Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! Remembering a special day this month: Happy Birthday, Mary! (Sept 8) “Today God welcomes on earth the holy throne which He had prepared for Himself. He who established the heavens in wisdom has fashioned a living Heaven.” - Byzantine Liturgy
Who doesn’t marvel at a flower that finds its way through the tiniest crack in the sidewalk, or a fragile pocket-sized bunny that survives despite its mother succumbing to nature’s forces? Who can resist the draw of an electrifying espionage film or a come-from-behind victory for a peewee baseball team? Against all odds. Our souls seem to be made to notice and marvel. In truth, we hail from those roots. It is our Faith. Perseverance… against all odds. Each believer is called to the same course! Our cooperation gives testimony to the higher thoughts and ways of God. In a word, all glory be to God!
Strong convictions precede great actions. Holy Scripture teems with illustrations. A stand out is Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego who together resolutely refused to worship the golden idol of King Nebuchadnezzar, knowing they would be hurled into the fiery kiln. The furnace was so blistering that the guards died that pitched them in! God delivered the trio, however – against all odds! And how about Esther? Mordecai pleaded for her to plead with Xerxes to spare the Jews from annihilation. Her answer, “Mordecai, you are asking me to sacrifice my life to just have the king’s ear.” His answer: “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Her response: “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Against all odds… The heart of the king was softened through Esther and the Jews spared. The course of history changed.
St Paul dominates the New Testament annals as the quintessential figure of a life least-likely-to-convert. With the strength of transformation, however, of this seemingly implausible conversion, even an ensuing glut of hardships and trials did not deter Saul-turned-Paul from following Christ completely – to sainthood, to be exact! His actions and words through Holy Scripture remind us, spur us on, beckon us, even – yes, against all odds! Nothing is impossible with God.
You may be familiar with the remarkable story of the Mothers of Lu - women from a small village by that name in rural northern Italy. It is a true account always worth retelling. In 1881, with the encouragement of the local priest, a group of mothers from the town united for the purpose of praying for vocations. A short but poignant prayer for the intention was composed and collectively prayed. They organized adoration of the Blessed Sacrament once a week and once a month they offered their Sunday Holy Communion for the same intention. From the families of Lu emerged an astonishing 323 vocations: 152 priests and 171 nuns. As many as three or four vocations came from some families. Truly, this abundance of fruit from such a small hamlet is against all odds.
As Seven Sisters we stand to learn something from the Mothers of Lu about simplicity and perseverance in prayer, and looking beyond what the statistics and odds may hold in a situation. We do well to merely remain faithful to our committed prayer times and approach them, like the Mothers of Lu, with the strongest of hopes! “Do not be satisfied with the little things,” encourages St Catherine of Siena, “because God wants great things!”
In obedience to the task set before us as Seven Sisters, we sometimes are called like those aforementioned lives portrayed in Scripture… to pray in the intensityof the likes of a fiery furnace, to courageously pray for the seemingly impossible, and/or endure a number of hardships and sacrifices for the good of another, the recipient of our prayer efforts. Has it been worth it? It is worth our reflection… for in the echo of Mordecai, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Take heart!
Our Lord will sustain us in these Hours that ask much of us. It has been said that we sometimes need graces to live the complexity of graces being bestowed. Let us be open to the sufficiency and support of graces for that very purpose. As we live the Hours and live the graces, may we also live the joy. United, we rejoice in the hope set before us – that every priest/bishop we pray for will become more Christ-like. The graces are ample! … against all odds(phrase now repeated seven times – the complete number!) – for we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Phil 4:13).
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Cistercian monk, mystic and Doctor of the Church, offers fitting words to Seven Sisters, as we enter and remain in the sweet school of intercession, ever-learning to intercede afresh and anew for the priest/bishop for whom we have committed to lift to heaven through our prayers: “Wait upon the Lord; be faithful to His commandments; He will elevate your hope, and put you in possession of His Kingdom. Wait upon Him patiently; wait upon Him by avoiding all sin. … He will Himself crown your holy hope. Place all your hope in the Heart of Jesus; it is a safe asylum; for he who trusts in God is sheltered and protected by His mercy. To this firm hope, join the practice of virtue, and even in this life you will begin to taste the ineffable joys of Paradise.”
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.... “One Ave Maria makes hell tremble” (St John Vianney). Pray that I will not 'spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted...' (St Teresa of Calcutta)
... your kind emails and notes and phone calls and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your financial sacrifices are for 100% furtherance of Apostolate. THANK YOU! The 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.
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Benefits for Seven Sisters: A recent study through University of Sussex indicates reading is the best way to relax. Cognitive neuropsychologist, Dr David Lewis, learned that subjects only needed to read, silently, for six minutes to slow down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. (Hmmm – I think this is about the time it takes to read the Communiqué!) In the study, stress levels were lowered by 68%! Comparatively, listening to music reduced levels by 61%, having a cup of tea or coffee by 54% and taking a walk by 42%. Peace to you as you read the Communiqué!
Heartfelt welcome: Total number of groups moving toward 1200. New groups registered in August to cover more priests in daily prayer: NEW states: Alaska, Maine. Additional groups Rome, Italy, and in these USA states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington. Only SEVEN USA states do not YET have the joy and benefit of a Seven Sisters group: Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming. (Do priests live here?)
Seven Sisters COORDINATORS serving a Diocese: As the Apostolate grows, several women are helping to keep things organized on a more local (diocesan) level. Our spreadsheet maestro, Marg W, has created generic g-mail addresses for these Coordinators. Soon you will notice them on the Web site. THANK YOU, Marg and Web Master, Rose! Ongoing, these women can be contacted directly for questions related to a particular diocese. THANK YOU, Coordinators! And speaking of Marg, she will be communicating with you in the near future for the annual verification of info regarding each group. Please respond promptly. Hail Mary’s are good too! Her work is enormous this year!
SEVEN SISTERS Guideline BOOKLETS: Available as free download from Web site. Hard copies passed on for printing cost of $2 each + P/H. Order thru Web email with amount desired/address
SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold BROCHURE: So beautifully designed by a Seven Sister, Diane S, of Wichita, Kansas. Effectively used in parish pamphlet stands (ask pastor’s approval prior), Adoration Chapels, Retreat Centers, Bags/Packets for Women’s Conferences/Retreats, Women’s clubs, Serra clubs – or simply handing out! Full color version and one with a color exterior and B/W interior (my personal favorite and a bit cheaper to print). Available on Web as freedownload. Recommend 80# silk for best printing results. May also order through the Web. Indicate address/quantity. 25 for $10 + P/H. May God bless Diane, for this labor of love and generous spirit to share it!
NOTES to Anchoresses: If you do not receive a Communiqué by the beginning of a new month, contact me through the Web site email. (Goal is to send the last week of the previous month.)
Some of you have a genuine gift to encourage participation of others in the Apostolate and help start many groups – do not squelch the zeal! However, 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 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 Sr Mary Ellen A, OSB, for organizing a lively and well attended informational in Atchison, KS. Deepest gratitude to Fr Duane G Rey, OSB, for the generous surprise gift of a Portuguese translation of the Guidelines and several Communiques. It is the gift that keeps on giving!
> Gratitude to Kathy N (MN) and Kathy L, Sue M, Bev C, et al (ND) for the shower of prayers and sacrifices for the 8-13 Aug 2019 – Tour de North Dakota: taking 7 Sisters on the Road. The graces were immense! So much openness to God’s plan and so much accompanying JOY! This trip may serve as a blueprint for “Tours” in other states. Please prayerfully consider this blessing in your state/diocese.
> 8 Sept 2019 (Nativity of Mary) – Pilgrimage from Twin Cities to Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help (near Green Bay, WI). Gratitude to Ann P for arrangements. Fifty pilgrims will make the trek.
> 26-27 Oct 2019 – THIRST Conference – Bismarck, ND (Janette will speak Sat aft and Sun morning)
> 9 Nov 2019 (Saturday) – 6th Annual St Paul-Mpls Archdiocesan Time of Reflection and Renewal, St Ambrose, Woodbury, MN – 7:45 am – 2:30 pm – Theme: Mary Magdalene. Special guest Speaker: Fr DeClan, Missionary of the Holy Eucharist priest. The day will be both inspirational and informational. Seven Sisters, subs, guests, all welcome! Registration: Oct 1 – Oct 15. Details to follow.
Seeking TESTIMONIES: Please consider your experience as a Seven Sister – and send me a few thoughts – or paragraphs - of testimony. Consider asking the priest or Bishop for whom you pray to offer the same. Hoping to feature some on the Web site and also as a regular part of the Communiqué. Send thru Web site email, hand written great too: Janette Howe, 43 Nord Circle Rd, St Paul, MN 55127
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. 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.
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/Booklet in Spanish (on the Web for free download).