Sunday, November 19, 2017

Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

In other years:
Saint Mechtilde of Hackeborn (1240/41-1298)
Medieval mystic, mentor to Saint Gertrude the Great

Readings of the day: RB 41
Mass: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Resp. Psalm 128; 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Matthew 25:14-30


WORLD DAY OF THE POOR

They should each try to be the first to show respect to the other,
supporting with greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body or behavior.
No one is to pursue what she judges better for herself, but instead,
what she judges better for someone else.
(RB 72:5-6)

WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.

God loves a cheerful giver.
(RB 5:16/2 Cor. 9:7)

Let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds.
(Pope Francis, Homily, November 19, 2017, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852)

Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul

Readings of the day: RB 40
Mass: Wisdom 18:14-16; Resp. Psalm 105; Luke 18:1-8

 
Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne icon by Milton Frenzel
JESUS TOLD HIS DISCIPLES A PARABLE
ABOUT THE NECESSITY TO PRAY ALWAYS WITHOUT BECOMING WEARY.

WILL NOT GOD THEN SECURE THE RIGHTS OF HIS CHOSEN ONES
WHO CALL OUT TO HIM DAY AND NIGHT?

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God,
make our life a prayer.

ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE,
INTERCEDE FOR US.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Saint Elizabeth of Hungary; Saint Hilda of Whitby

Readings of the day: RB 39
Mass: Wisdom 13:1-9; Resp. Psalm 19; Luke 17:26-37



St Elizabeth of Hungary
Elizabeth of Hungary (1207-1231): queen; devoted wife and mother; widowed at 20; Franciscan tertiary; relieved the sick, poor, and elderly; courageous woman of faith; woman of prayer; died at 24; canonized in 1235 by Gregory IX; patroness of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis and the Franciscan Secular Order.
St Hilda of Whitby

Hilda of Whitby (614-680): of royal stock; dedicated her life to God in the monastic life at 34; Abbess of the double abbey at Whitby; hosted the Synod of Whitby (decision to celebrate the date of Easter in accordance with the customs of Rome); zealous for education; poet; sought out by religious, kings, and the laity for her wisdom.

The heavens proclaim the glory of God.
Resp. Psalm 19

ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY,
HILDA OF WHITBY,
PRAY FOR US.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

SAINT GERTRUDE THE GREAT OF HELFTA (1256-1301/2)
Medieval Mystic

Saint Margaret of Scotland (1046-1093)
Queen, Patron of Scotland

Readings of the day: RB 38
Mass: Wisdom 7:22b-8:1; Resp. Psalm 119; Luke 17:20-25

Solemnity of Saint Gertrude, Federation of Saint Gertrude, USA:
Mass: Songs 8:6-7; Eph. 3:14-19; John 15:1-8


With a captive audience, I share an anecdote. Today is my Name Day—and as Italians say on such an occasion—Auguri! Buon onomastica! Before my perpetual monastic profession with the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, OR, I asked the prioress if I could receive a new monastic name. She agreed and asked me to submit three names for her consideration. Every morning I would add to the list of names that I considered—Gemma, Hilary, Cecilia, etc.—but none seemed quite fitting. Then, on November 16, 2006, I was showing an icon of Saint Gertrude the Great to a group of university students who were visiting the monastery. I shared with them Gertrude’s entrance to the monastery and subsequent conversion—a story which gave me hope for my own life. While explaining some of Gertrude’s human traits, namely, impatience, and as M. Marnau writes, “perhaps a certain harshness and intolerance with the lukewarm (directed, more often than not, against herself)…” I was overwhelmed and knew that Gertrude the Great was to be my patron. There would be no compromising…it would be Gertrude, or I would continue to be called by my baptismal name. I compiled the list of names and submitted it to the prioress: 1. Gertrude 2. Gertrude 3. Gertrude. On November 16, 2007, Saint Gertrude the Great of Helfta became my patron. I give thanks. May God be praised!

To provide a brief biography of Saint Gertrude, I also share with you part of a paper I wrote a few years back:

Gertrude the Great’s place of birth and family of origin are well described as a mystery. She relates the following details about her early life: “…from infancy, in my fifth year to be precise, you [God] chose me to be formed among the most faithful of your friends, to live in the household of your holy religion” (The Herald of Divine Love, II, 23). The household of holy religion that Gertrude entered in 1261, was the community of nuns at Helfta, Germany, who lived according to the Rule of St. Benedict. The monastery was a thriving center of spirituality and study. B. McGinn describes the environment at Helfta: “The ancient monastic ideal of combining the love of learning and the desire for God was alive and well at Helfta” (The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism—1200-1350, 267). The communal life at Helfta revolved around the daily rhythm of the Divine Office, lectio divina, work, and study. 

Welcomed by the community of nuns at Helfta, Gertrude entered the monastery school. She possessed many gifts and was well-liked by other students in the school. Gertrude’s biographer writes:

Even at this tender age, she already possessed the wisdom of a mature person. She was amiable, clever, and eloquent, and so docile that she was admired by all who heard her. As soon as she was admitted to the school, she showed such quickness and intelligence that she soon far surpassed in learning and knowledge all the children of her own age and all her other companions as well. Gladly and eagerly she gave herself to the study of liberal arts. And so the years of her childhood and youth were passed with a pure and innocent heart, and she was preserved by the Father of mercies (2 Cor. 1:3,4) from the many vain trivialities which often lead young people astray (cf. Wisdom 4:11-14) For this, may praise and thanks be given him for ever! (The Herald of Divine Love, I, 1.)

Even so, Gertrude was not always open to encountering God, or letting God encounter her. It is reasonable to think that if a person is placed within the environs of a thriving and loving monastic community and school at such an early age, the youngster would readily and fully embrace monastic values. Alas, simply living in the monastery does not make a person a Benedictine, [or a Cistercian] that is, one who does not “get too involved in purely worldly affairs” (RB 4:20). This is true of Gertrude who did not fully live monastic life until roughly twenty-four years later after entering the monastery! It was in her twenty-sixth year that St. Gertrude had her day of salvation, when the Lord appeared to her and “resolved to disperse the darkness of [her] night” (The Herald of Diving Love, II, 1). Until that time, she was worldly and prideful, and, according to her testimony, “alas, I was—in vain—bearing the name and wearing the habit of a religious” (II, 1).
So, Gertrude’s being open to the God of love was a process and not something that was taken for granted. Her conversion was the beginning of the mystical dimension of her life. From the age of 24, then, “her love of learning now became desire for knowledge of God…In those days she could never tire of the sweet pleasure she found in the contemplation of God and in the study of Scripture…” (I, 1, 53). Gertrude became solely focused on encountering God and letting God encounter her. Gertrude received the grace of encounter, of growing in intimacy with the God who gives himself unconditionally, whether we are recognize it or not.

Set me a seal on your heart.
Songs 8:6b

May Christ dwell in your heart through faith; that you rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Eph. 3:17-19

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. 
John 15:7-8


Pope Benedict XVI, on Saint Gertrude the Great, General Audience, Saint Peter’s Square, Oct. 6, 2010:

St Gertrude the Great, of whom I would like to talk to you today, brings us once again this week to the Monastery of Helfta, where several of the Latin-German masterpieces of religious literature were written by women. Gertrude belonged to this world. She is one of the most famous mystics, the only German woman to be called “Great”, because of her cultural and evangelical stature: her life and her thought had a unique impact on Christian spirituality. She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbour’s salvation. She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need…
St Gertrude’s life lives on as a lesson of Christian life, of an upright path, and shows us that the heart of a happy life, of a true life, is friendship with the Lord Jesus. And this friendship is learned in love for Sacred Scripture, in love for the Liturgy, in profound faith, in love for Mary, so as to be ever more truly acquainted with God himself and hence with true happiness, which is the goal of our life.


IN ALL THAT CONCERNS ME,
YOUR ADORABLE WILL BE DONE.
Saint Gertrude the Great

GERTRUDE THE GREAT OF HELFTA,
PRAY FOR US.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Saint Albert the Great (1200-1280)

Readings of the day: RB 37
Mass: Wisdom 6:1-11; Resp. Psalm 82; Luke 17:11-19


FOR THOSE IN POWER A RIGOROUS SCRUTINY IMPENDS.
(Wisdom 6:3)

Albert the Great, Universal Doctor, lover of wisdom—a man with power and in power—power he used for the glory of God. Born into a noble, German family, Albert joined the Dominicans at the age of 23. Scholar and teacher, Albert taught Thomas Aquinas, became a Master at Paris, organized a house of studies, was prior provincial of Germany, and, in 1260, became bishop of Ratisbon. After resigning as bishop, Albert focused on teaching and writing. He authored treatises on astronomy, chemistry, geography, and physiology. His theological works include a Summa and a commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. (see D. Farmer, Oxford Dictionary of the Saints, 10-11)

Albert was scrutinized through the canonization process. (the process is well presented in R. Fisichella’s slim volume, I Met Paul VI: The Pope by Those Who Knew Him) Canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1931, Albert was named both a Doctor of the Church and the patron of the natural sciences.
For those who keep the holy precepts hallowed shall be found holy,
and those learned in them will have a ready response.
Desire therefore my words; long for them and you shall be instructed.
(Wisdom 6:10)

In all circumstances, give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
ALLELUIA, ALLELUIA.

SAINT ALBERT THE GREAT,
PRAY FOR US.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tuesday of the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time

Readings of the day: RB 36
Mass: Wisdom 2:23-3:9; Resp. Psalm 34; Luke 17:7-10
 
Foot Washing on Holy Thursday

The readings from the Rule of Saint Benedict for today and tomorrow introduce us to today’s Gospel from Saint Luke. RB 36, “Care of the Sick,” reads in part: “Care of the sick must rank above and before all else, so that they may truly be served as Christ. Sick sisters must be patiently borne with, because serving them leads to a greater reward. Consequently, the abbess should be extremely careful that they suffer no neglect” (RB 36:1,6). Ch. 37, “Care for the Elderly and the Young,” begins, “Although human nature itself is inclined to be compassionate toward the old and the young, the authority of the rule should also provide for them” (RB 37:1). The chapters flow from Ch. 35, “Kitchen Servers of the Week.” The first verse, “The sisters should serve one another,” is the center of our communal life, namely living charity—Loving and serving God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and loving and serving our neighbor (RB 4:1). All that we do in the monastery flows from charity and leads to charity. We are called to foster good zeal with fervent love, respect one another, support one another with patience, compete in obedience to one another, and pursue what is better for the other instead of what is better for myself. We are to show the pure love of sisters. (RB 72) The precepts presented us by Saint Benedict are not optional; our monastic vocations call us to grow in charity through a life of service to one another, as do all Christian vocations. We stumble and fall yet the Living God sustains us with LOVE and MERCY so that we can serve one another with love and mercy. The sisters are obliged to love and serve the sick, elderly, and young—no one should suffer neglect.

WE ARE UNPROFITABLE SERVANTS;
WE HAVE DONE WHAT WE ARE OBLIGED TO DO.
Luke 17:10

What you did for one of the least of these you did for me.
(RB 36:3/Matt. 25:30).


Monday, November 13, 2017

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917), Patroness of Immigrants


The Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance celebrate the Feast of All Saints of the Benedictine Family

Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini (1850-1917)
 Patroness of Immigrants  

Readings of the day: RB 35:12-18
Mass: Wisdom 1:1-7; Resp. Psalm 139; Luke 17:1-6/Feast: Isaiah 61:9-11; John 15:1-8

INCREASE OUR FAITH.
(Luke 17:5)

BY THIS IS MY FATHER GLORIFIED,
THAT YOU BEAR MUCH FRUIT AND BECOME MY DISCIPLES.
(John 15:8)

See how the Lord in his love shows us the way of life.
Clothed then with the performance of good works,
let us set out on this way, with the Gospel for our guide,
that we may deserve to see him who has called us to his kingdom (1 Thess. 2:12).
(RB Prologue 20)

As we progress in this way of life and in faith, we shall run on the path of God’s commandments, our hearts overflowing with the inexpressible delight of love.
(RB Prologue 49)


SAINT FRANCES XAVIER CABRINI, PRAY FOR US.

ALL SAINTS OF THE BENEDICTINE FAMILY, PRAY FOR US.