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Lenten Journey with the Saints: April 5

April 5
Palm Sunday

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

-John 13:36-38

 

Today’s Reflection

Have you ever been filled with so much zeal for the Lord that you would do anything for Him? Even die for Him? And then, only minutes later, when things got a little inconvenient, you changed your mind, or even betrayed Him?

The passage above shows us that even the apostle, Peter, who spent three years walking side-by-side with Him, turned his back on Jesus when the going got tough. As we come to the close of Lent and anticipate the Triduum and Easter, let us renew our fervor to stand
with the Lord at any cost.

 


Dear Women of Grace family,
As a means of daily support and inspiration, we will temporarily be sharing our Daily Gracelines with our entire email audience. We hope it is a source of daily encouragement for you as we walk through these challenging times together. We are praying for you. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.

With love and prayers,
Your Women of Grace Family

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Lenten Journey with the Saints: April 4

April 4

“Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
Upon whom I have put my Spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
Not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
A bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
Until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

Thus says God, the LORD,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spreads out the earth with its crops,
Who gives breath to its people
and spirit to those who walk on it:
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
To open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

-Isiah 42: 1-7

 

Today’s Reflection

Blessed Holy Week to you and your loved ones!
The passage above is the first of today’s mass readings. Take time to ponder it. As you walk these first steps on the journey into the passion, death and resurrection of Our Lord, how will you enter into the intense silence where God speaks? In what ways will you seek to be more receptive to the grace and gift of our salvation?

Pray that Jesus will give you eyes that are opened, a heart that is unfettered from the confinement of sin, and a mind that is free from the darkness and distraction of the world and fully fixed upon Him.


Dear Women of Grace family,
As a means of daily support and inspiration, we will temporarily be sharing our Daily Gracelines with our entire email audience. We hope it is a source of daily encouragement for you as we walk through these challenging times together. We are praying for you. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.

With love and prayers,
Your Women of Grace Family

If you enjoy Daily Gracelines, please prayerfully consider making a donation to support and sustain our apostolate so that we may continue to provide this and all of our resources designed to nourish and grow your Catholic faith.
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Toddler Born With “Missing” Cerebellum Makes Astonishing Progress

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A three year-old boy who was born with key parts of the brain either missing or severely atrophied, the family counts with cerebral palsy attorneys to fight for the rights of the kid and has doctors stumped as he continues to progress far beyond what medical science says a person in his condition should be capable of achieving.

According to AOL News, Chase Britton was born prematurely three years ago, and is legally blind. He was a year old when suspicions of cerebral palsy caused doctors to perform an MRI on his brain. What they found was astonishing.

Chase appeared to have no cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls motor skills, balance and emotions. He also appeared to be missing his pons, the part of the brain stem that controls basic functions such as sleeping and breathing. The brain scans showed only fluid where the cerebellum and pons should have been.

“That’s when the doctor called and didn’t know what to say to us,” said Heather Britton in a telephone interview with AOL from her home in New York. “No one had ever seen it before. And then we’d go to the neurologists and they’d say, ‘That’s impossible.’ ‘He has the MRI of a vegetable,’ one of the doctors said to us.”

But Chase is not a vegetable at all. Despite the doctor’s dismal prognosis, Chase is managing to do many things that he shouldn’t be able to do without a cerebellum – such as sit up on his own and crawl. Now he’s even learning how to walk.

“He keeps going,” his mom said. “He keeps picking up new things and progressing. We call it, ‘Chase pace.’”

“There are some very bright, specialized people across the country and in Europe that have put their minds to this dilemma and are continuing to do so, and we haven’t come up with an answer,” Dr. Adre du Plessis, chief of Fetal and Transitional Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., told Fox News affiliate WGRZ.

“So it is a mystery.”

Even more baffling is the fact that Heather had several ultrasounds during her pregnancy and the images clearly show that Chase had a cerebellum at one time.

“That is actually a fundamental part of the dilemma,” du Plessis told WGRZ. “If there was a cerebellum, what happened to it?”

Doctors have found no signs of a brain bleed, hemorrhage or stroke, and no damage to any other part of his brain, Britton said. Technically, his diagnosis is cerebellar hypoplasia, which normally means a small cerebellum rather than a missing one.

Some doctors, such as Steven Novella, M.D., assistant professor of Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine and author of the popular NeuroLogica blog, say Chase’s cerebellum is more than likely atrophied to the point of not being easily visible on an MRI scan. He believes there is probably a remnant there, which explains why the child has the capacity that he does.

“The pons also cannot be missing,” Dr. Novella writes. “That’s like saying someone’s neck is missing. It is just atrophied – perhaps the ventral pons is missing or atrophied.”

From what he could see from videos, Chase’s degree of neurological function appears to be in line with these anatomical deficits. “He can move, but he has very poor coordination. He walks with a walker, and does not seem to have the balance to walk without assistance. He is also legally blind.”

Dr. Novella believes the most amazing part of Chase’s story has more to do with how well he is able to function with his limitations.

” . . .  (W)e can be uplifted by the courage and strength of Chase’s parents, who seem to be meeting this challenge with optimism and a very productive ‘can do’ attitude,” he writes.

His parents have indeed created an optimal environment for Chase. They are providing him with specialized education, a team of therapists that have been working with him since he was an infant, and a special “sensory room” at home which is full of lights and sounds and tactile things — like mirrors — to visually stimulate him. They are also planning to begin horseback-riding therapy.

“We’re throwing as much at him as possible to make sure he’s as stimulated as possible,” she explained.

“He’s happy. We call him the Little Gremlin. He loves to play tricks on people. He loves to sing. His goal in life is to make people smile. He’s got so much love around him. We’re an extremely happy family. His story is not tragic.”

Her message to other parents who might be experiencing medical challenges with their children is “don’t give up on your kids” and “don’t believe everything the doctors say” because “they can be wrong.”

“People could view this as a tragic story. But that depends on how you look at life. You can be angry or you can appreciate what you have been given,” she said.

“Chase was meant to be with us.”

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®  http://www.womenofgrace.com

And a Sword Will Pierce Your Own Soul

“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” -Luke 2:33-35

As we sojourn together through the final days of Lent, Holy Week, and the current Coronavirus pandemic, we recognize now more than ever that suffering and sorrow are part of the human condition. However, when they are united to the cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, suffering and sorrow become part of the supernatural dimension. By virtue of our baptism, all of us are called to participate in the sufferings of Christ in ways that are uniquely our own. I think of this reality as I meditate upon Our Lady’s never-ending fiat.

Theologians tell us Mary’s assent at the Annunciation was also her assent to the tortures of Golgotha. She didn’t understand exactly how God would work it out, but she did understand the proposal at hand: she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Familiar with the teaching of the prophets, Mary also understood what this meant – He would be a suffering servant (Is. 53:3-12), and she, by virtue of her motherhood, would suffer with Him.

Her understanding was confirmed by Simeon when she and Joseph presented Jesus to the Father: “A sword will pierce your own heart,” she heard him say (Luke: 2:33-35). But could she imagine the sword? And how would she respond to it?

Luke gives us insight into Mary’s means of appropriating the sufferings of her Son’s life and, therefore, her life’s sufferings, too. He tells us that she pondered them in her heart. The mystic par excellence, her response was reflective and contemplative. It yielded an unquestioning surrender to the Father’s will each time that will was revealed to her. Thus, from the moment of the Annunciation, Mary actively conformed to the cross that would one day bear her Son.

Long before she stood at the foot of His cross on Calvary’s hill, she interiorly beheld its mystery and embraced it. Ultimately, she entered into it.

This movement of the interior was not unfamiliar to Mary. The Fathers of the Church remind us that Mary conceived Jesus in her heart before she conceived Him in her womb. Would we not then expect that she mystically bore the pain of His Passion and death before He lived it out in time?

Confronted with such a thing, what would a mother do, especially this mother?

Would she not imbue her Son’s sufferings with maternal beatitude? Would she not offer her suffering to the Father on His behalf? Not that she could lessen the pain or add to the eternal merit He was acquiring, but rather, to offer her presence as a consolation to the travail He would endure. Was not her every “yes” to the Father’s will laden with a sweet unction that would be released in her Son’s heart at the moment He needed it most?

Perhaps it was precisely this He experienced as she ministered to Him on His ascent to Golgotha. Beholding her, He beheld pure love. He recognized that Eternal Love from which all true love is generated. In her He saw embodied the self-donating love of the Trinitarian life.

Surely it was this He saw in her when they met on the way. Surely it was this He saw in her as she stood sentry beneath the tree upon which He hung. And surely it was this that breathed with Him as He breathed His last and commended Himself to the Father.

Ultimately, only heaven will give us the answers. But one thing is certain. Each of us, like Our Lady, is called to be present to the mystery. To behold it. To embrace it. To enter into it. To let it enter into us. This is the mission of Lent. It is the glory of Easter. It is the triumph of everlasting life. So be it. And so be you and me in the midst of all things including the Covid-19 pandemic.

Please know that in this difficult time, we stand with you soul-to-soul in a special way. You are invited to join us for a weekly live Women of Grace Warrior’s Rosary Crusade live each Wednesday at 4PM ET until this pandemic is behind us. With God’s grace, we will get through this together.

I faithfully remain…
Your sister in Christ,

Johnnette's Signature

 

 

 

 

 

Living the Hidden Years

Liturgically, we’re taking a brief breath in ordinary time.  We’ve lived the long wait of Advent, and Christmas has been celebrated and it’s trappings stored away – nativity sets snuggled in attic alcoves and ornaments stacked in garage bins. Read the rest…

Lenten Journey with the Saints: April 3

April 3

“Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring.”

– St. Catherine of Siena

 

Today’s Reflection

Does the finish line of Lent seem far off in the distance? Let us hold each up in prayer. Endure!


Dear Women of Grace family,
As a means of daily support and inspiration, we will temporarily be sharing our Daily Gracelines with our entire email audience. We hope it is a source of daily encouragement for you as we walk through these challenging times together. We are praying for you. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.

With love and prayers,
Your Women of Grace Family

If you enjoy Daily Gracelines, please prayerfully consider making a donation to support and sustain our apostolate so that we may continue to provide this and all of our resources designed to nourish and grow your Catholic faith.
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Saint John Paul II: Prophet, Priest, Exorcist

By Kathleen Beckman

The renowned Pope John Paul II biographer George Weigel gave a moving keynote presentation on suffering in the life of St. John Paul II at the 2005 national conference of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious. The conference theme was Healing and the Mystery of Suffering. I was there to give my testimony of suffering and healing in the family but the greatest witness we heard was Weigel on the life of Karol Wojtyla. In the latter days of his life that played out on the theater of the world, the Polish Pope became an image of the Suffering Servant of whom the prophet Isaiah wrote so eloquently.

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How to Move From Fear to Faith: Your Anxiety Can Lead You Closer to the Lord

 

Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890), ‘Christus Consolator’

In a previous article, I made the point that God’s presence in our lives is the main reason we should have no fear. He’s God, loves us unconditionally and can handle any problem that arises. Keeping that in mind will often be enough to calm our nerves even in the midst of turmoil. Sometimes, however, even the most devout Christians still experience fear. Is this normal? Could it point to an underlying spiritual problem?

First, we need to understand that fear is an emotion, also known as a passion or a feeling. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

Feelings or passions are emotions or movements of the sensitive appetite that incline us to act or not to act in regard to something felt or imagined to be good or evil. (CCC 1763)

In themselves passions are neither good nor evil. (CCC 1767)

Even though your brain may tell you otherwise, the Church teaches that there is nothing morally wrong with being afraid. That’s good news, isn’t it? In case you’re still not convinced, the Bible contains numerous examples of very holy people who experienced the emotion of fear. In the pages of Sacred Scripture we see that Moses (Exodus 2:14), Elijah (1 Kings 19:3), David (1 Chronicles 13:12), Mary (Luke 1:30), Joseph (Matthew 1:20) and Paul (Acts 27:24) were all afraid at some point in their lives.  Take a glance at that list of names again. Moses, St. Joseph, the Blessed Mother? That’s a very impressive list. At one time or another, they were afraid. Therefore, the fact that you are afraid at times doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem with your faith.

When you are afraid, it means that you are experiencing a normal human emotion. Are there times when we are afraid and we shouldn’t be? Absolutely, but I’ll leave that discussion to the psychologists and therapists. I am not a mental health professional, but I know a thing or two about managing anxiety. I have dealt with the panic attacks, digestive issues and sleepless nights. I know what it’s like to be afraid of the future and feel hopeless. Fortunately, I also know that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ can allow chronic worriers like me to live in peace. And, while it’s okay to be afraid, it’s not okay to let that fear lead you to worry. God desires something better for you. Rather than give you a list of when and when not to be afraid, I will encourage you to let your fear be the door that leads you closer to Christ. Whenever you feel afraid, think of the following message from Jesus:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

When you are afraid, Jesus is knocking on your door. If you open it up and let Him in, He will grant you His peace. How do you open the door for Him? Here are some simple steps that will get you started:

1. Pray – It is not possible to have a close personal relationship with Jesus Christ and experience the peace that He wants to give you without praying every day. Make it a point to start your day by saying “Good Morning” to Jesus and ask for the grace that you need to get through the day. Instead of worrying about your problems, ask Jesus to help you with them. I guarantee that He cares (1 Peter 5:7) and will not turn a deaf ear to you. Also, ask Him to help you make it through the day without worrying. How much time should you spend with the Lord? As much as you can, but I recommend that you start with five minutes. If you can’t find the time for prayer, use some of your “worrying” time!

2. Read the Bible – This is something that I avoided for years. Even when I realized that it might be helpful to read the Bible, I was intimidated by its size and confusing language. I now understand that the Lord speaks to me whenever I read Scripture. Reading the Bible daily will put you in direct contact with the Lord and bring you peace. If you are not familiar with the Bible and don’t know where to start, I recommend that you either start with the daily Mass readings (available online or in numerous Catholic magazines) or the Gospel of Mark. He gets right to the point and you’ll read about Jesus performing several healings in the first chapter alone. As a worrier, you need to know that Jesus loves you and can perform miracles in your life. It becomes more difficult to worry when you begin to understand His power and His love.

3. Receive the Sacraments – The Sacraments give grace and allow you to grow closer to Christ. That will result in increased peace. Once I started going to daily Mass and confessing my sins at least monthly, my anxiety level decreased dramatically. What a great gift! Christ instituted the Sacraments to draw us close to Him and help us reach heaven. The closer you are to Jesus, the less you will worry. Don’t make the mistake of trying to conquer worry on your own. Instead, let Jesus help you. It will not only be more effective, but it will make Him happy. He wants to help you so why not let Him?

While it’s probably true that you’re sometimes afraid because you don’t trust God, it’s more important to look at how you respond to that feeling. If your fear leads you to the Lord then look at it as a blessing. Who knows where you would be without it? Jesus loves you and wants to draw you close to Him. For many of us, He does it through our anxiety. Ultimately, the end result is the same. The closer you get to Jesus, the more peace you will feel. Being with Him and experiencing His peace is what counts. How you get there doesn’t really matter.

“We must not fear fear.” —St. Francis de Sales

This post originally appeared in National Catholic Register and is reprinted with permission.

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Lenten Journey with the Saints: April 2

April 2

“Have patience with all things, but first of all with yourself.”

St. Francis de Sales

 

Today’s Reflection

Have you fallen on the Lenten journey? Has your cross to heavy to carry? Today is a great day to be patient with yourself.


Dear Women of Grace family,
As a means of daily support and inspiration, we will temporarily be sharing our Daily Gracelines with our entire email audience. We hope it is a source of daily encouragement for you as we walk through these challenging times together. We are praying for you. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.

With love and prayers,
Your Women of Grace Family

If you enjoy Daily Gracelines, please prayerfully consider making a donation to support and sustain our apostolate so that we may continue to provide this and all of our resources designed to nourish and grow your Catholic faith.
DONATE

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Now is the Time to Demand Ethical COVID-19 Vaccines!

In the rush to create a vaccine to protect the public from the coronavirus, pharmaceutical companies are once again resorting to the use of aborted fetal cell lines. Now is the time to do as our Church advises and exercise our duty to demand that the healthcare system provide ethical vaccines.

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