Putting the “Giving” In Thanksgiving

If you’re like most Americans, you are already busily preparing for the Thanksgiving feast.  The grocery list is finalized, the coupons are clipped, the recipes have been selected and the house has been cleaned from top to bottom.  You’ve already dug out your favorite holiday movies and games and are putting the final touches on the table setting.

As we celebrate our bountiful blessings, we as Catholic Christians are called to be mindful of those who suffer from want this Thanksgiving.  Growing numbers of Americans are jobless or homeless this year.  Some who do work are struggling with the rising prices of food and other commodities.  Our local charities are already running short of the necessary supplies to provide meals for those in need.  Many are lonely or struggling with illness or hardship.  The holidays are especially difficult for these individuals because the joy of others can magnify what they lack.  It is through our gifts of love and generosity that they receive the peace of Christ and experience joy in the midst of suffering.

Here are a few ways to help those in need this Thanksgiving:

  1. Volunteer at your local food pantry or kitchen.  One of our favorite local charities is the Trinity Cafe.  Guests are served a hot meal prepared by a professional chef and served by volunteer waiters on covered tables with china and silverware.  Their mission is to restore a sense of dignity to our hungry and homeless neighbors by serving a nutritious meal while nourishing souls through acts of acceptance, compassion, love and respect.
  2. Support a soldier.  There are many ways you can provide support to a soldier – send a care package, visit your local VA hospital, send a letter or card.  A unique way to show support is through the Ranger Rosary Ministry.  They recruit individuals to make combat rosaries which are donated to military chaplains for distribution to soldiers in combat zones.  This is a great family project, especially for those with children 10 years and older.
  3. Donate clothing to your local St. Vincent De Paul.  Now is the ideal time for the entire family to go through their closets and clear out clothing that is no longer useful, wearable, ill-fitting, etc.  My rule of thumb, if I haven’t touched it in the last year, donate it!  My other rule is not to put anything new in the closet until I donate something that I no longer wear.
  4. Visit a sick or elderly relative or friend.  Those who are stuggling with illness or old age are often left feeling very alone during the holidays.  Make a point of going to visit someone you know in a nursing home or hospital.  If you don’t know someone, visit a stranger.  Many of our elderly have no living relatives and they receive few visitors.  Consider bringing your teenager with you.  This is a wonderful opportunity to teach them the value of life at every stage or condition.
  5. Invite a lonely friend or family member over for dinner or take them with you to Holy Mass on Thankgiving day.  Everyone has a family member or friend who is lonely or extra challenging to be around.  They may be the person that no one wants around because they seem to inspire tension.  Or perhaps someone you know is a recent widow or widower.  This may be just the person the Lord is calling you to welcome to your family table or bring with you to the Thanksgiving mass.

By reaching out to others and living the corporal works of mercy, we bring them the hope, help and inspiration to experience greater joy during the holiday season.  We in turn meet Jesus Christ in the least of our brothers and sisters and have a deeper gratitude for His many, many blessings.

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.

Read the rest…

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…

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…

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

Read the rest…

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.

Read the rest…