Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Saint Gertrude: The "Incredible Ardor" of Jesus

Today we celebrate Saint Gertrude "the Great" - of the 13th century Benedictine monastery in Helfta (Germany). She was one of the outstanding women of the medieval Church, a brilliant scholar, a counselor to many, and most importantly a mystic enraptured by the merciful and loving heart of Jesus.

Reports of Gertrude's visions, her special spiritual intimacy with Jesus, and her own prayers were written by her and/or her sisters at the Helfta monastery, many of whom were also saintly and highly educated during this period.

In one vision, Jesus reportedly 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."

Gertrude's prayers are full of vivid imagery:

"O devastating coal, my God, you who contain, radiate, and brand with living heat!...O powerful furnace..by whose operation dross is transformed into refined and choice gold when the soul, wearied by deceit, at long last blazes with an inner and insatiable desire to track down what belongs to it, and which it may receive from you alone: the very Truth."