Notre Dame

Jack and I landed in Paris in the early morning today from Lourdes and drove into the city with our tour through 206 Tours. We visited Sacre Coeur and it was a graced experience. This Friday, Good Friday, we were to have visited the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

I have never been to Notre Dame and like fellow Catholics from all over the world, I could not wait to experience her glory. Our visit will be tragically different now, like so many others who came here to see this magnificent witness to our Catholic Faith. But I know it will be no less poignant. To experience Notre Dame on Good Friday — battered and bruised as she is — will easily remind us of the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Our Savior, and the salvation He offers to each of us if we choose to accept Him.

Just as the Crown of Thorns was spared from the inferno, so too does the passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ spare us from the furnace of flames known as Hell.

In the end, Notre Dame is just a structure, albeit a stunning structure and sign in our fractured and broken world. And most likely she will be rebuilt. But, she is limited and can only reside in one city and in one country.

However, Our Lord’s promise of eternal life, breathed from the altar of Notre Dame for hundreds of years, is omnipresent, and can live in each one of us. And though the sorrowful reality of this loss cuts deeply, the miracle of Easter is alive in this earthly devastation, reminding us that all is made new in the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Easter Sunday message , as well as the message of Notre Dame’s horrible fire, is this: “Look forward and have hope! ”

St. John Paul II — “Christmas is the Feast Day of Man”

When I came back to the Faith in 1981, one Scripture passage became the rudder of my spiritual life. It is Ephesians 1: 3-4. Through the years, this passage has spoken to me in many ways and has sustained me through many trials.

Verse 4 , however, is particularly relevant for this time of the year, and was echoed by St. John Paul II in a Christmas reflection. It states this, “God chose us in him before the world began to be holy and blameless in his sight, to be full of love.” Those first five words tell us something about ourselves that is amazing and astounding — each one of us was distinctively and individually chosen by God to have life. Read the rest…

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…

Amazing Grace

Johnnette addresses Women of Grace Retreat participants

by Anne Gerard

My first‑ever experience attending the Women of Grace Retreat at The Malvern Retreat House was, in a word — AMAZING! The grounds of the center are tranquil and inviting, lending itself beautifully to assist the attendees in having an enriching and fulfilling experience. Read the rest…

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
 
THE GIFT OF YOUR PRAYERS
 
 ARE REQUESTED FOR 
 
FOR 
 
Johnnette Simon Benkovic
 
and 
 
Jack Leonard Williams
 
WHO WILL BE JOINED IN
 
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY MATRIMONY
AT THE NUPTIAL MASS 
BEING HELD ON FRIDAY, MAY 25th, 2018

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Book Review: “The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare” by Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan

The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary within the Catholic Church. As a lay Dominican, I always look forward to the opportunity to promote the Rosary, a prayer that Saint Dominic received based on the inspiration of Christ’s Mother. New from Franciscan Media / Servant Books is Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan’s The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare.

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Star Wars or Heaven’s Plan?

Today is National Star Wars Day and many of the film’s fans will be offering the movie’s famous greeting ,“May the force be with you,” or its pun for the day, “May the fourth be with you.” Judging by world conditions and the strife that abounds both at home and abroad, we could use some force and power to bring relief, order, and justice to our beleaguered globe. Read the rest…

Woman of Grace: St. Josephine Bakhita (1869 – 1947)

st.josephine.bakhita

It is natural to express thanksgiving for being released from difficult trials and circumstances. But who would be grateful for those who cause such difficult trials or circumstances? This is the stuff of saints — the very stuff of which Saint Josephine Bakhita was made.

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The Life of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Seton

 

Born Elizabeth Ann Bayley in New York City, Mother Seton is a saint of firsts: first American-born saint, leader of the first Catholic girls’ school (and the first free Catholic school of any kind) in the United States, and foundress of the first American order of religious sisters — the Sisters of Charity.

Elizabeth was born into a prominent Anglican family and was married in the Anglican Church.  With her sister-in-law, Rebecca, she tended to the poor around New York, earning a reputation for her compassion and mercy.  In 1803, she traveled to Italy with her ailing husband in the hope that the climate would aid his recovery.

William Seton died in Italy later that year, but in her grief Elizabeth discovered a new love: the Catholic Church.  She scandalized her Protestant family and friends by being received into the Church in New York City on Ash Wednesday, 1805.

Finding NSt. Elizabeth ann Seton2ew York no longer hospitable to her Catholic zeal, Elizabeth suffered through some trying years before finding a haven in Baltimore.  I twas there that she channeled her passion for service into girls’ education.  She also pursued her dream of religious life, fashioning a rudimentary habit in the style of nuns she had seen in Italy.  Other women were drawn to her, and in 1809 the Sisters of Charity was born, based on the example of St. Vincent de Paul.

Mother Seton died in 1821 in Emmitsburgh, Maryland, where her school still sands.  In her refusal to let the social pressures of her station restrain her witness to the Catholic Faith — in word and deed — she is a wonderful example for us in a secularizing world.

This is an excerpt from Graceful Living. To purchase your copy, click here.

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

What wisdom Holy Mother Church has in dedicating the first day of the year to Mary, Mother of God!

Mary is the Mother of God and she is our mother, too. Her fiat is the genesis of every fiat given to God. And every fiat given to God is enriched by hers. The fathers of the Second Vatican Council state it simply, succinctly, and profoundly: she is our Mother in the order of grace.

This poem, written by Giovanni Domini (1356-142), expresses the maternal beatitude we find so dear. May it elevate our hearts in gratitude to God for the gift of the Blessed Virgin. And may it elevate our hearts to the reality of our salvation which comes through the gift of her Son, Jesus Christ Savior of the World. Read the rest…