A Cup of Water

There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in – that we do it to God, to Christ, and that’s why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.
— St Teresa of Avila (Feast Day, Oct 15)
And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.
— Matthew 10:42

October greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ!

When a patient is roomed at my Clinic, we offer him/her a cup of water. While encouraging hydration, there’s more. Studies show that this offering actually curbs anxieties.  Everyone needs water.  The overture brings an unsaid ‘sameness’, but also a boost in what is termed a ‘feeling cared for’ factor.  Even if the cup is declined, the person exhibits a greater sense of calm.  Love generates peace. We have long known this as Catholics.  We know something else.  The smallest act done with the greatest love has benefit for the giver too.  Sacred Scriptures indicate the reward to be immense:  Paradise can be won with such a gesture!  What is done for God, finds God.

Our Lady, especially esteemed in this month, is the quintessential model of love’s recipient and provider alike. In her fiat, her own cup runneth over in the utterance of the Magnificat.  St Augustine articulates the profound receiving and giving of our Blessed Mother: “Him Whom the heavens cannot contain, the womb of one woman bore.  She ruled our Ruler; she carried Him in Whom we are; she gave milk to our Bread.”  Her maternal milk:  ever-ready refreshment to the Infant King of Kings!

Mary’s earthly life is shrouded in silence and hiddenness, but not idleness.  The Nazareth years were likely teeming with the day- to-day activities of a maturing family. Particulars remain a mystery.  A snapshot of 12-year-old Jesus lingers for our pondering – and Scripture reminds “but his mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51b).  Our Lady is the woman wrapped in silence as one author entitles her, but not inactivity.  When Jesus emerges into active ministry, Mary is nigh.  She astutely offers that ‘cup of cold water’ when and how it is needed.  Her pondering engenders wise action. The Wedding at Cana.  Jesus’ days of preaching and teaching.  The Way of the Cross.  The foot of the Cross.  The welcoming of John.  The Upper Room.  The Ascension.  Mary supported and loved as St Therese (Feast Day, Oct 1) suggests “by little acts of charity practiced in the shade”.

Seven Sisters do well to ardently align themselves with the way of Maryvaluing our mission as a continual ‘offering of a cup of cold water’ through our sacrifices and prayers for the priest or bishop for whom we are committed to pray.  Zurbaran’s exquisitely detailed, graceful piece, A Cup of Water and a Rose, captures something of a reminder of that closeness to Mary.  In a real sense we journey with the priest as Mary stayed close to Jesus, in both the festive and intensely challenging moments.  Mary will assist.  Seek her ever-ready help!  “Only after the last judgement will Mary get any rest; from now until then, she is much too busy with her children” (St. John Vianney, Seven Sister patron). In imitation, while silence and hiddenness are our modus operandi, we learn from Mary that this is the height and depth of action. Every breath of prayer has merit. Every sacrifice has worth.

Fellow Seven Sisters teach us too – to freely offer that cup and those little acts of charity in the shade:

  • “When asked, my answer was immediately "yes". My adoration Hour is on Saturday after the 8:00 am Mass. It has become a joy filled Hour knowing I am lifting Father up in prayer and I feel so close to God in that Hour. As a Seven Sister I find St. Margaret Clitherow a great intercessor for the priest I pray for.  "Seeking a quietness in the day, in the midst of our usual routines, we steal away to pray for our beloved Pastor - unbeknownst by most - effecting eternal affairs." This is a beautiful quote on our Seven Sister Apostolate booklet. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight...Heb 4:13a.  This will be my 4th year now and I will continue this ministry as long as I am able.” (Margaret K, Minnesota)

  • “What a privilege it is to be in this most needed and amazing effort.  Our Priest prays for the Seven Sisters Apostolate by offering Masses – he is well on his way to 200 Masses that he has said for us!!  He has been so very touched by our prayers and it is his way of giving back and blessing our Ministry!!!  God is amazingly good!!!  (Jean G, Washington)

  • “Throughout the day, I find myself praying for priests for whom I prayed as a Seven Sister. Once in a 7 Sister's heart, always in her heart!  And that's the truth!” (Barb S. Minnesota)

  • “I totally LOVE being a Seven Sister and praying every Wednesday for our dear priest! More than likely this is his last year with us as he is a Dominican and will likely be transferred. He has bestowed many blessings on our parish in the time he has been given to serve us. … I am sure the Sisters we have now will continue with whoever God chooses for us next as our next holy priest!! I have been blessed to truly fall more in love with Jesus during this Adoration hour… Which I would never have known if it weren’t for being a Seven Sister” (Barb S, Minnesota – A different Barb S than above!).

  • “The fruits of long, perseverant prayer shine forth in the Apostolate. This is one of so many quiet, but efficacious ways that the Lord is working in these dark days, raising up hidden saints and saving souls. I am so deeply glad to be a part of it. "Her priests shall be clothed in holiness/Her saints shall ring out their joy." - Psalm 132:16. May it ever be so, and may we labor gladly to do our part in its fulfillment! (Olivia S, Wisconsin).

In parting, let us lend ear to another October saint, Pope St John XXIII (Feast Day, Oct 11), who affirms our gaze toward Mary for guidance.  In his broadcast message of 27 March 1960, he asserted: “Devotion to the most holy Virgin Mary only tends to make our faith more robust, more prompt and more effective; to make our charity more ardent, and our Christian commitment more alive and more fruitful.”  Mary, most perfect companion and mentor for Seven Sisters, stay with us and pray for us!

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. 


Francisco Zurbaran -  A Cup of Water and a Rose,  1633

Francisco Zurbaran - A Cup of Water and a Rose, 1633

SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:

Living in October’s graces:

Ready or not, October has arrived – with its plenitude of saintly feast days (including the welcoming of a new Saint on Oct 13, John Henry Cardinal Newman), and its devotional orientation toward the Rosary. In many apparitions, Mary emphasized regularity of praying the Rosary.  Countless saints concur.  “If you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along on her Son’s path. … Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins” (St Josemaria Escriva). “The rosary is THE weapon” (St Padre Pio).  “If I had an army to say the Rosary, I could conquer the world” (Bl Pope Pius IX).  Perhaps in this month, if not already a part of your Holy Hour, you can offer a Rosary for the benefit of your priest/bishop. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us! (Feast Day, Oct 7)

Heartfelt welcome:  New groups registered in September to cover more priests in daily prayer: NEW country: Ireland.   Additional groups in (Ontario) Canada, and (Rome) Italy (2) and in these USA states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon (NEW!) Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington.  Only SIX USA states do not YET have the joy and benefit of a Seven Sisters group:  Idaho, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Wyoming. (Could it happen in this grace-filled month of October?! Nothing is impossible with God. What a gift for these priests and states!)

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:   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 free download.  Recommend 80# silk for best printing results.  May also order through the Web site.  Indicate address/quantity.  25 for $10 + P/H.  Invoice accompanies order.        

NOTES to Anchoresses:   You should have/will be hearing from Marg, the Apostolate spreadsheet maestro, to verify the current active status of your group and accurate Anchoress contact info. She will inform the Web master, Rose, if updates needed.  Grateful for your prompt response!                        

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 a woman 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:

  • 5 Oct 2019 – Informational at St Ambrose, Woodbury, MN, after 11 am Mass (12:15-1:15)

  • 25 Oct 2019 – Informational in Fargo, ND (Details forthcoming - check Web)

  • 25 -27 Oct 2019 – THIRST Conference – Bismarck, ND (Janette will speak Sat aft and Sun morning) Stop by our booth if in attendance and introduce yourself!  We have a gift for you!        

  • 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: model and mentor.  Special guest Speaker: Fr Declan Gibson, Regional Superior of the Missionaries of the Holy Eucharist. The day will be both inspirational and informational.  Seven Sisters, subs, guests, all welcome! Registration: Oct 1 – Oct 20.  Online/Mail registrations. Register here. FREE WILL offering taken that day.  Flyer attached.           

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

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. 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).