Tag Archives: Benedictine saints and blesseds

Saint Gertrude the Great

St Gertrude the Great.jpg

A pivotal figure in our theology of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is Saint Gertrude the Great (1256-1302). She was a nun of the Abbey of Helfta. Saint Gertrude is the only woman on the liturgical calendar to hold the title “the Great.”

Gertrude was an extraordinary student, she learned everything that can be learned of the sciences of the trivium and quadrivium, the education of that time; she was fascinated by knowledge and threw herself into profane studies with zeal and tenacity, achieving scholastic successes beyond every expectation. If we know nothing of her origins, she herself tells us about her youthful passions: literature, music and song and the art of miniature painting captivated her. She had a strong, determined, ready and impulsive temperament. She often says that she was negligent; she recognizes her shortcomings and humbly asks forgiveness for them. She also humbly asks for advice and prayers for her conversion. Some features of her temperament and faults were to accompany her to the end of her life, so as to amaze certain people who wondered why the Lord had favoured her with such a special love.

Gertrude was an extraordinary student, she learned everything that can be learned of the sciences of the trivium and quadrivium, the education of that time; she was fascinated by knowledge and threw herself into profane studies with zeal and tenacity, achieving scholastic successes beyond every expectation. If we know nothing of her origins, she herself tells us about her youthful passions literature, music and song and the art of miniature painting captivated her. She had a strong, determined, ready and impulsive temperament. She often says that she was negligent; she recognizes her shortcomings and humbly asks forgiveness for them. She also humbly asks for advice and prayers for her conversion. Some features of her temperament and faults were to accompany her to the end of her life, so as to amaze certain people who wondered why the Lord had favoured her with such a special love.

She had a vision of a young man who, in order to guide her through the tangle of thorns that surrounded her soul, took her by the hand. In that hand Gertrude recognized “the precious traces of the wounds that abrogated all the acts of accusation of our enemies” (ibid., II, 1, p. 89), and thus recognized the One who saved us with his Blood on the Cross: Jesus.

From that moment her life of intimate communion with the Lord was intensified, especially in the most important liturgical seasons Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, the feasts of Our Lady even when illness prevented her from going to the choir. This was the same liturgical humus as that of Matilda, her teacher; but Gertrude describes it with simpler, more linear images, symbols and terms that are more realistic and her references to the Bible, to the Fathers and to the Benedictine world are more direct.

Read the whole of the Pope’s October 6, 2010 address on saint Gertrude the Great.

Prayer through the intercession of Saints Benedict & Maurus

The Benedictines celebrate the feast of Saint Maurus, a first disciple of Saint Benedict on January 15 and the Roman Martyrology notes his feast day as today. Liturgical calendars of religious aren’t always the same, sometimes for very good reasons. For Saint Maurus’ feast day in January I posted a prayer for the sick through his intercession which may interest you. Today, we’re honoring Saint Benedict and his student Maurus, by giving this prayer more “press” recalling the profound love they had for the Cross of Christ.

Sts Maurus & Placid with Benedict.jpg
Let us pray:
Through the intercession of the Immaculate Mother of God, ever a virgin, and by the intercession of St. Benedict and of St. Maurus, may the power of God + the Father, the wisdom of God + the Son, and the might of God + the Holy Spirit, deliver you from this infirmity. Amen.

May God’s will be done in all things, and so may it be done in your case, just as you seek and desire only the praise and honor of the all-holy Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Lastly, the priest blesses the sick person with the relic of the holy cross, saying:
May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son + and Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.
This formula provided by Abbot Maurus Wolter OSB, the then Abbot-President of the Beuronese Congregation, was approved by the Sacred Congregation for all priests and deacons, to impart the blessing, provided the formula approved by the Holy See is used.

The life of Saint Maurus is filled with terrific narratives of healings at the request of this saint at the Throne of Grace. One such miracle was a man’s diseased arm that needed healing Maurus prayed prostrate “at the foot of the altar, pouring forth his soul in fervent prayer. Having finished praying, he took from the altar the case of relics which had been sent him by his master, St. Benedict, and went to the bedside of the sick man. Having exposed the relic of the Cross, he made the sign of the Cross over every part of the arm from the shoulder to the fingers,” saying:

O God, the Creator of all things, You ordained that Your only Son should take flesh of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit for the restoration of your people, and You deigned to heal the wounds and infirmities of our souls by the redemption accomplished upon the sacred and glorious wood of the life-giving Cross: do You also vouchsafe through this powerful sign to restore health to Your servant.

Saint Gregory the Great

St Gregory the Great LBicci.jpg

When I think of Saint Gregory I think that without him we’d know little of the person of Saint Benedict, Saint Augustine of Canterbury (& others) and without Gregory we’d know little of what the worship of God was like and how faith was developed. Others will latch on to the fact that Gregory increased the ministry of the papal office but his lasting legacy for us is his efforts in showing us the reality of holiness, the desire in understanding the other person and how Christ sees him or her. This is fact true, the papacy under his guidance was expansive for the sake of the Gospel: the salvation of souls was most important to Gregory, as it ought to be for us.

His skill in preaching, teaching, governing and listening was stunning; his plan for missionary work stellar, his trust in Providence  beyond compare. Gregory worked hard to lead the Church to Christ in the unity of the Church especially with  Christians in the East, and those who needed to know Christ in Britain. He was true to himself: servus sevorum Dei.

We hold in prayer today Pope Benedict, abbots and abbesses, bishops and pastors of souls, musicians, the people of Britain, diplomats, and those engaged in the work of evangelization.
Servant of the Lord’s own servants,
Faith-filled shepherd of the sheep,
Gregory, as bishop, nurtured
All the Church, Christ’s ways to keep.
Writing, preaching, leading, loving,
Saint Peter’s steps he trod,
Raising singers up and training
Them to praise and worship God.
In his writings still he shows us
How to love and serve the Lord,
Counting not the cost and leaving
Al, so God might be adored.
To the Father, Son, and Spirit,
God the holy Three-in-One,
With Saint Gregory in glory
Let our work of praise be done!
J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2009, WLP
87 87 Stuttgart, Merton or
87 87 D Hyfrydol, Abbot’s Leigh

You received divine grace from heaven, O blessed Gregory, and strength from His divine power. You sought to follow the way of the Gospel, and your journey’s end brought you Christ’s reward. O blessed saint, beg Him to save us! (Troparion)

You became very much like shepherds of Christ. You led the flocks of monks into the heavenly sheepfold. There you taught your flock the law of Christ, O blessed father and now you sing in the heavenly abode, and you rejoice, happy in their company. (Kontakion)

The September Martyrs: Blessed John du Lau & companions

September Martyrs.jpgThe Benedictines and Carmelites in some places in the USA, and of course in England and France, liturgically remember the September Martyrs, also called the Paris Martyrs; you will also see the memorial listed as “Blessed John du Lau and companions” after the Archbishop of Arles, the highest ranking prelate among the 191 martyrs. The Benedictine nuns of Stanbrook Abbey are connected with the Carmelite nuns and retain some of the relics. Historians tells us that about 1500 clergy and religious were killed in 1792. And this act of martyrdom inspired the writing of Georeges Bernanos’s “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and the famous opera of Francis Poulenc, by the same name.

The French “virtue” of liberty was not applied to the Church. In fact, quite the opposite. Just a few years after the French Revolution there was a purge of high and low clergy, religious and laity. The killing of the clerics happened because the republican government seized control of the Church, a matter that was (and, remains so today) unacceptable to Catholic ecclesiology. As the state has its duty and responsibility for civic order and leadership, the Church’s mandate is found in sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium and not in positive law; in short all things pertaining to the salvation of souls. Matters of state are not the same for the Church and vice versa unless these matters concern the moral law. This, however, was not the reigning ideology. The Republicans passed legislation that rejected the authority of the Church and it wanted the bishops and priests to uphold the new laws giving the state control over the Church. Something similar had with the Oath of Supremacy in England. Clergyman and religious weren’t the only one to offer their lives as a gift to the Lord. the laity lost their lives too, aristocrats and peasant alike. Refusing to take the oath got you the label: “non-jurors.”
Some of the 191 were killed in cold blood, others were asked a question and depending on how they answered determined if they lived or died. No mental reservation was kept when it came to following the wisdom of the Church or the wisdom of man.
One observer noted that common among those put to death was that all faced death in a happy manner as one who would’ve gone to a wedding. Indeed, the wedding feast the martyrs were going to was the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (see the Book of Revelation).
The names beatified by Pope Pius XI in 1926 are listed here.

Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster

Bl Idelfonso Schuster.jpgAlmighty God, through Your grace, Blessed Alfredo Ildefonso, by his exemplary virtue built up the flock entrusted to him. Grant that we, under the guidance of the Gospel, may follow his teaching and walk in sureness of life, until we come to see You face to face in Your eternal kingdom.

 

Alfredo Ludovico Luigi Schuster was born in Rome of Bavarian immigrants on January 18, 1880. At 11 years old he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls taking the name Ildefonso in 1896; he professed solemn vows in 1902. Philosophy studies was done at Sant’Anselmo and theology was studied at Saint Paul’s where he was ordained a priest on March 19, 1904.

Service to the monastic way of life, besides the daily opus Dei (the praying of the Divine Office), included scholarship, novice master for 8 years, prior of the for 2 years, procurator of the Cassinese Congregation of the Benedictine monks for 12 years and abbot-ordinary of Saint Paul outside the Walls from 1918 until 1929. He was President of the Pontifical Oriental Institute from 1919 to 1922.

On June 26, 1929, Pope Pius XI nominated him the Archbishop of Milan and a few weeks later created him a cardinal on July 15. In 1933, the Order of Malta honored Schuster with the Grand Cross for his service to the Church.

Cardinal Schuster died of natural causes on August 30, 1954. In 1957, Cardinal Giovanni Montini –later Pope Paul VI– introduced Schuster’s cause for canonization. It is said that upon opening Schuster tomb on January 28, 1985, his was incorrrupt; he beatied on May 12, 1996 by Pope John Paul II.

Days before Blessed Ildefonso died he said: “You want something to remember be by. All I can leave you is an invitation to holiness….”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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