St. Gertrude the Great

That one so united to God should have been specially favored with the gift of miracles, is but what we might expect in the ordinary course of spiritual life. Those who give themselves up without reserve to God receive His gifts also without reserve. They do His will, and He accomplishes theirs: for the will of the Bridegroom and the bride is one. The Saint once obtained the cessation of a frost which was so severe that had it continued longer, the fruits of the earth would have been utterly destroyed. Her petition was offered at the Holy Sacrifice; and as she was about to approach the adorable Sacrament of the Altar, our Lord assured her that He had granted her request. With holy boldness, however, she asked that the hail which was then falling might instantly cease. Her petition was granted, but as she was absorbed in the greatness of the action she was about to perform, she thought no more of her request. It was only remembered as she left the church and saw the thaw which had already commenced. Those who knew not of the prayer of the Saint were greatly amazed at the sudden change of weather and feared it was but a passing cessation of the dreaded severity, but it was not so: the country was spared desolation and famine, though few knew to whom they were indebted for this favor.

Once also, when long and heavy rain threatened to destroy the harvest, all the sisters were constantly offering prayers and penances to avert the calamity. Gertrude at last, with the holy confidence of extraordinary sanctity, declared that she would not cease praying until she obtained fine weather. Immediately the sky became serene and fair, though a few moments before dark and heavy clouds had threatened a long continuance of rain.

It was the Saint’s ordinary custom to have recourse to her heavenly Spouse in every trial, whether of less or greater import, and her prayers were equally accepted on all such occasions. What, indeed, is little in His sight, who so cares for His elect, that the very hairs of their head are numbered, and not one can fall without His knowledge? Thus it is related of Gertrude, that even when she had lost a needle with which she had been working, and had sought it for some time in the straw where it had fallen, she turned to her Lord, for whose glory it had been used, and asked Him to help her in her search; even as she spoke, she put her hand once more into the straw, and found instantly what she had so long looked for in vain. Indeed, so great was the power of the Saint over the Heart of her Spouse, that it appeared as if our Divine Lord Himself was pained to refuse her any request. It happened on one occasion, that a long continuance of drought, combined with tempestuous weather, caused serious fears for the fruits of the earth. St. Gertrude, as usual, had recourse to prayer. It was not the Will of God to grant her petition; but with amazing condescension, He vouchsafed not only to inform her of His designs, but even, as it would appear, to excuse Himself to her for not complying with her request.

“The reason which obliges Me sometimes to grant the prayers of My elect does not exist between you and Me, since our wills are so closely united by the sacred tie of grace, that you desire nothing but what I Myself desire. But because I design by the terrors of this tempest to conquer some who rebel against My Will, and at least to oblige them to seek Me by prayer, since they only come to Me when they have no other resource, it is necessary that I should refuse you what you desire. Nevertheless, that you may know that your prayers have not failed in their effect, I will grant you in return some other spiritual favor.” What a revelation of the tenderness of the Father and the sanctity of the child! Alas! Then, are there those to whom our dear Lord is obliged to grant the favors they ask because they cannot bear to be refused, because, to prevent their murmurs, He gives that which, had they more faith, would be refused! And, alas, is it not too true that thousands seek Him only when all else has failed, and must be driven into the arms which all day long are opened to welcome them with such ineffable tenderness!

This article is taken from a chapter in The Life and Revelations of St. Gertrude the Great by St. Gertrude and a Religious of her monastery, which is available from TAN Books.



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