March 12, 2014

⛪ Saint Gertrude the Great

St. Gertrude, virgin and mystic, who received authenic visions of Christ and a prayer for the souls in purgatory. St. Gertrude also received the stigmata. Our Lord gave her a prayer for the souls in purgatory, which He promises will release 1,000 souls each time it is said.
Upon completion of her studies, at the age of 15 or 16, Gertrude entered the community of Helfta. She was strong in character and personality and became a life-giving presence in the monastery. As a young woman, however, Gertrude was not overly pious and became so engrossed in her secular studies that she neglected her spiritual calling. By the time she was 24, she was beginning to find the routines of the monastery tiresome. During the Advent season of 1280, she endured a severe trial emotionally and spiritually. Shortly after her 25th birthday, on January 27, 1281, Gertrude experienced a sudden and unexpected encounter with the risen Christ, which she calls her "conversion." In her deepest heart she heard Christ say to her, "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free."
In 1289, Gertrude heard Christ ask her to write an account of the many graces she had received. Reluctantly, Gertrude wrote a short spiritual autobiography, called "The Herald of God's Loving-Kindness." In it, she describes her awakening, which made Christ so real for her that she was able to overcome all resistance within herself and gradually move toward unconditional surrender to God's love. Her spiritual life was based in the scriptures and nurtured in the liturgy. Her prayer was Christ-centered, especially on His humanity represented by the image of the Sacred Heart, the divine treasury of grace. St. Gertrude experienced an intense love of the Eucharist, a loving embrace of the sinner, friendship for the outcast, and an enduring trust in God's mercy. As she matured, her eyes opened to the mystery of Christ's love in the Church and to its evangelizing mission in the world.
St. Gertrude died on November 16 in 1301 or 1302, but her spiritual legacy lives on in the Church especially in her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus:

Many of the writings of St. Gertrude have unfortunately perished. Those now extant are:

—The "Legatus Divinae Pietatis",—The "Exercises of St. Gertrude";—The "Liber Specialis Gratiae" of St. Mechtilde.

The works of St. Gertrude were all written in Latin, which she used with facility and grace. The "Legatus Divinae Pietatis" (Herald of Divine Love) comprises five books containing the life of St. Gertrude, and recording many of the favours granted her by God. Book II alone is the work of the saint, the rest being compiled by members of the Helfta community. They were written for her Sisters in religion, and we feel she has here a free hand unhampered by the deep humility which made it so repugnant for her to disclose favours personal to herself. The "Exercises", which are seven in number, embrace the work of the reception of baptismal grace to the preparation for death. Her glowing language deeply impregnated with the liturgy and scriptures exalts the soul imperceptibly to the heights of contemplation. When the "Legatus Divinae Pietatis" is compared with the "Liber Specialis Gratiae" of St. Mechtilde, it is evident that Gertrude is the chief, if not the only, author of the latter book. Her writings are also coloured by the glowing richness of that Teutonic genius which found its most congenial expression in symbolism and allegory. The spirit of St. Gertrude, which is marked by freedom, breadth, and vigour, is based on the Rule of St. Benedict. Her mysticism is that of all the great contemplative workers of the Benedictine Order from St. Gregory to Blosius. Hers, in a word, is that ancient Benedictine spirituality which Father Faber has so well depicted (All for Jesus, viii).

The characteristic of St. Gertrude's piety is her devotion to the Sacred Heart, the symbol of that immense charity which urged the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take on Himself our sins, and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and a sacrifice to the Eternal Father (Congregation of Rites, 3 April, 1825). Faithful to the mission entrusted to them, the superiors of Helfta appointed renowned theologians, chosen from the Dominican and Franciscan friars, to examine the works of the saint. These approved and commented them throughout. In the sixteenth century Lanspergius and Blosius propagated her writings. The former, who with his confrere Loher spared no pains in editing her works, also wrote a preface to them. The writings were warmly received especially in Spain, and among the long list of holy and learned authorities who used and recommended her works may be mentioned :

—St. Teresa, who chose her as her model and guide,—Yepez,—the illustrious Suarez,—the Discalced Carmelite Friars of France,—St. Francis de Sales,—M. Oliver,—Fr. Faber,—Dom Gueranger.

The Church has inserted the name of Gertrude in the Roman Martyrology with this eulogy: "On the 17th of November, in Germany (the Feast) of St. Gertrude Virgin, of the Order of St. Benedict, who was illustrious for the gift of revelations."


"Each time a person receives Holy Communion, their place in Heaven becomes greater and their stay in purgatory is shortened." While she was meditating on The Blessed Sacrament and wondering how our Lord could bring Himself so low as to live on our altars in the form of bread, Jesus Himself told her this story. A little prince, living in a huge palace filled with toys and games of all kinds, looked out of the window one day and saw some poor children playing in the street. Noticing the little boy looking out, his tutor asked him: "Would you like to stay in the palace today or go out and play with those children in the street?". "I would love to go out and play with them," answered the prince. Permission was granted, the prince put on the oldest clothes he had and played all day with the poor children in the street.It was one of his happiest days.Then our Lord said to St. Gertrude: "I am like that little prince, I like to be with you men and women.Whoever keeps people away from Communion deprives Me of a great joy."

"O heart that diffuses gentleness;

O heart that runs over with loving-kindness;

O heart that overflows with charity;

O heart that distills pleasantness;
O heart full of compassion!
O dearest heart, absorb my heart totally in you.
Grant me, dear Jesus, to love you alone in all things and above all things, to cling to you fervently, and to have hope in you always.
St. Gertrude the Great, pray for us! 

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