberty. I’m a proud Canadian and Irishman because of your patriotism. You also taught me truth is worth defending, and getting involved.
  50. Saturday nights are sacred guy time – Hockey Night in Canada!
  51. You taught me how to play pool. My talent has always impressed at the bar.
  52. You never took it easy on me. You’d destroy me at games and not give us anything. When I beat you I could celebrate my accomplishment knowing I earned it.
  53.  You’ve always been generous with your time. Especially since you’ve retired you give even more. Knights of Columbus, Meals on Wheels, and a dozen other ministries in the community and church.
  54. Your concern for the sick & elderly by making visits, offering rides, etc.
  55. In recent years Eamonn and I helping you as real men during the hamper drive and delivering hampers to families in need just before Christmas. Charity in action.
  56. Always offering our family as the “envelope stuffers” and crew to do the menial tasks for the church most people don’t enjoy doing. Service isn’t for the glory or recognition.
  57. Your commitment to adore the lord in the Blessed Sacrament by taking the early morning hours that are hard to fill.
  58. Your devotion to your wife, especially in later years as mom dealt with a variety of back pain and other issues. You serve and wait on her as best as you are able. You sacrifice probably some of your plans and dreams to be with her when no one else can. Love in action.  It isn’t easy, or what you’re wired to do, but you are faithful to the effort.
  59. Your love for sport (especially Irish Football and Hurling). You’ve given me a heart for competition and trying to be my best; as well as showing the joy and struggle of being a fan. Some people don’t get that passion … but I do. A deep playoff run by the Habs, or Cork winning the double in Hurling and Irish Football, teaches me to live deeply the moments of joy and sorrow when they arrive.
  60. To a fault, you go full tilt into whatever you do. Your 6 broken noses from hurling, and dental work from clashing heads with Eamonn playing a family game of basketball as evidence. This is the stuff of legends and of someone who goes all in. That’s a trait worth replicating.
  61. You are a hard ass. Discipline is underrated in today’s society – thanks for going against the grain and always setting the bar high in expectations. You expected more from us, and you drew more out of us than we thought possible. I’m thankful now for that discipline.
  62. It is a delight to see you now as Granda. Jacinta loves you and the way you make her feel so special and delight in her silliness. Your dates taking her to morning mass by yourself are a special highlight.
  63. Taking us camping as kids. I love camping, but after doing it once as parents I quickly realized how freaking hard it is for parents.  The sacrifice to give us memories is much appreciated.
  64. Using your vacation to be with family. You taught me no road trip or expense is too much to visit family, celebrate weddings, and be with your extended family. I can honestly say my siblings and cousins were my best friends and memories growing up. That’s only because you made the sacrifice to give us that time together.
  65. Porridge and juice. Granny’s breakfast for you is still good enough for you. That taught me to appreciate the little things and the importance of a hearty breakfast.
  66. You always have advice. It can be too much sometimes. But I try to remember the message to me is, “Never give up on your kids. Never stop teaching. Never stop caring. Never stop loving your kids”
  67. The power of names. I love having the tradition of names of generations past included in your kid’s name. I’m proud Ezra has the honor of both his grandfathers’ name. It’s a legacy he’ll need to respect in how he lives. I’m proud to have your name a part of who I am. I hope I have done it justice.
  68. You’ve always had my back. Often unspoken but I’ve always known that in dire straights you would protect your house. That moment you chased those robbers out of the house and ran after them with a fury I’ve never seen before will always be with me. I literally thought to myself, “My dad is awesome.” – Chuck Norris, eat your heart out!
  69. Stubborn love. You literally sometimes get physically hurt and worn out trying to love your spouse and family in the way you serve. The goofy example was your unwillingness to cut your wedding ring off the broken finger you got chasing those robbers. Silly, stupid, and stubborn as an ox. Great virtues of any Irishman. May I be stubborn in following my principles as well as you have.
  70. For being around. Through the virtues and vices, you teach me how to be a better man. You are there, and many cannot say they’ve had that experience. For that I’m grateful. May you be with me and my children for much more.

PS – This was also long-winded, another a gift you have bestowed on me!

Happy Birthday Dad. I love you.



When I’m afraid to act, I listen to this song to remember the burning fire of the Holy Spirit that resides in my soul. It is God’s spirit that moves me to act, not my own self-confidence.