Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as together we enter the month of September, bearing at its heart that glorious Feast of the Exultation of the Cross (Sept 14). The greatest victory was afforded us through the greatest suffering. That Victory lives!
Our priestly patron, St John Vianney, remained ever-sensitive to the cross and its victory. “Everything is a reminder of the Cross. We ourselves are made in the shape of a cross.” Thus, we literally carry the reminder. St JV added, “It is the fear of crosses which gives weight to the cross…a cross born simply is no longer a cross.” Scripture counsels to not worry about tomorrow for each day has enough trouble of its own. The sufferings and stressors of our day-to-day cannot be avoided, yet Help is near and He fully understands. “Let us look to the cross and be filled with peace, knowing that Christ has walked this road and walks it now with us and with all our brothers and sisters” (St Teresa of Avila).
The bishops/priests for whom we pray fully experience life’s daily grapples, from the miniscule to the mountainous. Many struggles can certainly serve positively as the needed impetus toward a solution; others, especially intense and repeated ones, may bash and bog down even the sturdiest soul. Our prayers of love and support, linked to those of Christ, are set to offer fortification and peace.
A towering Old Testament prophet and priest whose life seemed to leave no struggle unlived is Elijah. His life bears many lessons. He unwaveringly shared God’s messages and warnings despite often stirring intense and adverse reaction. His word burned like a torch. He was a man of steadfast prayer, attentive to the “whispering sound” in the midst of clamor, and whose prayer of faith raised a young boy back to life. His steadfast intercession for rain brought the promise in the appearance of a wisp of a cloud. In jubilation he ran ahead of Ahab’s horse-drawn chariot for several miles. St James reminds us here that Elijah had a nature like ours. What hope and thrill to imagine our own submission to the power of the Holy Spirit!
Numerous times God instructed Elijah to trust for provision when circumstances appeared bleak. In fleeing the murderous threats of the wicked Jezebel, he collapsed, exhausted and dispirited, where an angel roused him and there, he “drank from the brook and ravens brought him bread and meat”. Later, he was provided miraculous sustenance from a widow and her son. Over and again, despite circumstances, Elijah exampled resolute obedience to God and stood with courage in Him. The waters of discouragement did not overcome. The Lord sent helpers all along the way.
The painting above depicts likely the most colossal witness of Elijah’s faith, hope and love of God as the sole priest in confrontation against 450 prophets of Baal. The challenge was to allow a bull offering to be consumed by fire from above. Despite cries and pleas, the Baal worshippers brought no action from the skies, but Elijah, having doused the offering with water enough to fill a trench, was mightily responded to by God. The offering was consumed, even to licking up the water in the trenches.
Elijah’s legacy endures, first with Elisha and now in a real sense with our bishops/priests. Each is called to imitate this path of unwaveringly sharing God’s message, to be a man of steadfast and faith-filled prayer, to trust in God’s provision despite circumstances, to remain in resolute obedience to God and to remain in resistance of the rising up of false idols. The complexities of stresses and stressors of life (acute and more long-term) can intensely disturb the path of our priests/bishops. In June 2021, Fr Joseph Johnson, Apostolate Chaplain, requested that a Seven Sisters group be formed to pray for priests in various forms of crisis in the Archdiocese of St Paul-Mpls. No names of priests were given. Prayers were to be offered in the reality that there are priests in the Archdiocese that are being challenged with “something today or something long-term”. The response was generous and the group is at or near 21 members (similar to those numbers of intercessors of the bishop groups). Prayerful discernment fittingly presented the name of this fruit of the Apostolate as Elijah’s Helpers.
These are special Hours for special circumstances and carry special supportive graces. Blessed Elijah is our ever-ready, tenacious intercessor. Elijah’s Helpers is growing! Currently twelve Dioceses have active groups, and another dozen Dioceses have groups in various places of formation. Please consider this vital, hope-filled offering for our priests! All inquiries (big and small) to Nancy at ElijahsHelpers@gmail.com or cell: 1-612-756-1107.
No one, however wearied or weakened, is deprived the victory of the Cross. No one is beyond its effect. Let us stand together as the faithful woman at Calvary and not abandon the suffering Christ. Let us call down the fire of His Love! “This is the “folly” of the cross: a folly capable of changing our sufferings into a declaration of love for God and mercy for our neighbor” (Pope Benedict XVI).
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.
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Heartfelt welcome: NEW groups that registered in AUGUST to cover more priests in daily prayer: Additional groups in Africa (Cameroon, Uganda), Canada (Ontario), and these USA states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Caroliina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. Let no shepherd be left behind!
RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:
> May-October: Champion Shrine’s Shepherd Project. A season of prayer for each and every Bishop in the USA. One daily prayer provided. To sign up: https://championshrine.org/shepherd-project/
> 4 August 2023: annual HOLY HOUR (from Janette and Jeff) for intentions of all Seven Sisters on the Feast of St John Vianney. We laid our hands on your countries, states and provinces in our atlas and prayed mightily for you before our Eucharistic Lord – and with the help of St John Vianney!
> Gratitude to Barb, Danna and Catherine of the Grand Rapids, Michigan CCW for arranging a Google presentation regarding Seven Sisters work on 3 August 2023. These ladies are fired up!
> Gratitude to Christine Rossi, Radio Maria US (Carolinas) for arranging an interview w/Janette on 23 August 2023. Go to podcast A Light in the World to listen.
> Sat, 16 Sept 2023: Retreat for Sevens Sisters. “Building a Bridge to Heaven” (Fr Jacob Degele). Our Lady of Grace. Minot, ND. 12:30-3:30 pm. Contact Bev: 701-721-2788 or firstname.lastname@example.org
>Tues, 19 Sept 2023: Seven Sisters Mass, Supper, Reflections (Fr Philippe, Janette). Maternity of Mary, Roseville, MN. 5-8 pm. From Heart… to heart…to heart… Contact: Lee: email@example.com
> Sat, 7 Oct 2023. St Thomas More parish, Spokane, WA. Seven Sisters Day of Reflection and Renewal. “(Seven) Privileges of Praying for Priests” (Reflection by Janette). Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org (Jean)
> Thurs-Sat, 12-14 Oct 2023. Workshop/Retreat for Apostolate Diocesan Coordinators. Spiritual Life Center, Wichita, KS. Encourage your Diocesan Coordinator to attend!
> Sat, 28 Oct 2023. 10th Annual Archdiocesan Time of Reflection and Renewal. Mary, Mother of the Church, Burnsville, MN. 8am-2pm. “Can you not watch with Me for an Hour? Reflection: Fr James Mason. Archbishop will preside at holy Mass. Contact: email@example.com (Doreen)
*NEW- to serve YOU! Want to plan a Seven Sisters information session, Morning of Reflection, Day of Retreat, Overnight Retreat? Or just need ideas to getting the word out about the Apostolate? A group of Seven Sisters with creative and organizational gifts will help you get started, keep you going and pray all along the way like sisters do! No idea too small or too big! SevenSistersEvents4U@gmail.com
MATTERS of the HEART:
- “Our Lord placed the desire within my heart a few months ago and now I believe it is time form this group. I love everything about the Seven Sisters Apostolate. So thankful it has come to our area.” (Ashley, Tennessee)
- “I loved the idea so started asking. The first seven said yes. Not one lady said “no” – AND 3 subs and 6 auxiliary members who will pray any day they choose and will substitute too. I am blown away. What a marvelous opportunity to serve this great pastor. I hope this really spreads!” (Kathleen, Kentucky)
- “The Holy Mass is extremely important to me and my family. To have a priest who is a wonderful shepherd to guide my children and grandchildren is such a blessing. I want to do all I can together with the other women in our group to offer up our time and prayers for our pastor.” (Carol, Massachusetts)
- “I am humbled by this responsibility and will do my best to be a part of this mission of Blessing for our priests. I look forward to learning and growing in Faith with all the others involved with the Seven Sisters Apostolate (Mel, New York)
- “My own experience with my previous group and the fruits witnessed with this apostolate motivated me to start this. Every parish needs a group to support our priests, especially in our times. (Stacie, North Carolina)
- “I had gone to daily Mass as I was struggling with something. After Mass a woman stopped me and said she had been praying for the courage to talk to someone. She told me about the apostolate. I made 8 phone calls to people and received 8 yesses. God changed my sorrow into a purpose.” (Lana, North Dakota)
- “This is such an honor to be part of this amazing Apostolate. Will prayer a Hail Mary for you every day & pass on to all sisters. Prayer is the answer, protection & wisdom!” (Karen, Ohio)
- “Father handed me a brochure after Mass. He picked it up when visiting another parish. He told me I didn’t need to be the one to start the apostolate, but wouldn’t it be nice to have this in our parish. It didn’t take long for me to find 6 women including myself to say yes! We are honored to do this for him!” (Laurie, Georgia)
- “What a beautiful ministry. It expands my heart for love of priests, and as a result, to intercede for them in prayer unceasingly.” (Mary, Illinois)
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. There is a form on the Website to register.
LAMP-BEARERS: 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 offers prayers every day for the Apostolate. 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. Inquire through 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. 50 cents each or 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. 50 cents each or 25 for $10 + P/H.
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 and to pray!
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.