Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ...
and a most blessed Solemnity of Corpus Christi! We live the richest life! ...
We bid adieu to that beautiful month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, our time of discernment regarding our involvement in this Apostolate. Let us now welcome that beautiful month dedicated to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, where we respond to God's Will regarding the Apostolate for the upcoming year.
Please inform your Anchoress TODAY (if you haven't already) whether you will continue with your Seven Sisters group or depart from its schedule and commitment. By informing your Anchoress in a timely fashion, hope remains to adjust/adapt any prayer coverage transitions needed to keep them seamless for our priests/bishops.
To both those continuing or departing - eternal gratitude. Every sacrifice, every prayer bears eternal worth. Both new beginnings and renewals hold great graces - each entering the radiance of His infinite love through His Sacred Heart!
Gratitude lives well beyond my heart. Straight from the hearts of priest-recipients regarding your prayers and sacrifices are just a sampling of notes of gratitude...
> “I believe the Seven Sisters Apostolate has been a great source of grace for my priesthood and, as a result, for all those to whom I minister. I sense that I have been more centered and integrated in my public and personal life, and that the spark of love for Christ and for His Body has been intensified on a daily basis, helping me to overcome distraction, temptation and weariness of heart. While I may not recall each day that a female disciple of Jesus is praying for me in a very intentional way, perhaps the strength and encouragement I derive in habitual manner is a taste of what Jesus felt as he was surrounded and supported by holy women. I am very grateful for the circle of “sisters” who pray for me, and for all whose love for Christ is extended in beautiful solidarity with those who share the yoke of my priesthood. Thank you so much.”
> "Since my group of 7 Sisters started praying for me, I often feel comforted and very supported by the fact that I have this loving shield of Marian intercession continually round about me, enfolding me and bearing me up. ... To be so loved, in such a spiritual, prayerful way, I feel so much more confident as a priest, especially when I am facing difficult situations."
> "I take consolation and strength from knowing that I am being prayed for each day during a prayer hour."
> "I am grateful for your prayers. It allows the Lord to sustain and bear fruit in and through His priests."
> "I’m so deeply grateful to be daily enveloped by such powerful prayer. The effects of the prayers of these dear women have been tangibly felt on numerous occasions. I have no words to express how blessed I feel.”
> "… I'm convinced that none of us can thrive without a reliance on prayer, so I appreciate knowing that I'm strengthened by my own prayer life, and the prayers being offered by the Seven Sisters. God bless this Apostolate for all the good it's doing for the lives of priests and for the life of the Church!”
> "Knowing that each day throughout the course of the week is covered with hidden prayer before the Lord is a great consolation that spurs me on to serve with zeal and generosity. I am a grateful recipient of this powerful and steady intercession which reminds me that apart from Him I can do nothing. All of us, priests included, are like the paralytic in the Gospel - carried aloft to the Lord by the prayers of friends, loved ones, even of hidden contemplatives and unknown intercessors. The Seven Sisters who dedicate themselves to pray for my intentions and priestly vocation in no small way take up their part in the Church’s mission for souls. With heartfelt thanks, A grateful associate pastor"
> "Many times during the week I recall that one of the Seven Sisters is praying for me. I find it so comforting, and also humbling. Their charity inspires me to be more generous in the time I spend in prayer. When I'm struggling to keep prayer as a priority, I'm deeply grateful for the powerful intercession provided by these holy women."
> "I am sure that I would be in much worse shape if I didn't have prayer warriors assisting the ministry here. This is what I think: Ministry has its own challenges, as any walk of life, but ours is somewhat different. When things have been spiritually "sleepy" for a long time, the forces of evil don't have a lot to worry about. However when renewal begins to happen (especially under a pastor's leadership) people's lives begin to change. Evil hates that. Many times skirmishes in parishes seem to be about change, but there is a darker side. That darker side is a spiritual battle for people's souls... Therefore one begins to see a rise in things like gossip, complaining, criticizing the pastor, etc..
While they might have some grounding in reality, I believe many times it is a reaction of the struggle between good and evil. That's where pastors can get discouraged, back down from or avoid challenging issues or situations that must be addressed... What is hurt is the community spirituality. THIS is where I see the Seven Sisters so important! I am aware of a situation where a Seven Sisters prayer person got upset with the pastor she was praying for and subsequently said she would no longer pray for him! Maybe the Scripture passage about "praying for your enemies" was not one she was familiar with. We don't just pray for those whom we like :) I am assured that those praying for me help to protect me from anything that would thwart God's plan for the parishes I serve. I am humbled and MOST grateful to those faithful women."
Many priests nationwide are learning of new assignments/ retirement in these days. It is a new season for these shepherds and a new season for those Seven Sisters in prayer for them. Prayer efforts may need to be ramped up a bit for those in the unsteadiness of the transitions. So many details, one step at a time. Let us generously offer our folded hands and bended knees in support.
This is my 'go to' prayer in life's transitions. May this prayer of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) be yours (and for a transitioning priest), as well:
"O my God, fill my soul with holy joy, courage and strength to serve You. Enkindle Your love in me and then walk with me along the next stretch of road before me. I do not see very far ahead, but when I have arrived where the horizon now closes down, a new prospect will open before me, and I shall meet it with peace. Amen."
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 of Calcutta)
... your kind emails and notes and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your letters of testimony (of both victories and challenges) are so beautiful and edifying! Don't stop writing to me. Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.