Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ! A topic that beguiles both ear and heart of every Seven Sister, anytime or any place, is prayer. The highest form of prayer, the holy Mass, merits special attention. Our learning never ends. Liturgy is ever ancient, ever new.
For almost two millennia, prayers have poured from the hearts of priests during the divine liturgy. Within these sacred mysteries of the Mass, the priest offers prayers for all the congregation to hear, and others quietly or without a sound. These latter prayers are referred to as the silent, secret, mystical or personal prayers of the priest.
One might notice the priest’s lips moving or catch a few faint sounds. Herein the priest offers prayers between he and God. Benedictine monk, Fr Boniface Hicks, reflects, “…we are fully engaged in something in those moments that words would only cheapen. Like the silence that fills heaven for about half an hour when the Lamb opens the seventh seal (Revelation 8:1), silence in the Mass is a sign that something profound has happened and we are summoned to sustain our interior attention without the distraction even of good words or other gestures.”
These prayers serve as reminders and even invitations of personal and collective interior dialogue between God and each participant at Mass, including the celebrant priest. Fr Boniface explains, “He is not merely a functionary who mechanically carries out certain ritual words and gestures in order to bring about a particular result, however powerful and important that result may be. He is also personally a participant in these sacred mysteries. His own relationship with God grows through his silent, internal participation in the prayers of the Mass.”
The first of the priest’s quiet prayers is breathed out as he bows before the altar in preparation for the proclamation of the Gospel. The gesture rightly connects the Liturgy of the Word and that of the Eucharist. His prayer prepares him for both: “Cleanse my heart and my lips, almighty God, that I may worthily proclaim your holy Gospel”. At the end of the proclamation, the priest reverentially kisses the Missal and embraces all present in praying: “Through the words of the Gospel may our sins be wiped away.”
The next whispered words are expressed during the Offertory. As drops of water co-mingle with unconsecrated wine in the Chalice, the priest prays, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.” After expressing gratitude to God for the natural gifts of bread and wine deigned to become our spiritual food, the priest celebrant bows and reminds of another co-mingling – the self-sacrifice of the priest and our sacrifices, “With humble spirit and contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord, and may our sacrifice in your sight this day be pleasing to you, Lord God.” The Lavabo (hand washing), hearkening to our Baptism, follows, along with more personal, silent prayers, “Wash me, O Lord, from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”
After the Eucharistic Prayer, Lord’s Prayer and Sign of Peace, the Mass continues to the Agnus Dei. As the assembly prays, the priest places a morsel of the broken Host into the chalice, offering: “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.” Following, the celebrant folds his hands and prays one of these two prayers (in the Latin Mass both prayers are offered): (1) “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, by the will of the Father and the work of the Holy Spirit, through your death gave life to the world, free me by this, your most holy Body and Blood from all my sins and from every evil; keep me always faithful to your commandments, and never let me be parted from you.” OR (2) “May the receiving of your Body and Blood, Lord Jesus Christ, not bring me to judgment and condemnation, but through your loving mercy be for me protection in mind and body and a healing remedy.”
The final three mystical prayers of the priest during the Mass are linked to his Communion. Before consuming the Body of Christ, he intentionally prays: “May the Body of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.”Before partaking of the Blood of Christ, he prays: “May the Blood of Christ keep me safe for eternal life.” Lastly, while purifying the sacred vessels, the priest enfolds us in this sacred plea, “What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart, that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.”
The Latin perhaps encapsulates the crux of the silent prayers the best: Lex orandi, Lex credendi – What is prayed is what is believed. Our shepherds stand to be made radiant by their fidelity to these intimate, oft-repeated prayers. As our priests, in turn, these prayers call forth radiant lives from us, as well. Fr Boniface summarizes in reflection of the silent prayers of the priest, “The priest stands by the grace of the Sacrament of Holy Orders in the position of the Divine Bridegroom and it is his responsibility to pray, preside, and speak in such a way that he opens the heart of the Bride to receive her divine Bridegroom more fully, consciously, and actively in his Word and in his Body.” As Seven Sisters let us be sentient to these mystical prayers. Through our sacrifices of prayers, may we bolster the authentic living out of these personal prayers of each priest and bishop for whom we offer Holy Hours. Lex orandi, Lex credendi.
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.
10th Anniversary Year of our Founding Graces (03/24/11 – 03/24/21)
In celebration: Remember the souls of the priests in Purgatory. There is a plenary indulgence offered annually during the Octave of All Saints for the souls in Purgatory. Visit any cemetery once each day between Nov 1- Nov 8 and offer prayers for the benefit of a departed individual. This year, as last, the indulgence is extended to each day of the entire month! The usual conditions for indulgences apply. Let us empty Purgatory!
SEVEN SISTERS – in and out and about:
Heartfelt welcome: New groups registered in OCTOBER to cover more priests in daily prayer: Additional groups in Ontario, Canada; Washington, DC, and these USA states: Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, 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!
DAILY prayer for Apostolate GROWTH: During this Year of St Joseph (12/08/20 to 12/08-21) every Seven Sister is asked to offer DAILY the Act of Confidence: Heart of Jesus, I adore Thee. Heart of Mary, I implore thee. Heart of Joseph, meek and just. In these three Hearts I place my trust.
RECENT … and AHEAD on the calendar:
> Gratitude to Molly for hosting 10/11/21 Informational for Rosary Guild, Holy Cross, Mpls, MN
> Gratitude to Paula for hosting 10/18/21 Informational for Serra Club, Winona, MN
> 11/06/21, Saturday. Day of Recollection. 9 am-3 pm, incl lunch. Diocese of Arlington. St Andrew the Apostle Church, Clifton, VA. Cost $30 by 10/20. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
>11/06/21, Saturday. Annual Archdiocese St Paul-Mpls Morning of Reflection and Renewal. Archbishop Hebda will celebrate Mass. Basilica of St Mary, Mpls. 8 am-12 noon. Robust coffee break. Reflection: “Mary, we love you!” Wear BLUE and bring a flower(s) to honor Mary (vases provided) Registration: https://sevensistersapostolate.org/events/morningofreflection
> 01/21-22/22. St Felix Retreat Center, Huntington, IN. Real Women Wear Armor (Eph 6:10-18)
Janette will lead this retreat. Contact Tammie to learn more: email@example.com
MATTERS of the HEART:
Ø “I am a convert to the Catholic Faith. Since the beginning of the year, I have felt a sense of urgency to pray for our priests and the whole church. I have prayed many rosaries for that intention, but feeling called to do more, yet not sure what. I asked the Lord during Adoration. A couple weeks later, a lady from church told me about the Apostolate. I said “yes” immediately to being a sister, but needed to pray about being an Anchoress. I received the final yesses from some wonderful women on the celebration of the Feast of the Archangels at our parish, St. Gabriel’s. How about that for Divine Intervention!” (Amanda, Missouri)
Ø “With all the uncertainties in the world I felt the Lord calling to more prayer; especially for our priests.
On a Facebook group, someone had a similar calling and it was recommended they look into this apostolate. I had never heard of it, so looked it up and found it quite beautiful.” (Andrea, Canada)
Ø “I feel honored and blessed to offer my humble prayers to strengthen our Priest. My heart swells because I know our Lord and Savior hears us!” (Margaret, New Mexico)
Ø “Through the grace of the Holy Spirit, I was called to be a Seven Sister 3 years ago. I have a deep appreciation for our priests, and can show gratitude, for the work they do, by praying for them. When asked to be an anchoress, I jumped at the chance to lead a group of prayerful women who feel the same way I do. Prayer is a very powerful weapon, and the more prayers that are lifted for our priests/bishops, the more they will be strengthened and sanctified. I love this quote, because it sums up our whole purpose. “In strengthening the priest, you strengthen the whole Church…. Strengthen the priest and you strengthen the whole foundation; you strengthen everything in the Church.” – Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, s.P. (Adele, Virginia)
Ø “I have always felt the call and need to pray for our Pastor/Shepherd. While on retreat, a person handed me the Apostolate booklet and I felt a call to start a group. Our parish has struggled these last years. We are so excited about the new Pastor that has been given to us and want to begin praying for him!” (Marie, Idaho)
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: Due to unforeseen work duties, Zahyra B has been on leave from Apostolate work the last 2 months. She hopes to get this one translated, posted/archived on the Website. If it is easier to receive through an email account, please let me know. Expect 2-4 days for translation. Commitment Prayer/Guidelines Booklet in Spanish (on the Web – free download).