Sunday, 16 November 2014

Feast of St Gertrude the Great

17th C painting in Cistercian Monastery in Tarragona,
  “You will find me in the heart of Gertrude.”
Today is truly a day upon which to renew and refresh our devotion to the heart of Jesus, for we celebrate the life of St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1302) .  Gertrude was a remarkable woman - and rightly deserves the title of great.  She appeals to me for a few reasons - the first is that she was someone whose love for the heart of Jesus demonstrates how deep seated is the devotion in the history of the Catholic Church. Hence, in images of her she is generally shown holding the heart of Jesus close to her own heart. She understood how important the Sacred Heart is to the Church - and we so urgently need to rediscover it today. So we ask for her prayers that the heart of Jesus may once again become central to the spiritual life of Christians.

She wrote many prayers to the Sacred Heart- including this one:

O most loving Jesus by the pierced Heart, I pray thee wound my heart with that arrow of love; so that nothing of earth may abide in it more but that it may be filled with thy  glowing love alone forever. 

If anyone wants to get closer to the mystery of the heart of Jesus, there is no better guide than her writings and prayers. 

The other reason she appeals to me is that she was a considerable scholar: as Benedict XVI observes, she was an 'extraordinary student', full of passion for her studies in secular knowledge.  Read here.  It is always exciting to be with someone who has a passion for their subject, whether it is trilobites or medieval poetry.  Reading about her, you feel she would have over flowed with her interest in literature, painting music, and Latin and all her other passions.  And yet, in her 'twenties she realised that knowledge of this kind was not enough: she had pursued knowledge of the world and had neglected to search for wisdom. And where did she find that wisdom ?  Gertrude found true wisdom in an intense relationship with the heart of Jesus - the treasury of all wisdom and knowledge.  She was given the grace of profound mystical experiences of the Sacred Heart.  The extraordinary scholar thus found the source of all the wisdom and knowledge she desired flowing from the loving heart of  Jesus. We live in an age in which information and knowledge overflows our lives: indeed sometimes I think we seem to be drowning in information and knowledge! We think that we can solve all the world's problems by getting smarter and smarter.  And this is the great delusion - as St Gertrude  came to understand.  We need the wisdom of God.  Today, we pray that we, like this great saint, may be filled with the glowing love of God.  We need the Sacred Heart.

St Gertrude, pray for us. 

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