Bookends of our Holy Hours

Saturday, January 01, 2022 12:17am

“Let us proceed each one along our path to the same goal, united in purpose and by means of God’s order which, in its great variety, is in us all.”

— Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! Blessed Christmastide and New Year of the Lord 2022. An inescapable, generous shower of graces persists in this glorious season! “Be not afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ! … become the saints of the new millennium!” (St John Paul II).

Behavioral science intimates that many of our actions merit us the title:  creatures of habit.  A fascinating finding suggests a tendency for most of us to begin and end our very days in mirrored-fashion.  For instance, some brew a cup of coffee in the morning, then sip tea or wine at night.  Others commence the day with a vigorous run, then wind down with evening stretching exercises.  My friend, Bridget, once shared that as a child every morning and night she knelt for prayers at the side of her bed.  For decades she has kept up the practice.  “Things would be off kilter if I missed either one”.  For Bridget, her bedside prayers offered while kneeling serve as bookends, of sorts, to buttress her day.

While our Holy Hours as Seven Sisters are unique-to-each, over time many have asked for assistance on beginning the Hour.  Given the echo aspect of human behavior, the response might answer how to end the Hour, as well. A simple trifecta of actions is proposed: blessing with holy water, acknowledging God’s presence, and seeking God’s guidance.

#1-Holy Water: Whether entering an Adoration Chapel, the Church itself to pray before the Tabernacle or, if homebound, preparing to offer the Hour at home, holy water is the perfect, far-reaching beginning!  Signing oneself with the cross, powerful on its own, is enhanced with the use of holy water.  This sacramental has long been promoted.  Around 130 AD Pope Alexander in his Apostolic Constitutions wrote: “We bless salt and water for the people, that all who may be sprinkled therewith may be cleansed and sanctified.” The Church has encouraged its pious use to strengthen and guard us and our prayers. In his book, Holy Water, Fr Heinrich Theiler, informs that the first prayer uttered over the salt used in holy water commands that ‘every delusion and wickedness of the devil, and all unclean spirits… fly and depart.’ The prayer pronounced over the water speaks of the blessed water as a shield against the assaults of spiritual wickedness and a protection from temptations.  St Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church (and Doctor of Prayer) shares this in her autobiography (Chapter 31): “From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again.  They also flee from the cross, but return; so holy water must have great value. … I have myself felt an extraordinary consolation when I have used holy water. It is certain that I have felt a great joy and inner peace which I cannot describe, a joy with which my soul was quite refreshed. This is not merely an effect of the imagination, nor a rare occurrence. I have experienced it frequently and paid special attention to it. On these occasions I feel like one who, suffering intense thirst, takes a glass of water and is quite refreshed.” Holy water is an extraordinary gift through the Church.  It requires a priest to bless it – a splendid connection for the Seven Sister – and ideal way to begin and end the Hour!

#2-Acknowledging God’s presence:  Silence, sweet silence, is our initial gesture of recognition and respect that we are in the presence of the Almighty.  Most enter the Adoration Chapel and assume a kneeling position with both knees and profound, unrushed bow.  St Augustine stated that “one should adopt the bodily position best calculated to move the soul.”  This may change over the arc of our lifetime, but regardless, the gesture(s) should be a conscious tribute that one is in the presence of God, of the Other.   “I adore Thee, O Christ, and I praise Thee.” … “I love you with all of my heart, my God, my Lord.” … “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.” Slow, deep breathing and closed eyes can help settle one’s body for this audience with the King.  Donning a mantilla or veil during Adoration is a beautiful calling for some women.  It has the potential to remind of one’s humility before God and revitalize one’s awe of the intimacy of the love of God through the Blessed Sacrament.

#3-Seeking God’s guidance: It behooves us to remember that these Holy Hours are God’s idea.  Every week we intentionally respond to Him: “Can you not watch with Me one hour?” (Mark 14:37).  Being and remaining open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the course of the Hour for God’s Will and Way will help focus and enliven the prayer efforts.  Be assured as St Jeanne Jugan reminds: “God will help us.  The work is His.” This sets the Hour as a rich time of cor ad cor loquitar (heart speaks to heart), anticipating divine guidance in prayer for the good of the priest/bishop for whom we appeal.

At the conclusion of the Hour a mirrored response can be applied in an attitude of gratitude.  #1 – for God’s specific guidance in our prayers, #2 – for His Presence and nearness, and #3 – ending the Hour as begun, with a blessing using Holy Water.  Appropriately, the acronym WOW could serve as a memory jog for this simple, power-packed trifecta:

Water (holy) – consecrating the beginning, fortifying the finish

Our Lord – acknowledging His Presence

Will/Way – seeking/following Our Lord’s Will and Way for the Holy Hour

St Athanasius said of St Anthony of the Desert (Feast Day: Jan 17) “…he always looked upon himself as a beginner, as if every day were the first in which he was serving God, and as if in the past he had done nothing good and was but just setting foot in the way of the Lord, taking the first steps on the road to Heaven.”  What a humble, refreshing way to consider sure bookends of our Holy Hours!

United in prayer and mission…that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest…… eternal gratitude continues as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day….  “One Ave Maria makes hell tremble” (St John Vianney). Pray that I will not ‘spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted…’  (St Teresa of Calcutta) … your kind emails and notes and phone calls and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your financial sacrifices are for 100% furtherance of Apostolate.  THANK YOU!  The letters of testimony are so beautiful and edifying! What glory is given to God through your writing! Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.

Janette (Howe)


10th Anniversary Year of our Founding Graces (03/24/11 – 03/24/21)

In a continued one-year celebration through March 2022, this month:

Choose a country (or your city or state) and pray this month for more priests

to be covered in more prayers there.  Let us together see what God will do!


SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:

Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in DECEMBER to cover more priests in daily prayer:  Additional groups in Canada (Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia) and Uganda (NEW Country!), and these USA states: Alabama, Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wyoming. We pray daily for priests and bishops on 6 continents, 25 countries, all 50 USA states, and nearly every Province in Canada.

ANNUAL Holy Card Design: Next year’s Apostolate Holy Card will feature the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Submit your design!  Render with pen and ink, full color, B/W, watercolor, as an icon, sketch. Inquiries through the Website address.  Will share prayer and give size details. Artwork by May 2022.

RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:

> 01/21-22/22: St Felix Retreat Center, Huntington, IN.  Real Women Wear Armor (Eph 6:10-18)

Janette will lead.  Capacity met.  Prayers for event welcomed! Tammie:

> Thurs, 05/05/22: Informational for Omaha Diocese in Norfolk, NE (Sacred Heart parish).  Details forthcoming.  Contact Katie:

>05/6-7/22: Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House, Waverly, NE. Janette will conduct the retreat on this topic… Inseparable: Our Eucharistic Lord and Our Lady.  Registration through Retreat Web.


Ø  “Felt called to do something like this for our very important priests! Glad to know that something like this exists! To organize this intentional prayer.” (Misty, Kansas)

Ø  “I am a lifelong Catholic and have seen what prayer can do. A parish can only be as strong as the priest who serves them. I also have come to understand how hard and complicated the life of a priest can be unless supported by prayer. I am a cancer survivor and during my time of treatment I knew people were praying for me because I know without prayer I could not have gone through the process. God was carried my cross with me, as He promised He would.  We can do this for priests too.” (Eva, North Dakota)

Ø  “I have been a Seven Sisters member since our very first year at our parish, both as a regular and as a sub. I love the fact that I can do something tangible to assist our priests in their vocations. I have experienced the fruits of praying the Holy Hour for my priest, so when the opportunity came to be an anchoress and prayer warrior for another priest, I was very happy to do it.” (Megan, Virginia)

Ø  “I am a 35-year-old mother of 2. With Father’s service at our parish, I felt more connected to the church and my faith than ever before. When I read the note in the bulletin about starting a Seven Sisters group at our parish, I knew I had to give back and do this for him.” (Casey, Delaware)

Ø  “I was a member of another Parish when introduced to the Apostolate. I was asked to participate, but was not inspired at the time. I have since moved to a new Parish. As I knelt in Adoration one morning, the Holy Spirit inspired me to inquire about this very thing, the Seven Sisters Apostolate. Today I asked and was told that there hadn’t been anyone to do this before. The support is here to begin and I am very pleased to know that I would be doing what He is asking of me. This Apostolate is needed now more than ever. Our Priests need the spiritual support that we can offer. Praise be to God for this wonderful group.” (Julie, Kansas)

Ø  “When I read about your approach, I was inspired further because of the Holy Hour. It brought a big smile on my face. We are already seven, but there are two Bishops who need strong women prayer warriors behind them and have requested to help.  More is coming!” (Stella, Uganda, Africa)

APPRECIATED and LOVED quilt project:  A double cloaking for RETIRED PRIESTS: Seven Sisters prayer and a quilt! The priests love both!  To learn more regarding a single quilt for a retired priest or on how to get this started in your Diocese, contact

FASTING BROTHERS is growing: Groups of men offering various forms of fasting to augment the prayer efforts of a Seven Sisters group.  Each man prayerfully discerns the type of fasting he will offer and commits to fast a designated day of the week (excepting Sunday/Solemnities). Our Chaplain, strongly urges formation of these groups. Anchoresses: let us know the Seven Sisters group to which the Fasting Brothers are linked, name of lead Brother, his contact info and the start date.

LAMP-BEARERS: In January 2020, Lamp-Bearers, so-named for their action of continually ‘filling of their lamps with the oil of prayer’, was launched to pray for the Apostolate at large.  Each intercessor prays a minimum of once per week, but many are offering prayers every day.  Intentions are gleaned from topics and calendar points in the monthly Communique and also sent to members on the second or third Sunday of the month.  Additional intercessors welcomed.  Those desiring to learn more, send an email of interest/inquiry through the Website.

SEVEN SISTERS Guideline BOOKLETS: Available as free download from Web site.  Hard copies passed on for printing cost of $2 each + P/H. Order thru Web email with amount desired/address

SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold BROCHURE:   Effectively used in parish pamphlet stands (ask pastor’s approval prior), Adoration Chapels, Retreat Centers, Bags/Packets for Women’s Conferences/Retreats, Women’s clubs, Serra clubs – or simply handing out!  Available on Web as free download.  Recommend 80# silk for best printing results.  May also order through Web site.  Indicate address/quantity.  25 for $10 + P/H.  Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.

SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold LITANY for PRIESTS: Beautifully printed on 100# silk (a bit thicker than brochures).  Original artwork (inspired by the Diary of St Faustina) by Seven Sister in Minnesota, Litany by Richard Cardinal Cushing.  25 for $10 + P/H.  Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.

REMEMBRANCE of those SEVEN SISTERS who have PASSED: We want to remember those Seven Sisters in name and in prayer, who have gone before us to their eternal rest. Visit the Web site. Click on ABOUT folder and scroll to bottom, choose: IN REMEMBRANCE.  Follow prompts… OR you may submit info via the Website email. Please check site monthly for additions!

PRIEST who has PASSED to ETERNAL REST: If the priest for whom you pray has entered eternal life, the group may be led to continue to pray for a length of time for the soul of that priest. Perhaps a novena of Holy Hours or the offering of holy Mass(es) for the priest.  You will know.  Some groups have/are offering Holy Hours for an entire year for their beloved deceased priest.  Groups may be started following the death of a priest that did not have a group prior.  This is commendable and welcomed.  Please register these special groups through the Web site.

SPANISH translation of Communique: This is generously done every month by Zahyra B, Anchoress for a Seven Sisters group in Venezuela.  They are then posted (and archived) on the Website.   If it is easier to receive through an email account, please let me know. Expect a few days for translation. Commitment Prayer/Guidelines Booklet in Spanish (on the Web – free download).

…in quietness and trust is your strength.  – Isaiah 30:15

Madonna of the Grapes, pray for us!
St John Vianney, pray for us!

St Margaret Clitherow, pray for us!

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