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Who was Mary Magdalene?

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.                   -Jn 20:11-18 (via USCCB)

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Easter Sunday

April 4
Easter Sunday
Easter Hymn
Let us rise in early morning,
And instead of ointments bring
Hymns of praises to our Master,
And His Resurrection sing;
We shall see the Sun of Justice
Risen with healing in His wing.
Go ye forth, His Saints, to meet Him!
Go with lamps in every hand!
From the sepulcher He riseth;
Ready for the Bridegroom stand;
And the Pascha of salvation
Hail, with His triumphant band.
- St. John Damascene
For Reflection:
What hymns of praise am I bringing to the Risen Christ today? For what am I abundantly grateful?
  

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Holy Saturday

April 3
Holy Saturday
To Christ Crucified
  I am not moved to love Thee, O my Lord,
  By any longing for Thy Promised Land;
Nor by the fear of hell am I unmanned
To cease from my transgressing deed or word.
‘Tis Thou Thyself dost move me, -- Thy blood poured
Upon the cross from nailed foot and hand;
And all the wounds that did Thy body brand;
And all Thy shame and bitter death’s award.
Yea, to Thy heart am I so deeply stirred
That I would love Thee were no heaven on high, --
That I would fear, were hell a tale absurd!
Such my desire, all questioning grows vain;
Though hope deny me hope I still should sigh,
And as my love is now, it should remain.
-Anonymous (16th or 17th C.)
Translated from the Spanish by Thomas Walsh
For Reflection:
On this Holy Saturday, I enter into the tomb with Jesus. What one area of my life is most in need of resurrection? How is Jesus showing me He wants to bring this part of me “back to life?”
  

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Good Friday of the Lord's Passion

April 2
Good Friday of the Lord's Passion
“Who can measure the extent of My goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed Myself to be nailed to the Cross; for you I let My Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain.”
-Jesus to St. Faustina Kowalska
For Reflection:
What is Jesus say directly to you through these words? What do you say back to Him? For the next nine days, pray the Divine Mercy Novena with receptivity and trust that you will draw from the fountain of the Sacred Heart the very grace you most need.
  

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Lenten Journey Through the Sorrows of Mary: Holy Thursday

April 1
Holy Thursday
While my body here decays
May my soul your goodness praise,
Safe in heaven eternally. Amen Alleluia.
For Reflection:
This final stanza of the Stabat Mater encourages us to consider the Divine Mercy that floods the heart of Our Savior, who gave Himself for us. In what one way do you most need to experience this Ocean of Mercy? Journal your response. As you read tomorrow’s GraceLine, hear the voice of Jesus talking to you.
  

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Lenten Journey Through the Sorrows of Mary: When my life shall leave me

March 31
Savior, when my life shall leave me,
Through your mother’s prayers receive me
With the fruits of victory.
For Reflection:
Mary has assured us of her maternal intercession and God assures us forgiveness of our sins when we truly repent. However, the evil one seeks to steal all assurance from us. He does this in three ways: discouragement, distrust, doubt. Discouragement because we are afraid we now can never acquire a deep union with God; distrust that God will treat us less favorably now and that He will be niggardly in the grace He gives us; doubt that God has forgiven us at all because our sin is so great.
To what extent is any one of these true of you? Read Rev. 21:5-6. Journal your insights, inspirations, and consolations.
  

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I will lay down my life for you

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.” - Jn 13:36-38

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The heart of our mission

“Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.” -Luke 1:26-45

May is the month that we celebrate mothers and spiritual mothers. This role of spiritual maternity is very close to the heart of our mission to transform the world one woman at a time.

I remember a women’s retreat I conducted some years ago. In addition to the many laywomen present, there were a few religious. In one of my talks, I addressed the mission of Catholic women. When the talk was over, one of the sisters came up to me with a glow on her face and tears in her eyes. She told me she had been a religious for more than thirty years, and only that day had come to a full understanding of her vocation.

This religious sister is not alone. Many of us have questioned what it means to be a woman, and a Catholic woman at that. We know there is something dynamic and unique about it, but just what it seems to evade us. What is more, deep inside we sense that true fulfillment and happiness is somehow inextricably linked to our femininity. Where do we go to get the answer? To whom do we turn to find the way?

We need not look far. When we look to the mission of the Catholic woman, we look to our Blessed Mother. Luke 1:26-45 presents Our Lady’s Annunciation and her visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. When Mary arrives at the house of her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with her first child, Elizabeth cries out in greeting, “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? The moment your greeting sounded in my ears the baby leapt in my womb for joy. Blest is she who trusted that the Lord’s words to her would be fulfilled.”

These lines tell us much. The leap of the Baptist and the assertion of Elizabeth proclaim that the fruit of Mary’s womb is the long-awaited Messiah and Redeemer. Mary, pregnant with Divine Life, carries that life to others. She is the Christ-bearer who brings salvation by her very presence. As the physical mother of the Savior, Mary is the spiritual mother of the elect (CCC #969).

As Catholic women, our call is to emulate the spiritual motherhood of Mary. Some of us will be physical mothers, but each of us is called to spiritual motherhood. Through receptivity, trust, and surrender, “women impregnated with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling” (“Letter to Women,” Vatican Council II). Imbued with the Divine Life and fortified by prayer, fervent reception of the sacraments, and virtuous living, Catholic women who assume their God-given call to spiritual motherhood will do great things for the Kingdom of God – we can indeed become the healers of the world.

This month, please join us in celebrating the gift of woman and her call to spiritual motherhood. Let us encourage women to embrace the truth of their identity and to be lights shining in the darkness of the day. Finally, let us share with them the exemplar of the true Woman of Grace, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose “fiat” brought salvation to the world. May Mary, our spiritual mother, inspire the “yes” of our lives as we seek to be the women of grace God intends us to be.

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

I faithfully remain... Your sister in Christ,

Johnnette's Signature

Johnnette Benkovic Williams Founder and President

PS: If you don’t already receive our Daily Gracelines, I encourage you to sign up and share them with others. This month’s topic is Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood. Go to womenofgrace.com/signup. You will also receive the latest updates from our apostolate by also signing up for our enewsletter.

 

 

 

 

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Lenten Journey with the Saints: Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday
Most glorious Lord of life that on this day
Didst make Thy triumph over death and sin,
And having harrowed hell didst bring away
Captivity thence captive us to win;
This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin
And grant that we, for whom Thou didst die
Being with Thy dear blood clean washed from sin,
May live forever in felicity.
And that Thy love we weighing worthily,
May likewise love Thee for the same again;
And for Thy sake that all like dear didst buy,
With love may one another entertain.
So let us love, dear love, like as we ought,
Love is the lesson which the Lord us taught.
–“Easter”, Edmund Spenser (1553-1598)
Today's Reflection
JESUS LIVES! How am I experiencing His life in me on this glorious day?
 


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With love and prayers, Your Women of Grace Family

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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

 

 

 

 

 

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