Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as we anticipate Ash Wednesday in the “heart” of the month on Feb 14 followed by the grace-filled Lenten days that carry us to Holy Week and Easter (March 31). Let us ardently enter into more prayer, fasting and almsgiving in honor of He Who sacrificed all for us.
How good are God’s ways. So good are they that the Psalmist penned these words and sang: The counsel of the Lord stands forever. The plans of His heart from generation to generation (Psalm 33:11). Our Lord ordained His Apostles and sent them forth to teach, sanctify and govern. From this handful of our first Bishops, the line of apostolic succession is preserved even through today – yes, from generation to generation. All in the eternal plans of the Heart of God.
Bishops are commissioned to guide the great and growing flock of Christ and safeguard their unity. They endeavor to build up the Body of Christ to maturity. No small task! They represent and speak in the name of Jesus, preserving the great deposit of faith. Bishops are meant to serve as a living sign of salvation, carrying out the role of Christ to teach, sanctify and govern. The eyes and ears of the faithful – and even the whole world – should rightly look and lean toward the bishops, who are set to serve as heralds of hope and voices of reason grounded in Truth, who is a Person.
As principal teacher in his diocese, a bishop has the obligation to consistently preach the purity of the Word of God. Thus, he is to ensure that those delegated to teach in his name, explicitly priests and deacons, catechists and teachers, are also echoing the Truth. In his responsibility to sanctify, a bishop is obligated to celebrate Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation with the intention of praying for those in his care. Further, he is to ensure that the sacraments are administered properly. He also approves and ordains candidates to the priesthood and diaconate to help him carry out this responsibility of the sacramental life of the Church, and serves as a principal guide and model to them. As the primary local Church figure commissioned to govern, the bishop keeps a keen eye and heart toward whether the laws of the Church are fittingly observed. This includes proper training of future priests and deacons, surveillance of the finances of the diocese and its church properties. He can be a judge in Church matters and enforce observance of laws related to worship, preaching, administration of the sacraments and soundness of religious instruction.
For such daunting, perpetuating tasks, bishops unquestionably necessitate help. Responses for help divinely unfold in the commission of priests and deacons, assistance in administrative duties, the faithful themselves confirmed as “soldiers of Christ” and those that pray for them, including Seven Sisters intercessors! Our deep respect and love for the office of bishop moves us to generosity of prayer. In early days of the Apostolate when asked about a group for an Archbishop, my heart was moved to first pray. These men serve special roles, should they have special Seven Sisters groups? After three Holy Hours seeking direction, the sense to “pray morning, noon and night for our bishops” tenderly arose in that third hour. Our Apostolate Chaplain, Fr Joseph Johnson, affirmed the suitable structure of Holy Hour offerings for bishops. While any Apostolate group is officially recognized and commences with seven intercessors, within six months’ time it is recommended that two additional groups of seven be added for a bishop. Each bishop thus receives three Holy Hours each day. The idea of “morning, noon, and night” for our Bishops is more figurative than literal, yet some Bishop groups within the Apostolate have chosen to have these distinctive time periods for each group of seven. Since the group is committed to one recipient, these groups have one Anchoress for the 21 intercessors. This has proven to be sound wisdom for the Apostolate.
A bishop’s attire and coat of arms remind us of his service and nobleness in the Church. A crosier, tall shepherd’s staff, visually reminds that he is the shepherd of the people. The mitre, a triangular headgear which varies in style according to the liturgical season, is a symbol of dignity, authority and holiness. It is to be worn at six moments in the Mass: entrance, proclamation of the readings (not the Gospel), homily, administration of the Sacrament, final blessing and farewell procession. A bishop also dons a distinctive, large pectoral cross suspended on a chain or cord that reaches well down the chest. A ring is worn on a bishop’s right hand. Out of love and recognition that he is a living icon of Christ in the midst of the world, many people are moved to kiss the ring. Bishops wear a magenta zucchetto on their heads while cardinals wear red and the Pope dons white. Each bishop designs a coat of arms representative of himself and the diocese, that includes a motivating motto.
Seven Sisters currently support scores of Bishops, including our Holy Father, in daily Holy Hour offerings. This is our genuine expression of abiding love and care for them. His Excellency Salvatore Cordileone (Archbishop of San Fransisco), offers this as encouragement to you, to me, to those who will join us to cover even more Bishops in the future with prayer: “What a blessed gift the Seven Sisters Apostolate is for every priest and bishop it reaches. I myself have been the recipient of this generous gift of prayer since 2018. To know that each day I will receive three Holy Hours from their sacrifices is both encouraging and fortifying, and I’m certain it has blessed me with abundant graces from God so necessary for me to shepherd my Archdiocese in accordance with His will. Awareness that these prayers also reach a growing number of my brother bishops and priests is heartening indeed. May the Lord exceedingly bless and multiply these holy endeavors to reach every bishop and priest in our country and beyond.” Our desires and hopes join the prayer of the good Bishop that it indeed may be so – that the holy endeavors of the Apostolate may one happy day reach every bishop and priest! Your individual sacrifices and fidelity ferry us closer to that very ambition.
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.
Janette (Howe) +JMJ+ 651-283-0929 (c); 43 Nord Circle Rd, St Paul, MN 55127
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Heartfelt welcome: NEW groups that registered in JANUARY to cover more priests in daily prayer: Additional groups in Washington, DC and these USA states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. Our sure and steady mission in every diocese of every country: Let no shepherd be left behind!
RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:
> Gratitude to Diocesan Coordinator, Tammie, and team for organizing/hosting a well-attended grace-filled silent retreat on Fri/Sat 26,27 Jan: “All or Nothing: Living Every Moment for Christ” in Huntington, IN. Bishop Rhoades offered Mass, many blessings and shared dinner with the group.
> Gratitude to Diocesan Coordinators, Amy and Carmen, for organizing/hosting a day of Reflection in Wichita, KS, for area Anchoresses on Sat, 27 Jan: “Renewed and Rejoicing in Our Calling”. Reflection by Fr Darrin May on Intercessory Prayer and sharing of testimonies. 80 in attendance!
> Tues, 20 Feb: Lenten Evening of a Rosary and Prayer for priests. Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, TX. Open to Seven Sisters and guests. Contact: Heidi email@example.com
> Sat, 4 May: Day of Reflection for Women. St Thomas Becket, Ft Worth, TX. “Open Wide the Doors of Your Heart: Cultivating a Heart of Prayer and the Privilege and Importance of Praying for Priests”
Janette will offer Reflection. Details forthcoming. Contact: Maria, firstname.lastname@example.org
> Fri/Sat 10, 11 May: Our Lady of Good Counsel Retreat House. Waverly NE. “Let’s talk Roses!” (Roses all around: the rosary, titles/apparitions of Mary, St Rose of Lima, St Therese’s shower of roses). Janette will offer Reflections for this silent retreat. Register, attend wearing something “rose-y” and go home with a rose and lots of joy. https://www.goodcounselretreat.org
Impressive LOGO pendants available: Seven Sister Annie W collaborated with Seven Sister Jean M from Fount of Grace, to design and strike a beautiful medallion of the Apostolate logo. Go to www.fountofgrace.com and click onto Apostolate top right. A portion of sales to the Apostolate. Someone gave me one as a gift. I have not taken it off since! It perfectly speaks of our Work!
MATTERS of the HEART:
- Bishop Joseph Coffey (Archdiocese of Military Services) note to Anchoress: “When you first told me about this program… and that you had these wonderful holy women praying for me by name each day of the week I was thrilled and grateful. Just knowing that I have their prayers and support means the world to me. It helps me to be a better bishop and follower of Jesus Christ.”
- “When invited to lead this, I was reminded a few days before I had sensed a need to pray more in-depth for our Priests. Little did I know I was going to be asked to form a Seven Sisters group. I’m blessed just being one of the seven. Thank you, Lord, for leading me to this lovely apostolate.” (Inez, Texas)
- “Joining the Seven Sisters a couple of months ago has been enlightening and comforting. It has strengthened my devotional backbone even though it’s only one day a week, one hour. Setting aside purposeful time for prayer for a singular purpose has given me a needed direction and focus for that certain day. I am thankful for everyone who has a part in this. God bless you!! (Judy, Oregon)
- “A friend and sister in Christ and prayer approached me with information about the Seven Sisters Apostolate and I agreed that it is a very important way that we can support our priests. I believe that today’s priests are greatly in need of prayer and the fruits promised through prayer.” (Karen, Ohio)
- “We prayed for a year for a faithful, holy priest and our good God answered our prayers. What he’s done in 6 months is miraculous! Our church has become alive – filled with holy families AND CHILDREN! His homilies often leave us in tears. Young people are returning to Confession. We know he’s a target for the evil one. We wanted to surround him in prayer. This ministry is Perfect!!!” (Anne, New York)
ELIJAH’s HELPERS: Intercessors in this group are dedicated to offering Holy Hours for priests in various forms of crisis (no names known). These are special Hours for special circumstances and carry special supportive graces. It is growing! Please consider this vital, hope-filled offering for our priests! All inquiries to Nancy at ElijahsHelpers@gmail.com or cell: 612-756-1107. She will help!
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. Form on the Website for FB leader to register.
LAMP-BEARERS: 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 offers prayers every day for the Apostolate. 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. Inquire through 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. 50 cents each or 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. 50 cents each or 25 for $10 + P/H.
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 and to pray!
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.