Preserve the Faith

Saturday, May 01, 2021 03:18am

“But we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish, but are among those who have faith and preserve their souls.”

— Hebrews 10:39

Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! Easter-tide joy to you as we together move toward the 50th day of Easter, Pentecost, (this year, May 23rd).  Don every shade of red to celebrate this happy and Spirit-filled occasion. We intone together the Golden Sequence:  Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

Women are specialists at preservation.  We see worth in bruised apricots and berries, salvaging the better parts.  On subsequent icy January mornings, our families recall the warmth and scent of summer with a dollop of sweet preserves on toast.  We revel in archiving photos and mementos, keeping alive the family names, stories and mark in history.  Women are swift to sustain good causes with generous contributions of “time, talent, treasure”.  Paramount, like the model of Eunice toward her grandson, Timothy, in holy Scripture, we take intentional and definitive action to preserve the faith!

Twenty-six Catholics were executed by crucifixion in Nagasaki in 1597.  There were perhaps 300,000 Catholics there at that time.  Just 30 years later, Christianity was banned in Japan.  When missionaries returned in some 250 years, they discovered a community of “hidden Catholics” that had survived.  This reality is astounding!  The perpetuation of Faith was upheld through the power of the memory of the martyrs of Nagasaki and the prayers of the faithful.

History is marbled with countless threats against the practice of the Faith.  Today we live amidst new spins on old intimidations.  The perils originate both inside and outside of the Church itself.  Seven Sisters carry a distinctive call coupled with sufficient graces for these times.  Our mission is fitting to our proclivity, as champions of upholding, sustaining and guarding.  We are not among those who shrink back (Heb 10:39), but among those that have faith and preserve souls.

Tradition has dubbed the Church as Mother.  She exists to protect the deposit of Faith and nurture the children of God with the Faith’s truth, beauty and goodness.  Our own maternal instincts are rightly riled when the Faith is threatened, watered down or misunderstood.  As Seven Sisters we embrace the requisite response: prayer!  Our weekly fiat to the work of the Apostolate is set to preserve the dignity and perpetuation of the priesthood and the sacraments, the very life-line of the Faith.  St John Paul II in his 2003 encyclical on the Eucharist, emphasized that, “The Church draws her life from the Eucharist. … From this “living bread” she draws her nourishment.” The Pontiff added that the Eucharist fortifies the Church but also unifies the world. “The seeds of disunity, which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity as a result of sin, are countered by the unifying power of the body of Christ. The Eucharist, precisely by building up the Church, creates human community.”  St JPII stresses the centrality of a Eucharistic life: “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church’s mission, every work of pastoral planning, must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery and in turn be directed to that mystery as its culmination. In the Eucharist we have Jesus, we have his redemptive sacrifice, we have his resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have adoration, obedience and love of the Father.” The Holy Father reassures us regarding the place of Mary: “Above all, let us listen to Mary Most Holy, in whom the mystery of the Eucharist appears, more than in anyone else, as a mystery of light. Gazing upon Mary, we come to know the transforming power present in the Eucharist. In her we see the world renewed in love.” As Seven Sisters we consistently pray for our priests/bishops to experience an ever-growing bond with Mary.

The following year, St JPII wrote specifically to the priests of the world.  Let us allow the sobering echo of his words to fortify our commitment to our weekly sacrifices of prayer.  “There can be no Eucharist without the priesthood, just as there can be no priesthood without the Eucharist”.  No priest, No Eucharist.  No Eucharist, No priest.

As Seven Sisters we now meet together at the brink of two special months:  May, our month of discernment to remain or depart from the Apostolate weekly Holy Hour commitment; and June, our month of re-commitment to another year of prayer offerings.  Both are places of trust.  Be open to a call that might be to remain in the Apostolate, but also serve in an additional or different (or new!) group.

No matter when a group commences, June is the uniting, universal time to re-commit the prayer efforts within the Apostolate. This prayerful action renders an unseen but sure solidarity for the Apostolate.  Re-commit together as a group (if possible) near the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart (this year: Friday, June 11), using the Commitment Prayer (Web site: English/Spanish) composed by Apostolate Chaplain, Fr Joseph Johnson. Many groups use this opportunity to attend Mass collectively with a simple meal following to share testimonies of the past year.

Our firm mission is that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest.  Currently some 421,000 presbyters share the one priesthood of Jesus Christ.  We are off to a fine start!  One group at a time! May the influence of St Paul’s blessing rest upon Seven Sisters as united we serve to preserve so much, so often:  And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray to God your whole spirit and soul be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it (I Thes 5:23-24).

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)