Growing in our faith… a visit to the Marian Shrine of Gratitude

Many people from all walks in life innocently under estimate the hunger for God and all things good that come from God that our children’s souls and hearts ache for, a hunger that is often left unfilled or misunderstood.  

Children are like sponges, they absorb much from many sources especially from multi-media and from peers that often lead them into worldly values and ideals that may impede their spiritual growth and development.

Children are generally innocent, trusting and loving when they are with adults or an organization that they know is approved as being OK to attend or participate in by their parents.

Within FNE we strive to continuously encourage the youth entrusted into our care to discover God through the unseen, their prayers and faith traditions all with a shared goal… as per one of the great commandments – Love one another as I have loved you.  After all God is the source of all Love.

Many youth struggle to navigate through a world that promotes an ever increasing desire for material things, instant gratification and an inward turning to oneself often at the expense of others.  FNE strives to help it’s youth express appreciation or gratitude for the many graces and well-being that they have while also thinking (and acting where possible) about those less fortunate then themselves such as the sick, lonely, homeless and those who have no one to love them.

A number of our FNE Timber Wolves recently visited the Marion Shrine of Gratitude in Toronto to hear from one of its beloved leaders Angie Carboni to further discover the depth and beauty of their Catholic faith teachings, teachings that will help our Timber Wolves make better choices throughout life as they strive with the Lord’s help and graces to become an ordinary Saint.   

Our Timber Wolves tremendously enjoyed a talk and photo show (boys in particular are very visual beings) given by Angie Carboni on a number of dynamic truths of our faith that generated much discussion and excitement amongst all present.  Examples included….

It is our Mothers that teach us how to first tie our shoes, how to eat properly at the table, to help us feel and understand love, to first lean about God along with the fact that no one is more aggressive to defend and protect their child then a mother. 

The Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of Jesus is our spiritual Mother who loves us as only a Mother can… and who teaches us about her son through the Rosary while also protecting us under her mantle as she takes us to her son Jesus.

The reality of temptation is all around us as is the evil one who works very hard to draw us away from the things of God into a darkness that can become very difficult to break out of if we are not careful.  An amazing presentation was given about Angels and Archangels….Michael, Gabriel and Raphael….

When Luciel (Bearer of Light) rebelled against God and became Lucifer (Prince of Darkness) one entire choir of angels followed him and was lost. Many angels from other choirs also followed him in his rebellion. "And there was a great battle in heaven, Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels: And they prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

We need not fear Satan especially if we regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and attend Holy Mass to receive Jesus with great love through the Eucharist as often as possible.

Given that within FNE we encourage our youth, their leaders and family members to strive to become an “ordinary” saint we need to understand “what” does it mean to be a saint?

A saint is one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue such that the lives that they lived have allowed them to enter the presence of God by being in heaven.

So what is a saint… Angie explained in simple terms to help our timber wolves understand that:

First of all, one who knows he is a sinner (thus they run to confession for the great mercy and forgiveness of God), second a saint knows the truth. A saint is a seer, one who sees what's there. A saint is a realist. A saint is also an idealist. A saint embraces heroic suffering out of heroic love. A saint also embraces heroic joy (meaning that there is love, joy, happiness in life not just sadness or suffering).

Angie then shared some stories about a select number of saints and then gave each youth a special first class relic to carry and place on the Altar at the Shrine…. A “first class relic” is a part of the body of the Saint. In addition, all instruments of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ are considered First Class Relics… in this case one relic held a tiny sliver of the Cross of Jesus.

 

These relics of saints are very special physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord.  Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. It is very important to note, however, that the cause of the healing is God; the relics are a means through which He acts.  In other words, relics are not magic.  They do not contain a power that is their own; a power separate from God.  Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing.  But the fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).  Thus our timber wolves learned more about specific saints… wonderful examples to help our youth along their individual paths to become an ordinary saint.

We then processed to the “shrine” itself, a shrine where an increasing number of people are experiencing wonderful personal miracles through the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mary.

The timber wolves carried individual candles to represent their responsibility to help bring the light of Jesus into a challenging world through the lives that they live while following Father Basel in procession as a symbol of our shared journey and pilgrimage through life towards our end goal… to be an ordinary saint to share in the Glory of God in Heaven!

As we processed around the shrine we prayed the Rosary as we contemplated the key mysteries of the Lord’s life while calling out to Jesus through our collective prayers. We concluded a very beautiful evening with personal prayer asking our Mother Mary to intercede with her son Jesus on our behalf and to help bring us to her son.

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