Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ!
On 30 September 2019, the 1600th anniversary of St Jerome’s death, Pope Francis instituted the Sunday of the Word of God with the apostolic letter Aperuit illis. The annual observance takes place the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time (this year, Jan 23). The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said: “A day devoted to the Bible should not be seen as a yearly event but rather a year-long event, for we urgently need to grow in our knowledge and love of the Scriptures and of the Risen Lord, who continues to speak His word and to break bread in the community of believers.” With thoughts of February, as one friend puts it, Scripture is God’s Love letter, His Valentine Divine. It is meant to be thoughtfully savored!
Our shepherds and deacons carry a solemn responsibility as they mount the ambo, of helping us understand the Sacra Pagina (Sacred Page). And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1 Thessalonians 2:13). The gift of preaching and homiletics requires discipline: interior and exterior preparation, exploration of the dovetailing of multiple texts of each liturgy and continual refinement of the skills to proclaim in a clear way that which has been entrusted. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). By intentionally welcoming silence after preaching, the clerics train and remind us to allow the wealth of the word of God to be meditatively received, unrushed. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
As Seven Sisters we have the ideal milieu (praying before the Word made Flesh) in which to fan the flame of desire and love of the Word of God in the hearts of the priests/bishops for whom we pray. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16). For the priests/bishops: our prayers can beseech a growing interior hunger for the Word of God; a bolstering of the time needed to study and receive the strength of God’s Word; a maturing finesse to link the readings of holy Mass, and also the role and significance of Scripture in the sacramental life, at large, and in the life of each individual, including the priest/bishop himself. For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Romans 15:4).
When my children were school-age, I was dedicated to a ministry that brought mothers together once a week to pray for the needs of the school, teachers and our children. The leader of the group chose an attribute of God’s character/care which launched our prayer times. A Scripture verse was prepared prior that related to the theme. Near the finish of our concerted time together, we paired off. Each mom in the couplet committed to pray the chosen verse every day inserting their own child’s name into the verse and also for one child of the other mother. It proved to be an easily doable commitment with enormous effect that continues to bear fruit. So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Thoughts of this moves me to suggest that this may be something to consider to likewise offer for the priest/bishop for whom you are committed to pray. If your heart leaps to take this up, keep a roster of the weekly Scriptures. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7).
In closing, 20th c French mystic, Servant of God, Madeleine Delbrel says it well and clear and with a challenge – in regard to the priests/bishops for whom we pray and ourselves: “The Word of God is not brought to the ends of the world in a suitcase. We carry it in ourselves. We don’t set it off in a corner of ourselves, arranged in our memory as if on a cupboard shelf. We must let it go to the very core of ourselves, to the very center around which our whole being revolves. We cannot be missionaries if we have not sincerely, generously, and warmly welcomed the Word of God, the Gospel within ourselves. The vital dynamic of this word is to take flesh, to become flesh in us. And when this word comes to dwell within us, we become capable of being missionaries. … Once we have heard God’s Word, we no longer have the right not to accept it; once we have accepted it, we no longer have the right not to let it become flesh in us; once it has become flesh in us, we no longer have the right to keep it for ourselves alone. Henceforward, we belong to all those who are waiting for the Word.”
Let us take up the challenge in our prayers for the priests/bishops for whom we pray and for ourselves! Let us together see what Our Lord, the living Word, will do!
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.