Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celebrating the Feast of St. Gertrude

We celebrate the Feast of St. Gertrude on November 16th. Sr. Kathleen Yeadon gives us a better understanding of the life of St. Gertude in this post.

Dwelling, being pruned and bearing fruit are all themes in the life of Gertrude of Helfta. Her book: The Herald of Divine Love invites us to enter into the heart of Jesus –a heart wounded by love.

God begins pruning her life in her mid 20’s. The liturgical life is the transformative source of pruning and bringing fruit from Gertrude’s life.

First her response to God:
I praise, adore, bless and thank you to the best of my ability for your wise mercy and your merciful wisdom! For you, my Creator and my Redeemer, have sought to curb my stiff-necked obstinacy under your sweet yoke with the remedy best suited to my infirmity (The Herald of Divine Love: p. 95-96).

As Gertrude attuned herself to this new awareness of God, she saw God everywhere: So you were with me in all my actions, stirring my spirit within me (97).

Although her life was flooded by God’s graces, Gertrude struggled with being present to God. May You ever find me as attentive to Yourself as You show Yourself to me. . . . a soul weighed down with the weight of the flesh, which always resists Your love (99).

Gertrude mourned her sins and faults. She found the mercy of God ever present: Even so, unworthy as I am, I found that the depths of Your love were not exhausted (100).

Gertrude’s desire to love God is evident in her prayer: Inscribe with your precious blood, most merciful Lord, your wounds on my heart, that I may read in them both you sufferings and your love (100).

God’s desire to be her all is found in God’s response to her: May all the affections of your heart be concentrated here: all pleasure, hope, joy, sorrow, fear, and the rest; may they all be fixed in my love (102).

Our Herald of Divine love shows us the fruit of a life filled with lectio as Scripture permeates every page of her writings.

Gertrude’s joy bubbles up and her gratitude to God is readily available: May my soul bless You (Ps 103: 1), Lord God my creator! May my soul bless you and, out of . . .my inmost being, let me proclaim the mercies of the overflowing love with which you enfold me, O my sweetest lover! (128)

I close with an image of dwelling with God: May I breathe my last breath in the protection of your close embrace, with your all-powerful kiss! May my soul find herself without delay there where your are, . . .indivisible, living and exulting in the full flowering of eternity, with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, true God, everlasting, world without end! (99)

Gertrude of Helfta: The Hearld of Divine Love, ed. and trans. Margaret Winkworth, The classics of Western Spirituality (New York: Paulist, 1993).

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