Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as we freshly move in solidarity into another committed year of responding to God’s call to pray for our shepherds. At the heart of our commitments is a solid awareness of these sure, living words of Christ Himself: “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you” (John 15:16).
God’s purposes according to His choice in each of us will stand. What He says, He will do. One can almost hear the fostering whisper of Mother Church reminding us to “cooperate with the graces.” Michelangelo’s well-recognized finger of God outstretched toward that of Adam is a marvelous visual to help us remember both our littleness in the Presence of God and our potential for the Strength of God. Our Lord is ever-moving toward us, extending invitation, drawing near yet assigning dignity by awaiting our part, our response. God’s biddings often leave us wondering if He is indeed calling us to do this or that. His choice often seems to run counter to our sense of how things should go or who might have been a better choice than the Divine choice. St Paul elucidates (I Cor 1: 26-3): For consider your calling, brothers and sisters, there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen…that no man should boast before God.
If God chose those who were capable in themselves, a temptation might rise to boast. If God chose those who first chose Him, there might be a temptation to crow about that clever choice. Love Himself chooses those the world would never choose, so that when His plans and purposes are fulfilled through them, the glory rightly goes to Him. “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.”
Our mission as Seven Sisters includes submission to our personal battles against God’s way of choosing whom He wills to accomplish His purposes: ourselves, those alongside us, those for whom we sacrifice our prayers, those who seem to work against us. Embracing that God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9) brings profound liberty. At its very best, our prayers can call forth that God’s Will and Way, His choices, be manifest in ourselves and in those bishops/priests for whom we pray. Where God is most sovereign, we are most free. St Philip Neri reminds, “All of God’s purposes are to the good; although we may not always understand this, we can trust in it.”
It is a privilege indeed as we beseech God’s graces to accomplish His highest plans and purposes in and for another soul – the reward of sanctity. This is the abiding fruit we are summoned to bear. We call forth whatever God wants, when and how He wills it, for the one for whom we pray. St Elizabeth of the Trinity in her Letters from Carmel (Vol 2) gives us a most wonderfully practical way of praying for others in that spirit. Her offering seems meant for Seven Sisters because, well, the prayer is seven words! St Elizabeth contemplates the scene in Scripture where Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus about their brother, Lazarus, “Lord, the one you love is sick…” (John 11:3). St Elizabeth’s insight blossoms from here. She opens wide her heart to the boundless love of the Sacred Heart and seeks that love for every individual in every situation. The prayer is then expanded to encompass endless petitions for the other: “Lord, the one you love is angst-ridden…” … “Lord, the one you love needs hope…” … “Lord, the one you love seeks love…” The simplicity of the petition that is but a breath, fully calls forth the Will and Way of God with complete surrender and trust. This holy example of St Elizabeth can be put into effectual practice in our Holy Hours. “Lord, the one you love needs rest…” … “Lord, the one you love is gift…”
St John tells us that God’s choice and appointment of our lives moves us to bear abiding fruit – and also that whatever we ask the Father in Christ’s Name will be given. Oh, sisters in Christ – the great joy this should bring us – now and eternally! Our calling holds promises, but also bids perseverance to press forward. Let us open wide our hearts to the fullness of what we have been chosen for. In like manner we can do nothing less than call the same forward for the bishop/priest for whom we commit to pray. Yes, calling forth all that God has chosen them to be. St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein) fortifies our inner resolve and its happy fruitful outcome in this thought: “Surrender without reservation to the Lord who has called us. This is required of us so that the face of the earth may be renewed.” Let us give our unrestrained fiat!
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+
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Heartfelt welcome: NEW groups that registered in JUNE to cover more priests in daily prayer: Additional groups in Cameroon (Africa), Diocese of Military Services, Italy (Rome), Canada (Ontario), Spain, Diocese of Washington, DC and these USA states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, 06/16, a record 26 groups registered. Let no shepherd be left behind!
ANOTHER ENCOURAGMENT: Please consider an enthronement (consecration) of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in your home (see June 2023 issue of Communique for details). Let Ven Pope Pius XII move you along: “It is altogether impossible to enumerate the heavenly gifts which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has poured out on the souls of the faithful, purifying them, offering them heavenly strength, rousing them to the attainment of all virtues.”
RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:
> May-October: Champion Shrine’s Shepherd Project. A season of prayer for each and every Bishop in the USA. One daily prayer provided. To sign up: https://championshrine.org/shepherd-project/
> Gratitude to Carrie for organizing the 3 June Day of Reflection/Renewal (St Cloud, MN)
> Gratitude to all who organized/donated toward and visited the Seven Sisters booth at the 10 June Eucharistic Congress (Mankato, MN). 5000 in attendance who love our Eucharistic Lord!
> Gratitude to Jennifer for organizing the 10 June Seven Sisters Conference (Milwaukie, OR)
> Gratitude to Tammie for organizing the 25 June Day of Reflection (Notre Dame, South Bend, IN)
> Sat, 8 July: 2nd Annual Seven Sisters Day of Fellowship, Renewal and Reflection. St Michael’s Westside Chapel, Olympia, WA, w/Bishop Etienne, Seattle Diocesan Coordinator, Holly, and Janette. 9-3:30. To register: https://form.jotform.com/231278269003151 No admission fee, free will offering.
*NEW- to serve YOU! Want to plan a Seven Sisters information session, Morning of Reflection, Day of Retreat, Overnight Retreat? Or just need ideas to getting the word out about the Apostolate? A group of Seven Sisters with creative and organizational gifts will help you get started, keep you going and pray all along the way like sisters do! No idea too small or too big! SevenSistersEvents4U@gmail.com
MATTERS of the HEART:
- With permission of His Excellency, Bishop William Joensen (Des Moines, Iowa) to reprint here. This is a prayer intention he requested of his Seven Sisters group: “May the prayers of this Apostolate seek Wisdom and Truth from the One who is the Way, Truth, and Life, and from his Mother Mary, Seat of Wisdom. May they be a source of blessings in the ministries of teaching, pastoral outreach, leadership and the unification of God’s holy ones in the Church, and may they promote the sanctification of all priests. May all clergy—bishops, priests, and deacons—and those who pray for them be showered with grace upon grace.”
- “This is such a beautiful ministry and each sister that has volunteered takes this very seriously and is so grateful to be able to cover our wonderful priest in prayers and blessings. Thank you!” (Jenn, Louisiana)
- “We have enough women to have three priests covered, so this Apostolate has touched the hearts of many women. In a world where you feel helpless against the daily onslaught of evil, this invitation to prayer and sacrifice is so beautifully designed for our maternal hearts!” (Rebecca, New York)
- “The graces are abundant with sisters telling me that they look forward to praying the Holy Hour, that it has deepened their faith, and they see the fruits of their prayers for our beloved pastor of inspiring homilies, increased devotion to Our Lady, and increased devotion to the sacrament of reconciliation, to name a few. Father is so happy and grateful! I love this Apostolate!” (Elizabeth, Massachusetts)
- “I started praying a Sacred Heart novena specifically for our Seven Sisters group along with an increase in worldwide Seven Sisters’ groups. May the Seven Sisters continue to spread far and wide.” (Nancy, Illinois)
- “I am in love with Christ’s Church and her shepherds. I find a sense of great solidarity in prayer with others. I find much comfort in reading the beautiful letters and Communiques.” (Sue, Minnesota)
- “A few years ago, there was an article in our bulletin about the Seven Sisters Apostolate. I had not heard of it so did some research and felt it was a much-needed ministry. That year, four of us formed a group and prayed our Holy Hour Tuesday-Friday for our parish priest. The following year two more joined, and this year a seventh has joined so we are able to register. We feel this ministry can be challenging but is very important and rewarding.” (Corrine, Canada)
ELIJAH’s HELPERS: By prayerful desire and directive of our Apostolate Chaplain, Fr Johnson, a pilot group of Seven Sisters intercessors dedicated to offering Holy Hours for priests in various forms of crisis (no names known) within the Archdiocese of St Paul-Mpls, began in June 2021. In June 2022, this fruit of the Apostolate opened to form more groups in more Dioceses. All inquiries to Nancy at ElijahsHelpers@gmail.com or cell: 612-756-1107. It is growing! Please consider this!
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. There is a form on the Website to register.
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, many are offering prayers every day. Intentions 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. 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.
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.
SPANISH translation of Communique: Posted (and archived) on the Website. If it is easier to receive through an email account, please let me know. Allow a few days for translation. Commitment Prayer/Guidelines Booklet in Spanish (on the Website – free download)