Extravagance of Love

Most of all, I follow the example of Mary Magdalene, my heart captivated by her astonishing, or rather, loving audacity, which so won the heart of Jesus.
— St Thérèse of Lisieux

Blessed Christmastide into Epiphany to dearest Sisters in Christ… 
and happy and prosperous New Year of the Lord 2019

The sweet center of Christmastide is the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1).  The Church beckons, “let us rest here a while in joy: recalling what was, what is, what is to come”. The Church’s wisdom and generosity consistently invites us to times and places to consider all-at-once both origins and high points of the Faith.  She encourages us to collectively linger for both solemn days and full seasons of liturgy, prayer and meditation.  In those periods we are poised to understand other aspects of the Faith too, that may seem at first unrelated, but then offer an epiphany, an insight and connection.

We are never disappointed if we trustingly enter into the certain and rich deposit of our Faith – its principles and its people.  We stand to assuredly emerge strengthened in knowledge, then in turn, love, and finally graced to bear the fruit of authentically serving - our Lord and others.  

In thinking of Our Blessed Mother, recent thoughts floated to another Mary. Far from being named after the Blessed Mother, it is well to remember that Mary Magdalene was her contemporary.  They no doubt often conversed with one another, prayed together, mutually planted their footsteps side-by-side in the Way of Jesus. While their beginnings acutely differed, they came together on common path, sharing a growing desire to know, love and serve the way, truth and life that was Jesus Himself.

Scripture leaves much to our imagination, but all four Gospel writers were inspired to include the scene that we so cherish as Christians and witness in Daniel Gerhartz’s image of St Mary Magdalene at the feet of her Jesus.  The image is a notable and familiar one for Seven Sisters.  It is printed in every Apostolate Guidelines Booklet and has made its way around the world. It carries no language barriers.  A thousand words spoke to my heart through it before a single word was written regarding more formal structure regarding our Holy Hour offerings.  The reality of that scene served as a ponderable guide for what was yet to unfold through this Apostolate.  The example of St Mary Magdalene’s extravagance of love, which likewise captivated the heart of St Therese of Lisieux, still speaks to and of the Apostolate. We seek to imitate this lavishing of love and service – to another – that wins the heart of Jesus Himself.  To fittingly quote St Therese again, “How sweet is the way of Love!... leaving naught but humble and profound peace in the innermost soul” (Story of a Soul, Chapter VIII).  This, it seems, is an apt description of a universal experience for a Seven Sisters intercessor.                         

St Mary Magdalene knew what she was about the evening of that dinner.  I envision her long, thin fingers clutching the vial, warming the costly balm within. Perhaps simultaneously this line of the Psalmist rose from her heart: How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me? (Psalm 116).  She awaited the nudge of the Holy Spirit.  When that divine moment befell, she quietly slid onto the dust-laden floor to express her love from the lowest of places. Her position was humble, fitting. She understood something, someone … that compelled her heart, in deep love, to generously serve. 

St Mary Magdalene’s action was likely unnoticed against the flurry of the meal preparations and jovial conversations all about.  She was shrouded in the shadows.  When the lid was tipped from the flask, the gratifying fragrance offering swiftly rose to meet the squall of activity above.    But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman?  For she has done a beautiful thing to me. … what she has done will be told in memory of her.” - Gospel of Matthew 26: 10, 13b

As Seven Sisters our motivation, in imitation, is surely one of knowing, loving, serving.  We know there is a need for prayer and generously respond.  A desire to know this priest or bishop through the gift of prayer gently unfolds, no rushing. Through consistent intercession, a welcomed understanding of the vocational call to the priesthood is often revealed.  In this newfound knowledge, a newfound rightly-ordered love arises to meet it.  We are compelled to beseech graces for the sanctity – nothing less – for this priest.  What (super)naturally flows is a desire to serve that priest through the sacrifices of continued consistent and intentional prayer.  

Through this growth and conversion of heart is an abiding friendship with the Blessed Mother, also in imitation of St Mary Magdalene.  We find ourselves walking the Way with Mary, looking to her as first and ever-faithful Disciple.  She is our recourse in our prayer efforts.  A growing understanding develops of the absolute necessity of friendship of Mary with the priest for whom one is committed to pray.  St Therese helps us understand something here too: “O, how I love the Blessed Virgin.  If I were a priest how often would I speak of her.  She is described as unapproachable, whereas she should be pointed to as a model.  She is more of a Mother than a Queen.”

Like St Mary Magdalene, Seven Sisters contentedly embrace the shroud of the quiet environs of the Adoration Chapel. Unnoticed. In a place of humility.  In a sense, kneeling at the base of a Monstrance might be akin to serving Our Lord, as St Mary Magdalene, at His Feet, as we lift in prayer that one who is ‘in persona Christi’.  What an honor has been bestowed on us.  How great is this grace!                                            

As Seven Sisters we have the opportunity to grow in the virtue of patience as we allow the fragrance of our prayers to reach varied and pre-ordained destinations:  the heart of the priest, the hearth of the Rectory or Abbey or Seminary, the pews of a parish, the streets of a Diocese.  The winds of the Holy Spirit blow where they may.We accept and applaud.  “Love! … that is what I ask … I know but one thing now – to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood … what does it matter? My brothers toil instead for me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne, I love for those who fight.”– St Therese of Lisieux (Story of A Soul, Chapter XI)

As Seven Sisters, we learn from Mary, St Mary Magdalene, St Therese, our patrons, so many … regarding the way of love.  All point in the same direction – to Him Who is Love.  While we have lived unique beginnings, we are called to share common path in these Holy Hours.  The united Hours fortify the prayer offerings for the priest or bishop, but also fortify us as Sisters (purposely capitalized) in Christ. We come to know, to love, to serve…. that is enough.  And your examples, dear ones, have served to inspire others, as St Mary Magdalene did for St Therese.  Your “loving audacity” has likely “won the heart of Jesus”, as well!

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 Teresa of Calcutta)

 ... your kind emails and notes (and recent Christmas greetings) and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your letters of testimony 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.

 Janette
+JMJ+
651-484-3404 (h) 
651-283-0929 (mobile)
joy2day2u@aol.com

Forgiven –  Daniel Gerhartz (1965)

Forgiven – Daniel Gerhartz (1965)

SEVEN SISTERS - in and out and about:

UPDATE on possible SEVEN SISTERS PILGRIMAGE to FRANCE:  Fr Johnson, Apostolate Chaplain, is working with his travel company in response to a favorable desire to pursue this.  He is looking into an early July 2019 time to visit priest Saints and St Therese (this Communique is a warm up!). He asked to, “tell them to pray for reasonable airfare if they want this to happen”.  Stay tuned – with the strongest of hopes!

Heartfelt welcome:  New groups registered in December in these states: California, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Wisconsin.  These 11 states in the USA do not YET have the joy and benefit of a Seven Sisters group: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming.  (Can snow birds help?!)

More STATS that may be of interest (thank you, Marg, for providing): Number of groups on roster 750+.  If this is multiplied by 7 women per group this is 5250 intercessors (plus many groups have subs and Bishop groups have 21 intercessors). There are about 35 Bishop groups currently.

In 2016: 70 new groups.  In 2017: 190.  In 2018: 377 (average one/day).  In the first half of 2018 there was an average of one group every other day.  In the second half of the year, there was an average of two new groups a day.  God be praised for all of these Holy Hours every week!

 

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

NOTES 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.

REMINDER:  Some of you have a genuine gift to encourage participation of others in the Apostolate – do not squelch the zeal!  You may have heard that we encourage women to be an Anchoress for only one group. This way the joy of leadership is extended and it is a more manageable role for each Anchoress. The focus and energies remain in the best place: the prayer efforts!

ALSO:  While all Seven Sisters are happily remembered in daily prayer, the Apostolate only keeps record of the names and contact information of the Anchoresses. Each Anchoress is responsible to keep record of her group's members and assist in keeping them in the loop of communication. Team work at its best!  Please inform of all NEW groups/Anchoress/priest/other changes thru Web site.

 

RECENT ... and AHEAD on the calendar:

Gratitude to Serra Club (Edina, MN) for hosting a well-attended Informational 14 Dec 2018

> 20 January 2019: Ave Maria, FL.  Theme: Seven Privileges of Praying for Priests

23 February 2019: Archdiocese Team (St Paul- Mpls) prayer and meeting

> 04 May 2019, Magnificat Grapevine Chapter breakfast/testimony: Louisville, TX

> 10-11 May 2019 – Retreat in Waverly, NE. Theme: In quietness and trust is your strength

> 1 June 2019 – Day of Recollection – Diocese of Winona (MN) – Bishop Quinn will be in attendance

> Plans for Kansas visit first weekend of August (possible w/e visit prior, which would include Omaha)

> Plans for Georgia visit in the prayer stages.

BISHOP groups: These groups officially commence with seven intercessors.  However, within six months’ time it is recommended that two additional groups of seven be added.  The Bishop thus receives three Holy Hours each day. The idea is that we pray “morning, noon, and night” for our Bishops (figurative more than literal, although some Bishop groups have chosen to have distinctive times for each group of seven).  NOTE: One Anchoress for entire group of 21 intercessors.

 

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 or to my email address. 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.  Several groups have/are offering Holy Hours for an entire year for their beloved deceased priest.  What a witness of love!

 

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 2-3 days for translation. Commitment Prayer is also in Spanish (on the Web).