Saturday, December 08, 2007

St. Gertrude the Great's Wounds

It is amazing to come across the many who are, truly, victim souls. They come in all ages and in known and unknown ways. Some are approached by Jesus in visible and audible ways; others ask Jesus to let them participate in Him, in His intimate sufferings--but always with the intent of love. They love Him and want to be part of all of Him, which includes, of course, His sufferings.

Then the rest is up to Jesus. But why would He deny anyone who loves Him that much to want to be part of Him, to be partly in Him or totally in Him? It is best to desire total inclusion, but often we begin in bits and pieces. It is not easy to let go of "ourselves"!

Yet, what the soul must comprehend and accept, is that Jesus determines the when, where, how, and what--as well as discerns the why of our desires.

He grants us His intimate Self according to what He desires and wills for us. In the case of St. Catherine de Ricci, He chose after some time of her having exterior sufferings of His Passion, to remove the exterior manifestations because (and she asked this) it was becoming an obstacle to the life and work of the convent and a disruption for the growth of the souls about her. People from the world, perhaps were missing the point, being distracted by holy externals of the wounds.

St. Gertrude the Great is a saint who also participated in Christ's sufferings--in the many ways that we do in our every day lives, for there is suffering for those who desire to follow Christ. (And, there is suffering for those who do not desire to follow Him!) The former is a holy suffering, a purposeful suffering, a beneficial suffering; the latter is a suffering of meaningless despair.

St. Gertrude suffered seven specific illnesses in her lifetime. But beyond these, she suffered the typical plights of typical souls, in her on-going work of being purified. It is written that she never was free of imperfections, that her impulsiveness continued to be a humbling sticking point all her life.

Four centuries previous to the manifestations Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, Jesus favored St. Gertrude with much theology and prophecy of His Divine Heart.

It was early on in her life as a nun, at around age 25 or 26, St. Gertrude was blessed by Jesus to receive imprint in her heart, His Five Precious Wounds. In her own words she writes:

It was during the winter of the first or second year when I began to receive these favours that I met the following prayer in a book of devotions: "O most merciful Lord, engrave They Wounds upon my heart with Thy most precious Blood, that I may read in them both Thy grief and Thy love; and that the memory of Thy Wounds may ever remain in my inmost heart, to excite my compassion for Thy sufferings and to increase in me Thy love. Amen."

I thought attentively on these things, when I perceived that the grace which I had so long asked by the aforesaid prayer was granted to me, unworhty though I am; for I perceived in spirit that Thouh hadst imprinted in the depth of my heart the adorable makrs of Thy Sacred Wounds, even as they are on Thy Body; that Thou hadst cured my soul in imprinting these Wounds on it; and taht, to satisfy its thirst, Thou hadst given it the precious beverage of Thy love.

St. Gertrude, from a beautiful prayer she found written, repeated that prayer and Jesus answered. Her love of Jesus was already at a stage of tremendous devotion: of single-minded purpose and full attention, to give a full or large part of one's time and focus on a person. The person is Christ, and within Him, and of Him, His Sacred Heart.

When did Jesus' human heart, also Divine, become Sacred? Was it at the moment of the Wound--of the piercing? It is at that moment when the Holy Water flowed to usher in the Church and in souls to purify and cleanse. It is at that moment the Precious Blood flowed to ensure our salvation and to pour forth the Sacraments.

A soul might pray and pray and pray for such graces as to participate in the sufferings of Christ--but to have in the soul's intellect and will, certain sufferings. Did St. Gertrude have in her imagination or intellect an image of exactly what she prayed--of the specific wounds or how that might become a reality? We don't know. Probably not. She simply prayed, but she prayed with deep love and desire and devotion. Jesus chose to grant her the imprint of His wounds on her heart. Prior, she had contemplated much His sufferings, and loved His Heart to a point in which Jesus obviously met her prayers as they had met God's will.

So, if one prays for His wounds to be imprinted in one's heart, the means of this may come in unexpected ways. Perhaps the soul will be required to suffer in ways known by God to better prepare the soul in further detachment and in complete surrender to His will. It may mean taking insults or slights, or in doing daily duty with love, or creating better order in the objects and possessions, in eating or other modes of earthly life. This does not mean that Jesus will not grant the desire to suffer in union, to have His wounds implanted, but it may mean the victim's heart is simply not ready. Or, the wounds may be implanted, but the victim may not be aware, for it could be that the victim's intellect and will are not purified enough to sense this grace. Or, it may be that Jesus has some other sharing in His suffering to be His will.


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