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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, February 26, 2014

Preparing Our Hearts for Lent. Wednesday, February 26. 2014.

It just so happens to be that Ash Wednesday is a week from today.
Yeah, I don’t know how it happened either.
I’m pretty sure I’m still recovering from the winter holidays.

I was thinking about past Lents
what I’d given up,
what I’d taken on,
what my motives were,
what the results were.

During Lent growing up,
my goal was to pick the hardest thing to give up.
I would give up these ridiculous things,
but my motive was all wrong.
Instead of giving up something really hard
and replacing that thing with Christ,
I would replace that thing with compliments from others.  

One year I went completely opposite of my typical MO.
This year was the year that we moved to Texas.
It wasn’t exactly my closest time with Christ.
Far from it.
I was just a pot of hot water boiling on the stove,
waiting to spew with anger, essentially.

Shortly after Lent had begun that year,
we went to dinner at a neighbors house.
Not long after dinner had commenced,
their oldest child asked me,
“So what did y’all give up for Lent?”
The manner in which I responded
was far different from how I wanted to respond, thankfully.

I wanted to put a hole through the wall
and answer the question:
“Let’s see,
I’m pretty sure giving up my home,
my friends,
my safety net,
my church,
my plans,
and essentially my whole life
is sufficient for this Lent.”
But I didn’t.

I said something along the lines of,
“Oh, we’re just working on adjusting first.”

Thus, the Lent that I was arrogant enough to assume
that moving half way across the country was a sufficient sacrifice
for the one who gave His entire life that I might live.

I’d like to do something different this Lent.
Instead of my Lenten sacrifice being “just enough”
or being “enough to get people’s attention”,
I’d like to go back to the original roots of sacrifice.

This Lent I want to give something up
and I want to take on something.
But not just any somethings.

I want these somethings to do two things.
Lead myself closer to Christ
and lead those around me closer to Christ.

I want this Lent to be about truly preparing my heart
for the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

I don’t want this Lent to be about making my sacrifice as hard as possible
or about see how many heads I can get to turn.

This Easter Sunday,
I want to be closer to Christ than ever before.
But not just for myself.
For each of you too.

What is keeping you from Christ?
What could bring you closer to Him?
What can bring you closer to Heaven?
What could bring others to Heaven?
Pray with these questions.
Ask the Lord what His plans are for you this Lent.
He’s got some amazing plans just for you.

Be open.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Motherhood. Friday February 21, 2014.

This blog post is a really special one. 
It was written by a young Catholic mother who has a vital message to share. 
This message is for mothers. 
But not only for mothers. 
This one will speak to the hearts of anyone who has ever wondered, 
"Am I doing enough? Am I enough?"  
Please read and share this incredible message if you feel so called.

            Motherhood. I struggle with it every day. Additionally, I am going through a difficult time. I am struggling with my mental health. I ask myself constantly, “Am I doing enough? Am I enough?” I worry about the future. Should I homeschool or should I send my children to school? What will my children become and how will my shortcomings impact them? Motherhood is the most daunting thing I have ever undertaken. But here I am, the mother of three children under the age of five, and learning as I go. I keep asking Mary to guide me because I constantly feel like I do not know what I am doing.
            I am a stay at home mom. Some days I ask myself, “What have I done today!?” My house is a mess, dinner is a mystery, and I surely went over budget when I took my weekly trip to the grocery store. But there are hidden treasures stored up in the three little people I am spending all my time and love on. On their faces I see love. I see Christ in their sweet smiles, a warm hug, or a tender moment.
Tonight, after beating myself up all day about what I have or haven’t done right, something very special happened. I prayed a rosary with my 4 year old son. My husband had fallen asleep. He worked hard all day and hit a wall. Normally my husband and I pray “family rosary” while my four year old plays quietly. The little ones are often asleep. Tonight, my husband was fast asleep and I did not want to disturb him in his exhaustion. So, I explained to my son how to use the beads and say the prayers with mommy. He said every prayer. My heart melted as I listened to him respond to the prayers I was leading. For that little half hour window I stopped worrying about the future. I stopped beating myself up about what I did or did not get done. I enjoyed God’s grace in the present moment. I listened to my child pray and thought, “Thank you, Mary that I get to be a mother.” I felt hope surge in my heart. Maybe I have done something right. Maybe things are going to be okay. Mary is hearing my every prayer and not allowing any of this suffering to go to waste. My little ones are picking up on some very good stuff too, not just my mistakes. Jesus, I trust in you.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Prayer of a Child. Wednesday February 19, 2014.

Earlier today I was in chapel.
A dad came in with his two kids.
His daughter, who was maybe 7,
quietly walked over toward a kneeler,
knelt down,
made the sign of the cross,
closed her eyes,
folded her hands,
prayed for 15 seconds (maybe),
made the sign of the cross,
and left to find her brother.

I tried to imagine what might have been going through her mind.
I figure her prayer may have been something along the lines of:
“Thank you for this day Jesus. I love you Jesus. Amen.”

I cannot quiet explain how incredibly refreshing
and rejuvenating it was to watch her pray.
I felt a wave of peace wash over me as real as if it were a tidal wave.

She was not worried,
or tainted by the world.

Her face just glowed.
Peace was within her.

Whatever her prayer may have been,
it was heartfelt,
there were no pretenses.

When I pray,
it takes much longer than 15 seconds to convey my thoughts.
Not because I am more holy, not at all.
But rather, because of all the whining and complaining I do.  

My prayer comes with pretenses,
"I’ll do this only if You do this Lord".
Then I complain about everything under the sun.
And as I leave I remember to muster out an,
“Oh yeah, I love you Lord".

There is not one method of prayer that is better than another.
People foster their relationship with Christ in different ways.

But I have to say,
I’d like to foster my relationship with Christ in the way that this little girl did.
I’d like to pray like this child.

To be radiant with joy.
Beaming with peace.

Talking to my best friend,
not complaining at Him.

To have a relationships with Him,
not be in opposition to Him.

To be dependent on Him,
not dependent on myself or on the world.

To thank Him,
not tell Him how my life sucks.

And to pray, 
to pray like a child.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We Are the Church. Wednesday February 12, 2014.

This past weekend I was blessed to be a small group leader for our confirmation retreat.

There are a lot of things that happen on retreat.
Some fun things.
Some not so fun.
Some good crazy things.
Some bad crazy.
But always,
greater than all that,
is Christ.

Christ happens.
Christ moves,
people are moved,
people experience Christ.

We experienced Christ on a personal level.
We experienced Christ on a communal level.

We were created in the image and likeness of God
in order that we may know, love, and serve God.

I always think of this journey of
knowing, loving, and serving God as a solo journey.

Know Him all I can.
Love Him all I can.
And serve Him to the best of my abilities.

But it isn’t always a journey to be taken on our own.

The Acts of the Apostles tells us about the beginning of the Church.
It talks about the communal life.
From the get-go, the apostles needed each other in order
that they might best know, love, and serve Christ.

The retreat reminded me of this.
We all experienced Christ on a personal level this weekend,
but we had this experience within the community.

There is both comfort and power found in shared experiences.

It is comforting to know that if I slip and fall,
someone will be there to reprimand me to fix my eyes back on Christ.

There is power in knowing that others have the same goal in mind;
they have their hearts set on the same prize.

There is a reason there are support groups for weight loss and addiction recovery.
There is a reason that we gather each Sunday for church.

I know I am the last person who has the right to talk about community.
I almost always prefer to be alone.
I am an introvert by and large.
But even with that,
I have seen the benefits of community.
I now know why Christ gifted us with others.
There is so much joy to be found in the communal life.