Greetings dearest Sisters...
When I happed upon this Legros paintingI swiftly passed a copy onto our Chaplain, Fr Joseph Johnson, with a re-title: "The Original Seven Sisters". And indeed perhaps this century plus painting has something to say to us, the modern-day Seven Sisters, who likewise routinely andfaithfully seek our place of prayer. We, like the intercessor to the far right, put our parcel from the day's work aside and out of sight for an hour each week, as we consider our dedicated task before us - an hour of prayer offered for the sanctity of a priest. (And notice - the intercessor appears to have a glowing nimbus about her face!)
In the simplicity of color and setting in this painting, the images here seem to easily draw one not merely into a study of the faces, but so too toward a desire to consider the hidden movement of the souls. That is where the truest action dwells. The attentive gaze, the half-closed eyelids of meditation, the seeking look of affection - all intimate to that deeper place of heart to which prayer beckons and brings. The hands of the intercessors speak also. One caresses sacred beads, another points heavenward, while still another settles in place with a binder in hand of perhaps familiar and worn pages. All, again, with the mission of bringing the mind and soul more in tune with the One to whom the intercessor seeks. Some women make their offerings on their knees, low to the ground, reminding the heart of its true position in the presence of He Who is All, He Who is Able. For those that sit, perhaps there is not sufficient room or ability to kneel physically, yet the heart desires and postures in lieu.
For me, both eye and heart rest on the intercessor of the far left. She is leaning in, gesturing a desire to get closer, nearer her Lord. She is holding a light in hopes of perhaps assisting a spiritual nearsightedness. Further, she has adjusted her head cover to allow an ear to be open to the chapel's air, as if enabling a better chance at listening in how to proceed, how to pray. This is the image of the one still learning, still seeking.
Perhaps you sense yourself too in the orientation of one of these intercessors. For some, each week's Holy Hour may express itself similarly, for others it is perhaps varied. And is not this the beauty of our call as a Seven Sister intercessor. We have liberty in our Hour, freedom to allow the winds of the Holy Spirit to blow where they may, how they may. Each week there is truly a fresh and unique spiritual bouquet offered to each priest. We only see in part, for we are not alone in the offering.
St John Climacus (+606) said it early - and said it well. Consider his words as you take on the mantel of prayer as a Seven Sister and offer your weekly bouquet of prayers for a priest's well-being and sanctity. Read these poignant lines in light of your call to this type of prayer offering. Be encouraged and affirmed and humbled. Every breath of prayer has eternal merit.
"Prayer is union with God and colloquy with Him.
Prayer maintains the equilibrium of the world,
reconciles people to God,
produces holy tears,
forms a bridge over temptations,
and acts as a buttress between us and affliction.
Prayer drives away the struggles of the spirit.
It is the blessedness to come. It is an action that will never come to an end.
Prayer is a spring of the virtues,
it is an illumination of the mind,
it is a curtain to shut out despair,
it is a sign of hope, it is a victory over depression.
Prayer is a mirror in which we see our steps forward,
it is a signpost of the route to follow,
it is an unveiling of good things to come,
it is a pledge of glory."
Please, please, please pray for me (one wee Hail Mary a day) - that I will not 'spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted...' (Bl Mother Teresa of Calcutta)
United in prayer and mission -
that our prayers may find the hearts of every Bishop and priest