19/3: Feast of St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church & of a Happy Death

The music video below is an instrumental only – the words to the hymn are posted for the benefit of those of us who love to sing this beautiful hymn in honour of the great Saint Joseph – but note, to sing the entire hymn, you’ll need to re-play the video half-way through…

Dear St. Joseph, pure and gentle,
Guardian of our Saviour child,
Treading with the virgin Mother
Egypts deserts rough and wild,

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

He who rested on Thy bosom,
Is by countless saints adored,
Prostrate angels in His presence,
Sing Hosannas to the Lord.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Now to thee no gift refusing,
Jesus stoops to hear thy prayer,
Then, dear saint from thy fair dwelling
Give to us a father’s care.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Dear St. Joseph, kind and loving,
stretch to us a helping hand,
Guide us through earth’s toils and sorrows,
Safely to the distant land.

CHORUS
Hail St Joseph, spouse of Mary,
Blessed above all saints on high,
When the death-shades round us gather,
Teach, O teach us how to die (twice)

Comment: 

We really ought to pray very hard today, to seek St Joseph’s powerful intercession as Patron of the Universal Church at this time of unprecedented and worsening scandal, adversely affecting the Faith of many Catholics, preventing those who are poorly instructed as well as those outside the Church from seeing her beauty and realising her God-given mission as unique custodian and preacher of religious truth and guardian of the moral order. St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us! 

As with all devotional threads, post your favourite stories about St Joseph, prayers, novenas, miracles, hymns.  

The story goes that a visiting Bishop brought some strictly enclosed nuns a large tub of ice-cream to share.  When the Mother Prioress protested that it was Lent, the Bishop replied: “Well, we need these wee breaks in Lent!”  I think that is even more true today, so – Catholic Truth bloggers and readers – enjoy some ice-cream to mark the Feast of St Joseph, as we celebrate this wee break in Lent!  

A very happy Feast of St Joseph to all our bloggers and visitors to this site. 

Pope genuflects to the world but won’t kneel before the Blessed Sacrament?

Christian Order, Editorial, November 2018 – Nihilists Old & New

As Christians worldwide are put to the legal sword for obeying the Ten Commandments, or censored and banished from cyberspace for daring to express and defend their beliefs and views, the remains of Christian civilisation are being finished off before our eyes at an astonishing rate — without a shot being fired.

To what purpose? Ultimately, godless transnational elites seek to establish an Orwellian fiefdom atop the ruins of social and moral breakdown. The greater the fear and chaos, the easier to consolidate control (e.g., the police state triggered by 9/11 via the Patriot Act). Since relentless propaganda is essential to this oligarchic end, weaponisation of mainstream media has been extended to the internet. Through control of both Big Tech itself — Amazon, Google/YouTube, Paypal, Twitter, Facebook et. al. — and increasingly the major web hosting companies who connect us to them, they have consolidated their unaccountable control of daily discourse and world events. The promotion of open borders is just one arm of the multi-pronged attack on Christian life and culture enabled by this monopoly on social communications.

Guiding the process, as ever, is the sinister hand of U.S. intelligence agencies. As a former Congressional Intelligence Committee staffer, Diane Roark, confirmed in 2014: “There is no content that is off limits.” When it comes to the personal data of everyone on earth, she said,

Their motto is “Collect it all,” as shown in the Snowden documents. And what they told me before I left was, “We’re going to own the web.” And they do. The Snowden documents have revealed they do.

Undaunted by FBI raids on her home, Roark bravely came forward to reveal National Security Agency secrets that threaten us all, while stressing to Americans in particular that “given that it’s domestic surveillance, the primary user is the FBI, not NSA.” The Stasi itself could only dream of such embedded tyranny.

If the relentless gains of this multi-layered totalitarian juggernaut and its nihilistic PC creed seemed unstoppable before the election of Francis, since that fateful day even our paternal protection has been stripped away. A pontiff who genuflects to the world but will not kneel before the Blessed Sacrament is not a father of Catholic souls but a figurehead for worldlings. Clearly, whatever the hidden history of his rise to power — how and by whom he has really come about — Jorge Bergoglio is one of them.

That much, at least, is beyond dispute. The growing storm over his long history of protecting sexual predators, brought to a head by Archbishop Viganò, changes nothing. Despite huffy headlines, the press have not suddenly turned on their Pope. Why would they when he promotes their anti-Catholic agenda? Not least by his refusal to plainly and simply acknowledge and denounce the homosexual nature of clerical sex abuse; a non-response tailored to the ongoing homosexualisation of life and culture: the nihilist lynchpin of globalism. “Homosexualisation of the media, the homosexual mafia … controls virtually everything that you read, everything that you see, everything that you hear,” American radio host Michael Savage noted a dozen years ago.

Humanly speaking, therefore, we are up against the wall. Yet it was ever thus. As G. K. Chesterton reminds us in the following extracts from his stirring ballad, our dark predicament, though uniquely horrific in its stealthy way, is the perennial and blessed lot of Christians. Introducing his work, he explained that:

The cult of [King] Alfred was a popular cult, from the darkness of the ninth century to the deepening twilight of the twentieth. […] Alfred has come down to us in the best way (that is, by national legends) solely for the same reason as Arthur and Roland and the other giants of that darkness, because he fought for the Christian civilisation against the heathen nihilism.

Like locusts of the Apocalypse [Rev. 9:1-5], a plague of virile nihilists descended on our Catholic ancestors to devour them and eradicate their Triune God. They failed. Today, new barbarians — effete nihilists soaked in sodomitic vice — are in the ascendancy and waging war by other means; conspiring corporately to the same apocalyptic end. Once more the Church Militant is under siege. And once again — armed with the Holy Rosary; united with the ranks of the Church Triumphant and Church Suffering — we will overcome; the Faith will endure. Always.  Source  (all emphases in original.)

Comment:

I sometimes receive emails with photos of Pope Francis standing instead of kneeling during Mass. Seeing the matter raised again in the above (excellent) Christian Order editorial, I donned my Miss Marple hat and launched an investigation.

The first video clip below suggests that the pontiff has a real problem, possibly due to arthritis, requiring help to get down and then up again, while the second clip shows him kneeling with relative ease at a confessional.  However, he can lean forward to get himself down and be supported at the confessional as he rises again – so is it fair to suggest that he is refusing to kneel before the Blessed Sacrament – implying malice?   Any arthritis sufferer who struggles to bend the knee will tell you that it is extremely difficult to kneel without assistance, so I’m not so sure. I’m inclined to think that, in this matter, albeit in very few others, Pope Francis should be given the benefit of the doubt. What do you think?

However, it’s not that simple.  Surely, it can’t be beyond the bounds of the imagination and resources of the Vatican to construct a kneeler to be placed at the altar, so that the Pope can kneel with relative ease, as he is filmed so doing at the confessional?  Or am I being “rigid”?

Share your thoughts on the issue of the Pope’s apparent problem with kneeling at Mass, and the other important matters raised in the above Christian Order editorial… 

14 January: Feast of St Mungo (Kentigern) Patron Saint of Glasgow… 

Mungo or Kentigern was born in 518. He was the son of Tannoch, a princess of Lothian, who has given her name to St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow, and to Tannochside near Uddingston. Tannoch’s father was a pagan and when she adopted Christianity she was expelled from her home. During her wanderings she was raped, and her father ordered that she be set adrift in an open boat at Aberlady in order that her pregnancy should not bring a slur on the family name. The boat was washed upon the shore at the Christian settlement of Culross and there the infant Kentigern was born. He was christened Kendyern, British for “Great Chief’. (The British form indicates that the ‘g’ should be soft. The hard ‘g’ perhaps arises from the fact that Jocelyn wrote in Latin).

But within the community he was often referred to by the pet name of Myncho, which has become Mungo, and means “little dear”. It is by this name that he is known as the patron saint of Glasgow. Having been ordained priest, Kentigern set out to restore the faith at Glasgow. He crossed the Forth at Alloa and set up his church on the Molendinar Burn, where Glasgow Cathedral now stands at the top of the High Street. He was greatly aided in his work of conversion by the local chieftain Rederich, whose fortress was Dumbarton, the fort of the Britons. Rederich brought over a Bishop from Ireland to consecrate the 25-year-old Kentigern first bishop of Glasgow.

Trouble from the pagans led to the flight of Rederich and Kentigern to the South. They stopped for a short time near Penrith and established a settlement at Crossfield. After a brief sojourn there, Kentigern travelled to Wales where he founded a monastery in the Vale of Ciwyd. Meanwhile Rederich and allies had defeated the pagans near Carlisle and Kentigern was able to return to Scotland in 573. He stopped at Hoddam, by Dumfries, and established missions throughout Galloway, which had been converted 150 years earlier by St Ninian.

After eight years Kentigern returned to Glasgow, where he died in January 603. In 1197, probably as a result of Jocelyn’s writings, a church was built over the tomb, and his church was the beginnings of the present Glasgow Cathedral. In Glasgow he was known better by his pet name of Mungo, but dedications to St Kentigern are common throughout the South of Scotland, in the North of England, and in Wales. Jocelyn’s account informs us that Kentigern met many other saints -St Serf at Culross, Saints David and Asaph in Wales, St Columba in Glasgow.

He also paid several visits to Rome, on the last of which the Pope gave Glasgow the title “Special Daughter of the Church”. St Kentigern was chosen as our patron firstly because of his connection with the old Kingdom of Lothian, his grandfather being Loth who ruled from the fort on Traprain Law near Haddington; and secondly because so many of the pupils here have Glasgow origins. 

The meaning of Glasgow’s coat of arms (pictured above)

Here is the bird that never flew
Here is the tree that never grew
Here is the bell that never rang
Here is the fish that never swam

The Glasgow coat of arms relate to the life and legend of St Mungo. The arms include ‘the tree that never grew’ relating to St Mungo tending a fire in St Serf’s monastery but he fell asleep and some lads who were envious of Mungo’s favoured position with St Serf put out the fire while he slept. When Mungo woke he broke off branches from a frozen hazel tree and by praying over them and lit the fire again, the hazel branches were transformed in to a fully grown tree. The ‘bird that never flew’ is about a robin that had been tamed by St Serf and it had been accidently killed. Mungo prayed over the robin and brought it back to life. The ‘fish that never swam’ is about a ring which a King gave to his wife Langoureth who gave it to her lover a knight who wore it and when the King noticed this took it from him when he was sleeping and threw it in the River Clyde. The King then demanded to see the ring from Langeoreth and she confessed this to Mungo who sent a monk to fish the river and found the lost ring. The bell is attributed to a bell that was reputedly given to Mungo by the Pope.  The motto “Let Glasgow Flourish” is an abbreviation of a statement taken from a sermon given by the saint: “Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy Name.” 

St Enoch

Mungo’s mother Thenew is  also known as St Enoch. It is believed St Enoch’s Square in Glasgow City Centre is the site of her burial ground.

For your interest…

For your information…

There is Mass in the SSPX church of St Andrew, Renfrew Street, Glasgow, at 6.30pm on Monday, 14 January, to mark the Feast. 

Happy Feast Day everyone!  

Comments invited… 

Advent Reflection: Preparing for Birth of Saviour & Second Coming of Christ… 

 

Comment: 

The blog will be closed to comments throughout Advent, to allow us all to prepare spiritually and materially for the Feast of Christmas. 

As we all know, in Advent we prepare firstly to welcome the long-awaited Messiah into the world, in celebration of the first Christmas when He came into the world to save us from sin and eternal death.  Secondly, we reflect on the Second Coming of Christ when He will come to judge the world.  Salvation and Judgment, then, are themes which give us plenty of food for meditation, reflection and prayer during  the four weeks of Advent. 

Again, as we know, and it is good to remind ourselves, Advent, like Lent,  is a time of penance – the “famine before the feast” – so, the Catholic Truth team wishes all of our bloggers, readers and lurkers, a very peaceful and productive Advent.  

The blog will re-open to comments on Christmas day.   

27 November: The Story of St Catherine Laboure & The Miraculous Medal… 

Mother and Child
The sound of the evening Angelus bells floated across the fields and vineyards of Burgundy. It was the second day of the month of May in the year of Our Lord 1806. In the little village of Fain-les-Moutiers a child of destiny was coming into the world, a tiny instrument of God, who would one day be the confidante of the Queen of Heaven to usher in the age of Mary. Her name was Catherine Labouré, the ninth child of a family of eleven.

The following day, the Feast of the Finding of the True Cross, the small child was baptized. All her life she was to have a deep devotion to the Cross of Our Lord. It would not be long before she was to feel the weight of sacrifice with the death of her mother at the age of nine.

Early one morning shortly after her mother’s death, a family servant came silently upon the little one standing on her tiptoes, stretching upwards, impelled by love, until she reached the statue of the Blessed Virgin. As she held the statue in her arms and leaned her head against the Madonna, the servant heard the child say: “Now, dear Blessed Mother, now you will be my Mother!”

Catherine received her First Holy Communion at the age of eleven on January 25th, 1818. From that day on, she rose at four o’clock each morning and walked several miles to assist at Mass and to pray for grace and strength before the start of her day’s work. Her only desire now was to give herself without reserve to her dear Lord. Never was the thought of Him far from her mind.

By this time Catherine’s elder sister, Marie Louise, had left to join the Daughters of Charity, and the little girl who had always been obedient now had to direct and supervise the homestead. She looked after everything: she made the bread, cooked and did the housework, carried daily meals to the workmen in the fields and cared well for the animals.

A Daughter of Charity
Once, when she was in the village church, she saw a vision of an old priest saying Mass. After Mass the priest turned and beckoned to her with his finger, but she drew backwards, keeping her eyes on him. The vision moved to a sickroom where she saw the same priest, who said: “My child, it is a good deed to look after the sick; you run away from me now, but one day you will be glad to come to me. God has designs for you. Do not forget it!” At that time, of course, she did not understand the significance of the vision.

As is the European custom, Catherine’s father invited various suitors to seek her hand in marriage and always her reply was: “I shall never marry; I have promised my life to Jesus Christ.” She prayed, worked, and served the family well until she was twenty-two, when she asked her father’s permission to become a Daughter of Charity. He flatly refused, and to distract her, sent her to Paris to work in a coffee shop run by her brother Charles. During the entire year spent there, she maintained her resolve to become the bride of Christ.

Her aunt, Jeanne Gontard, came to Catherine’s aid and enrolled her in the finishing school she directed at Chatillon. Since Catherine was a country girl, she was miserable at this fashionable school. One day, while visiting the hospital of the Daughters of Charity, she noted a priest’s picture on the wall. She asked the nun who he might be, and was told: “Our Holy Founder, Saint Vincent de Paul.” This was the same priest Catherine had seen in the vision. Later, after much persuasion from her Aunt Jeanne, her father granted permission for Catherine to enter the convent.

In January of 1830 Catherine entered the hospice of the Daughters of Charity at Chatillon-sur-Seine. This was just after the Reign of Terror in France, where sacrileges were committed in the name of freedom. Licentious women danced on the main altar of Notre Dame. Even the body of St. Genevieve, the Patroness of France, was desecrated. Saint Vincent de Paul’s body had been hidden, but four days after Catherine’s entry into the Mother House, his remains were transferred back to his own church with joyous processions and ceremonies.

Shortly after her entrance, God was pleased to grant Catherine several extraordinary visions. On three consecutive days she beheld the heart of Saint Vincent each time under a different aspect. At other times she beheld Our Divine Lord during Mass, when He would appear as He was described in the liturgy of the day.   

First Apparition
In 1830 Catherine was blessed with the apparitions of Mary Immaculate to which we owe the Miraculous Medal. The first apparition came on the eve of the feast of St. Vincent, July 19. The mother superior had given each of the novices a piece of cloth from the holy founder’s surplice. Because of her extreme love, Catherine split her piece down the middle, swallowing half and placing the rest in her prayer book. She earnestly prayed to St. Vincent that she might, with her own eyes, see the Mother of God.

That night, a beautiful child awoke her from her sleep, saying: “Sister Labouré, come to the chapel; the Blessed Virgin is waiting for you.” When Catherine went to the chapel, she found it ablaze with lights as if prepared for Midnight Mass. Quietly, she knelt at the Communion rail, and suddenly heard the rustle of a silk dress. The Blessed Virgin, in a blaze of glory, sat in a chair like that of Saint Anne’s.


Catherine rose, then went over and knelt, resting her hands in the Virgin’s lap, and felt the Virgin’s arms around her, as she said: “God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world.”

A pained expression crossed the Virgin’s face. “Come to the foot of the altar. Graces will be shed on all, great and little, especially upon those who seek them. Another community of sisters will join the Rue du Bac community. The community will become large; you will have the protection of God and Saint Vincent; I will always have my eyes upon you.” (This prediction was fulfilled when, in 1849, Fr. Etienne received Saint Elizabeth Seton’s sisters of Emmitsburg, MD, into the Paris community. Mother Seton’s sisters became the foundation stone of the Sisters of Charity in the United States.)

Then, like a fading shadow, Our Lady was gone.

The Second Apparition
Four months passed until Our Lady returned to Rue du Bac. Here are Catherine’s own words describing the apparition:

“On the 27th of November, 1830 … while making my meditation in profound silence … I seemed to hear on the right hand side of the sanctuary something like the rustling of a silk dress. Glancing in that direction, I perceived the Blessed Virgin standing near St. Joseph’s picture. Her height was medium and Her countenance, indescribably beautiful. She was dressed in a robe the colour of the dawn, high-necked, with plain sleeves. Her head was covered with a white veil, which floated over Her shoulders down to her feet. Her feet rested upon a globe, or rather one half of a globe, for that was all that could be seen. Her hands which were on a level with Her waist, held in an easy manner another globe, a figure of the world. Her eyes were raised to Heaven, and Her countenance beamed with light as She offered the globe to Our Lord.  

“As I was busy contemplating Her, the Blessed Virgin fixed Her eyes upon me, and a voice said in the depths of my heart: ‘ This globe which you see represents the whole world, especially France, and each person in particular.’

“There now formed around the Blessed Virgin a frame rather oval in shape on which were written in letters of gold these words: ‘ O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.’ Then a voice said to me: ‘ Have a medal struck upon this model. All those who wear it, when it is blessed, will receive great graces especially if they wear it round the neck. Those who repeat this prayer with devotion will be in a special manner under the protection of the Mother of God. Graces will be abundantly bestowed upon those who have confidence.’

“At the same instant, the oval frame seemed to turn around. Then I saw on the back of it the letter ‘M’, surmounted by a cross, with a crossbar beneath it, and under the monogram of the name of Mary, the Holy Hearts of Jesus and of His Mother; the first surrounded by a crown of thorns and the second trans-pierced by a sword. I was anxious to know what words must be placed on the reverse side of the medal and after many prayers, one day in meditation I seemed to hear a voice which said to me: ‘ The ‘M’ with the Cross and the two Hearts tell enough.’ “

“All who wear this medal will receive great graces . . .”

The Miraculous Medal
The Mother of God instructed Catherine that she was to go to her spiritual director, Father Aladel, about the apparitions. At first he did not believe Catherine, but, after two years, approached the Bishop of Paris with the story of the events that had taken place at Rue du Bac. Our Blessed Mother had chosen well Her time for the apparitions as the Bishop at that period was an ardent devotee of the Immaculate Conception. He said that the Medal was in complete conformity with the Church’s doctrine on the role of Our Lady and had no objections to having the medals struck at once. The Bishop even asked to be sent some of the first.

Immediately upon receiving them, he put one in his pocket and went to visit Monseigneur de Pradt, former chaplain to Napoleon and unlawful Archbishop of Mechlin who had accepted his office from the hands of the Emperor and now lay dying, defiant and unreconciled to the Church. The sick man refused to abjure his errors and the Bishop of Paris withdrew in defeat. He had not left the house when the dying man suddenly called him back, made his peace with the Church and gently passed away in the arms of the Archbishop, who was filled with a holy joy.

The original order of 20,000 medals proved to be but a small start. The new medals began to pour from the presses in streams inundating France and the rest of the world beyond. By the time of St. Catherine’s death in 1876, over a billion medals had been distributed in many lands. This sacramental from Heaven was at first called simply the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, but began to be known as the Miraculous Medal due to the unprecedented number of miracles, conversions, cures, and acts of protection attributed to Our Lady’s intercession for those who wore it.

In 1841, the most remarkable miracle occured – the conversion of Alphonse Ratisbonne, a wealthy Jewish banker and lawyer and also a blasphemer and hater of Catholicism. M. de Bussieres, gave him a medal, daring him to wear it and say a Memorare. After considerable persuasion he agreed to do so. Not long after, Alphonse accompanied M. de Bussieres to the Church of Sant’Andrea delle Frate to make funeral arrangements for a dear friend. There Alphonse saw a vision of Mary as on the Miraculous Medal. He was converted instantly and immediately begged for Baptism.

Alphonse Ratisbonne later went on to become a priest, taking the name of Father Alphonse Marie. Working for thirty years in the Holy Land, he established several institutions. Out of reverence and gratitude to Our Savior, he built the expiatory sanctuary of the Ecce Homo on the spot where Pilate displayed Jesus to the Jews. So great was the love he had for his people, that he dedicated the remainder of his life, as did his brother, Father Theodore, to work for the conversion of their immortal souls. Among the converts of these two priest brothers were a total of twenty eight members of their own family.

Conclusion
On the last day of 1876, St. Catherine passed to her eternal reward. For the forty-six years from the year of the apparitions until her death, only she and her confessor knew who it was to whom the famous Miraculous Medal was revealed, despite many pressures she received to reveal the secret. The years passed by, Catherine performed daily her mundane and very ordinary tasks of sewing and door keeping, unknown to the world around her, which was buzzing with the miraculous effects of the medal. Because of this humility, she is often called the Saint of Silence. When her body was exhumed for beatification 57 years after her death in 1933, it was found as fresh as the day it was buried. Her incorrupt body can still be seen today at the Mother House of the Daughters of Charity in The Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, 140 Rue du Bac in Paris.   Source

Comment: 

Share your stories about the miraculous medal, answers to prayers and favourite devotions, novenas etc.  

And a very happy Feast of the Miraculous Medal to one and all…   

16/11: Feast of St Gertrude the Great…

The following account of the life of St Gertrude the Great, is taken from website of Catholic Tradition

January 6, 1232 – November 17, 1291

Saint Gertrude, Virgin, Mystic, and Benedictine Abbess, was called by Our Lord Himself, “My chosen Lily”, and the Church has given her the title of “Great” although she is not counted among the Doctors of the Church, at least as of yet. She is the only woman Saint to have been accorded this honor. There [is]  more than one Saint named Gertrude, one of whom was the Abbott of the monastery when Gertrude entered there at five, so it is an added blessing that she is distinguished by the term Great, for our sakes, because there is one less opportunity for confusion. It ought to come as no surprise that she was born in that great age of Saints, the 13th century, among which are numbered St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and in the later years of which, both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic, the latter two being born in the 12th century. Not only was this century the “Century of Saints”, but the age of the most wondrous of Saints.

Our Gertrude the Great was born at Eisleben, Germany, the same town as that of the unfortunate heretic, Martin Luther. But when she was born there were no Lutherans or any kind of Protestants because all of Christendom was Catholic. The revolt and upheaval would begin a scarce two centuries later. Note that she was born on the Feast of the Epiphany, destined as she was by God’s providence to be one of the Stars in the Communion of Saints. Her parentage is unknown for certain, although it is thought that she was born a countess, but we do know that when she was five years old, she was placed in the care of the Benedictine nuns at Helfta in Saxony, where she became the pupil and close friend of St. Mechtilde. The nuns there were known for their thoroughness in training and study, which only served to augment the intellectual gifts that God had bestowed on Gertrude. Very early on she was versed in Latin, the Bible, and the works of the Fathers of the Church. Yet, compared to her capacity for loving God, they pale. While still a child she began to speak to the Heart of Our Lord, her chosen One. She already had the capacity and the readiness to withdraw as much as possible from worldly pursuits in order to spend time with Him. And Jesus did come to her; the Benedictine sisters were not slow to learn that she was favored by Heaven. One nun, who suffered the torment of terrible temptations, had a dream in which she was told to ask Gertrude for help, to ask for her prayers. And as soon as Gertrude began to pray for her, the temptations ceased. Another religious had a similar urgent need of help. She took a cloth which had been used by the Saint, applied it to her heart and she was instantly healed of her spiritual malady. [2]

Our Lord Himself conveyed to another favored soul that Gertrude “contains and perfects in her soul those five virtues which please Me above all others, and which I have placed therein by a singular liberality; she possesses purity, by a continual influence of My grace; she possesses humility, amidst the great diversity of gifts which I have bestowed on her — for the more I effect in her, the more she abases herself; she possesses a true benignity, which makes her desire the salvation of the whole world for My greater glory; she possesses a true fidelity, spreading abroad, without reserve, all her treasures for the same end. Finally, she possesses a consummate charity; for she loves Me with her whole heart, with her whole soul, and with her whole strength; and for love of Me, she loves her neighbor as herself.” [3]

St. Gertrude was elected Abbess of her monastery in 1294 when she was but thirty. And for forty more years she continued to guide her spiritual children, many of whom attained a high degree of sanctity. As superior she was known for her zeal, and for her charity. Whenever anyone was suffering, whether in body or in spirit, she could not rest. If repentance was required she prayed and wept until the person had repented. She preferred this approach to severe upbraiding. So fervent were her nuns because this approach that not only did they attain sanctity but a number of them received singular favors from Heaven.

By this time Gertrude’s mystical union with her Spouse, Our Lord, Jesus, was so ardent and intimate that even the thought of sudden death could not disturb her. In fact she expressed her desire to join her Spouse. But she surrendered her will to His in this matter, saying that she preferred His will and providence even to the Sacraments.

Her confidence, which we shall speak about later, was so pre-eminent that it is impossible to think that his Sacred Heart could refuse her anything. It was not always thus. Once she had been praying fervently for a favor, which He had not yet granted. When asked Him why the delay, He replied that it was because she was lacking in confidence of the effects of His Mercy.

Later, He told St. Mechtilde, “I have united My Heart so closely to her soul by the ties of My Mercy that she has become one spirit with Me. It is on this account that she obeys so promptly all the desires of My will . . .” [4]

One year, before the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, St. Gertrude, addressing Our Lord’s Five Wounds, repeated the following salutation five thousand four hundred and sixty-six times: “Glory be to Thee, most sweet, most gentle, most benign, most noble, most excellent, effulgent, and ever-peaceful Trinity, for the roseate wounds of my only Love!” As she repeated this salutation, our Lord Jesus appeared to her, more beautiful than the Angels, bearing golden flowers on each Wound, and saluted her thus, with a serene countenance and the tenderest charity: “Behold in what glory I now appear to you. I will appear in the same manner to you at your death, and will cover all the stains of your sins, and of those also who salute My Wounds with the same devotion.” [5]

Gertrude’s life became daily more supernatural and often she experienced ecstasies in which she not only enjoyed the company of Our Lord, but His Holy Mother as well. Even her favorite Saints came to visit her.

She also wrote with St. Mechtilde a series of prayers that became very popular, and because of this and her writing, devotion to the Sacred Heart began to spread. After numerous sufferings and an almost lifelong set of infirmities, she now neared her death. The Sisters were reading the Passion of Christ at her bedside where Jesus appeared to her with Our Lady at His right hand. The nuns pronounced the words, “And bowing His Head, He gave up the ghost,” Jesus leaned toward the Saint, opening wide His adorable Heart, pouring forth all His love while the Angels surrounded her bed; she beheld them inviting her to Paradise and heard then singing, “Come, come, O mistress! . . . Alleluia, alleluia!” [6] She died at Helfta on November 17 and although never formally canonized, Pope Clement XII in 1677 directed that her Feast [Originally November 17, but in this past century, the 16th] be a universal Feast in the Church. She is listed in the Roman Martyrology, which lists all the Saints and Martyrs.

She is the patron of the West Indies because of a petition to the Holy See made by the King of Spain.  To learn more about this great saint, click here

Comment: 

My beloved mother (RIP) was named Elizabeth Gertrude, but, unfortunately, she hated her middle name. While she disliked the name,  though, she loved the saint and would boast that her middle name patron was “St Gertrude the Great“…

Clearly, St Gertrude the Great was highly favoured, although cynics would question the visits from Our Lord and other mystical experiences.   Such experiences appear to have been not uncommon in those days.  It seems unlikely that they are as common today.   Feel free to share your thoughts on that, but also consider what – if anything – we might learn from a saint like St Gertrude the Great that would help us to become more pleasing (to God) Catholics. 

Does Music Help the Spiritual Life? 

As we’ve had discussions on books which have helped us know the Faith better, on spiritual reading books, and even blogged to share jokes, and as the Feast of St Cecilia, Patron Saint of Music approaches  (22 November), now might be a good time to reflect on the role – if any – of music in building our spiritual life.

There are people who misinterpret the exhortations of the great mystical saints who teach us to avoid seeking sensible consolation in prayer,  as meaning that any sense of uplift within the soul is a bad thing and to be avoided  This is nonsense.  Singing a devotional hymn should lift our mind and soul to God and so it is with other beautiful music.  I remember hearing a composer once explain her conversion to Christianity by telling a radio interviewer that, while she could explain how she chose the notes that created a beautiful melody, she could not account for, nor take credit for, the impact it had on the listener’s innermost being – the soul.  That set her thinking anew about the whole question of the existence of God and ultimately led her into Christianity. Unfortunately, I had switched on the radio halfway through the interview, and this was some years ago, so I’m unable to provide the name of said composer.  Anyway, it stands to reason that a composer may well have the talent to create a lovely piece of music, but is unable to foresee the impact it will have on individual listeners.  That recognising this fact has led at least one composer to seek Christ, is wonderful. 

So, in honour of St Cecilia, let’s share some of our favourite pieces of music, whether hymns or some moving pieces which may raise our minds and souls to God.  The two videos included in this introduction are among my own favourites … Enjoy!

Reminder – to post a video directly onto the page, simply find it on YouTube and copy the link from your browser.  Bring it back to the blog, and paste it into a comment box, with your own remarks, perhaps explaining why it is one of your favourites. No limits, either, feel free to post as many as you wish!  If you can’t find a video-presentation, just tell us what kind of music helps your prayer and meditation.  Of course, if you disapprove of hymn singing or of seeking any sensible consolation in prayer, let us know, but be aware that the saints were not banning sensible consolation – they were simply warning us against thinking that we are not praying well if we lack such sensible consolation. Over to thee!