Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Great Woman Named Gertrude

Today the Roman calendar celebrates the remarkable Saint Gertrude of Helfta, a medieval woman who made a powerful impression on German Thuringia two centuries before the birth of Luther. She gave energy and warmth to the evangelical (i.e. "Gospel"-focused, Christ-centered) Catholic reform movement that spread through Western Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries.

Known to history as St Gertrude the Great, she takes her place among those whose whose labor gave shape to the Christian ideal in the High Middle Ages, with Bernard and Hildegarde, Dominic, Francis, and Clare, Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas. As a 13th century Benedictine nun in a prominent monastery, Gertrude was a scholar and spiritual writer whose reputation for holiness drew many in the Church and the world to seek her counsel.

However, she was above all a child of God, a true Christian mystic enraptured by the merciful and loving heart of Jesus.
In one of the visions she recounted, Jesus said to her, "My Divine Heart, understanding human inconstancy and frailty, desires with incredible ardor continually to be invited, either by your words, or at least by some other sign, to operate and accomplish in you what you are not able to accomplish yourself. And as its omnipotence enables it to act without trouble, and its impenetrable wisdom enables it to act in the most perfect manner, so also its joyous and loving charity makes it ardently desire to accomplish this end."