Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."

As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

November 16: Saint Gertrude the Great

Posted by Jacob

"Lord, you have granted me your secret friendship by opening the sacred ark of your divinity, 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 that, if I did not know the abyss of your overflowing condescensions, I should be amazed were I told that even your Blessed Mother had been chosen to receive such extraordinary marks of tenderness and affection"

Today, November 16, we also celebrate the feast day of Saint Gertrude the Great (also known as Gertrude of Helfta, 1256-1302), mystic, writer, visionary, Virgin of the Church, and Abbess. Saint Gertrude is referred to as "the Great" because of her single-hearted love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus, her numerous writings and exercises for the faithful, and her tireless compassion and prayer for the souls in purgatory.

Little is known about the early life of Gertrude, other than that she was born in Eisleben in Saxony. Her parents were either deceased or incapacitated, and by the age of five, Gertrude had been placed in the care of a cloister of Benedictine nuns in Rodalsdorf. When she completed her studies, she was moved to the monastery at Helfta (although it isn’t clear why). The sisters of the Helfta monastery kept records, describing the child, Gertrude, as loveable, quick-witted, and gracious. She progressed through her studies with ease, demonstrating clarity of thought and depth of understanding far beyond her years. While she excelled at all subjects—including grammar, rhetoric, logic, and Latin—Gertrude was most adept at theology and divinity studies. She also studied and excelled at music.

When she reached the age of admission, sometime around 16, Gertrude took the veil at Helfta monastery, entering the community there, and committing herself completely in service to the Lord. As a novice, she continued her studies in liturgy, scripture, and spiritual writing. A voracious reader, she became fluent in Latin and German. However, as much as she excelled at her studies, her sisters believed her to be neglecting her spiritual calling. And by her own admission, by the age of 24, Gertrude had grown tired of the monastic routine, and fallen into a deep depression.

However, that would soon change. Just after she reached her 25th year, Gertrude was confronted by a mystical encounter with Christ—an event she referred to as her “conversion.” In her experience, she heard Christ (deep within her heart) say: "Do not fear. I will save you and set you free." She wrote: "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." What followed was a series of mystical visions and ecstasies, which drew her into contemplative, mystical prayer, transformed her life, increased her devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and led her to pen her exercises. Gertrude gave up her literary studies completely, spending all of her time in prayer, study of Scripture, and contemplation.

Saint Gertrude prayed that she, and her sisters, might have more time to pray and fewer distractions and requirements. During one encounter, Jesus answered "It does not matter to me whether you perform spiritual exercises or manual labor, provided only that your will is directed to me with a right intention. If I took pleasure only in your spiritual exercises, I should certainly have reformed human nature after Adam's fall so that it would not need food, clothing or the other things that man must find or make with such effort."

Saint Gertrude was especially devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as well to the suffering of the souls in Purgatory. In one Vision, Our Lord told Gertrude that He longs for someone to ask Him to release souls from purgatory, just as a king who imprisons a friend for justice's sake hopes that someone will beg for mercy for his friend. In her text, Gertrude recorded the Lord’s words: "I accept with highest pleasure what is offered to Me for the poor souls, for I long inexpressibly to have near Me those for whom I paid so great a price. By the prayers of thy loving soul, I am induced to free a prisoner from purgatory as often as thou dost move thy tongue to utter a word of prayer."

At another time, Gertrude was given the following Prayer, which Our Lord told her would release 1000 Souls from Purgatory every time it is said with love and devotion. "Eternal Father, I offer You 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, those in the Universal Church, in my home, and in my family." From that moment, Gertrude prayed incessantly for the souls of Purgatory.

Gertrude’s mystical encounters with the Lord continued, and when she turned 33, Jesus asked her to record in writing an account of her experiences. Out of humility, she resisted, but eventually acquiesced so that her experiences might encourage others. Gertrude penned a short biography, entitled “The Herald of God’s Loving-Kindness,” to which her sisters added all the information they knew about her. In her text, Gertrude carefully described her own “conversion” and awakening to Christ, and her complete unconditional surrender to the grace and beauty of the Lord.

Gertrude later wrote another text, her “Spiritual Exercises,” to inspire and encourage her sisters with prayers, hymns, and reflections. Saint Gertrude’s exercises remain important, grounded in themes and rites of Church liturgy for occasions of Baptism, conversion, commitment, discipleship, union with God, praise of God, and preparation for death. They continue to be practiced by those who are interested in deepening their spirituality through prayer and meditation.

Saint Gertrude’s visions continued until the end of her life. When it was her time, the Lord called her to Him, saying: "Come, my chosen one, and I will place in you My throne." Her relics remain at the Abbey in Helfta, where they are venerated today. Though she was never formally canonized, Pope Clement XII in 1677 directed that her feast be observed throughout the Church.

Saint Gertrude's understanding of God's love continues to inspire us today. For her, the love of the Lord is anchored in the mystery of the mutual love between the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, which is forever directed toward all creation. But for Gertrude, the focus on the mystery of Jesus was less about history and more about the humanity He shares with us. Her emphasis was not that we should imitate Jesus, but that we are invited to participate in a human-divine union that already exists, based upon His creation. In prayer and sacrament, we encounter this blessed union. Gertrude lived this love every day, throughout her activities and the Liturgy, where she found Christ. Her life is a reminder to each of us that the heart of the Christian life is prayer, through which we unite with Our Lord in a deeply personal way.

From the Revelations by Saint Gertrude:

“May my soul bless you, O Lord God my Creator, may my soul bless you. From the very core of my being may all your merciful gifts sing your praise. Your generous care for your daughter has been rich in mercy; indeed it has been immeasurable, and as far as I am able I give you thanks. I praise and glorify your great patience which bore with me even though, from my infancy and childhood, adolescence and early womanhood, until I was nearly 26, I was always so blindly irresponsible. Looking back I see that but for your protecting hand I would haven been quite without conscience in thought, word or deed. But you came to my aid by giving me a natural dislike of evil and a natural delight in what is good, and provided me with necessary correction from those among whom I lived. To make amends for the way I previously lived, I offer you, most loving Father, all the sufferings of your beloved Son, from that first infant cry as he lay on the hay in the manger, until that final movement when, bowing his head, with a mighty voice, Christ gave up his spirit. I think, as I make this offering, of all that he underwent, his needs as a baby, his dependence as a young child, the hardships of youth and the trials of early manhood. To atone for all my neglect I offer, most loving Father, all that your only-begotten Son did during his life, whether in thought, word or deed. And now, as an act of thanksgiving, I praise and worship you, Father, in deepest humility for you most loving kindness and mercy. Though I was hurrying to my eternal loss, your thoughts of me were thoughts of peace and not of affliction, and you lifted me up with so many great favors. Finally, you drew me to yourself by your faithful promises of the good things you would give me from the hour of my death. So great are these promises that for their sake alone, even if you had given me nothing besides, my heart would sigh for you always and be filled with a lively hope.”

The Prayer of Saint Gertrude for the Souls in Purgatory

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.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.

you filled the heart of St. Gertrude
with the presence of your love.
Bring light into our darkness
and let us experience the joy of your presence
and the power of your grace.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who
lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Year 2: Day 320 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Deep Union with the Lord; Improved Prayer Lives
Requested Intentions: Blessings on overseas employment (M); Healing of mother (L); Successful employment for husband (G); Successful employment, personal fulfillment (C); Health and recovery of ill sister (A);  Resolution of legal issues; Grace and protection (E); Successful and meaningful employment (S); Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M); Academic success for son, employment for husband and brother (B); Freedom from anxiety and panic attacks (R); Health and healing in preparation for surgery (C); Healing of a chronic illness (P); Safety of a family during storms (A); Successful home ownership (P); Healing of a marriage (M); Employment for a husband, blessings for a marriage (E); Successful examinations for a daughter, healing of a relationships (V).


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