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St. Gertrude the Great - Feast

Masses at 7am, 8am and 11:30am.

From our Pastor:

The rich history of St. Gertrude Church began on November 16, 1923, the Feast of St. Gertrude, when a
group representing approximately 25 Catholic families from this area gathered at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Willenbrink. Their purpose was to petition Archbishop Moeller to have Mass celebrated each Sunday in the general vicinity of Madeira. Today, 93 years later, we stand in the great history of so many who through the years have sacrificed much to make St. Gertrude Church a shining pillar in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, with its particular Dominican heritage.

St. Gertrude the Great (or Saint Gertrude of Helfta) was born January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia (within the Holy Roman Empire of Germany). She died around the year 1302, although her exact date of death is not known. She was a German Benedictine nun, a mystic, and a theologian.

Nothing is known of her parents, so it is presumed she was probably an orphan. She makes reference to the fact that at the age of five she was already attached to the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary at Helfta, under the direction of its abbess-founder, another Gertrude of Hackeborn. Especially graced with intellectual gifts she dedicated herself to her studies, becoming an expert in literature and philosophy.

But during her early years in the monastery she also states that she was not all that religious. She later experienced a conversion to God and began to strive for perfection in her religious life, turning her scholarly talents to Scripture and theology.

Gertrude produced numerous writings, but only the Herald of God’s Loving-Kindness, partly written by other nuns and formerly known as her Life and Revelations, and the Spiritual Exercises remain today.

She had various mystical experiences, including a vision of Jesus, who invited her to rest her head on his breast to hear the beating of his heart, and the piercing of her heart with divine love.

Gertrude is most especially known for her tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory and urged prayers for them. She is therefore invoked for souls in purgatory. Perhaps for that reason, to her name has been attached a prayer that, according to a legend Christ promised to release a thousand souls from purgatory each time it was said. The prayer was extended to include living sinners as well. That prayer is located in the Blessed Mother’s Altar this month with the memorial of our beloved deceased. It prays:

"Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus Christ, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, for those in my own home and within my family. Amen."

The second spiritual reality she is especially remembered is a deep personal union with Jesus and his Sacred Heart, leading her into the very life of the Holy Trinity. She is one of the very first saints to develop the spirituality to the Sacred Heart of Christ, so much part of Catholic life today.

Together with the other nuns of her monastery she practiced a spirituality called “nuptial mysticism,” that is, she came to see herself as the bride of Christ. A spirituality still practiced by nuns and sisters to this very day.

But Gertrude’s spirituality was not an individualist spirituality. She lived in the Church, with her sisters, and with the rhythm of the sacred liturgy, where she found Christ. In the liturgy and Scripture, she found the themes and images to enrich and express her piety. Her personal prayer life was fed by the sacred liturgy, and the sacred liturgy fed her personal life with Christ.

Gertrude’s life is just another reminder that the heart of the Christian life is prayer: private and liturgical, ordinary or mystical, but always personal.

Finally friendship with Christ, a reality we all strive for, can be summarized this evening by the woman we call our own glorious patroness, and whom the Church calls Great.

"Lord, you have granted me your secret friendship by opening the sacred ark of your divinity. Opened your deified heart to me in so many ways as to be the source of all my happiness; sometimes imparting it freely, sometimes as a special mark of our mutual friendship. You have so often melted my soul with your loving caresses ... chosen me to receive such extraordinary marks of tenderness and affection."

Here is a woman who was deeply in love with Jesus Christ. One who promoted prayers for souls in purgatory and devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ. A woman who knew that to live in the Church, was to search deeply into Sacred Scripture, the Church’s tradition and teachings, and to discover Christ in the Church’s sacred liturgy.

Our parish is called to do the same. We pray that all who enter this church, under her patronage and intercession, find within these walls a refuge for prayer, the proclamation of the saving Gospel, the great treasure of Sacred Tradition, and the celebration with great devotion of the sacred liturgy.

May St. Gertrude the Great continue to bless us as we grow in faith and in love for each other ― striving for the ultimate purpose of life: union with the Divine Trinity, dwelling within the Divine Heart of Jesus Christ.

A blessed week to all,
Rev. André-Joseph LaCasse, O.P., Pastor

Date(s): 
Nov 16 2016 - 7:00am - 11:30am
Nov 16 2017 - 7:00am - 11:30am
Nov 16 2018 - 7:00am - 11:30am
Nov 16 2019 - 7:00am - 11:30am
Event Type: 
Church Event