Month: June 2013

Feast of the Sacred Heart

Gertrude the Great

 

 

St Gertrude the Great (1256 — 1302), a Benedictine nun and mystic, is most closely associated with the beginning of devotion to the Sacred Heart. She was born on 6 January 1256 in the little town of Eisleben in Thuringia. At age 5, Gertrude went to the Cistercian monastery school of Helfta in Saxony.

In 1280, she was 24 years old, a half-hearted and distracted nun. Towards the end of the year, she went through an inner emotional and spiritual crisis that lasted several weeks. She felt lonely. lost and depressed.

On 27 January, 1281, Gertrude saw Jesus in person in the form of a marvellous adolescent who said to her, “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation”. She was overwhelmed and  her life changed through  what would be described later as a mystical conversion.

“In a happy hour, at the beginning of twilight, thou O God of truth, more radiant than any light, yet deeper than any secret thing, determined to dissolve the obscurity of my darkness.”

 

Remembering that day, she was to write: “Jesus, my Redeemer, you have lowered my indomitable head to your gentle yoke, preparing for me the medicine suited to my weakness”. From that moment, she was solely concerned with living in full union with Jesus.

 

Following this conversion of heart, she became the confidant of Jesus, who revealed to her the infinite Love of his Divine Heart and charged her to spread it among human beings with love for the suffering and for sinners. Gertrude’s ecstasies with Jesus prompted her to write those ardent pages that would bring souls to him.

Humble, always happy and smiling, with a loving heart for all, she sparkled with trust, joy and peace, and led everyone to the Lord. To her soul, Jesus was like a spring day, vibrant with life and scented with flowers: Love par excellence, the one overwhelming Love. This is why she is known on the one hand as the “Teresa of Germany” and on the other, the “theologian of the Sacred Heart”.

One day, Jesus said to Gertrude: “It would be good to make known to men and women how they would benefit from remembering that I, the Son of God and of the Blessed Virgin Mary, always stand before God for the salvation of the human race, and that should they commit some sin through their weakness. I offer my unblemished Heart to the Father for them”.

In 1298 her health deteriorated but she transformed her sufferings into love, an offering with Jesus to the Father and a gift for humankind.

During her long and painful illness, she decided to recount the “adventure” of her conversion and to tell of the wonderful revelations with which Jesus had favoured her: “Until the age of 25, I was a blind and insane woman… but you, Jesus, deigned to grant me the priceless familiarity of your friendship by opening to me in every way that most noble casket of your divinity, which is your divine Heart, and offering me in great abundance all your treasures contained in it”.

On 17 November 1301, at age 45 she died. Her prayer is still used by many.

 

Prayer to the Sacred Heart

Hail! O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. Thou art my refuge and my sanctuary, O my amiable Savior. Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Thine is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things, be conformed to Thine. May Thy divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. Amen.

 

 

 

Sacred-heart-of-jesus-ibarraran

African saints: Charles Lwanga and his 21 companions

Many Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, were killed by the Ugandan King Mwanga II. Charles Lwanga (born in about 1860) and his twenty-one companions (the youngest, Kitizo, was only 13 years old) were executed in Buganda, south Uganda, for being Christians, for rebuking the king for his debauchery, for “praying from a book,” and for refusing to allow themselves to be ritually sodomised by the king. They were taken on a 37-mile trek to the place of execution at Namugongo. On June 3, they were brought out, wrapped in reed mats, and placed on the pyre to be burned to death. Several  others died between 1885 and 1887. Most of them, including Anglican converts,  were burned alive in a group after being tortured.
Charles Lwanga was a lay catechist who sought baptism amidst persecution. He was canonised in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Charles Lwanga and others had been catechised by the White Fathers who had only been in Uganda for six years. Many of these missionaries escaped persecution by local rulers and tyrants but died of malaria and dysentery in East Africa. They were expelled from the country but the converts continued their work.
  Within a year of their deaths, the number of catechumens in the country quadrupled. St Charles Lwanga is the patron of Catholic Action and of black African youth, and the Ugandan martyrs’ feast day is a public holiday in Uganda.

Reading 1 Tb 1:3. 2:1A-8.

I, Tobit, have walked all the days of my life on the paths of truth and righteousness. I performed many charitable works for my kinsmen and my people who had been deported with me to Nineveh, in Assyria. On our festival of Pentecost, the feast of Weeks, a fine dinner was prepared for me, and I reclined to eat. The table was set for me, and when many different dishes were placed before me, I said to my son Tobiah: “My son, go out and try to find a poor man from among our kinsmen exiled here in Nineveh. If he is a sincere worshiper of God, bring him back with you, so that he can share this meal with me. Indeed, son, I shall wait for you to come back.”

 

   Tobiah went out to look for some poor kinsman of ours.When he returned he exclaimed, “Father!” I said to him, “What is it, son?” He answered, “Father, one of our people has been murdered! His body lies in the market place where he was just strangled!” I sprang to my feet, leaving the dinner untouched; and I carried the dead man from the street and put him in one of the rooms, so that I might bury him after sunset. Returning to my own quarters, I washed myself and ate my food in sorrow. I was reminded of the oracle pronounced by the prophet Amos against Bethel: “All your festivals shall be turned into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation.”

 

   And I wept. Then at sunset I went out, dug a grave, and buried him. The neighbors mocked me, saying to one another: “He is still not afraid! Once before he was hunted down for execution because of this very thing; yet now that he has scarcely escaped, here he is again burying the dead!”