Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as together we are carried on the generous and swift current of Eastertide graces that transported us to Pentecost and now onward toward Corpus Christi then further still to the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (this year, June 19). No matter what country this Communiqué might find you, no matter what circumstances surround you, our liturgical rhythm unites us. The Eucharist is the Sacrament of Unity. An unwavering firm foundation.
While a Catechist to aspiring First Communicants at St Vincent de Paul parish in St Paul, each year my class ventured on a pilgrimage “outside and up the front steps” to their own parish for an in-depth tour. Once the wiggles and giggles of excitement diminished, the children were deeply attentive to fresh nuances and the holy hush of this sacred space. One year stands out. While pausing before the statue of the Sacred Heart, little Peter pointed and gasped, “His heart loves us so much, it’s popping out!” His wide-eyed gaze was fixed on the statue. No glance met mine. He was not looking for the nod of his teacher, for he was the teacher in that moment.
While we oft-times pursue love ‘in all the wrong places’, Jesus reminds that love begins in the heart. How good of Him to meet us more than half-way in our quest. He extends His Sacred Heart to us! While Jesus mentions vices that could flow from our hearts (Mark 7:21-23), love alone flows freely from His. Along with extending His heart, Our Lord extends a deal (Ez 36:26). He will replace our stony hearts with ones whose softness holds potential to be filled with love. Overflowing love.
How fitting that the Apostolate universally renews its commitment in this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Many Seven Sisters (myself included) offer the Novena to the Sacred Heart (pg 10 in Guidelines Booklet) during our Holy Hour. “Let the soul who is desirous of advancing in perfection hasten to my Sacred Heart” (Jesus to St Gertrude). We beseech holiness, perfection of love – for the other – from the Other. Cor as cor loquitur. Heart speaks to heart.
Recently a priest serving the St Paul-Mpls area wrote something applicable to every Seven Sister: “I can honestly say I have felt the ‘lift’ of the prayers of the Seven Sisters who have daily (throughout the course of each week) held me up in prayer. Prayer is powerful, it avails much, and I am truly grateful for the generosity of spirit and dedication of these women of faith who advance the work of the Gospel by their focused intercession for my priestly ministry, intentions and well-being. May every Christian rediscover the efficacy of their duty and privilege to pray without ceasing.” – Something of deep love is deeply understood here.
Following are some excerpts from a letter of a Seven Sister (North Carolina) written in gratitude to Fasting Brothers, men dedicated to come alongside Seven Sisters in offering some type of fasting each day (except Sunday). May this serve as an invitation to consider encouraging a group of Fasting Brothers to come alongside your Seven Sister group. “Dear Fasting Brothers, I want to thank you once again, from my heart, for your dedicated sacrifices for our pastor. I know it’s making a huge difference. … I believe without a doubt that it is the quiet, strong, steadfast leadership in sacrifice of you men which is creating a rampart to surround the Seven Sisters. I believe your fasting is a wall protecting us (including our priests) from the attacks of the evil one, which allows our prayer to be more peaceful, more trusting, and therefore more effective. Your fasting combined with our holy hours is literally a match made in heaven. We need your sacrifices! Thank you again, with all our hearts, and please, stay strong and keep it up, no matter what happens. May God continue to pour out blessings on you and yours.”- Something of deep love is deeply understood here.
Finally, snippets from a note of a new Anchoress in Ohio: “I came to know Fr. Peter three months after his arrival … he administered the Anointing of the Sick upon my mother … Although my mother passed away, we beheld God’s merciful love and grace fill her to the point that this 86-year-old, arthritic woman jumped up afterward and wanted to dance with him! The following year, I felt called to go to Africa … I asked this priest if he ever took parishioners back with him on mission when he visited. In his hospitable, Swahili manner, he graciously welcomed four of us to visit his home in Tanzania where we all witnessed holiness in action. Fr. Peter finds himself the firstborn of twelve children. Two of the siblings serve the world as priests and two serve as Sisters, one in Italy and the other in England. I feel honored to participate in this prayerful endeavor for one who continues to sacrifice so much on our behalf especially given the great distance from his homeland. He embraces all he meets with the love of God, offers all the friendship of Christ, and reflects to all the Holy Spirit alive and active in him. … I and my fellow prospective Sisters humbly submit ourselves to this ministry.” – Something of deep love is deeply understood here.
Varied systems of thought and action to better the world exist. Approaches might use power, wealth, science, deception, promises, pleasure, force. We are experiencing some of these in our days. Our Christian way to better the world is love. The three prior testimonies give snapshots of that love, almost as clearly as “His heart popping out”. The Sacred Heart of Jesus serves as a school of love that precisely conveys and motivates the mission of love. The little catechism sage, Peter, understood something deeply about love that morning. The truth is exhilarating! The heart that embraces the ever-full Heart of Christ is ever full. It is a wellspring. His love cannot be contained. Seven Sisters have hearts like that. They bear witness to the world in imitation of Christ. They bear hearts that love so very much that they are “popping out” to meet the challenge and thirst of the world.
In the prayer after Communion on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart we pray: May this sacrament of charity, O Lord, make us fervent with the fire of holy love, so that drawn always to your Son, we may learn to see Him in our neighbor. Through Christ Our Lord. Let us make this prayer ours as we re-commit to another year of Holy Hours of prayer through this Apostolate.
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.