Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! With this month we enter a new season of nature. Most Seven Sisters reside in the Northern Hemisphere and thus enter Fall, while our Southern Hemisphere dwellers welcome Spring. Regardless, both seasons fittingly launch the heart afresh and anew. We side with St John Paul II that, in season and out, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” Here, there and everywhere, Our Lord is making all things new (Rev 21:5).
A young Australian boy visited his ailing teacher, who shared of her long-time desire to see the ocean. She lamented that this wish would likely not be fulfilled given her condition. Spurred by an idea, the youth set out the next day, walking in the direction of the coast. Enduring several sweltering days and frigid nights and the dangers of the elements, including wild dogs, he finally reached the shore. The lad unwrapped an empty bottle he brought along, waded into the ocean and filled it from the rolling tide. He turned around and commenced the arduous return journey. When he arrived home, he presented the “bottled ocean” to his teacher. “What a gift,” she whispered, “but it was not necessary for you to make such a difficult journey for my sake.” “But teacher,” the boy readily replied, “the journey was part of the gift.”
Sooner or later a Seven Sister appreciates that the offering for the priest/bishop for whom she prays is well beyond sixty minutes. Within weeks of commitment to this way of prayer for priests, a familiar reflection rises from most of you, “I hope this is benefitting the priest as much as I am benefitting. The Holy Hours are helping me to live more deeply in Christ.” Our interior conversions are most surely also a benefit to the priest, for this is the collective goal of our shepherds: to help the sheep to love and follow the Good Shepherd. Yes, the journey is part of our gift!
Responding to a call of love, in love, beckons one’s whole self as offering to the Lord. St John Neumann’s maxim was, “Never waste a minute.” Mother Church helps us enfold the principle by the habit of the Morning Offering at start of day and learning to intentionally “offer up” our sufferings along the way. Thus, consecrating our minutes eternally elevates them. Our loaves and fish in the Hands of God meet with the benefit of Divine economy. “Nothing, how little so ever it be, if it is suffered for God’s sake, can pass without merit in the sight of God” (Thomas a’ Kempis).
Countless Seven Sisters have shared the surprisingly swift response of so many to the work of the Apostolate. Countless have also shared the ensuing challenges at times of keeping faithful to the committed hour: time constraints, forgetfulness, closed Chapels, health issues, literal physical barriers (one Sister reported a tree fell in front of her car on the way to the Chapel for her hour). Regardless, these stories generally carry happy endings. Against all odds, the Hour is kept. The demands of love strengthen fidelity. A bonus is that all the trials, offered up, can also be intentionally offered for the priest/bishop for whom one prays. The journey is part of the gift!
Seven Sisters often share about a compelling desire to tell others about the mission of the Apostolate. Many have extended personal invitations, passed on Apostolate materials, made phone calls, composed parish bulletin spots, hosted informational coffees, used social media. But an endearing and common prayer and practice among scores of you – no matter the Hemisphere in which you live – is to pray and light vigil candles along the way. The echo of prayer during those visits is similarly offered as, “I pray that this Apostolate will spread like a fire throughout the world.”
These actions are straight from the heart and efficacious. The ancient practice of lighting vigil candles is not simply a gesture the Seven Sister makes to accompany her prayer. It is a tangible, faith-filled way to entrust her words and thoughts to Christ, the Light of the world. Petitions may sometimes seem to be held in the shadows of the future or the darkness of the past. The flame symbolizes an illumination of the situation and our own lives, as children of light, through Christ.
There is a great swell of hope through these actions and testimonies. Collectively, they are the impetus for a challenge to current Seven Sisters. Presently there are nearly 1700 active Seven Sisters groups world-wide. This number would represent 11,900 Holy Hours offered each week for the well-being and sanctity of priests/bishops! (Many groups have more than 7 intercessors that offer additional hours, so this number is conservative).
What is proposed and hoped: A birthday gift to our Lord on 12/25/20 of 2020 total active groups! This would anticipate 14,140+ Holy Hours every week for priests/bishops! The initiative calls for many sacrifices and prayers and invitations to accomplish that. Let the challenge begin! We have 4 months to reach the goal! The journey is part of the gift!
On a trip to Cuba, a question was posed directly to Pope JP II as to why he did not retire since he had “trouble walking and (his) hands trembled.” His reply: “Fortunately I do not lead the Church with my feet or my hands, but with my mind and my heart.” Enduring pain and suffering, the Pontiff continued to lead with strength of heart. As the Church endures so very much suffering within this broken world, may Seven Sisters continue in strength of heart and prayer and journey with a noble goal of hope and persistence in prayer for priests/bishops. “In strengthening the priest, you strengthen the whole Church… the whole foundation… everything in the Church” (Fr Gerald Fitzgerald).
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.