Love Directs Our Prayers

Tuesday, June 01, 2021 03:10am

Love Directs Our Prayers

Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! In June 2011, the Apostolate was launched by a core of seven groups prayerfully initiated by Barb G, Barb Y, Jean K, Kathy C, Kathy N, Terri G and myself.  What trust these forerunners held.  What gratitude we now hold for that trust.  Building upon their foundation and example, annually in June we (re)commit to the regularity of our Holy Hours in unity with fellow sisters worldwide. One holy hour, one priest, each week… and yes, one heart of prayer.  Our one accord is credited to the most Sacred Heart of Jesus who called the first 7 X 7, continues to call each intercessor and unites us in, with and through His love!

 Friend and co-worker, Jane, exhibits a beautiful discipline when entering an exam room at the Clinic.  In a breath, straight from her heart, she whispers, “Love is patient, Love is kind…”  It heartens me to witness her lips moving as she raps on the door to announce her entrance into the room.

 So too, for Seven Sisters love directs our prayers.  A call to the Apostolate work may have initially been sensed as an obligation to pray for priests.  However, after offering only a few Holy Hours, most share that the “obligation” becomes more fittingly viewed as a privilege, even a gift.

 There are scores of reasons that praying for priests can be valued as a privilege.  A commonality is the influence of love through the most Sacred Heart.  Here are three:

1)     A priest is a man who is CHOSEN. – The Way and Will of God is to choose.  Scripture supports that a man does not honor himself, but is called by God (Lev 20:26 and Heb 5:4).  In the stillness of the heart, the man comes to know.  One priest (now a Bishop) heard the call while piloting an aircraft at a speed breaking the sound barrier.  Another shared that when reading the gospel of Matthew (21) regarding the untying of the donkey and colt, his submission was rendered with the personal understanding of, “The Master has need of them.”  On Ordination Day, the Ordinands are asked to indicate their presence after hearing their name called.  Each obliges with “Present”.  Someone once mused, “Perhaps they should echo Scripture and respond with ‘Here I am!’” Fr George Welzbacher (celebrating 70 years of priesthood in 2021), was quoted, “The work of the priest is eternal. There are many commendable things many people can do – and do do, but the work of the priest is to keep people out of hell and get them to heaven.  This is eternal work.”  In God’s choosing, He does not then abandon the priest, but provides all the graces necessary for this paramount and eternal work.  Much comes against the mission and flow of graces.  What a privilege that our prayers in love affirm and support God’s choice and often help open the way of graces to fulfill that call.

 2)     A priest is an ALTER CHRISTUS (another Christ, an extension of Him) – If a child is asked, “What do you think of when you think of a priest?”, likely the response is “Jesus” or “the Mass”, The child goes directly to the very core of the question. With childlike faith we too know.  A priest who says “I” (I absolve) or “my” (This is My Body) is not doing this in his name, but rather in the name of Christ, “in persona Christi”.  This is the divine and unchangeable design of Christ who instituted the sacraments.  “What tongue, human or angelic, may ever describe a power so immeasurable as that exercised by the simplest priest in Mass?  Who could ever have imagined that the voice of man, which by nature hath not the power even to raise a straw from the ground, should obtain through grace a power so stupendous as to bring from Heaven to earth the Son of God?” (St Leonard of Port Maurice).   The Mass, lived in a deeply interior way forms and renews the priest in his truest identity, reminding him who Christ is in, with and through him.  What a privilege that our prayers in love can strengthen this dynamic of knowledge and love of a deepening conformity of the priest to Christ.

 3)     A priest is called to HEROIC GENEROSITY. – An initial prayer effort in the summer of 2010 bloomed out of the witness of the tireless generosity of time, wisdom and love of Fr Joseph Johnson.  In God’s Providence, it was seen fit that this generosity sparked an international movement! Today, this remains the most common spark that ignites the start of new Apostolate groups. A woman recognizes a generosity that needs to be fueled.  Her prayers and sacrifices can do this.  “The worthy priest… is the living image of Christ in this world, of Christ watching, praying, preaching, catechizing, working, weeping, going from town to town, from village to village, suffering, agonizing, sacrificing Himself, and dying for the souls created in His image and likeness. …He is the light of those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.  He is the destroyer of error, schisms and heresies, the converter of sinners, the sanctifier of the just, the strength of the weak, the consolation of the afflicted, the treasure of the poor.  He is the confusion of hell, the glory of heaven, the terror of demons, the joy of angels, the ruin of Satan’s kingdom, the establishment of Christ’s empire, the ornament of the Church…” (St John Eudes).

What a privilege that our prayers in love can fortify and fuel this extreme generosity, asking for greater sensitivities to the priest’s duties – known and unknown – and pledge to bear up his arms as he serves so many, so often.

 Similar to my friend, Jane, when we rap on the door to enter the Adoration Chapel, perhaps we can use the strength of sacred Scripture – Corinthians (13:4-8a) – to prepare our hearts in authentic love for the priest/bishop for whom we will pray: Love is patient and kind toward Fr __; love is not jealous or boastful toward Fr __; it is not arrogant or rude toward Fr __.  Love does not insist on its own way toward Fr __; it is not irritable or resentful toward Fr __; it does not rejoice at wrong in Fr __, but rejoices in the right in Fr __.  Love bears all things in Fr __, believes all things in Fr __, hopes all things in Fr __, endures all things in Fr __.  Love never ends for Fr__.  O Lord, teach us to pray – for and with authentic love!

 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)