Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ...
As unpleasant news stuns our hearts in these days regarding Catholic clergy, peace comes remembering Our Lord never forsakes us (Deut 31:6) and, in all things, brings forth the good (Ro 8:28). The wisdom of saints, including from our patron, St John Vianney, echoes Truth Himself.
Sitting quietly in the rays of the Blessed Sacrament recently, a connection regarding these disheartening reports and the Seven Sisters Apostolate emerged. There arose a remembrance that the inspiration of the Apostolate arrived at my heart door (03/24/11) just a breath after finishing a meditation on the wounds of Christ. It is a meditation that evolved in those early weeks and months of prayer, the way each Holy Hour began – and still begins. It serves to remind that the priest is called to walk the Way of Christ. Pitfalls loom. The Way is narrow, at times rugged, steep, ambiguous, linked with suffering. The meditation bears an understanding that it is indeed possible for the priest to persevere, but only through the merits of Christ’s wounds. Mercy and grace are entreated because they are necessary for the priest as both recipient and conduit. As Seven Sisters we can call upon Our Lord for the release of this treasure trove of graces for the sanctity of priests.
St John Vianney encourages, “Why not love our crosses, and make use of them to take us to heaven?” And further, “Under the winepress of the cross, our soul produces a juice that feeds and strengthens us. When we haven’t got any crosses, we are dry.” It is said that our patron often cried, even to weeping. When asked, “’Why do you cry so much?’, his heartfelt and illuminating response, “Because you cry so little.”
The risen Jesus does not appear without His wounds. Through them St Thomas expresses the fullness of his faith, “My Lord and My God!” (Jn 20:24-28). Our personal and collective hardships and sufferings find meaning through the wounds of Christ. To an audience of Chilean priests in January 2018, Pope Francis explained: “We are not asked to ignore or hide our wounds. A church with wounds can understand the wounds of today’s world and to make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them. A wounded church does not make herself the center of things, does not believe that she is perfect, but puts at the center the One who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ.”
The Holy Father’s pontificate steadily bears the themes of mercy. He practices what he preaches. In mid-March 2018, during the day’s Angelus reflection, he advocated the ancient devotion of contemplating the five wounds of Christ (each hand, each foot, side). He recommended praying an Our Father prior to moving to the next wound. “When we pray that Our Father, let’s enter through Jesus’ wounds and arrive deeper and deeper, into His heart.” The Pontiff continued, “Enter into His wounds and contemplate the love in His heart for you, and you, and you, and me, for everyone.” Included is the priest for whom you pray.
My weekly practice of this meditation, albeit slightly different, carries a like-hearted goal. The meditation is done kneeling in sight of the Crucifix behind the monstrance. (If travelling and there is not a Crucifix in the Adoration Chapel, my rosary Crucifix suffices). Using the rosary beads, a simple phrase is uttered, “By the merits of the wound of Your (location), have mercy on Fr ___.” A decade for each meditation is offered. An additional mediation flows from the first, considering some of the other wounds of Christ (again using rosary beads): “By the merits of the wounds from Your crown of thorns, purify Fr ___ thoughts and give him the mind of Christ.” … “By the merits of the wounds of Your back, heal Fr ___ in the areas of need.” … “By the merits of the wounds of Your knees, fortify and deepen Fr ___ prayer life.” … “By the merits of the wounds on Your feet, make straight the way for Fr ___.” … “By the merits of the wounds of insults and spittle, increase Fr ___ humility.”
While most popular in the 12th and 13th centuries there was a revival of this devotion through the Divine Mercy reflections of the Polish St Faustina Kowalska. “As I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament and greeting the five wounds of Jesus, at each salutation I felt a torrent of graces gushing into my soul, giving me a foretaste of heaven and absolute confidence in God’s mercy. Jesus told me that I please Him best by meditating on His sorrowful Passion and by such meditation much light falls upon my soul” (Diary, 1337, 267 - my emphasis). Some have used the Divine Mercy Chaplet prayers to efficaciously contemplate the wounds of Christ. “Jesus said: I give great graces to souls who meditate devoutly on My Passion" (Diary, 737).
The classic prayer, the Anima Christi (which has been dubbed the ‘saint-maker’ since numerous Saints prayed this daily following reception of Communion), includes the appeal to Jesus: "Within Thy wounds hide me." Here lies an important vantage point for the Seven Sisters intercessors. A place within to assist in forming prayers for the priest for whom we are committed to pray. St. Bernard concurs: "Where have your love, your mercy, your compassion shone out more luminously than in your wounds, sweet, gentle Lord of mercy?"
In these days of greater transparency and cleansing in our Church, St John Vianney offers us more counsel: “God commands you to pray, but forbids you to worry.” And “It is always springtime in the heart that loves God.” St John Vianney, pray for us!
In CELEBRATION of St John Vianney’s Feast Day and his generous and loving patronage: I am offering FREE St John Vianney medals which have been touched to a first-class relic of him (making the medals third-class relics). Send me a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope). Limit one medal request per envelope please.
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.