Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ in these reflective April Lenten days into Holy Week into the jubilant Alleluia-rich Eastertide. Let us live the days with attention and responsiveness.
The protracted days of the Lenten season grant one’s soul the gift of opportunities to ponder the Way of Christ. One such scene is our sorrowful and troubled (Mt 26:37b) Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane. Withdrawing with the three disciples closest to Him, He takes refuge in a familiar place. Hofmann’s portrayal is a motivating detailed piece for unhurried meditation. The disciples have been directed to pray. Three times the Lord pauses from His own prayer to find they have succumbed to drowsiness. “Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?”
At its core, this is the inherent invitation posed to a woman considering Holy Hour offerings as a Seven Sister. Yes, at the heart, the intercessor assenting to the commitment is responding to Christ Himself. One-to-one. He asks for cooperation, a friendship in prayer, regarding matters of immense importance. One hour, watchful. The summons continues to echo through the centuries. “Could you not keep watch with Me for one hour?” Our Lord endures in intercession for and with us as we pray for His brother priests. He does not forsake us in our sacrifices of prayer, but rather joins us in an intimate companionship in, with and through the prayer. He is beckoning us into the conversations and doings of heaven! Thy Will on earth as in heaven. What a comfort and fortification all at once.
Considering Our Lord in the Garden might move one to be reminded that sacred Scripture often alludes to images of the gardens of our own hearts. Here prayer finds its roots. Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord (Hosea 10:12). Our Lord nurtures, cultivates, prunes and waters the virtuous bloom of our hearts for the end result of love. What potential for sweet aroma in this world in desperate need! For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing… (2 Corinthians 2:15).
Every gardener either cultivates or yearns for roses! Since ancient times, roses symbolized God at work. The red rose has long been linked with love, beauty and martyrdom, so likely the cultivated garden of the heart of every Christian manifest the noteworthy blooms! Our Blessed Mother bears the titles of Mystical Rose and the Rose without Thorns. She is often portrayed with a crown of roses, as is the icon of the Immaculate Heart. At Lourdes, St Bernadette described Mary as having a yellow rose on each foot. A profusion of roses cascaded from St Juan Diego’s opened tilma, which bore the image of Our Lady. Rosary prayers are commonly spoken of as sending roses heavenward. St. Elizabeth of Hungary once carried food under her mantle to distribute to the poor. On her way, she unexpectedly met her husband who forbade this almsgiving. He opened her mantle, finding not food, but a bouquet of roses. As she lay dying St Thérèse of Lisieux shared: “After my death, I will let fall a shower of roses. I will spend my heaven doing good upon earth. I will raise up a mighty host of little saints.” She poetically captured the essence of a self-emptying heart, desiring to give all to Christ, in her poem, An Unpetalled Rose (translation: Donald Kinney, OCD). All emphases by St Thérèse herself.
Jesus, when I see you held by your Mother,
Leaving her arms, trying, trembling, your first steps on our sad earth,
Before you I’d like to unpetal a rose in its freshness,
so that your little foot might rest ever so softly on a flower!
This unpetalled rose is the faithful images, Divine Child, of the heart
that wants to sacrifice itself for you unreservedly at each moment.
Lord, on your altars more than one new rose likes to shine.
It gives itself to you… but I dream of something else: To Be Unpetalled!
The rose in its splendor can adorn your feast, Lovable Child,
but the unpetalled rose is just flung out to blow away.
An unpetalled rose gives itself unaffectedly to be no more.
Like it, with joy I abandon myself to you, Little Jesus.
One walks on rose petals with no regrets, and this debris is a
simple ornament that one disposes of artlessly, that I’ve understood.
Jesus, for your love I’ve squandered my life, my future.
In the eyes of men, a rose forever withered, I must die!
For you, I must die, Child, Beauty Supreme, what a blessed fate!
In being unpetalled, I want to prove to you that I love you, O my treasure!
Under your baby steps, I want to live here below with mystery, and
I’d like to soften once more on Calvary your last steps!
In Lenten and Eastertide seasons, Our Lord is distinctly set before us as He who emptied Himself completely for love of us. Seven Sisters easily recognize the imitation of this lavishing of love in the lives of our saintly Apostolate patrons, St Mary Magdalene (outpouring of oil) and here in the poetry of St Thérèse. As we take refuge in a familiar place, as Christ Himself took refuge in the Garden to pray, let us seek the graces to cultivate the garden of our hearts of prayer – to desire to love more fully. Perhaps we may soften the steps of the priests/bishops for whom we pray with our unpetalled roses of prayer. Yes, Lord, we will keep watch with You for one hour. Yes, Lord! Yes!
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! What glory is given to God through your writing! Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.
Blessed Easter and Eastertide – all 50 days of rejoicing!
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in MARCH to cover more priests in daily prayer: Additional groups in British Columbia (Canada), Ireland (Co. Derry, Northern Ireland), Madrid (Spain), Washington, D.C., and these USA states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia. Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. We pray daily for priests and bishops on 6 continents, 25 countries, all 50 USA states, and nearly every Province in Canada.
ANNUAL Holy Card Design: The next Apostolate Holy Card will feature the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Submit your design! Render with pen and ink, full color, B/W, watercolor, as an icon, sketch. Inquiries through Website for size details. Will send copies of past years cards, as desired. Artwork due by May 1, 2022.
BOOK study: Seeking someone with KNOW-HOW to coordinate a book study through the Website on A Priest is Not His Own (Sheen). Send interest to do this to email@example.com
RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:
> Gratitude to Deb for arranging a gathering of Polish Seven Sisters and the recipient of their prayers, Fr Cyprian. (03/13/22- Holy Cross, Minneapolis, MN).
> Sat, 04/02/22: Des Moines Diocese CCW Conference “Vision for the Future.” Janette will speak in the afternoon regarding the Apostolate. Sts Peter and Paul (Atlantic, IA)
> Thurs, 05/05/22: Informational for Omaha Diocese in Norfolk, NE (Sacred Heart parish). Contact Katie: firstname.lastname@example.org
>05/6-7/22: Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House, Waverly, NE. Janette will conduct the retreat on this topic… Inseparable: Our Eucharistic Lord and Our Lady. Registration through Retreat Web.
>Sat, 05/21/22: St Dominic, San Francisco, CA. Women’s Retreat. Prayer: opening the heart wider still. Janette will offer the reflections. Contact: email@example.com (415) 567-7824 x111
> Sat, 06/11/22: Morning of Renewal: “Getting to Know our Patrons.” St Vincent de Paul, Ft Wayne, IN. Talks: Fr Daniel Scheidt/Janette. Contact Tammie: sevensistersFWSB@gmail.com
> Sat, 06/18/22: Retreat and Recommitment. St. Michael Westside Chapel (Olympia, WA). All are welcome. Contact Holly: firstname.lastname@example.org
MATTERS of the HEART:
Ø “Our priests need so much prayer in such a modern time of secularism. Our priests are so crucial to the parish in celebrating Mass, providing the Eucharist and offering us the sacraments. The truth of our Catholic faith has become very unpopular in society and our priests need the support of the faithful.” (Rhonda, Ireland)
Ø “I am a widow 1 – 1/2 years. My love for God has grown deeply in this time due to the encouragement and profound faith of my pastors. I heard about this ministry on Relevant Radio.” (Carol, Minnesota)
Ø “I heard about the Seven Sisters Apostolate through another prayer group. Our priests need prayer. It is the most holy and devout who are often targeted by evil. It is our honor and privilege to join this group of prayer warriors. Thank you for this beautiful invitation to special prayer.” (Patti, Pennsylvania)
Ø “The March Communique made me feel both privileged and blessed to be able to spend an hour praying for a priest or bishop who is carrying on Christ’s counter-culture way of love!” (JoAnne, Minnesota)
Ø “I heartily appreciate the Seven Sisters Apostolate in providing a prayerful structure toward supporting our beloved priests. Your booklet is beautifully written, clear and informative.” (Melissa, Illinois)
Ø “This ministry is so beautiful. Our priests truly appreciate the prayers. It is so dear to our hearts and joy to say I’m going to church to do my “SISTERS HOUR “. Some of us have a particular SISTERS prayer partner to go and pray with, for we have three priests to pray for.” (Wanda, Minnesota)
APPRECIATED and LOVED quilt project: A double cloaking for RETIRED PRIESTS: Seven Sisters prayer and a quilt! The priests love both! To learn more regarding a single quilt for a retired priest or on how to get this started in your Diocese, contact QuiltsBySevenSisters@gmail.com
FASTING BROTHERS is growing: Groups of men offering various forms of fasting to augment the prayer efforts of a Seven Sisters group. Each man prayerfully discerns the type of fasting he will offer and commits to fast a designated day of the week (excepting Sunday/Solemnities). Our Chaplain, strongly urges formation of these groups. Anchoresses: let us know the Seven Sisters group to which the Fasting Brothers are linked, name of lead Brother, his contact info and the start date.
LAMP-BEARERS: In January 2020, Lamp-Bearers, so-named for their action of continually ‘filling of their lamps with the oil of prayer’, was launched to pray for the Apostolate at large. Each intercessor prays a minimum of once per week, but many are offering prayers every day. Intentions are gleaned from topics and calendar points in the monthly Communique and also sent to members on the second or third Sunday of the month. Additional intercessors welcomed. Those desiring to learn more, send an email of interest/inquiry through the Website.
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! Available on Web as free download. Recommend 80# silk for best printing results. May also order through Web site. Indicate address/quantity. 25 for $10 + P/H. Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.
SEVEN SISTERS Tri-fold LITANY for PRIESTS: Beautifully printed on 100# silk (a bit thicker than brochures). Original artwork (inspired by the Diary of St Faustina) by Seven Sister in Minnesota, Litany by Richard Cardinal Cushing. 25 for $10 + P/H. Available in ENGLISH and SPANISH.
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. Some groups have/are offering Holy Hours for an entire year for their beloved deceased priest. Groups may be started following the death of a priest that did not have a group prior. This is commendable and welcomed. Please register these special groups through the Web site.
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 a few days for translation. Commitment Prayer/Guidelines Booklet in Spanish (on the Web – free download).