Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as we resound with the Alleluias of Eastertide! This year the entire month of May is within the happy influence of Eastertide, which St Athanasius rightly dubbed “the fifty-day Sunday.” Leave your umbrellas down and receive the full shower of graces!
We are still within hearing distance of that ever-beautiful opening Gospel (Luke 19) of Palm Sunday where the disciples are directed by Jesus to untether a colt and bring it to Him. If asked why they were untying it, the simple and poignant answer: “The Master has need of it.”
My prayers heartily join yours as you commit in this month of May to discern (see Guidelines) your continued commitment or departure from the weekly Holy Hours as part of a Seven Sisters group. In a word you seek to be untethered so as to ask, “Master, where do You have need of me?”
When you have a clear sense as to your call for the coming year, inform your Anchoress. Kindly allow plenty of time if the Anchoress needs to secure a replacement for your day. No matter when your group commenced, each June is the uniting, universal time to re-commit your prayer efforts within the Apostolate. Re-commit together as a group using theCommitment Prayer composed by Apostolate Chaplain, Fr Joseph Johnson, as near as possible to the Feast of the Sacred Heart (this year: Friday, June 28). The prayer: on the Web site in both English and Spanish.
Like it or not, ready or not… discerning such a commitment is apt to stir additional annoying distractions, unanticipated interference, even bouts of robust spiritual warfare. As the Apostolate continues to grow, resistance from our adversary will likely do the same. Several Seven Sister intercessors have noticed such things both preceding and within their weekly Holy Hours. Enough occurrences have been mentioned that this Communique will address the reality. The tried and true solution without a flinch: prayer, and more of it!
Especially in this Easter season we are reminded to not lose heart, but rather remain mindful that to this end the Son of God appeared, that He might destroy the works of the devil (I Jn 3:8). So too that the Lord is faithful, who will strengthen you and guard you from evil (II Thes 3:3) because, after all, you shall not fear… for it is the LORD your God who fights for you (Dt 3:22)… to give you the victory (Dt 20:3-4). In our times of discernment and prayer offerings, Scripture emboldens us, helps us see clearly. It is laden with words that are living and active that find themselves not merely for our ears but as active guides to heart and mind. Truth. Plan. Peace.
The saints are specialists of spiritual battles. Their examples and insights serve to impute wisdom and strength in our own battles. Our Lady is the quintessential model for she is the devil’s greatest and most hated enemy, and the Lord has given her crushing power against him. St Bernard of Clairvaux firmly assures us: “If you follow her, you won’t go astray. If you pray to her, you won’t despair. If you think of her, you won’t be lost. If you cling to her, you won’t fall. If she protects you, you won’t fear. If she’s your guide, you won’t grow weary. If she’s favorable to you, you’ll reach your goal.” St Bonaventure concurs: “Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”
The Church has preserved many beautiful prayers with special relevance to spiritual warfare: Sign of the Cross, Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, St Michael prayer, Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, Anima Christi. “Even just one Ave Maria makes all hell tremble,” says our patron, St John Vianney. Simply repeating the name of Jesus, slowly invoking the Holy Family – Jesus, Mary, Joseph – or singing hymns brings peace and order to turbulent or confusing thoughts or situations. “I don’t understand those fears that make us cry, “The Devil! The Devil” when we can say, “God! God!” (St Teresa of Avila). “Let the Enemy rage at the gate, let him knock, let him push, let him cry, let him howl, let him do worse; we know for certain that he cannot enter, save by the door of our consent” (St Francis de Sales). Sacramentals assist: holy water, Crucifix, St Benedict medal (“devil-chasing medal”).
We are covered on all sides and inside too! Let us go wisely forward in confidence in our discernment. Step over any ‘barbed wire’ that may present itself to distract, and move ahead, trusting. Be open to the call that might be to remain in the Apostolate, but also serve in an additional or different (or new!) group (i.e. Hospital Chaplain, retired priest/bishop, parochial vicar in parish where pastor already has a group, priests serving in Seminaries, Chaplains/professors in High schools/Universities, Canon lawyers, priests who serve in the Chancery, priests in religious orders, Military Chaplains, Exorcists). Every priest deserves our prayers! Be assured, if you ask, you willknow where/how you are called. And likewise, be assured, that God’s graces are sufficient for the task!
Let me encourage you to continue with holy fidelity and focus to your Seven Sister commitments through May. It may take extra planning and efforts in this month of 'so much'. Let us be sensitive and remember that many of our parish priests and bishops are on 'double duty' in this merry, merry month as we celebrate so many events in our sacramental life and special Feast Days, as well. Likewise, many priests will be learning of new assignments and needing our extra sacrifices and prayers as they anticipate transition.
Recommendation of an excellent, concise (4 X 7) resource regarding spiritual warfare packed with Scripture references, help from the Saints, prayers/devotions/hymns for battle: Manual for Spiritual Warfare, Paul Thigpen (Editor, TAN books). Imprimatur. TAN books, 2014.
Our perseverance in prayer continues to reap benefit. From one who lived this way, timeless words from St Padre Pio spur us on and invite us to do the same, “Never tire of praying. It is what is essential.” Seven Sisters: Prayer. Never tire. Essential.
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.... that ‘one Ave Maria that 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 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.