Homilies: November 2010 Archives

She Sings Her Ode to the King

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November 16th
Saint Gertrude the Great, Virgin

Her Heart Overflows With a Goodly Theme

It is right and just that today we should sit at the feet of Saint Gertrude, that we should take time out to listen to her song, for “her heart overflows with a goodly theme as she sings her ode to the King” (cf. Ps 44:1). This humble Cistercian Benedictine of the 13th century is the only woman in the Church calendar to be honoured with the title “the Great.” Saint Gertrude the Great is a medieval woman with an astonishingly contemporary message.

O Taste and See

Saint Gertrude is a theologian in the patristic sense of the word: one who has tasted God and who communicates the taste of God and the taste for God to others. In this she is model for every priest, for the priest is called to be one who has tasted God and who communicates the taste of God and the taste for God to others. Gertrude’s soul was shaped by Sacred Scripture, by the Fathers of the Church and, more than anything else, by the daily experience of the monastic liturgy celebrated in choir. From the time of her arrival at the monastery of Helfta at the age of five, her life revolved around the Sacred Liturgy, the Church’s hourly, daily, weekly and yearly rhythm of prayer and praise.

Bride of the Word

Saint Gertrude was permeated with the Word of God. The Scriptures were her daily bread. The psalms were ever on her lips and in her heart. The Church’s sung prayer, expressed in the ancient chant, was like a deep-flowing river, irrigating her life and causing the seed of the Word to spring up, producing both flowers and fruit. Saint Gertrude developed an amazing theology touching on the sacraments of initiation, on eschatology, on the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, on the Heart of Jesus, on the action of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in souls, on Our Lady and the saints, on the mystical ways of prayer and the contemplative experience of God.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus

Saint Gertrude’s theology is rooted in experience. This is the beauty of her contribution to our Catholic theological and mystical heritage. The focus of her contemplation was the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the pierced Heart out of which flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34). Saint Gertrude was drawn to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by the secret action of the Father, working in her soul through the Holy Ghost. “No one comes to me,” says the Lord Jesus, “unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Jn 6:44).

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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