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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

With Faith Like A Child. Wednesday March 30. Lent 2011.

On Fridays I watch a group of kids with my sisters while the moms get some alone time to study the Bible. The house that we watch the kids in has many toys with one of those toys being a talking Jesus. He is about the size of a Barbie, maybe a little bit bigger. And he looks exactly like little children picture Jesus. Longer brown hair, brown eyes, a smiling face, dressed in a white robe, and he has a very pleasant voice. One of the little girls was digging through the toy box and joyfully pulled out the Jesus doll and exclaimed, “I found Jesus!!” She went on to tell me that it’s a talking Jesus.  She pressed that button that makes Jesus talk and her face just lit up. In her sweet little 5 year old voice she said, “Jesus loves me!”

I truly believe Christ was speaking to this beautiful little girl.
And here is why, I have listened to the Jesus doll speak over and over again and not once does he say “I love you”. Of course he loves us but this doll only quotes important scripture verses.
Somewhere in her little being she took those scripture verses to mean that Jesus loves her.
What a brilliant 5 year old.
How beautiful.
Christ was working through her.
No doubt.

The other thing that was just amazing was despite all the noise and racket the other 8 kids were making, she was still able to hear Jesus.
She blocked out all the other noise because it was important for her to hear what this Jesus doll had to say.
She disregarded all the other noise to listen to her Jesus.
If a 5 year old is fully capable of that and KNOWS that she needs to block out the things of the world to hear Jesus, I think that we can all do a better job of blocking out the world and listening to what Christ has to say every so often.
Take a moment to read scripture and hear what Christ is saying to you through the scriptures.
Will He tell you that He loves you? Because He does. So dearly.
Will He tell you that you are His beloved? Because you are.
I really think that if we each just blocked out that world for 5 minutes a day and let Jesus in our hearts we would hear His soothing voice telling us that he loves us.
I feel like if more people truly felt that they were loved by love Himself, the world would be a different place.
If we all had the unwavering faith of this child.
To know that without a doubt.
To firmly believe.
With undying faith.
To say with conviction,
“Jesus loves ME!”
How beautiful.
Faith like a child.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Grant Us The Grace... Tuesday March 29. Lent 2011.

Yesterday I found out that someone I grew up with has cancer.
I have not spoken to her in years but it still just seems so unreal.
She has had cancer for 4 years and currently is not doing well at all.
Not doing well physically that is.
She is far surpassing me.
She has accepted her cancer.
She is not angry with the Lord but fully believes that He will not give her more than she can handle.
If only I could have the amount of faith and trust in the Lord that she does.
She is terminally ill and is still fully trusting in the Lord.
She accepts her cancer as the cross that the Lord has given her.
She gives thanks each day she wakes up and asks others to do the same since Christ never promised us that new day.
I can only pray that one day I may have her trust and faith and confidence in the Lord.

This would be a situation where many people would ask, why?
Why such a beautiful young life?
Why does ANYONE have to go through this?
I don’t know.
I could take some guesses.
But I don’t have the answer.
Maybe I never will.
If nothing else, this beautiful girl is being a witness.
A beautiful, outstanding, strong witness for Christ.
She is impacting so many lives.
It is just unreal.
All of it.

I ask you to please pray for this beautiful soldier for Christ.
Please pray for her family and friends.
Please pray that she continues to touch lives.
Please pray that she continues to be the outstanding witness that she is.

Let us remember this girl’s faith and trust in the Lord as we pick up our own crosses that the Lord has given us.

Lord please grant us undying faith and trust in You.
Lord grant us the grace to carry our crosses with joy.
Nothing is beyond Him.   

Monday, March 28, 2011

Surrender, Trust, Give it All. Monday March 28. Lent 2011.

I was talking to a friend about making giant leaps of faith.
I felt like I made a giant leap of faith to the best of my ability.
And maybe I did do the best I could, maybe I didn’t, but either way, I felt let down.
I felt like God let me down.
I felt like He failed me.
That whole situation continues to play a part in my life today.
I am more cautious when I make changes- if I make them at all.
I am more like an unsure baby learning to walk than a confident person.
Today I was sitting here thinking, why?
Why the feelings of being failed and let down?
It seems like it would have just been easier to continue with the leap of faith instead of make it harder.
As all these thoughts were racing through my head, another thought shoved itself in there.
The though of how dare I?
How dare I take these feelings of being let down and let them make my decisions for me; decisions that could possibly be some of the most important decisions in my life. 

How dare I sit and dwell in the thoughts of being let down when I let Christ down multiple times a day when I sin.
Maybe I was not let down at all.
It might feel that way.
But maybe I wasn’t.
However, I know for a fact that I truly let God down constantly.
And what does He do?
He comes back at me not with anger or rage but with arms wide open.
He offers forgiveness and unending love.
No matter how many times a day I turn away from Him or go against Him and offend Him, He is there waiting for me to turn back to Him.
He is willing to still love us with all that He is- regardless of our failings.
And what do I do when I feel let down?
Completely shut down.
Become indifferent.
Shove the pain away.

How different life would be if we were as forgiving as Christ!
If the next time we were let down we brushed it off our shoulder and continued to love.
If we rejoiced in feeling pain for it can bring us closer to Christ.
If we boldly accepted every obstacle placed in our way.

I know that I struggle in this area greatly.
I very well know that if I could be bold enough to accept what was
and love what is
and be expectant for what will be
I would walk this journey of life more confidently.
If I trusted that EVERYTHING is in His hands I know I could more effectively love.
I would be a better Christian.
And isn’t that the main goal here?
Christ died for us.
The least we can do is live for Him.
Not against Him.
Live FOR Him.
Lay down every pain or sorrow or failure.
Lay it down at the foot of the cross.
He is there waiting.
With arms open.
He is waiting to be a part of every step we take.
We need to allow Him to move within us.
We need to trust Him.
Trust that He knows exactly what He is doing.
Trusting in the Lord is being willing to completely hand over one’s self and thoughts and whishes and hopes and desires and giving it all to the Lord.
And then truly believing He knows exactly what He is doing.
We might not always agree with what He is doing or has done but that is part of the surrender.

I encourage you to join me on this journey of truly surrendering to the Lord and trusting in His plan. This is a daily surrender. Sometimes even multiple times a day! It is a journey that could very well last a lifetime. We can only accomplish this by the strength of the Lord. We will be graced if we surrender, and trust, and hand it all over to Him.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not;
In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lord, Help Us to Run to You. Saturday March 26. Lent 2011.

I work at the skating rink in Fountain Valley.
There are many interesting people there and they each have their own stories.
Every weekend that I work there, I come home with tons of stories.
Here is one of today’s stories that just reminded me so much of each of us:

There is a family that houses foster children and some of the children come and skate on the weekends. 
There were a couple of the brothers there this weekend and the youngest boy made a slight mistake. 
He pushed someone down.
He was scolded.
He became so sad and embarrassed that he took off skating, out of the rink.
One of the rink’s regular boys went out after this little boy and caught him right before the little boy made it out to the busy intersection.
The older boy had to literally drag the younger boy back into the rink where he waited for his parents.

It was pretty scary to watch this story unfold but once it was all over and everyone was safe, this story seemed so relatable to us and Christ.

We make mistakes so often.
We push people down, maybe physically but more likely emotionally or spiritually.
We fall down ourselves.
Sometimes the journey seems just too tough.
We all fail at being the Christians we are called to be.

We can be embarrassed or frightened by making that mistake.
We may feel like we need to run away or hide.
We feel like our mistake is too much to bear or
we feel like we can’t be forgiven.

And then there is Christ.
He is waiting there at the dangerous intersection.
He is just waiting to drag us back to safety to show us how much He truly does love us, regardless of the mistakes we have made.

His unfailing forgiveness is just overwhelming.
We should learn to focus more on His unending forgiveness rather than our seemingly unforgivable mistakes.
We should learn to run TO Him instead of running FROM Him.
He is there waiting for us.
His arms are open wide to us, regardless of our sins.
He has been so good to us in offering us the sacrament of confession to cleanse us of our sins.
We don’t have to run in fear anymore.
We can go right to confession and be free of our mistakes and submerge ourselves in His love.
I pray that next time we make a mistake; we may run right to confession and be freed of our mistake instead of running far away from the Lord who loves us so deeply.
Lord, please give us the courage to turn to You when we have made a mistake.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jeremiah 17- Place Your Trust in the LORD. Thursday March 24. Lent 2011.

“Thus says the LORD: cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress,
but still bears fruit. More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the LORD, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.”

This is today’s reading from Jeremiah 17.
It really does speak for itself, so I won’t expand too much but man, what a powerful reading!
It is such a bold reminder of how many times we put our faith, and hope, and trust in others and they, not even by their own choice, will undoubtedly fail us.
We are a people who feel like we need to physically touch or see those we are communicating with which is why we often turn to people instead of Christ.
The Lord says that those who put their faith in HIM will be blessed.
Now, this is not to say we are not allowed to have any friends, not at all.
Christ had His closest friends with Him throughout His life but Christ never placed all His trust in His friends, He placed His trust in His Father.
Though His life was not always easy, His Father never failed Him, not once.
We need to learn to trust in the Father first.
We need to have hope in the Father.
May Christ be our example in this lesson.
The Father will make straight our paths.
He will NEVER fail us.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Let Go And Let God Change Your Heart. Wednesday March 23. Lent 2011.

It's time for healing time to move on
It's time to fix what's been broken too long
Time make right what has been wrong
It's time to find my way to where I belong
There's a wave that's crashing over me
All I can do is surrender

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos somehow there's peace
It's hard to surrender to what I can't see
but I'm giving in to something heavenly

Time for a milestone
Time to begin again
Revaluate who I really am
Am I doing everything to follow your will
or just climbing aimlessly over these hills
So show me what it is you want from me
I give everything I surrender...


Time to face up
Clean this old house
Time to breathe in and let everything out
That I've wanted to say for so many years
Time to to release all my held back tears

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly

Whatever you're doing inside of me
It feels like chaos but now I can see
This something bigger than me
Larger than life something heavenly
Something heavenly

It's time to face up
Clean this old house
Time breathe in and let everything out

Whatever You’re Doing-
Sanctus Real

What does He want to do to help you change and become a better person?
What does He NEED to do to help you?
Are you letting Him?
Letting Him turn your world upside down and into chaos, yet still finding peace?
Take the time to listen to this song.
Look at your life while listening to it.
I have.
It is pretty amazing how many times I fail.
I’m not talking about in school or doing extra things, I’m talking about failing to live my life as a Christian.
And how many times a day I claim to be a Christian filled with love and I am so filled with rage.
That is changing.
But not by my own doing.
By Christ’s.
“Whatever You’re doing inside of me, it feels like chaos but somehow there’s peace.
It’s hard to surrender to what I can’t see but I’m giving into something heavenly.”
Nothing is beyond Him.
Let Him chaotically change your heart into a peaceful heart.
You will be so grateful.
“The night is darkest before the dawn.”
The rage is now, the love will come later.
It will feel like chaos but there will be peace.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Harry Potter, horoscopes, and things of the like... Tuesday March 22. Lent 2011.

Harry Potter and horoscopes.
I have a very strong opinion about these two and things of the like.
I will give you my opinion and tell you why I hold that opinion.
Yup, that is my opinion.
I am not writing this blog to make you change your mind and I am not judging you or your opinions, I am just giving you the facts.

Let’s start off with definitions of the things that I want to discuss in this blog just to make sure we on are the same page, definition wise.

“In astrology, a horoscope is a chart or diagram representing the positions of the Sun, Moon, planets, the astrological aspects, and sensitive angles at the time of an event, such as the moment of a person's birth. It is used as a method of divination regarding events relating to the point in time it represents and forms the basis of the horoscopic traditions of astrology. However, no studies have shown any scientific support for the accuracy of horoscopes, and the methods used to make interpretations are, at best, pseudo-scientific.”

Tarot Cards:
Tarot cards are cards that are used to connect the user with the collective unconscious in order to get information about a person or situation.

Ojai board:
Ojai board is a board game that is used to communicate with the spirits of the dead.

“Astrology is a pseudoscience claiming divination by the positions of the planets and sun and moon.”

Palm reading:
Telling one’s future by reading their palm.

“A person who possesses, or appears to possess, extra-sensory abilities such as precognition, clairvoyance and telepathy, or who appears to be susceptible to paranormal or supernatural influence. Also, a person who supposedly contacts the dead.”

“In a restricted sense magic is understood to be an interference with the usual course of physical nature by apparently inadequate means (recitation of formularies, gestures, mixing of incongruous elements, and other mysterious actions), the knowledge of which is obtained through secret communication with the force underlying the universe (God, the Devil, the soul of the world, etc.); it is the attempt to work miracles not by the power of God, gratuitously communicated to man, but by the use of hidden forces beyond man's control.”

“The belief in magical spells that harness occult forces or evil spirits to produce unnatural effects in the world”

Now, here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the items listed above:

Divination and magic:
2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.
2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.
2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

These are just a couple areas in the Bible where it points out these as well:

Leviticus 20: 1; 6; 25-26
The LORD said to Moses: should anyone turn to mediums and fortune-tellers and follow their wanton ways, I will turn against such a one and cut him off from his people.

To me, therefore, you shall be sacred; for I, the LORD, am sacred, I, who have set you apart from the other nations to be my own. "A man or a woman who acts as a medium or fortune-teller shall be put to death by stoning; they have no one but themselves to blame for their death."

Galatians 5:19-21
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Deuteronomy 18: 10-14
Let there not be found among you anyone who immolates his son or daughter in the fire, nor a fortune-teller, soothsayer, charmer, diviner, or caster of spells, nor one who consults ghosts and spirits or seeks oracles from the dead. Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the LORD, and because of such abominations the LORD, your God, is driving these nations out of your way. You, however, must be altogether sincere toward the LORD, your God. Though these nations whom you are to dispossess listen to their soothsayers and fortune-tellers, the LORD, your God, will not permit you to do so.

The Catholic Church says that these things are WRONG.
These are all things of the occult.
Occultism is the study of the occult or hidden wisdom or forbidden knowledge.
Again, it all goes back to knowledge of certain things is meant for God alone.
There is a strong religious element related to the occult.
Religious, huh?
It is called SATANISM.
Satanism is the belief and worship of the devils.
I sure as heck do not want any part of worshiping the devil and I pray with every fiber in my being that you do not want a part in that either.

The main reason (among many) I hold my position so strongly is this:
All of these things are acts of taking things into your own hands.
Feeling as though you need to see into the future and speak with the dead is giving yourself authority over God.
It is choosing evil over God.
Choosing ANYTHING over God is wrong.
But especially evil.
It is in direct violation of the FIRST commandment:
“I am the LORD your God, thou shall have no other gods before me”

The last two things I want to bring to this blog are seemingly harmless everyday things: yoga and Harry Pottery.

Yoga is a harmless form of exercise used to strengthen your body and relax yourself, right? Wrong. Very Wrong.
What should be a very simple and morally correct exercise is very much wrong.
Fr. John Hardon says that “yoga is incompatible with Catholicism because the best known practice of Hindu spirituality is yoga. “Inner” Hinduism professes pantheism, which denies that there is only one infinite Being who created the world out of nothing”.
The full article can be found here: http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/religion/re0275.html

And now on to Harry Potter:
Here are the main problems: the magic, the sorcery, the occult, and the biggest problem is the author STUDIED witchcraft to write the series.
The mere fact that the author studied witchcraft should automatically be a red flag and turn people off but it doesn’t seem to do so.
If you were an avid satanic, would you read a book by the Pope or anyone who studied the Christian religion deeply? My guess is no. I know that if I were a satanic, I would not read books that adamantly go against what I believe. In fact, I think most satanics would consider anything Christian (the opposite of what they believe), evil.
We should feel the same way.
Anything that goes against our one true Catholic faith is wrong.
A books that is fun and full of imagination is only so fun until is messes with a person’s soul; which is exactly what Harry Potter does.
In 2003, before Pope Benedict XVI was pope, he wrote a letter in response to a woman who was speaking out against Harry Potter.
This is what he said: “It is good, that you enlighten people about Harry Potter, because those are subtle seductions, which act unnoticed and by this, deeply distort Christianity in the soul, before it can grow properly."
Evil is supposed to be cunning.
Evil is cunning.
Way back in Genesis, the devil posed as a serpent because the serpent was the most cunning of all animals.
The devil is not stupid.
He knows what he is doing and I feel that we need to be aware of that.

I thank you for reading this blog.
There is a lot of harsh information contained in these few pages; however I believe it to be important information and I pray that you think so too.
The world we live in today is a world that is at constant battle of good and evil.
The evil is sly and cunning and the good is sometimes hard to find.
But God will reward those who seek out the good and avoid the evil.
Here are two outstanding books that, though they are fiction, are very real at the same time and have helped me to realize the common ways in which the devil works to turn us away from God:
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
The Gargoyle Code by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
The Gargoyle Code is the modern day version of The Screwtape Letters and the daily reading coincide with Lent.

My prayers are with you all as we continue on this journey of Lent and as we continue to fight the battle. Victorious is the Lord!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Beloved. Monday March 21. Lent 2011.

“Beloved: Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”

This reading from 2 Timothy 1 seems to explain a lot about our lives.
It is directed to the “beloved”.
This reading is from St. Paul to Timothy.
Timothy was trying to live the good Christian life; just as we are.
Thus, the letter is also directed to us.
That is us.
We are Christ’s beloved.
We are Christ’s dearly loved.
We are dearly loved.

We are asked to take on the job of sharing the gospel with others.
We know from experience that this job is not easy.
Christ knows that it is not easy.
He even calls it a hardship.
And He knows that we cannot do it alone which is why He tells us to rely on the strength of the Lord when sharing the gospel.

We are called to be holy.
But not by our own means and plans.
Our lives are carefully planned out and designed.
But not by us.
By the ultimate Creator. 

Our example of a holy person is now made manifest through Jesus Christ.
By His death on the cross, He destroyed death and brought life and life after death.
Life, both earthly and everlasting, is brought to light through the gospel.

Christ understands that we are like doubting Thomas.
We need to feel or hear or see that Christ conquered death.
We need to know that He brought with Him everlasting life.
He is not angry that we need assurance.
He understands our failings.
Instead of becoming angry, He helps us with our shortcomings.
He helps our shortcomings by offering us the assurances in this reading.

May the Lord bless us as we continue our challenging journey of sharing the gospel.
May we learn to love sharing Christ’s love story with others so that many will see Your glory.
To His beloveds:
To US!

“You're my beloved, lover I'm yours. Death shall not part us; it's you I died for.  For better or worse, forever we'll be. Our love it unites us, it binds you to me. It's a mystery.”
Tenth Avenue North

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Forgiveness. Sunday March 20. Lent 2011.

“With whom do you need to reconcile?”

Those were the only words spoken in Friday’s homily.
This very short homily of one line has stuck with me throughout this whole weekend.
It would seem that a longer homily would be more informative but this one liner really caught my attention.

“Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.
“You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, Raqa, will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna. Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Settle with your opponent quickly while on the way to court. Otherwise your opponent will hand you over to the judge, and the judge will hand you over to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.””

That was the Gospel from Matthew that brought about the one lined homily.
We are called to forgive.
And to reconcile with those whom we are not on good terms with.
“Whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment.”
It’s an intimidating thought.
Even if we have done nothing wrong but someone has wronged us and we fail to forgive them, we will be liable to judgment.
We will then be at fault.
We must forgive like Jesus so unconditionally forgives us.
Forgiving someone who has done wrong to us is incredibly hard, I fully understand that, but I don’t want to withhold forgiveness from someone when Jesus has so freely offered it to me.

Forgiveness is not mumbling, “I forgive you” and continuing on being angry at the person and continuing to gossip about the wrong that they did to you.
And forgiveness does not necessarily mean saying, “I forgive you!” and then having everything go back to the way it was before.
Forgiveness does mean truly forgiving the person from your heart and acting in a Christ-like manner when you come in contact with them.
If the friendship is able to go back to the way it was before, that’s great! But it is not guaranteed and I don’t want to imply that it is. 

Forgiveness is such an important part of life, literally.
If Jesus was not forgiving, we would have not hope of eternal life.

Often, just on an emotional level, it is better for us to forgive.
Not forgiving someone who has does wrong against us can really drag us down.
The anger and pain can fester inside of us.
It is better to forgive then let emotions get out of hand.

Now, this all goes the other way around as well.
Who have you wronged?
Who do you need to ask for forgiveness from?
Who have you hurt?
Please, go and ask for their forgiveness.
You cannot expect them to be happy and want to be your best friend again but regardless, we must seek forgiveness.
I would not want to be held accountable for someone else being liable to judgment because they were holding a grudge against me.
We must at least seek forgiveness.
That is the best thing we can do.
And we should pray that the other person is willing to forgive us, even in the slightest manner.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Father, help us to forgive others who have hurt us and help us to seek forgiveness of those who we have hurt.
Help us to forgive the way that You do.
Unconditionally and unfailingly.
With whom do you need to reconcile?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph. Saturday March 19. Lent 2011.

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph.
Mary’s husband.
The foster father of Jesus.

He actually has two feat days.
One is the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker and the other is St. Joseph the Husband of Mary.
Today St. Joseph is celebrated for being the husband of Mary.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of many, many things but possibly the most obvious would be the patron saint of fathers.
How beautifully this ties in with yesterday’s blog about fathers being the heads of their households.
Though we are all supposed to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect, it may be slightly comforting for fathers to turn to St. Joseph as a guide for being the head of the household and a good father.
It seems less intimidating, more attainable, an easier first step.

St. Joseph was not born free from sin.
BUT the Bible does not have any account of him committing a sin which is pretty amazing.
St. Joseph definitely had the possibility or the option to sin but in his humbleness and righteousness, he chose to be a good man who very possibly did not sin.
What an outstanding person to look up to, especially for fathers!
It is hard sometime to relate oneself to God or to hold oneself up to His standards, so what about starting with St. Joseph?
For fathers to take this step and take after St. Joseph’s humility, righteousness, and goodness and apply that to their own households! 
It would be beautiful!
Let us all pray for St. Joseph’s intercession today for peace and guidance for the world but especially strength for fathers to take that first step in becoming the head of their household. Father, lead them.

Prayer to Saint Joseph for Fathers

Saint Joseph, guardian of Jesus and chaste husband of Mary, you passed your life in loving fulfillment of duty. You supported the holy family of Nazareth with the work of your hands. Kindly protect those who trustingly come to you. You know their aspirations, their hardships, their hopes. They look to you because they know you will understand and protect them. You too knew trial, labor and weariness. But amid the worries of material life, your soul was full of deep peace and sang out in true joy through intimacy with God's Son entrusted to you and with Mary, his tender Mother. Assure those you protect that they do not labor alone. Teach them to find Jesus near them and to watch over Him faithfully as you have done. Amen.

Pope John XXIII

Friday, March 18, 2011

The father as the head of the household. Friday March 18. Lent 2011

“He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control with perfect dignity.”
1 Timothy 3:4

This blog goes right along with yesterday’s blog on heroic Catholic families.
To become a heroic Catholic family, the change must come from the inside and work its way outwards.
I believe that this starts with the father.
The father supposed to be the head of the household.
He must take a stand and help his family to be heroic.
This job is not easy.
Fathers are not heroic on their own.
They must humble themselves and ask for Christ’s help.

It is a stressful and overwhelming job to be the leader of your family’s spirituality.
We must pray for fathers.
We must pray that fathers have the strength to lead their families to heroism.

Fathers are humans, and therefore are not perfect.
Many times fathers do fall short of their household head duties.
Even the most outstanding earthly father will fall short of his fatherly duties.
There is no father as perfect as God the Father.
Earthly fathers should look to God the Father as their guide.
He IS the perfect father and while it would be pretty much impossible for a person to attain perfection on earth, there is absolutely no harm in striving for it!

Fathers should love their wife and children as much as Christ loved the Church and as must as God loved His Son.
The father is the head of his wife and his family just as Christ is the head of the Church.
The father is supposed to sanctify and cleanse his wife. He is supposed to keep her from earthly harm that she might be holy and clean. (Ephesians 5)
I think that of the most important in this list of duties, is the duty to love.
It seems as though that is the duty that is hardest to complete.
It seems like the most prominent thing missing in our world today.
Love from our fathers.
Again, they are not perfect and they need us to pray for them to teach them how to love.

I did  a research report in an English class about homes without fathers and I understand that it is slightly different just not having one’s father there physically as opposed to him not being there emotionally but still, the statistics were astounding.  The children were far more likely to commit suicide, to be depressed, to get pregnant young, to drop out of school or not do well in school, and so the unfortunate list continues. And these results all because a father’s love was missing from the household.

For those families who are broken or to those who never felt the love of an earthly father, there is HOPE.
In Ralph Martin’s outstanding book entitled Hungry for God Practical Help in Personal Prayer, he says that “the distortion of fatherhood we may have experienced need to be healed by experiencing true fatherhood, the fatherhood of God Himself”.
There is hope and relief for those craving the love of the father.
And that relief is the ultimate Father.
The Father of all.
The perfect Father who will show you all the love and attention that you crave and deserve.
If you feel like you were not loved by your earthly father as you should have been, I am sorry, I am so sorry.
You did not deserve to be treated in that manner.
You deserve to be loved and God the Father is more than willing to love you.
Just let him.
Run to him like a toddler learning to walk.
Fall; He will pick you up.
And when you reach Him, His arms will be wide open and you will fit perfectly into His firm and loving embrace.

It is because of the tragedy of the lack of love that we need to pray for families.
We need to pray that parents are able to work things out and keep their families intact.
We need to pray that fathers have the strength to LOVE their families and to be the heads of the household.
We can change the world as heroic Catholic families if the fathers are the loving heads and the wife and children follow.

I pray for you and your families. I pray that if you did not experience the love you should have as a child that you will pick up all your pain and hurt and bring it all to the FATHER. You can be healed. The healing, loving Father is ready for you.

This is one of my favorite songs. Seriously, I love a lot of music but because of these outstanding lyrics, this song has made it into my top 10 list. The lyrics are so pertinent to this day. The story about this song is that the lead singer, Matt Hammitt, was not being the head of his household. He was failing to love his family and failing to lead them. And it was because he was busy on tour with his Christian band! He was by the looks of it, doing nothing wrong, in fact, he was doing good! But he was neglecting his family which was far too great of a pain for him and his wife to bear. He and his wife agreed that something had to be done and divorce was not an option. Read the lyrics of the song and find out exactly what he did. I pray that fathers will follow his lead to the Father.   

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Sanctus Real - Lead Me

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Heroic Catholic Families. Thursday March 17. Lent 2011.

“For the times that are coming, ordinary Catholic families will not survive, only heroic Catholic families will survive.”
Servant of God Fr. John Hardon

Fr. Hardon gives us an insanely high standard to live up to.
The times he was referring to are the times in which the family is slowly being destroyed.
The times are the times where there is no respect for marriage,
when divorce is just another daily activity,
when there is no respect for the dignity of human life,
when there is no respect for parents,
when there is no respect towards men’s roles as the heads of the household.

Sadly, these times are no longer in the future as they were for Fr. Hardon.
Fr. John Hardon wrote these archives in 1998.
He was speaking about the future year, 2000.
This year is now well in the past.
Eleven whole years in the past.
The times that Fr. Hardon was referring to are now in the past.
Fr. Hardon spoke of the insanely corrupt view of the family; in 2000.
It is now 2011. How much MORE corrupt is our country’s view of the family?
How much MORE heroic do our families need to be?
The corrupted view of the family is too painful and hurtful to dwell on.
Fr. Hardon does not dwell on this corruption as much as he gives us guidelines and helps us on our path of restoring the beauty of the family.

Fr. Hardon says that the correct configuration of the family can only be restored if we, as Catholics, live up to the teachings of Christ and His Church.
We have a HUGE responsibility.
He says this is not a job for ordinary Catholic families.
Only HEROIC Catholic families.
The devil is strong and Fr. Hardon says ordinary Catholic families cannot stand up against him, they will disappear.
No ordinary Catholic family can stand against the devil’s sly and sneak tactics of using the media to diminish the morality of society.
Fr. Hardon says that only the families who are willing to be martyrs for the love of Christ and their beliefs in Christ will remain alive and thriving.
We, as heroic Catholic families, need to teach our country to respect the beauty and sanctity of marriage through a Christ-like example.
On our own, we can do nothing.
If we are to show the world the beauty of the family, then we must pray for the strength to be the examples that we are called to be.
Mary, as the mother of the perfect family, is a wonderful source of strength and courage.
I pray that we all may become closer to the heroic Catholic families that we are called to be.
Father, please lead us in our journey to become heroic Catholic families, for your glory, so that the world may see us and give glory to you. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Love story. Wednesday March 16. Lent 2011.

Well, this was yesterday’s first reading. It is from Isaiah 55.

“For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.”

This scripture is such a comfort.
Like many stories in the bible, this passage has many meanings.
Also like many parables, it uses common things of the earth like rain and snow to exemplify something deeper and with greater meaning.

It talks about the words coming from the mouth of the Lord.
Word with a lowercase w meaning it is actually talking about words.
The words of the Lord.
The word of the Lord.
The bible.
This scripture promises that the words of the bible will come down upon the earth and make it fruitful and fertile.
The next line says that the words shall not return to Him void but will achieve the end for which He sent it.
Christ has a plan for the bible.
Let us pray that the bible, the Lord’s tool, will be used always for good and never for evil.
Let us pray that it may be used to bring others closer to Christ.
Let us help the mission of the bible.
The words of the Lord are supposed to return to Him having achieved its work.
Let us be apart of that.

Now, the other meaning to the word word here is the Word.
Now if that isn’t confusing then I don’t know what is.
There is a lower case w used in the scripture but it can also be used with an uppercase w which would make it Word, which is then talking about Christ.
The mission of the word and the Word is the same.
To bring others to Christ.
Or in the Word’s case, to bring others to Him.
Christ shall not return to the Lord void.
He shall complete the mission the Lord has for Him.
Christ’s mission is just what our mission should be, to bring others to Him.
Let us help Him with that mission.
Let us LOVE people with the same love that the Lord has for Christ and that Christ has for the Church. 
Love can do amazing things.
Love can change the world.
Let us use the greatest love story, the bible, to help the Word bring others to Him.
Let us use the word to help the Word complete His mission.
The bible is the greatest love story ever written, truly.
Let us speak our words with love when speaking about the word for the Word.
Use this love story.
God is love.
Love will reward you.
Help complete the mission of the word and the Word.

Love story
You wrote a love story
A love story with so much heart

 All of our sins cost you your death, death on a cross
Your beautiful body slain
The freedom of our lives selflessly gained

Your body brutally beaten
So that one day your persecutors
Could be with the man they left on that tree

Arms open wide for those who sin to so freely enter in
Embraced and received with joy
Love from a king so mighty

 Feet that bring good news
Now numb with pain
Feet that trace back to Your life
Feet nailed to that sacred tree

 Your life You lost
For the precious lives you created to be gained
Rising from the grave
Plants in us a new hope of eternally being with you

Love kept You on the tree amidst all the pain and misery
A love so sufficient, greatest sacrifice, a story so
You wrote a love story

Love Story-
Rebecca LaBriola

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And the battle continues... Tuesday March 15. Lent 2011.

Well, this is definitely not the blog I was planning on posting today.
I was working on a scripture reflection and I went to the Internet to find some information.
I clicked on the first site and in an instant my computer went crazy.I had a couple websites up and they were gone. I just reopened the websites.
Once I reopened the websites I realized that the blog I had planned on posting was gone. Completely gone.
Some sort of computer protection site kept flashing at me (and is still doing so).
The program wanted to run a computer safety check which I was more than willing to do considering there was clearly some sort of virus on my computer.
Well, pretty much every virus that came up had to do with pornography.
Talk about Spiritual Warfare.
The devil is as work.
He is real.
And here is your, small but yet very real example.
I was blessed enough to realize the whole situation was Spiritual Warfare from the beginning but regardless my humanness got in the way and I was SO frustrated. It made me so mad. Losing the blog was not as much of a big deal to me but it is more that I have all this crap on my computer and even with my computer skills I can do nothing to get rid of it. The only thing I can do on my computer is use the Internet.
I can do nothing to rid my computer of the evil that is infesting it.
This is very much like the devil.
He is pure evil.
And he is powerful.
Not as powerful as God, no, of course not.
But powerful still.
He infests our lives and we alone, can do nothing.
We must turn to the higher authority when we are fighting in the battle of spiritual warfare.
We should learn to look at spiritual warfare as a blessing.
If the devil is a work, there is a reason.
And that reason would be anger.
And he would be angry because God is moving.
And God IS moving.
He is moving through His people.
Some amazing things are happening.
Some GOD things are happening.
Praise. God.
I pray that next time we are faced with the work of the devil, next time we are needed to fight in this battle, we can say, "praise God".
The battle is real.
The battle is strong.
But our God is stronger, waaaay stronger.
Do not be afraid.
The Lord will help you fight this battle.
I feel as though this would be a good time to quote my dad, and encourage you with the words,
Onward Catholic Soldier.

Press forward.
This battle WILL be won.
Good will prevail over evil.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Decisions. Monday March 14. Lent 2011

This was the topic of discussion last night during youth group.   
We make hundreds of decisions every day.
We make the decision to get out of bed, what to eat for breakfast, what roads to take to get to work or school, what to have for lunch, what to do with our afternoon and so the decision making continues.
Most small decisions don’t seem like they mean much but each of those small decisions make us who we are and lead us to making larger decisions. 
Most of us will only be required to make 10 or 15 major decisions in our life.
These decisions would be things like buying a car, choosing which college to attend, accepting a job, getting married, and buying a house.
But who do we make those decisions for?
How do we make those decisions?
Most people make decisions upon weighing the pros and cons and making the decision that is best for them.
Last night at youth group, we were trying to discuss and make the point of incorporating God into our life decisions.
God has a plan for each of our lives.
We are blessed that He cares about us.
We should always pray and ask for clarity when making a decision.
Chapter 4 of Philippians says that we should worry about nothing and pray about EVERYTHING!
Now, does that mean that we are supposed to pray about what we eat for breakfast or what outfit we wear that day? No, I don’t think so.
But I think it does mean praying before we start our days to ask the Lord to help us make the decisions He would want us to make.
We were created to know, love, and serve God.
If we are not consulting God throughout the day about how to live our lives, then how are we serving Him?
If we choose to not live our lives in accordance with His will then we are not serving Him.
If we live our lives the way we want, then we are not doing what we were CREATED to do.
Consulting God before making a decision is always hard.
We have our own ideas and we don’t want pray about our decisions for a number of reasons. It may be a pride thing; it may also be that we know that God would want us to make a different decision than what we planned.
God is the master planner.
He knows what is best for us.
He knows that it is hard to follow His will.
Even though it may be hard to make a decision according to God’s plan, it is the better route to take.
God is so overjoyed when we turn to Him and pray to Him about making decisions.
To serve the Lord and make Him joyful should be a goal of ours. 
Each decision we make reflects upon who we are.
Let us try and pray before we make a decision next time.
Let us make sure that our choices glorify the Lord.
Let us give up the role of planner and decision maker and hand it over to the Lord.
He will guide you; He just needs you to let Him.
Open your heart.
Pray for the Lord to guide your life and decisions.
Surrender your life.
The reward will be so beautiful.
He will guide you.
This is a promise that He made.
The Lord keeps His promises.
Lay down the decisions in your life.
Lay down your life.

Everything I am, everything I love to be
I lay it down at your feet
Everything I am, everything I love to be
I lay it down at your feet

I lay it down, I lay it down
I lay it down at your feet
I lay it down, I lay it down
I lay it down at your feet

Lay It Down
Matt Maher