In gratitude

As I write this, we are just coming to the close of the Octave of the Christmas season. We are still basking in the gift of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, who came to us again in a humble manger to enter our hearts anew.

With hearts full of praise and thanksgiving, we seek to acknowledge the great gift of our salvation; and yet, because God cannot be outdone in generosity, our gratitude itself becomes a conduit through which He dispenses an abundance of ongoing grace.

Expressing this very reality, St. Therese of Lisieux said:

It is the spirit of gratitude which draws down upon us the overflow of God’s grace…for no sooner have we thanked Him for one blessing than He hastens to send us ten additional favors in return. Then, when we show our gratitude for these new gifts, He multiplies His benedictions to such a degree that there seems to be a constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way…This has been my own personal experience; try it for yourself and see.

How was it that St. Therese could be grateful to God for all things – even the most painful and difficult? Perhaps it came from a sure and certain knowledge that God is about every good thing in our lives (Eph. 1:3), and that He is always giving us spiritual blessings because it is of His nature to do so. He is perfect love, and perfect love gives all. Therefore, we can be certain that every bit of every day is infused with precisely the graces we need to meet every joy and every challenge.

This knowledge led St. Therese, as it has all of the great saints, to acquire a supernatural outlook, a way of seeing all things from God’s perspective. Supernatural outlook helps us discover the blessings in the midst of sorrows, the joys in the midst of contradictions, the consolations in the midst of desolations. And in so doing, we discover the rich treasure that God indeed “works all things to the good for those who have been called according to His purposes” (Rom. 8:28). With the scales removed from our eyes, we can see the blessings and beatitudes God is giving us, and this leads to an ever-deepening realization of His beneficence — grace upon grace tumbling down upon us wrapped in the packaging of our life’s events.

Gratitude, praise, thanksgiving open the heart to the reality of God’s love for us and His interaction with us. As we enter this New Year and decade, let us take St. Therese’s advice to “try it” for ourselves that we might “see.” Let us ask her to intercede for us, that we might act with faith and trust and supernatural outlook. Let us ask her to help us see the blessings God is bestowing, even when they are shrouded in the garment of suffering. Let us ask her to help us praise God for these blessings so that our eyes can open to all of the grace He is giving us. In this way, we will enter that “constant stream of divine grace ever coming our way” and experience a greater depth of the abundant life that Our Savior comes to bring us (John 10:10).

Please pray for our mission as we enter this New Year together. I look forward to keeping you updated on our projects and plans as the year unfolds. May the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours and may God bless you!

With gratitude and love in the Two Hearts,

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Women of Grace: St. Teresa of Avila (1515 – 1582)

St. Teresa of Avila shows us it is never too late to get serious about our prayer life. Born Dona Teresa Sanchez Cepeda Davila y Ahumada, Teresa was an active child with a big imagination and great sensitivity of heart. Little Teresa and her brother Roderigo were intrigued by the lives of the saints and the martyrs, and often sought to imitate their holy example. Read the rest…

The “Monica” Method: How to Evangelize Your Loved One

The next two days mark the feasts of two great saints of the Church, a mother and a son, whose lives give testimony to a sure-fire method of evangelizing those we love.

St. Monica (August 27) is the mother of St. Augustine (August 28), though Augustine was no saint when Monica began her earnest intercession. At that time he was a pagan and a member of the heretical Manichean sect. He was known to be a carouser who lived with a woman to whom he had fathered a child. A brilliant mind, he was “devoted” to his views and his lifestyle, and had no intention of converting to the Catholic faith.

St. Monica was distraught about her son’s dissolute ways and decided to do something about it. She prayed. And in the end, her prayers won the soul of her son.

What was it that made St. Monica’s prayers so effective? I think five strategies are primarily responsible. Perhaps you can implement them as you seek to evangelize those you love.

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Morning of Grace Deepens Faith, Lifts Hearts

by Denise McKane

Every Morning of Grace is another opportunity to have our Lord stretch our hearts ever larger. Our Blessed Mother and her Holy Spouse take us and form us more and more into His little handmaids. “For Such a Time as This” we give Him our “fiats.”

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An Army in the Making: Women of Grace Comes to Ukraine!

Women of Grace in the Ukraine

Although separated by almost 6,000 miles, the Holy Spirit forged a powerful connection between Women of Grace® founder Johnnette Williams and a young woman in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine whose dream was to raise an army of women to serve God. Today, that army is in the making!

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Ordinary vs. Kairos Moments

Can you believe it’s already August? 2019 seems to be flying by and before you know it, it will be Christmas! Sometimes I feel like George Jetson, “Jane, get me off this crazy thing!!!”

The saints were very aware of the shortness of life and how quickly it passes by. As we get older, time seems to pass even more quickly. That is why striving to live in the present moment is so important. It allows us to focus on the opportunity at hand. Whether it is a time of work or play, a time with friends or co-workers, taking advantage of the present moment is a key to living the fullness of the gift of our lives.

Mixed into the ordinary daily events of life are Kairos moments. These are the instances of great opportunity, when God’s grace and chronological time intersect. Often, the hustle and bustle of our modern culture, obscures our ability to recognize them. If we don’t take time to examine our lives, we can completely miss them. As the Greek philosopher Socrates stated, “The life that is unexamined is not worth living.” But, how do we recollect and ponder?

Our Lady provides us the way through her own example. St Luke tells us that she spent daily moments of recollection by pondering the events of her day, especially those regarding her Son, in the confines of her heart. This is a most fruitful practice. It is the perfect opportunity to hear with the ears of our heart and to see with the eyes of our soul. Following is an abbreviated version of the five-step Daily Examen that St. Ignatius practiced. It is one good method to use:

1. Become aware of God’s presence.
2. Review the day with gratitude.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
5. Look toward tomorrow.
(https://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/)

If you don’t already do something like this, I highly recommend you try incorporating it into your nightly routine. Give it a whirl and see what an impact it can have in your life.
And, may I share with you my gratitude for the impact you are having in the lives of others? Your support to our mission enables us to share with God’s daughters the gift of their feminine genius, as well as to help them recognize the Kairos moments in their lives. As a result, they are empowered to bring God’s love and healing into their marriages, families, homes, parishes, schools and communities – Kairos moments in action, you might say.

And, speaking of Kairos moments in action, we often witness this very reality at our Women of Grace events. Here are just a couple of such moments from this summer’s Women of Grace events. They include the installation ceremony of our newest Regional Coordinator, Alicia McDermott, and the presentation of completion certificates to Benedicta Institute graduates, Deanna Williston and Lauren Ghasten.

Given the challenges of this our day and time and considering the recent carnage we have experienced, the light of God’s love and His presence in the life of man is more critical than ever. The genius of authentic femininity can do much to aid humanity in not falling. Please continue to make a difference in the world today through the work of Women of Grace. We are truly grateful for your partnership!

Keep recollecting! Keep pondering. Keep praying!

May the abundant life of Jesus Christ be yours and may God bless you

With gratitude and blessings,

 

Founder and President

Woman of Grace: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

 

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein, 1891 – 1942)

She was a brilliant scholar, a contemplative mystic, and a “liberated” feminist. At various times she was also a devout Jew, an atheist, a philosopher, a Catholic, and a Carmelite nun. Hers was a heart that hungered for truth, with a passion that burned with such purity and clarity that Pope John Paul II, whose own Mulieris Dignitatem and “Letter to Women” bear the unmistakable imprint of her spirit, canonized her less than fifty years after her death at Auschwitz. Read the rest…

Women of Grace Graduate . . . in Gibraltar!

The graduates stand with Father Stuart Chipolina at St. Paul’s Parish in Varyl Begg Estate, Gibraltar

Last month another group of ladies successfully completed their Women of Grace® course in St. Paul’s Parish, Varyl Begg Estate, Gibraltar.

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