Our Lord, the Living Word

Tuesday, February 01, 2022 12:18am

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.”

— Psalm 119:105

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.

Janette (Howe)


10th Anniversary Year of our Founding Graces (03/24/11 – 03/24/21)

In a continued one-year celebration through March 2022, in February:

Arrange for a Mass to be offered for the priest for whom you pray

and/or your Seven Sisters group.

SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:

Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in JANUARY to cover more priests in daily prayer:  Additional groups in Canada (Toronto, Ontario and Vancouver, British Columbia) and these USA states:  Alabama, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 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 by May 2022.

RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:

> Gratitude to Tammie for her prayerful organizing, adaptability, and hosting of a Seven Sisters overnight Retreat at St Felix Retreat Center, Huntington, IN.  Special thanks to Nicole and Fr Gurtner.

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

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

> 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  “A friend mentioned it to me. The idea caught my attention. I did ask for details as I thought it might be very complicated. I heard Janette’s testimony and was inspired to start a group. I decided to discern and pray. At my hour of adoration, I asked My Jesus, My Lord, if this was for me. I prayed to My Blessed Mamma that if she wants me to pursue this, to send me the women… she did. One of the girls who signed up is also starting the 7 Sisters in another parish with 4 priests and 1 retired priest. This will grow!” (Maria, Vancouver, Canada)

Ø   “I don’t think we’ll see this side of heaven all the ways this apostolate has sustained and built the church. Years ago, I was invited to discern being a sister for our bishop. It has been a humbling joy to carry him in my heart and continually offer him to the Lord. I am a stay-at-home mother of five young children. The Spirit brought together a group for another priest in no time.  Thank you for all the love and sacrifice you have poured into the building of this apostolate!” (Lindsey, Indiana)

Ø  “Hello! I am a student studying at Kansas State University. I was led to start a Seven Sisters group because of a group formed for our pastor at our student center.  It is Father’s first year here at KSU.  He replaced a priest who was highly involved in the students’ lives and dearly loved. He has big shoes to fill. This will be the perfect way to welcome him.  He gives his all to the students each day and loves us so well.” (Emily, Kansas)

Ø  “When I first heard about your apostolate a couple of years ago, although I supported your work in spirit, I did not feel called to begin a group. One of my sisters mentioned to me that she had been invited to be a replacement “sister” for a month, and the fruits in her spiritual life were obvious. As she told me about her experience, I began to sense I was now being called to start a group. I spent a week in prayer and discernment. At the beginning of the week, I mentioned the Apostolate to my husband, who immediately exclaimed, “You HAVE to do this at our parish.” I was very surprised at his response, since he usually is telling me to do fewer things, not being in another ministry. I told him that I was first going to spend a week in prayer and discernment. He gave me that knowing smile and said, “Okay…” 🙂 On the last day of the week, God very clearly said in my heart, “I am with you,” and invited me to begin a group at our parish.” (Barbara, California)

Ø  “Hi, I was a Seven Sister in Virginia. My husband is in the military, and we just moved to Fort Worth.  I have met amazing faithful prayerful ladies, and have been feeling called to start a group here. The priest has approved this. I know the value and need for prayers for priests, and know this would be valuable and beautiful thing for the community.” (Ingrid, Texas)

 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).