Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ in this joy-filled Eastertide ...
What a grace-laden Holy Week and Triddum! Truly, truly it will take all these 50 days of celebration to continue to allow such an extravagance of blessings to penetrate, and to adequately express our gratitude for the unending mercy and love of God. Alleluia!
The silence within Holy Thursday last week brought me to a grace-into-gratitude moment. I recalled my time, years ago, as a nurse for the Good Shepherd Sisters. A rotation of priests offered daily Mass. One priest came infrequently, but when he did, it was bittersweet. While reverent in his Mass offering, the homilies at times leaned heavy toward political themes. And with views I did not share.
Arrangements were made one summer morning to paint the Chapel. The smaller, nearby Community room became a temporary Chapel. That day, the aforementioned priest arrived to serve. The Sisters made their way like happy bees to the honey hive for their communal prayers before Mass. I finished a phone call and scurried to Chapel to discover no spare seats - or inches. Sr Valerie smiled, pushed her walker toward me, motioning me to sit. My spot atop the walker seat was in the threshold of the door, next to the altar, which was facing the wall, immediately inside the door. So uniquely close to the altar, a softening of heart during the Consecration came about. A peace seemed to fill every void... But it was at the reception of Communion that an even greater grace presented. When Father held the host for my consumption, my newly tenderized heart sensed a message, "I have chosen him."
The statement brought an intense realization that God chooses each man for His priesthood - even this one that I was not especially akin to. My place is not one of cringing at His choices nor dwelling on imperfections. Through tears, I asked God for forgiveness. That moment, I lived what St John Chrysostom stated, "He that honors the Priest, will honor God also; and he who has learned to despise the Priest, will in process of time insult God."
Last week recalling that moment, I responded in a swell of gratitude that God brought that conversion of heart through His heart. Perhaps at that moment, entwined with the intimacy of the Sacrament of Unity, sitting in that physical threshold, a new unseen threshold presented itself to open ways toward the Seven Sisters Apostolate.
An enduring first fruit of the Apostolate continues. It is a beautiful maturing of heart for each Seven Sister intercessor: a deeper, rightly ordered understanding and embracing of the dignity of the priesthood. "You are clothed with His Royal Priesthood, and your own priesthood is but one with His, and you are but one priest with the Sovereign Priest. You are Jesus Christ living and walking on earth. You represent His Person, you hold His Place" (St John Eudes).
Over and again Seven Sisters are compelled to tell of their conversion toward deeper understanding, a deeper love. They come close to what St John Vianney articulated, "If I were to meet a priest and an Angel, I should salute the priest first before I saluted the Angel. The latter is the friend of God; but the priest holds His place... When people wish to destroy religion, they begin by attacking the priest."
Likewise, this heart of St Leonard of Port Maurice is understood, "What tongue, human or angelic, may ever describe a power so immeasurable as that exercised by the simplest priest at Mass? Who could ever have imagined that the voice of man which by nature hath not the power even to raise a straw from the ground, should obtain through grace a power so stupendous as to bring from Heaven to earth the Son of God?"
What a privileged call we hold to pray for our priests and bishops. What a journey of heart we assent to! It is not always simple, straightforward nor burden-free. St John Chrysostom (quoted above) also stated, "The road to hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path." We must take up arms - the arms and hands and knees of prayer interceding for perseverance, fortitude, wisdom and holiness of every priest and bishop.
May we come alongside Our Madonna, Our Lady, and gain her assistance, her insight, her tenacity in hope and in prayer. As Fr Paul Philippe, OP, reflects, "For Mary, a priest is always a priest, a living image of her Son, and if that image is disfigured by sin, she only has a more ardent desire to give him back that resemblance to Christ, for she sees him as God sees him and with the very sight of God."
Let us trust and pray and ne'er lose heart! Amen! Alleluia!
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.... Pray that I will not 'spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted...' (St Mother Teresa)
...your kind emails and notes and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.
SEVEN SISTERS - in and out and about:
HOLY HOUR for you: I fully trust that you benefited from the Holy Hour offered for you on St Margaret Clitherow's Feast Day (March 26). The hour was not long enough to express my love. May it be the gift that keeps on giving ... grace upon grace!
NOTE to Anchoresses: If you do not receive a Communiqué within the first 7 days of a new month, contact me directly or through the Web site email. In turn, when received, please pass the Communiqué within one week's time to your group members, if able - or have another in the group do this for you.
The PRIEST is NOT His OWN (Fulton Sheen): Copies available: $15 each. Order through my email or Web site. SUPERB to consider the role/dignity of the Priest!
AHEAD on the calendar:
Gratitude to Carrie E for organizing and hosting a Seven Sister booth at the Women's Conference 10 March 2018 in St Cloud, MN
Gratitude to JoAnn, Corrine, Leonne (Dubuque, IA) partnering with Seven Sisters in Hiawatha, IA (Cedar Rapids area) in orchestrating a splendid Day of Recollection on 17 March 2018. Theme: Getting to Know our Patrons (Fr Spencer Howe and Janette were among speakers alongside local priest, Fr Ressler)
Saturday, 07 April 2018 - Informational - St Alphonsus, 7025 Halifax Ave N, Brooklyn Center, MN. Open to all. Mass at 8 am.Coffee and Conversation to follow.
Thurs, 12 April 2018 - Archdiocese St P-Mpls Team Prayer/Meeting
Serra club (Edina, MN) - TBD
Saturday, 2 June 2018 Magnificat (Council Bluffs, IA) Janette
Saturday, 9 June 2018 Magnficat (Lincoln, NE) Janette
EWTN - Fr Johnson and Janette. 18 June 2018 is the taping