Pray As They Say “I Do”: Jack and Johnnette’s Wedding

The wedding of Johnnette Benkovic and Jack Williams will soon be here! Praise be to God! If you would like to share in their great joy, below are some of the ways you can do so:
As a member of our Women of Grace® family
Johnnette Simon Benkovic
Jack Leonard Williams

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Words of Encouragement For Those Who Grieve


Anthony and Simon

A friend recently shared that he had read this Catholic Exchange article about my husband that was written by Heidi Hess Saxton following my husband’s death in 2007. There is rarely a week that goes by that I am not asked to pray for a grieving mother or loved one who has lost someone dear to them. I am posting this article today for you to share with a friend or family member, parishioner or client, health care professional or co-worker, anyone you know about, who may need some words of encouragement. May it bless you and may it bless them. Thank you, Tony, for calling this article to my attention. It blessed me. You are a good man. Read the rest…

Lenten Wisdom from a Six Year Old

I’m re-posting this blog which was written several years ago.  It contains a four point plan to help you make this a good Lent and some wisdom from my granddaughter Julia.  At the bottom, I’ve shared the podcast from yesterday’s Women of Grace Live radio program as well as my Lenten themed e-book.  During the program we talked about this blog and had a lively, thought-provoking discussion about it.  Please read, listen and share.

May God bless you abundantly this Lent.  

This morning, my somewhat precocious six year old granddaughter and I had a conversation over breakfast:

“Grandma,” she said gazing out of the kitchen window in our Florida home.

“Yes, Julia?” said I.

“Pretty soon Easter will be here because it is Spring outside.”

“Yes, you are right. Ash Wednesday is this week and that begins the season of Lent.” Read the rest…

French Coffee Cake

st therese childWhen I was a little girl, I was much more interested in reading, writing, and all things religious than I was in housekeeping or the culinary arts. However much my mother tried to impart to me the benefits of proper measuring and vacuuming-after- dusting, her efforts for the most part did little to arouse my interest or curiosity. But this in no way dampened her enthusiasm to engage me in the arcane sciences of domesticity. Read the rest…

Reconciliation: Breath of Life

I went to Cconfession today. And once again, I was overcome by the gracious goodness of our God. It caused me to wonder why it is that we do not use this sacrament more frequently.

I do know numbers of dear souls who have made a pledge of sorts to go to the Sacrament of Penance at least once a month. And this is commendable — laudable, even. And I know other souls who frequent the Sacrament bi-weekly or even weekly. This is saintly.

It is said that Pope John Paul II went to confession every day. Imagine. Every day!  He, like so many others who have been raised to the altar of Christ, discovered the treasury of grace that awaits us in the Sacrament even when grave sin is not present. Simply put, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is restorative. It is, after all, a sacrament of healing.

For myself this morning, I found it to be exactly that: restorative. And renewing, revitalizing. redeeming. The graces received in the quiet and solitude of confronting Our Lord with our weakness and frailties, our struggles and concerns, our discouragements and frustrations are boundless — like God’s own mercy of which they are replete.

Something about exposing the dark parts of our being to the rays of light that emanate from the Heart of  Christ sets us free in new ways. It affects every part of us — our psyche, our emotions, our spiritual life to be sure, even our physiology — all are inundated with the healing love of God and, in that holy exchange of Heart-to-heart, new life comes.

I remember one of my teachers in grade school tell us that she often prayed that God would let her die right after receiving the Sacrament of Penance because she would go straight to Heaven. My little girl’s mind strove to plumb the depths of what this good and holy religious woman was imparting. She pointed to the sun shining on the snow outside of our classroom window so bright it was near blinding. “That”, she said, “is what a soul looks like when it has made a good confession.” I got it then. I understood.  At least to some extent. Today, I understand more.

What is your burden this day? Is it a deep sin for which you need to receive forgiveness? Is it a weakness or tendency from which you wish to be set free? How about discouragement, hopelessness, or despair? There is a solution. Run — don’t walk — to the Sacrament! Be set free!

Happy 25th!


Today is our 25th Anniversary in Catholic communications. I can’t believe it!  What a joy it has been to proclaim the Good News of Our Lord, Jesus Christ around the world!  And what an absolute pleasure and privilege it has been for both Fr. Ed and I to work together in this apostolic work.  We appreciate your love and support! Read the rest…

The Meaning of “Duh”

Not long ago, my daughter, Thea, was driving me to the airport. I was headed to EWTN to produce the next round of programs for Women of Grace. Strapped into the back seat was my almost 7 year old granddaughter, Julia.

“Mom,” said Julia. “It is so sad that Maggie and Elise aren’t friends anymore.”

“They’re not?” asked my daughter. “What happened?”

“Maggie said ‘duh’.” Julia replied somberly.

“She said, ‘duh’?” asked Thea.

“Yes,” said Julia, clearly with the sound of “duh” in her voice.

“Well,” said Thea. “You know Julia, there are two meanings for ‘duh.’ It all depends on your tone of voice. You can say ‘duh’ and it means you agree with someone. Or you can say ‘duh’ and it means the other person is stating the obvious — you know, saying what everyone else already knows.”

“I know that, Mommy. She said ‘duh’!” definition two.

“That’s too bad,” said my daughter.

“I know.” said Julia. “It’s really sad.”

Thea and I exchanged a knowing glance. Julia was “coming of age” in the world of social communication and beginning to realize that tone of voice matters. She was also beginning to see how fragile friendship can be — the power of one syllable can destroy it.

Tone of voice and tonal inflection communicate — often more directly than the actual words being spoken. Tone of voice can bring comfort and solace or hurt and misery. It can be an instrument that heals and bonds a friendship or a sword that slashes it to ribbons.

Tonal inflection is just the same — it can indicate solidarity or derision by the mere emphasis  placed on one word over another.

Just as we ought to select our words carefully so that we properly communicate what we are expressing and are rightly understood, so too should we guard our tone of voice and tonal inflection to make sure of the same.

What we say matters. And how we say it matters, too. Both are creative forces that can bring joy and peace or sorrow and pain. What are your words saying today? Are they relationship builders or relationship busters?