Go Against the Flow

Tuesday, March 01, 2022 12:44am

Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! The stream of baptismal waters spilling across one’s brow just might be the first hint that the path in this new life goes against the flow.  The serious Christian soon discovers that the life of righteousness truly runs counter to the life of the world. “Going against the flow” is not pursued for the sake of being different, a non-conformist.  Rather, conformity to Christ is the path. Our whims and ideas do not govern, instead, love beckons, guides and serves as the fuel.  For Christ’s love compels our hearts (2 Cor 5:14). When assented to, the individuals earnestly seeking conformity to Christ become marvelously distinct in that conformity!

Both written and oral traditions of the Faith have preserved testaments of magnanimous lives.  This month, March 26, we celebrate our Apostolate patron, St Margaret Clitherow.  During the mid-16th century priests were hunted and killed in England.  Those associated with harboring them or trying to further the Catholic Faith were condemned to death.  A convert, St Margaret refused to partake in Church of England services thus incurring regular, steep fines.  Her unwavering love and zeal for the Eucharistic life and priests was central to her heart.  She fearlessly arranged for secret Masses in her home, hid fugitive priests and catechized those attracted to the Faith.  Discovered by authorities, she was condemned to death.  On Good Friday of 1586 (Feast of the Annunciation that year also) she was stretched on the ground in cruciform shape, a sharp rock placed beneath her.  A door was laid atop.  Unbearable weights were added, one by one, crushing her to death. While her husband never converted to the Faith, her two sons, Henry and William, became priests and her daughter, Anne, a religious sister.  Her last three breaths: “Jesu, Jesu, Jesu!” St Margaret Clitherow, pray for us!

Seven Sisters consistently pray in the sacred Presence of Our Eucharistic Lord, with the strongest of hopes, for a deeper conformity of Christ for the priests/bishops for whom they pledge to pray.  The priest has sacramentally acquiesced to this radical cause “against the flow” on the day of Ordination.  Christ’s love through our sacrifices of prayers supports and invigorates this interior, revolutionary, eternal holy order.  Dominican priest, Fr Henri Lacordaire, offers insights into the counter-culture life of a priest in his familiar poem, Thou Art a Priest Forever:

To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds;
To go from men to God to offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity and a heart of bronze for Chastity;
To teach and to pardon, console and bless always.

My God, what a life; and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ!

Venerable Mother Claret de la Touche, in her book, The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood, conveys more insight into the in-this-world-but-not-of-it life of the priest: “God the Father sees in the priest the most perfect image of the Word Incarnate, a second ‘Jesus’ so like the first that he could be taken for Him.  He sees him in a luminous mirror in which the virtues of His beloved Son are reflected.  He hears the voice of Jesus in the voice of the priest.  The Word sees in the priest a brother, a friend, a product of His heart, another self, by whom He continues all His works, and in whom His human life and His life of Priest and Victim is prolonged as it were through the centuries.”  Against all odds and practicalities, the priest is called to win others, save others and be a partaker of the Gospel himself.  All this as alter Christus.  Such graces he must be afforded, for the world bears no guidance!

The priest’s witness is meant to stir, challenge and enlist hearts to likewise follow Christ in this counter-cultural way of love.  The heart compasses of Seven Sisters seem set in this direction.  We have tossed our cloaks to the ground to move, unencumbered, upon that narrow way.  While last minute invitations, tiredness, forgetfulness, word of new clearance sales and a myriad of other temptations may present themselves to sway our commitment to a Holy Hour once a week, we are not deterred.  We are familiar with this way that is not easy, that must be deaf to the call of the world, while keen to the call of commitment. Our “yes” means “yes”.  The way of love motivates and impels.

It has been said that it is better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction.  For Seven Sisters, it might be added that walking (and kneeling) with six others is a fortifying gift! And is it not in the generosity of our Lord to also bless us in united prayers with intercessors all over the world in our quest to call forth strength and sanctity for our shepherds!

When the sister of St Thomas Aquinas asked him how to become holy, he replied that it needed only one thing – a firm act of the will, for God would certainly supply the necessary grace.  Let us be heartened that our firm acts of the will in prayer, albeit counter-cultural, will indeed be met with the necessary graces to persevere in those prayers destined for the fruit of sanctity.   Nothing less!

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)


10th Anniversary Year of our Founding Graces (03/24/11 – 03/24/21)
Together we celebrated in special ways each month for a whole year!
So many graces!  All glory be to God!
Accept this offer of a grand finale gift – from me to you:
The first Diocese that covers every priest with a Seven Sisters group in the Diocese:
A Morning/Day of Reflection and Renewal in your Diocese, all expenses covered.


SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:

Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in FEBRUARY to cover more priests in daily prayer:  Additional groups in British Columbia (Canada), Cameroon (Africa), Ireland (Derry County, Northern Ireland) and these USA states:  Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington 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 2022.

RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:

> Gratitude to Sr Cecilia Joy (Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity) for a Zoom interview with Janette (02/17/22). Available: FSCC Facebook Page and YouTube. Contact: sceciliajoy@fscc-calledtobe.org

> Gratitude to Deb for arranging a Mass to be offered for the Seven Sisters and priests of Holy Cross campus in Minneapolis, MN on 02/20/22.  Coffee, pastries and enlightening testimonies followed.

> 03/02/22, Ash Wednesday:  Initiative being launched by Bishop McKeown at the Cathedral in County Derry for Seven Sisters groups for all priests in the area.

> Sat, 04/02/22:  Des Moines Diocese CCW Conference.  “Vision for the Future.”  Janette will speak in the afternoon regarding the Apostolate.

> Thurs, 05/05/22: Informational for Omaha Diocese in Norfolk, NE (Sacred Heart parish).  Details forthcoming.  Contact Katie: sevensistersomaha@gmail.com

>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.


Ø  “I really value my daily holy hours.  Since being in the 7 Sisters I’ve expanded my prayer life! Thank you so much, the Apostolate has been a great inspiration to a deeper prayer life for me.” (Peggy, Wisconsin)

Ø  “I have discerned a call to religious life, but will remain at Franciscan (Steubenville) for the next year. Early this morning in adoration I was praying for priests and men who are discerning.  I felt the call to give back to the friars a small offering for their lives which they give to us, the student body. I would like to start a Seven Sisters group for the University president and hope to grow until we have women praying and men fasting for every friar, every day, every week of the year, during school and summer.  We need the youth to rise and rebuild a broken Church.” (Isabel, Ohio)

Ø  “This is something my sweet Lord has placed on my heart to do :)” (Elba, Louisiana)

Ø  “My son is currently a seminarian and I learned of this Apostolate from another seminarian’s mom.  I love that the Lord is working to support our priests through moms! May He continue to lead others to lift our priests in prayer!”  (Cindy, Pennsylvania)

Ø  “I am a stay-at-home mom. My oldest daughter and my oldest son are discerning religious life. When I heard about the Seven Sisters Apostolate, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. Priests need our prayers and support and I’m very happy to be able to help.” (Joy, Minnesota)’

Ø  “I have a dear friend who is an Anchoress in Texas. She shared her experience with me, and it has been on my heart ever since. Now, with the Renew My Church process beginning in our Archdiocese, it seems the perfect time. Our pastor is completely in favor and very grateful for the prayers.” (Laura, Illinois)

Ø  “We are so grateful for the opportunity to pray through this holy ministry.  Our collective prayers are so powerful. And isn’t it just like Our Mother Mary to take our gifts, and wrap them beautifully to present them before Our Lord?!  Thank you for being a faithful servant in Our Lady’s workshop!” (Mary Lou, Wisconsin)

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).