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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

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Lesson Taught by Some Ducks. Thursday, April 24. 2014.

We had a family of ducks occupying our garage two nights ago.
Yes, again.
Definitely not the first time. 

The babies hatched in our neighborhood
and were roaming the streets for the day.
Between the cats and the raccoon,
the babies wouldn’t have made it
so in the garage they went.

Every step that the momma takes,
the babies follow.
All twelve.
Twelve adorable baby ducks.

She sits on them like a chicken.
Puffs herself up so that they are all warm and cozy.

Getting them to the park the following morning was not nearly as cute.
Lots of quacking,
and baby ducks squeezing through unimaginable places.

We finally got the momma.

By the way,
for future reference,
ducks are strong.
And they bite.
And it hurts.

We held the momma tight
and the twelve babies went in twenty-nine different directions.

Under the car,
under bookshelves,
under the toolbox,
in corners,
behind the surfboard,
between the bikes.
And they just kept cheeping.

They were so lost.

When we remove Christ as the head of our lives,
when we lean on something else as the foundation for our hearts,
it’s chaos.

When He is the foundation firm and secure,
when He is the head guiding our way,
there is peace.

The babies were following the head of their lives around.
The minute that was taken from them,
they could not function.

The babies had no idea what was going on,
they did not know where to go,
they were hopeless.

Not to say that it was a perfectly smooth ride for those ducks,
there were moments of chaos in the garage before we got the mom,
but she will still their foundation,
firm and secure.

Not to say our relationship with Christ will be a breeze.
There might be some chaos,
there will be some bumps and bruises.
Maybe even some pain.
But Christ can guide us through it all.

He gives pain a purpose
and suffering redemption.

Who is the head of your life?

Who is the foundation that you lean upon?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter! Sunday, April 20. Lent 2014.

This is my Resurrection Song

This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
This is my Resurrection Song
This is my Hallelujah Come
This is why to You I run
There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place that we can’t find peace
There’s no end to Amazing Grace

David Crowder- I Am

A blessed and happy Easter to you and your family. 
Thank you for taking the time to read this Lenten blog;
whether you read one or all, 
thank you. 

Soli Deo gloria!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday Evening and Holy Saturday. Saturday, April 19. 2014.

Friday night began preparation day for the Sabbath.
The bodies were not to remain on the cross during the Sabbath.
The soldiers had the duty of making sure the men that hung on the crosses were dead.
The soldiers went to each of the thieves and broke their legs.
With their legs now broken, the men could not press against their feet to breathe and thus died of cruel suffocation.
When the soldiers came to Jesus, they saw that He was already dead.
They did not break His legs thus fulfilling scripture.
“Not a bone of it will be broken.”
As solider thrust a lance into Jesus’ side and a combination of blood and water came flowing out.
“They will look upon him who they have pierced.”
The blood that flowed from Christ was the very blood that washed over all of our sins.
The water signified the complete and unending mercy that Jesus has toward us, regardless of our continuous sins.

Joseph of Arimathea received permission from Pilate to take the body of Jesus.
Nicodemus brought a mixture of aloe and myrrh, spices and burial clothes as was the Jewish custom.
When Jesus was taken down from the cross, His mother was given the grace to hold Her Son once again.
“on the hill of calvary
woman behold your son
she watches Him nailed to a tree
the child she bore grasps for air
a loud cry and her heart is pierced
the child she held has gone from her
His body hangs without life
they take him down from the tree
they lay him in His mother's arms
they lay him in her arms
she won't understand
why her son had to die
But she said, "Come hold my son,
Come hold my son."
The Thirsting-
Come Hold My Son

I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and grave and deep sorrow that Mary experienced on Good Friday. I think the greatest pain of all was for Her to see Her Son suffering and She can do NOTHING. There is nothing She could say or do that would change the situation and ease Her Son’s sufferings. When Jesus was placed in Her arms once He was taken down from the cross I would imagine it was the most intense moment of mixed emotions. Mary was still in sorrow and pain that Her Son had died. Yet, He was no longer suffering physical pain. She could hold Him once again but do nothing to change what had just happened. Some say that She knew exactly who Jesus was, what He had come to do, and what would soon happen but that does not take away Her motherly love and desire to care for Her Son.

Jesus was buried and laid in a tomb close by.
The stone was rolled in front of the tomb.
The Sabbath was upon them.

Holy Saturday.
For the Jews, Sabbath.
They could do nothing.
But sit.
And wait.
Despite the events that had taken place the day before, the apostles rested on the Sabbath.
They obeyed the law despite what would have been going through their minds.
I can’t even imagine how hard it would have been to rest when their minds were probably racing a million miles a minute.
Thinking back on every word Jesus had said to them
Playing back His suffering and passion from the day before
Wondering if He really was going to come back
And if so, when?
The apostles probably had to muster much self-discipline to obey the laws of the Sabbath that day.
The important thing here is that they did obey the law.
Regardless of their thoughts, feeling, and emotions they obeyed.
Regardless of what was going on inside, in their heads and hearts, they had FAITH.
And obedient.
Maybe they weren’t exactly sure what they had faith in at the moment.
Maybe they did have their doubts.
Maybe they did have their moments where they just wanted to give up,
To stop playing the waiting game,
And to break the law on the Sabbath.
But they didn’t.
They waited in silent, quiet, and obedient faith.
And it was in this moment when their God, OUR God was working.
It is often in moments of silence when our God works.
When we finally shut up and just LISTEN to Him.
Or maybe He doesn’t have anything to say but that we are open to Him.
That we have the faith that He knows what He is doing, even if it is complete silence.
There are moments in our lives when we are communicating with other people when the most effective and correct response to their words is silence.
It is in the silence and the stillness and the peace that our God does great things.
Help us to be silent and filled with peace on this Holy Saturday as we wait for our Lord.
Help us to have silent faith in our lives when we need it most.

 *The blog posts for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were written on 2011. The original Good Friday blog post can be found here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday. Friday, April 18. Lent 2014.

Good Friday.
The day of Our Lord’s suffering, passion, and death.
There are not words enough to do justice to the pain and suffering and glory of this day.
However, using very few words, the movie, The Passion of the Christ gives incredible visuals of the torment and suffering that our Lord experienced all because of His love for us.
This is another day that contains so much detail and depth.

Barabbas was chosen to be released over Christ.
This choice was so that the Lord’s will would be carried out.
And the passion of Christ begins.
Christ was chained to a post and scourged.
His body brutally beaten with cruel weapons.
Weapons that sliced His sacred skin.
Weapons that when thrown upon His body took a hold of His flesh
and ripped it off of His body.
And He went through this because

A crown on thorns was placed upon His head.
Actually, people believe that it was more of a cap of thorns.
The 2 inch thorns were forced into the sacred head of Our Lord.
Blood ran down His face joining with the rest of the blood that covered His body.
And He tolerated this all because

Jesus carried the cross to Golgotha.
The heavy physical burden.
The wood rubbing against Christ’s skin, irritating it even more.
The dirty wood shoving splinters through Christ’s bloody ripped skin.
He falls on the gravel three times.
The gravel pushing up through the gaping wounds all over His body.
The burden of the cross falling down with our blessed Lord.
He carried His cross all because

When Jesus reached the place called Skull, He was rudely placed upon the cross.
Nails that are thought to have been 7-9 inches long were hammered to Jesus’ feet and His hands, just below the wrist.
A block of wood was fastened to the cross under Christ’s feet which left His knees slightly bent.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
The nails driven through His hand and wrist area did not break a bone but they are thought to have hit a major nerve that controlled movement and feeling of the shoulders.
Because of the strain on the nerve, Jesus lacked the ability to lift up His head to breathe.
To be able to breathe, Christ had to put force on His feet that were nailed onto the block of wood so that He could force the rest of His body up to breathe.
He went through this pain because

The soldiers mocked Jesus and made fun of Him.
They told Him that He should save Himself.
And He could have.
He is God.
He can do anything.
But He chose to stay on the cross.
Obedience brought Him to the cross
It was love that kept Him there.
His love for YOU.
Love kept Him on the cross.
Staying on the cross showed extreme humility.
His love brought about humility.
He humbled Himself to death, even death on a cross because

Jesus was crucified between two criminals.
One on His right.
One on His left.
One criminal joined in with the soldiers in mocking Jesus.
The other one repented of His sins and asked for Christ’s forgiveness.
Right there.
On the Cross.
“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
He instituted the sacrament of confession and is gracious enough to forgive us of our sin because

Mary standing at the foot of the cross.
Her pain inexpressible.
Her motherly desire to reach out and help her son was a desire like no other.
But She could do nothing.
It was in this moment that Her fiat was required to be a silent one.
Her yes had to be quiet.
She could only pray.
And then listen to Her son when He said,
“Woman, behold your son.”
He would not leave His mother alone.
He will not leave us alone simply because

At about ,
The hour of mercy,
in Jesus’ great pain and agony He cried out to His father,
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Jesus then proceeded knowing that His time was almost finished and said,
“I thirst.”
He was given some wine on a sprig of hyssop.
This completed the fourth cup of the Passover from the night before and Jesus said,
“It is finished.”
Thus, that line has many meanings.
The Passover was now finished.
Christ’s time on earth was almost finished.
The suffering on the cross was almost finished.
Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Father into YOUR hands I commend My spirit.”
Jesus bowed His head and died.
The earth quaked and people came to believe.
“Truly this was the Son of God!”
“This man was innocent beyond doubt.”
This man was innocent.
Yet He was obedient to the point of death on a cross so that we might live.
Truly He loved us.
Truly He loves us.
And truly He always will.
He gave His life for us.

The least we can do is live our lives for Him.

*The blog posts for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were written on 2011. The original Good Friday blog post can be found here.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday. Thursday April, 17. Lent 2014.

And so we enter the Triduum.
Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
Holy Thursday is my favorite day of the whole year.
Hands down.
Without a doubt.
My favorite part of this day is after Mass when we all process into the hall and have Eucharistic adoration.
It brings me so much joy to see the hall jam packed with people praising their Jesus.

There are so many details and so much depth in these next three days.

Holy Thursday is the day when we remember the Last Supper.
Very significant.
Jesus celebrated Passover Seder with His 12 apostles.
Before the Passover celebration began, Jesus, in humble service to His apostles, washed their feet with His own hands.
Christ led by example.

He washed the feet of His apostles to bring to light many things.
Washing the feet of the apostles showed extreme humility.
It exemplified Christ’s parable that the greatest must become least
And that the exalted will be humbled.
The humility shown by the washing of the apostle’s feet was a prelude to the humiliation of the crucifixion.
The washing of the feet also symbolized the cleansing of sin by the death of Christ.
The tradition of the washing of the feet is a tradition that is still carried out at the Last Supper Mass.

And now begins the Last Supper.
The institution of the Eucharist.
The beginning of the most important part of our lives as Catholics.
“Then He took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my body which will be given for you; do this is memory of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.’”
This was the institution of the Eucharist.
It is for this reason that we live and breathe.
We live and breathe for the Eucharist.
Our hearts, minds, and lives should be centered on the Eucharist.

It was at this moment that the priesthood was instituted as well.
Christ took the bread, blessed it, and broke it.
He gave it to the apostles and said,
“Do this in memory of Me”.
Christ made His apostles priests so that they could continue to carry out the mission of the Church once Christ was gone from this earth.
It is unclear whether or not Judas was present when Christ made His apostles priests.
If Judas was present when Christ made His apostles priests, it just shows even more so how much prayer our priests need.
If Judas was made a priest, then from the moment the priesthood was instituted, human nature and jealousy and betrayal crept into the sacredness of the priesthood.
Regardless of whether Judas was made a priest or not, our priests still need prayer.
A tremendous amount of prayer.
Priests are still human.
Yes, they have been blessed with many graces but much is also expected of them.
They need our prayers!

And on we continue with the Last Supper.
Another most remembered event of the Last Supper is the betrayal.
Judas betrayed Jesus.
We all know this.
The betrayal began the events that led to the crucifixion.
Judas was jealous.
It is said that Satan entered Judas.
Judas just did away with His relationship with Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
Judas left at some point during the Last Supper and did not fully participate.

A traditional Passover dinner consists of four cups of wine with food in between each cup of wine. During the Last Supper, Jesus and His apostles partook in 3 of the required 4 cups of the traditional Seder meal. They then sang as song, per tradition, and then went to the Mount of Olives. It was unheard of to not complete the Seder meal. Interestingly enough, that last part would be completed on Good Friday.

The Garden of Gethsemane is located on the Mount of Olives.
It is in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Agony in the Garden took place.
Christ was under so much stress and in so much agony that His capillaries burst and He began to sweat blood while He prayed this prayer, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done”.
Jesus was then betrayed by Judas and arrested.
The next day would be a lifesaving, world changing day.
*The blog posts for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday were written on 2011. 
The original Holy Thursday post can be found here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

God's Not Dead. Wednesday, April 16. Lent 2014.

Last night I saw the movie God’s Not Dead.
It was a fairly well-done movie with some pretty incredible points.
One persistent theme throughout was that of hope.

Hope that he can defend God.
Hope that she can rebuild after losing everything.
Hope that he can find out the truth.
Hope that she can overcome a disease.
Hope that he finds Jesus.
Hope that she finds strength.

Having something to work towards,
having something to hope for,
makes a world of a difference.

It is a way of seeing the present as an arrival point
but still looking to the future.

“Hope becomes daring and risks always embarking on some holy work.”

We hope for little things throughout the day
but there are bigger things to hope for,
more important things.

Like a relationship with Christ,
living a life that reflects His life,
one day obtaining heaven.

And though we have this hope,
the victory is already won.

“The Cross is a proclamation of joy and hope, a sign of permanent victory over evil and death, of an already acquired glory.”

As this Lent comes to a close,
we know what lies ahead,
yet we are still hopeful for an Easter Resurrection.

Hope gives us something to look towards.
It anchors us in this crazy life.

“If faith points out the road, then hope gets us to take it, and love gives us the strength to mount its hurdles.”

This Lenten blog series is based upon St. Louis de Montfort's writings. Unless otherwise noted, all the phrases in quotation marks are taken from the book Jesus Living in Mary.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Holy Spirit. Tuesday, April 15. Lent 2014.

Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.

People all over the world will hear those words soon.
The sacrament of the Holy Spirit.

Confirming the graces received at Baptism.
Preparing hearts for the spiritual battle
of good versus evil fighting for your soul.

I help out with the Confirmation classes
and am a sponsor this year,
needless to say,
I am incredibly excited for this day to come.

The gifts and graces that come along with this sacrament are just beautiful.
The call and the challenge that comes with this sacrament are equally incredible.

But all that comes with this sacrament is not limited to just the day of Confirmation.
The Holy Spirit will actively work in each of our lives if we invite Him.
He has many gifts and graces to offer, too many to pass up.

The Holy Spirit imparts wisdom and understanding.
The ability to know and understand Christ that He may live within us.
Wisdom to know and understand the beauty of the Church.
The strength to stand up for the Church.

“The function of the Holy Spirit is to produce and form Jesus Christ within Christians. The Holy Spirit is the craftsman of the spiritual progress of Christians that they may grow from strength to strength and from grace to grace, toward maturity in Christ. He is the source of Wisdom.”

The Holy Spirit challenges us.
Challenges our very being.

“The Holy Spirit calls the soul to perfection. He realizes this perfection by a fiery deluge of pure love; He sets us ablaze with His love; He is also the divine sculptor who shapes and polishes the stones of the heavenly Jerusalem. As the Spirit of truth, He enlightens us. As the Spirit of godliness, He purifies us and sanctifies us. As the Spirit of strength, He fortifies us. The master of all knowledge, He teaches us to know ourselves.”

He challenges us for a purpose.
To become new creations in Christ.

“But remember that only molten and liquefied substances may be poured into a mold. That means that you must crush and melt down the old Adam in you if you wish to acquire the likeness of the new Adam.”

Humbly going to the Holy Spirit,
seeking wisdom and understanding,
gives us a new way of seeing Christ,
our spiritual journey,
the Church,

Melting down our pride
makes way for humility to be poured
and formed in our lives.

May we all be open to receiving the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit that come along with the words: 
Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit
continuously throughout our lives

And what a gift that is!  
This Lenten blog series is based upon St. Louis de Montfort's writings. Unless otherwise noted, all the phrases in quotation marks are taken from the book Jesus Living in Mary.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Lesson from Full House's Uncle Jesse. Monday, April 14. Lent 2014.

After my sisters and I saw Full House and heard
Uncle Jesse’s coined term, ‘Lord have mercy!’
it was repeated quite often with the low growl
until we got it juuuust right.

According to Montfort,
maybe Uncle Jesse was onto something.

All good things come from above.
From God.
If all good things comes from above,
then nothing good can come from below.

No, not below as in Hell,
but below as in from man.
Montfort believed that man is not capable of good.
This reiterates his lessons on how man is truly a helpless creature.

One clarification should be made.
When saying ‘good’ Montfort is not talking about doing good works
such as helping your neighbor.
We are capable of those
and we should do good works.
The ‘good’ that Montfort is speaking of is understood in the sense of
leading to salvation.

Because of original sin,
we are incapable of obtaining this good of salvation.

On our own,
we have nothing,
we are nothing,
we are capable of no good.
And we can do nothing to fix this.

While we cannot fix original sin,

“Man can do only one thing: become a person of prayer who repeatedly cries out: ‘Lord, have mercy on me!’”

God has grace.
We need grace for salvation.
We need to pray for mercy
and to pray for grace.

We need to become dependent on God,
which requires humility,
which is not something that comes in droves for most of us.
It is something that we have to work on
and recommit ourselves to every single day,
sometimes multiple times a day.

Many times in a day I will forget that God is in charge,
I will forget about mercy, grace, and humility.
I have to have a bit of a talk with myself in my head.

Squash my pride,
beg for forgiveness,
beg for mercy,
beg for grace,
and hope for salvation.

For He is the author of all good
and the fountain of mercy and grace.

This Lenten blog series is based upon St. Louis de Montfort's writings. Unless otherwise noted, all the phrases in quotation marks are taken from the book Jesus Living in Mary.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Journey to God Alone. Sunday, April 13. Lent 2014.

Montfort continues to bring up this idea of God Alone.
We can sort of comprehend what it means
but it is not something that is truly understood
until we set out on the mission of God Alone ourselves.

God Alone is not just God above all.
But all God.
Nothing else.
Nothing else matters.
Just God.
God Alone.

How can we serve Him?
How can we love Him?
How can we bring others to Him?
How can He be the focus of my day?

These questions all sound nice.
But that is just the surface of God Alone.

As with so many destinations,
it takes a journey to get there.
So too with God Alone.
And a challenging journey at that.

We are so focused on things of the world.
And the world is so focused on itself.

“When God and the faith are no longer taken for granted, new possibilities are created to encounter God and to learn something of the lived adventure of saints both known and unknown.”

When we stop taking God for granted,
when we stop placing Him on the back burner,
we can begin this journey to God Alone.

“Christian life is not only an affair of the head but also of the heart—and of the hands and feet. To begin to live with God entails much risk and suffering—Montfort attests to it. But his great experience is that a life in God gives incredible joy and fulfillment.”

“Man has to be moved outside himself and placed under the Word of God. There is no direct access to God. Man must move himself outside himself or, better, let God move him.”

“There can be no question of ‘God Alone’ of God who speaks heart to heart, until a man is ready to undertake a voyage which must begin by a departure, a desert, a conversation.”

Are we ready to undertake God Alone?
The trials,
the joys,
the total surrender,
the risks,
the fulfillment,
the humility,
the giving of ourselves?

God Alone.

This Lenten blog series is based upon St. Louis de Montfort's writings. Unless otherwise noted, all the phrases in quotation marks are taken from the book Jesus Living in Mary.