St Gertrude, Virgin – 16 Nov
We don’t know who her parents were or what became of them, and she may have been an orphan. Gertrude was raised in the Benedictine abbey of Saint Mary of Helfta, Eisleben, Saxony from age five. An extremely bright and dedicated student, she excelled in literature and philosophy, and when she was old enough, became a Benedictine nun. At age 26, when she had become too enamored of philosophy, she received a vision of Christ who reproached her; from then on she studied the Bible and the works of the Church Fathers. Gertrude received other visions and mystical instruction, which formed the basis of her writings. She helped spread devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her writings have been greatly praised by Saint Teresa and Saint Francis de Sales, and continue in print today.
She was born on 6 January 1256 at Eisleben, Thuringia (part of modern Germany) and died on a Wednesday of Easter season, 17 November 1302 at the convent of Saint Mary’s of Helfta, Saxony (part of modern Germany) of natural causes. Her relics are in the old monastery of Helfta.
May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. I praise and glorify your great patience which bore with me even though, from my infancy and childhood, adolescence and early womanhood, until I was nearly 26, I was always so blindly irresponsible. Looking back I see that but for your protecting hand I would haven been quite without conscience in thought, word or deed. But you came to my aid by giving me a natural dislike of evil and a natural delight in what is good, and provided me with necessary correction from those among whom I lived. To make amends for the way I previously lived, I offer you, most loving Father, all the sufferings of your beloved Son, from that first infant cry as he lay on the hay in the manger, until that final movement when, bowing his head, with a mighty voice, Christ gave up his spirit. I think, as I make this offering, of all that he underwent, his needs as a baby, his dependence as a young child, the hardships of youth and the trials of early manhood. To atone for all my neglect I offer, most loving Father, all that your only-begotten Son did during his life, whether in thought, word or deed. And now, as an act of thanksgiving, I praise and worship you, Father, in deepest humility for you most loving kindness and mercy. Though I was hurrying to my eternal loss, your thoughts of me were thoughts of peace and not of affliction, and you lifted me up with so many great favors. Finally, you drew me to yourself by your faithful promises of the good things you would give me from the hour of my death. So great are these promises that for their sake alone, even if you had given me nothing besides, my heart would sigh for you always and be filled with a lively hope. – from the by Saint Gertrude
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen. – Saint Gertrude