The Spirit of Saint Gertrude – Revelations of the Love of the Heart of Jesus to His Creatures

Chapter I

Introduction

Our dear Lord has not forbidden the mutual love of His creatures; on the contrary, He has sanctified and ennobled it by His own example and by the example of His saints. It is only when we give to the creature what of right belongs alone to the Creator, that He complains. Thus we find an example of hallowed affection for a creature, in the singular love which all who knew Gertrude felt for her, and in the special love of the dear, though unknown friend, to whom we owe the careful compilation of her revelations.

It was revealed on one occasion to a person of great sanctity, as she prayed for Gertrude, why the Saint was so singularly dear to the Sacred Heart. “O Divine Love,” she exclaimed, “what is it You behold in this virgin which obliges You to esteem her so highly and to love her so much?” Our Lord replied: “It is My goodness alone which obliges Me; since she contains and perfects in her soul those five virtues which please Me above all others, and which I have placed therein by a singular liberality. She possesses purity, by a continual influence of My grace; she possesses humility, amidst the great diversity of gifts which I have bestowed on her – for the more I effect in her, the more she abases herself; she possesses a true benignity, which makes her desire the salvation of the whole world for My greater glory; she possesses a true fidelity, spreading abroad, without reserve, all her treasures for the same end. Finally, she possesses a consummate charity; for she loves Me with her whole heart, with her whole soul, and with her whole strength; and for love of Me, she loves her neighbour as herself.”

After our Lord had spoken thus to this soul, He showed her a precious stone on His heart, in the form of a triangle, made of trefoils, the beauty and brilliancy of which cannot be described; and He said to her: “I always wear this jewel as a pledge of the affection which I have for My spouse. I have made it in this form, that all the celestial court may know by the brightness of the first leaf that there is no creature on earth so dear to Me as Gertrude, because there is no one at this present time amongst mankind who is united to Me so closely as she is, either by purity of intention or by uprightness of will. They will see by the second leaf, that there is no soul still bound by the chains of flesh and blood whom I am so disposed to enrich by My graces and favours. And they will observe in the splendour of the third leaf, that there is no one who refers to My glory alone the gifts received from Me with such sincerity and fidelity as Gertrude; who, far from wishing to claim the least thing for herself, desires most ardently that nothing shall be ever attributed to her.” Our Lord concluded the revelation thus: “You cannot find Me in any place in which I delight more, or which is more suitable for Me, than in the Sacrament of the Altar, and after that, in the heart and soul of Gertrude, My beloved; for towards her all My affections, and the complacences of My divine love, turn in a singular manner.”

(note – It is generally supposed, but without sufficient authority, that these words were addressed to Saint Mechtilde. She may have been the “holy person” to whom the revelation was made; but this opinion is merely conjectural.)

On another occasion, a devout person, who was praying for the Saint, heard these words: “She for whom thou prayest is My dove, who has no guile in her, for she rejects from her heart as gall all the guile and bitterness of sin. She is My chosen lily, which I love to bear in My hands; for it is My delight and My pleasure to repose in the purity and innocence of this chaste soul. She is My rose, whose odour is full of sweetness, because of her patience in every adversity, and the thanksgivings which she continually offers Me, which ascend before Me as the sweetest perfumes. She is that spring flower which never fades, and which I take pleasure in contemplating, because she keeps and maintains continually in her breast an ardent desire not only for all virtues, but for the utmost perfection of every virtue. She is as a sweet melody, which ravishes the ears of the blessed; and this melody is composed of all the sufferings she endures with so much constancy.”

Chapter II

How the Heart of Jesus Loves and Rewards Our Confidence

The Saint’s confidence in God was indeed an eminent characteristic of her sanctity, and one which obtained for her immense favours. How could the Heart of Jesus refuse anything to one who trusted Him so entirely? How pleasing this virtue was to her Spouse was revealed to one of her religious, who had long prayed in vain for a particular favour, which she ardently desired. At last our Divine Lord vouchsafed to inform her of the reason of this delay, at which she had felt and expressed her profound amazement. “I have delayed answering your prayers, because you have not yet sufficient confidence in the effects which My mercy produces in you. Why do you not act like Gertrude, My chosen virgin, who is so firmly established on My Providence, that there is nothing which she does not hope for from the plenitude of My grace; therefore I will never refuse her anything, whatever she may ask Me.”

A holy man once earnestly prayed that he might know what virtue was most pleasing to our Lord in His spouse. He was answered, that it was “her generosity of heart.” But as this surprised him not a little, he ventured to reply: “As for me, O Lord, I had imagined that what pleased You most in this soul was the perfect knowledge she had of herself, and the high degree of love to which, by Your grace, she has attained.” Our Lord replied: “This generosity of heart is of such value and so great a good? that the height of perfection may be obtained through it. By means of it My elect is prepared at all times for receiving gifts of great value, which prevents her from attaching her heart to anything which could either impede Me or displease Me.”

It was the custom of the Saint, when she was offered any choice in articles of clothing or other necessaries, to close her eyes, and then to put out her hand and take whatever she touched. Then she received whatever fell to her lot with the most lively gratitude, as a present from our Lord Himself. Indeed, her devotion to Divine Providence was a special feature in her sanctity, and one which procured her many favours. What could be refused to one who trusted so utterly to Eternal Love!

Hence this soul became so united to Jesus as to have no will but His, so that our Divine Jesus Himself said to Saint Mechtilde: “I have united My Heart so closely to her soul by the ties of My mercy, that she has become one spirit with Me. It is on this account she obeys so promptly all the desires of My will; so that the harmony and understanding which exists between the different members of the body and the heart is not greater than that which exists between the soul of Gertrude and Mine; and as the moment a man has willed in his heart a movement of his hands, they accomplish his desire, because they are entirely subject to the will of the heart; and as one desires in his mind that his eyes should look on any object, and his eyes immediately open to obey him, so Gertrude is ever with Me, and at every moment is ready to obey the movements which I suggest.”

A similar revelation was made about the same time to another holy person, to whom it was said, that the union of the Saint with her Spouse would become even yet more perfect, that she would receive the gifts of God with yet greater abundance, and that she would attain so perfect a union with Him, that with her eyes she would only see what God willed her to see, with her ears only hear what He willed her to hear, and with her lips only speak what He willed her to speak.

That one so united to God should have been specially favoured 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 favour.

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. Saint 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 favour.”

Chapter III

editor’s note – I cannot find an edition of this work that contains chapter III

Chapter IV

How the Heart of Jesus Loves and Rewards Conformity to His Will in Sickness

During the last illness of the Saint, as the religious, who were so singularly devoted to her, prayed for her with great fervour, our Lord replied to her: “I have waited with inexpressible joy for this moment, that I might lead My elect into solitude, and there speak to her heart. I have not been disappointed in My expectation, for she conforms herself in all things to My will, and obeys Me in the manner which is most agreeable to Me.” The holy Benedictine understood that by solitude our Lord meant the illness of the Saint, in which He spoke to the heart of His beloved, and not to her ear; for His language is such as cannot be understood in an ordinary manner, just as those things which are spoken to the heart are rather felt than heard. Tribulations and afflictions of heart are the Lord’s language to His elect; when one who suffers thus reflects that they are useless, that they are spending their time uselessly – that others are labouring for them, and labouring in vain, inasmuch as they are never to recover their health through this labour – the soul answers to such thoughts, that what is most pleasing to God is to maintain interior patience, and to desire that the entire will of God may be accomplished in them. Such an answer does not reach Heaven in the usual manner of human communications, but resounds, as it were, through that sweetest Divine organ, the Heart of Jesus, which is. the ecstatic joy of the entire Trinity and the heavenly host. He continued thus: “My beloved affords Me the most intense and agreeable delight, because she despises not the afflictions of infirmity, as Queen Vasthi despised the orders of King Assuerus, when he commanded her to appear with a diadem on her head, that she might exhibit her beauty to his nobles. So, when I take pleasure in displaying the beauty of My chosen one in the presence of the ever-adorable Trinity and the heavenly host, I oppress her with sickness and infirmity; and she carries out my intentions to My perfect satisfaction, when, with all patience, she the more willingly and discreetly receives the relief and comfort I choose to give her body; and it adds to her glory that she sometimes does this with inconvenience to herself: but it should be her consolation to recollect that all things work together unto good to those that love God.” (Romans 8)

On another occasion, while the same religious was praying for her, the Lord said to her: “It is a pleasure to Me to have My chosen one prepare a lodging for Me, and then to bestow on her pearls and flowers of gold. By pearls I mean her senses, by flowers of gold her leisure, with which, when she has time, and her strength is somewhat restored, she discharges her duty as well as she can, in preparing most becoming and acceptable ornaments for Me; being solicitous how she may so arrange everything that can tend to increase and preserve religion, so that after her death her rules and example may be as a firm pillar to support religion in eternal praise. But in the height of her labours, if she feels that she is injuring her health, she immediately desists, and leaves Me to finish the work; for the real fidelity that moves My Heart consists in persons discharging their duty when they find themselves in good health, and immediately desisting and entrusting all to me when they find themselves indisposed.”

As the illness of the Saint increased, she became incapable of the least manual labour, and her tender conscience was filled with fear lest there should be any imperfection even in this compulsory inactivity; she therefore requested the religious who had received so many revelations for her consolation to pray for her. Our Lord replied:

“A good king never takes it ill of his queen if she neglect bringing forward at a given hour the ornaments that he is most gratified at receiving; but is much more pleased at finding her always ready to comply with his wishes: and the sweetness of My most benign Heart delights more in the patient endurance with which My chosen one bears her infirmity, on the relief of which she resumes her labours for the extension of religion, so far as she can do so without injuring her health.”

As the Saint found herself daily more and more unequal to the important duties of her office, she became anxious to resign her charge; but even this desire she was unwilling to put into effect, until assured that it was the will of God. Fearful lest her own inclination might deceive her, even in the interpretation of heavenly communications, she requested her favoured daughter to ask the counsel she needed from the Source of all wisdom. Our Lord condescended to reply – may we not hope for the consolation and help of many of His chosen ones, as well as of the soul so singularly favoured thus specially to know His will? – “By this illness I sanctify My chosen one, to make her a fit habitation for Myself – as a church is sanctified by the blessing of a bishop. In like manner as a church is secured with locks, to prevent the entrance of the unworthy, so I, by this infirmity, seal her up so that her mind cannot be occupied by externals, which tend to disturb the heart and distract from Me.”

Chapter V

How the Heart of Jesus Rewards Devotion to His Passion

One night a crucifix, which the Saint had near her bed, seemed to bow down towards her, and she exclaimed: “O my sweet Jesus, why dost Thou thus abase Thyself?” He replied: “The love of My Divine Heart attracts Me to you.” Then she took the image and placed it on her heart, caressing it tenderly, and saying: “A bundle of myrrh is my Beloved to me” (Canticle 1); to which our Lord replied, interrupting her: “I will carry Him in my bosom making her to understand by this that we ought to hide in His adorable Passion all the pains we suffer, whether of body or mind, as we would place a prop in a bundle of sticks. Thus those who are tempted to impatience by adversity, should recall to mind the adorable patience of the Son of God, who was led like a meek lamb to the slaughter for our salvation, and never opened His mouth to utter the least word of impatience. And when any one is disposed to revenge the ill that has been done to him, either in word or deed, he should endeavour to recall to himself with what peace of heart his Beloved Jesus suffered, not rendering evil for evil, nor testifying the least resentment by His words; but, on the contrary, rewarding those who made Him suffer, by redeeming them by His sufferings and His death: and thus let us endeavour, according to the example of our Lord, to do good for evil. So also, if any one entertains a mortal hatred towards those who have offended him, he ought to remember the exceeding sweetness with which the Son of God prayed for His executioners, even when enduring the very torments of His Passion, and in the agony of death praying for His crucifiers with these words: “Father, forgive them,” etc. (Luke 23); and, in union with this love, let us pray for our enemies. Our Lord then said: “Whosoever hides his sufferings and adversities in the bouquet of My Passion, and joins them on to such of My sufferings as they seem most to resemble, he truly reposes in My bosom, and I will give him, to augment his merits, all that My singular charity has merited by My patience and by My other virtues.”

The Saint inquired: “How, O Lord, do You receive the special devotion which some have for the image of Your cross?” Our Lord replied: “It is very acceptable to me; nevertheless, when those who have a special devotion to these representations of My cross fail to imitate the example of My Passion, their conduct is like that of a mother, who, to gratify herself and for her own honour, adorns her daughter with different ornaments, but refuses her harshly what she most desires to have. While this mother deprives her child of what she wishes for, the child cares little for all else that is given to her, because she knows it is done through pride, and not from affection. So all the testimonies of love, respect, and reverence which are offered to the image of My cross, will not be perfectly acceptable to Me unless the examples of My Passion are also imitated.”

One Friday, when the Saint had spent the whole night in meditation, and had been prevented from sleeping by the ardour of her love, she remembered with what tenderness she had snatched the iron nails from a crucifix which she always kept near her, and replaced them by nails of sweet-smelling cloves, and she said to God: “My Beloved, how didst Thou accept my drawing the iron nails from the sacred Wounds of Thy Hands and Feet, to place these cloves “therein, which give an agreeable odour?”

Our Lord replied: “It was so agreeable to Me, that in return for it I poured forth the noble balsam of My Divinity into the wounds of your sins. And for this all the saints will praise Me eternally; for your wounds, by the infusion of this liquor, will become agreeable.”

“But, Lord,” inquired the Saint, “wilt Thou not grant the same grace to those who perform the same action?”

“Not to all,” He replied; “but those who do it with the same fervour will receive a similar reward; and those who, following your example, do likewise, with all the devotion of which they are capable, will receive a lesser recompense.”

Gertrude then took the crucifix and clasped it in her arms, kissing it tenderly, until she felt herself growing weak from her long vigil, when she laid it aside, and taking leave of her Spouse, asked His permission to go and rest, that she might recover her strength, which was almost exhausted by her long meditation. After she had spoken thus, she turned from the crucifix and composed herself to sleep. But as she reposed, our Lord stretched forth His right Hand from the cross to embrace her, and whispered these words to her: “Listen to Me, My beloved; I will sing you a canticle of love.” And then He commenced, in a tender and harmonious voice, to sing the following verse to the chant of the hymn Rex Christe, factor omnium:

“Amor meus continuus
Tibi languor assiduus:
Amor tuus suavissimus
Mihi sapor gratissimus.”

(“The more I love thee, yet the more
Thou seek’st this burning fire;
While thy dear love is still to me
Sweetness I still desire.”)

Having finished the verse, He said: “Now, My beloved, instead of the Kyrie eleison, which is sung at the end of each verse of the hymn Rex Christe, ask what you will, and I will grant it to you.” The Saint then prayed for some particular intentions, and her prayers were favourably heard. Our Lord again chanted the same verse, and at the end again exhorted Gertrude to pray. This He repeated many times, at different intervals, not allowing her a moment’s rest, until she became completely exhausted. She then slept a little before daybreak; but the Lord Jesus, who is always near those who love Him, appeared to her in her sleep. He seemed to prepare a delicious feast for her in the Sacred Wound of His adorable Side, and He Himself placed the food in her mouth in order to refresh her; so that when she awoke she found that she had been marvellously strengthened during her sleep, for which she returned most humble and ardent thanks to God.

Chapter VI

How the Heart of Jesus Rewards and Treasures Our Sufferings

As Gertrude offered to God in her prayers all that she suffered in body and mind, and all the pleasures of which she had deprived herself, whether in the flesh or the spirit, our Lord appeared to her, and showed her the pleasures and the pains which she had offered to Him under the form of two rings, enriched with precious stones, which He wore to adorn His hands. The Saint, perceiving this, repeated the offering frequently; and when suffering a corporal affliction some time afterwards, she beheld Jesus her Lord touch her left eye with the ring which He carried in His left hand, and which represented corporal afflictions and sufferings; and from this moment she felt extreme suffering in this eye, which she had beheld our Lord touch in spirit, and this pain was never entirely removed.

She knew from this, that as the ring is the sign of espousal, so also sufferings in body or mind are testimonies of the spiritual espousal of the soul with God; so that whoever suffers may say confidently, with all truth: “My Lord Jesus Christ has espoused me to Him with His ring and if he recognises in those afflictions the graces which he has received, and returns thanks, he may add: “He has adorned me with a crown as His spouse because thanksgiving in tribulation is a crown of glory more brilliant than gold, and incomparably more precious than topaz.

On one occasion, when the Saint was prevented from assisting at Vespers, by some infirmity, she exclaimed: “Lord, wouldest Thou not be more honoured if I were in choir with the community, engaged in prayer, and fulfilling the duties of my Rule, than by my being here, passing my time uselessly, in consequence of this illness?”

Our Lord replied: “Be assured that the bride-groom takes more pleasure in conversing with his bride familiarly in his house, than when he displays her before the world, adorned with her richest ornaments.” By these words she understood that the soul appears in public, and clothed with all her state, when she occupies herself in good works for the glory of God; but that she reposes in secret with her Spouse, when she is hindered by any infirmity from attending to those exercises, for in this state she is deprived of the satisfaction of acting according to her own inclination, and she remains abandoned entirely to the will of God; and therefore it is that God takes most pleasure in us when we find least occasion of pleasing and glorifying ourselves.

Chapter VII

How the Heart of Jesus Assists Our Imperfect Efforts

Once, as the Saint was reciting the Divine Office with extraordinary fervour, on the Feast of a Saint, each word which she uttered appeared to dart like an arrow from her heart into the Heart of Jesus, penetrating it deeply, and filling it with ineffable satisfaction. From one end of these arrows rays of light shot forth like stars, which seemed to fall on all the saints, but especially on the one whose festival was celebrated; from the lower end of the arrows drops of dew flowed forth, which fertilized the souls of the living, and refreshed the souls in purgatory.

As the Saint endeavoured on another occasion to attach some particular intention to each note and each word of her chant, she was often hindered by the weakness of nature, and at last exclaimed, with much sadness: “Alas! what fruit can I obtain from this exercise, when I am so unstable?” But our Lord, who could not endure to behold the affliction of His servant, with His own hands presented her with His Divine Heart, under the figure of a burning lamp, saying to her: “Behold, I present to the eyes of your soul My loving Heart, which is the organ of the most Holy Trinity, that it may accomplish all that you cannot accomplish yourself, and thus all will seem perfect in you to My eyes; for even as a faithful servant is always ready to execute the commands of his master, so, from henceforth, my Heart will be always ready, at any moment, to repair your defects and negligences.”

Gertrude wondered and feared, because of this amazing goodness of her Lord, thinking that it was not becoming for the adorable Heart, which is the treasure-house of the Divinity, and the fruitful source of every good, to remain continually near so miserable a creature, to supply for her defects, even as a servant attends on his master. But the Lord consoled and encouraged her by this comparison: “If you have a beautiful and melodious voice, and take much pleasure in chanting, will you not feel displeased if another person, whose voice is harsh and unpleasant, and who can scarcely utter a correct sound, wishes to sing instead of you, and insists on doing so? Thus My Divine Heart, understanding human inconstancy and frailty, desires with incredible ardour continually to be invited, either by your words, or at least by some other sign, to operate and accomplish in you what you are not able to accomplish yourself; and as its omnipotence enables it to act without trouble, and its impenetrable wisdom enables it to act in the most perfect manner, so also its joyous and loving charity makes it ardently desire to accomplish this end.”

Chapter VIII

Of the Abundant Virtue Which Flows from the Heart of Jesus into the Faithful Soul

Some days after, as the Saint reflected upon this stupendous favour with singular gratitude, she anxiously inquired of the Lord how long it would be continued to her. He replied: “As long as you desire to have it; for it would grieve Me to deprive you of it.”

She answered: “But is it possible that Thy Deified Heart is suspended like a lamp in the midst of mine, which is, alas! so unworthy of its presence, when at the same time I have the joy of finding in Thyself this very same source of all delight?”

“It is even so,” replied the Lord: “when you wish to take hold of any thing, you stretch forth your hand, and then withdraw it again after you have taken it; so also the love which I bear towards you causes Me to extend My Heart to draw you to Me, when you are distracting yourself with exterior things; and then, when you have recollected yourself, I withdraw My Heart, and you along with it, so that you may enter into Me; and thus I make you taste the sweetness of all virtues.”

Then, as she considered on the one hand, with exceeding wonder and gratitude, the greatness of the charity which God had for her, and, on the other, her own nothingness and the great number of her faults, she retired with profound self-contempt into the valley of humility, esteeming herself unworthy of any grace; and having remained therein hidden for some time, He who loves to pour forth His gifts on the humble, seemed to make a golden tube* come forth from His Heart, which descended upon this humble soul in the form of a lamp, making a channel through which He poured forth on her the abundance of all His graces; so that when she humbled herself at the recollection of her faults, our Lord poured forth on her from His sacred Heart all the virtue and beauty of His Divine perfection, which concealed her imperfections from the eyes of the Divine Goodness. And further, if she desired any new ornament, or any of those things which appeared attractive and desirable to the human heart, it was communicated to her, with much pleasure and joy, by this same mysterious canal.

When she had tasted the sweetness of these holy delights for some time, and was adorned with all virtues – not her own, but those given her by God – she heard a most melodious sound, as of a sweet harper harping upon his harp, and these words were sung to her: “Come, O Mine own, to Me: enter, O Mine own, into Me: abide, O Mine own, with me.” And the Lord Himself explained the meaning of this canticle to her, saying: “Come to Me, because I love you, and desire that you should be always present before Me, as My beloved spouse, and therefore I call you; and because My delights are in you, I desire that you should enter into Me. Furthermore, because I am the God of love, I desire that you should remain indissolubly united to Me, even as the body is united to the spirit, without which it cannot live for a moment” This rapture continued for an hour, and the Saint was drawn in a miraculous manner into the Heart of Jesus, through this sacred channel of which we have spoken, so that she found herself happily reposing in the Bosom of her Lord and Spouse. What she felt, what she saw, what she heard, what she tasted, what she learned of the words of life, she alone can know, and they who, like her, are worthy to be admitted to this sublime union with their Spouse Jesus, their soul’s true love, who is God, blessed for ever. Amen.

Chapter IX

How the Soul May Seek God, and Transfigure Itself into Him, in Four Ways

While the Antiphon, In lectulo meo, was chanted, in which the words quem diligit anima mea are repeated four times, she reflected on four different manners in which the faithful soul may seek God.

By the first words, “By night I sought Him whom my soul loveth,” she understood the first way of seeking God, by the praises and blessings which are offered to Him on the sacred couch of contemplation. Hence the words, “I sought Him, and found Him not,” follow immediately; because while the soul is imprisoned in the flesh she cannot praise God perfectly.

She understood the second manner of seeking God in the words, “I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the broad ways I will seek Him whom my soul loveth because the various thanksgivings which the soul renders to God for all the gifts with which He enriches His creatures, are expressed by the words “the streets and broad ways.” And as we cannot praise God in this world as He should be praised for all His gifts, the words, “I sought Him, and I found Him not,” are added.

By these words, “The watchman found me,” she understood the justice and mercy of God, which cause the soul to enter into herself, and then to compare her unworthiness with the benefits which she has received from God; so that she begins by her grief and repentance for her faults to seek His mercy, saying: “Have you seen Him whom my soul loveth?” And thus, as she has no faith in her own merits, she turns with humble confidence to the Divine mercy, and by the fervour of her prayers, and the inspiration of grace, she at last finds Him whom the faithful soul seeks.

This Antiphon being concluded, she felt her heart deeply moved by all the sweetness with which the Divine mercy had filled it during this time, and with many other graces which it would be impossible to describe, so that even her bodily strength failed her. Then she said to God: “It seems to me that I can truly say to Thee now, ‘Behold, my beloved Lord! not only my inmost soul, but every part of my body, is moved towards Thee!'” “I know and feel it perfectly,” replied our Lord, “because these graces have flowed from Me and returned to Me. But as for you, who are held captive in the chains of mortality, you can never understand all the reciprocal sweetness which My Divinity feels towards you.” He added: “Know, however, that this movement of grace glorifies you, as My Body was glorified on Mount Thabor, in presence of My three beloved disciples; so that 1 can say of you, in the sweetness of My charity: ‘This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased.’ For it is the property of this grace to communicate to the body as well as to the min d a marvellous glory and brightness.”

Chapter X

Of a Mystic Tube by Which We May Draw Every Grace from the Heart of Jesus

At the Mass Veni et ostende, the Lord appeared to Saint Gertrude, full of sweetness and grace, breathing forth a holy vivifying odour, and pouring forth from the august throne of His glory the influences of His love for the sweet Feast of His Nativity.

Then, the Saint having prayed Him to enrich all who had been recommended to her prayers with special grace, He said to her: “I have given to each a tube of pure gold; of which such is the virtue, that by it they may draw forth all they need from my Sacred Heart.” By this mystic tube she understood that good will by which men may acquire all the spiritual riches which are in heaven and on earth. For example: if any one, burning with the fire of pure and holy desires, endeavours to give God as much thanks and praise, and as many testimonies of service and fidelity as certain of His saints have rendered to Him, the infinite goodness of God regards this good will as if it had really been effected. But this tube becomes more brilliant than gold when men thank God for having given them so noble and elevated a will, that they might have acquired infinitely greater advantages by it than the whole world could bestow.

She knew, also, that all her sisters who surrounded Jesus Christ received Divine grace by similar tubes. Some appeared to receive it directly from the Heart of Jesus Christ, others from His Hands; but the further from His. Heart they drew these graces, the more difficulty they had in obtaining them; whereas those who drew them from His Divine Heart obtained them more easily, more sweetly, and more abundantly. Those who drew directly from His Sacred Heart represented those persons who conform themselves entirely to the Divine will, who desire above all things that this will should be accomplished in them, both in regard to spirituals and temporals. And these persons touch the Heart of God so powerfully, and render it so favourable to them at the time that God has determined, that they receive the torrent of Divine sweetness with as much abundance and pleasure as they have abandoned themselves perfectly to His holy will. But those who endeavoured to draw their graces from the other members of the Body of Jesus Christ, represent those persons who endeavour to acquire virtue according to their natural inclinations; and the fear and difficulty they experience is proportionate to the extent to which they have relied on their own judgment, and have failed to abandon themselves to Divine Providence.

1. Of the most perfect manner of offering our hearts to God.

As Gertrude offered her heart to God in the following manner – “Lord, behold my heart, which is detached from all creatures; I offer it to Thee freely, beseeching Thee to purify it in the sanctifying Waters of Thy adorable Side, and to adorn it with the precious Blood of Thy sweetest Heart, and to unite it to Thee by the odours of charity” – our Lord appeared to her, and offered her Heart to His Eternal Father, united to His own, under the form of a chalice, the two parts of which were joined together by wax. The Saint, perceiving this, said, with extreme fervour: “Grant me the grace, most loving Lord, that my heart may be always before Thee like the flasks which princes use, so that Thou mayest have it cleansed and filled and emptied, according to Thy good pleasure, whenever and however Thou wiliest.” This request being heard favourably by the Son of God, He said to His Father: “Eternal Father, may this soul pour forth for Thy infinite glory what Mine contains in My Humanity!” And from that moment, whenever the Saint offered her heart to God, saying the words above mentioned, it seemed to her so filled, that it poured itself forth in thanksgiving and praises, augmenting the joy of the blessed in heaven, and contributing to the adornment of the just on earth, as will be seen hereafter. From this moment the Saint knew that God willed her to commit to writing what He had revealed to her, that it might be for the benefit of many.

2. Of confidence in God, and of reparation for the contempts offered to Him.

In Advent, by the response Ecce venit, she knew that if any one formed in their heart, with a firm purpose, a perfect desire of submitting in all things to the adorable will of God, alike in prosperity as in adversity, they would, by His grace, render the same honour to God by this thought as if they crowned Him with a royal diadem.

And by these words of the Prophet Isaias: “Arise, arise! stand up, O Jerusalem!” she understood the advantage which the Church militant receives from the devotion of the elect. For when a soul, full of love, turns to God with her whole heart, and with a perfect will of repairing, were it possible, all the dishonour done to Jesus Christ, she appeases His anger by her loving charity, so that He is willing to pardon the sins of the whole world.

By the words, “That hast drunk the cup of His wrath even to the bottom” (Isaiah 51), may be understood how she has averted the severity of Divine justice. But by the following words, “That hast drunk even to the dregs,” she knew that the reprobate have the dregs of this chalice for their portion, and can never obtain redemption.

3. Of refraining from useless words.

By these words of Isaias, “Thou dost not thy own ways, and thy own will is not found to speak a word” (58:13), she knew that he who regulates his words and actions thoughtfully, and abstains even from those that are lawful when they are not necessary, will obtain a triple advantage: first, he will find a greater pleasure in God, according to these words, “Thou shalt be delighted in the Lord secondly, bad thoughts will have less power over him, for it is said, “I will lift thee above the high places of the earth;” and thirdly, in eternity the Son of God will communicate the merits of His most holy life more abundantly to him than to others, because by it he has been victorious over every temptation, and gained a glorious victory, as these words express, “I will feed thee with the inheritance of Jacob thy father.”

God made known to her also, by these words, “Behold, his reward is with him” (Isaiah 4O), that our Lord Himself, by His love, is the reward of His elect; and He insinuates Himself into their souls with such sweetness, that they may truly say they are rewarded beyond all their deserts. “And his work is before him that is to say, when we abandon ourselves entirely to Divine Providence, and seek only the accomplishment of the will of God in all things, grace has already rendered us perfect in the sight of God.

By the words, “Be ye holy, children of Israel,” Gertrude learned that those who repent promptly of the sins they have committed, and set themselves with a sincere heart to keep the commandments of God, are as truly sanctified and as promptly cured as the leper to whom our Lord said: “I will: be thou made clean.” By the words, “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle” (Psalm 149), she knew that he sings a new canticle who sings with devotion; because, when he has received the grace from God to understand what he sings, his chant becomes agreeable to God.

4. God sends afflictions to cure our souls.

By the words, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me; He hath sent Me to heal the contrite of heart” (Isaiah 61), she understood that the Son of God, having been sent by His Father to heal contrite hearts, was accustomed to send some affliction to His elect, even should it be only exterior, in order to heal them. But when this happens, He does not always deliver them from the affliction which has made them contrite, because it is not hurtful to them; for He prefers to cure that which might cause them eternal death.

By the words, In splendoribus sanctorum – “In the brightness of the saints” (Psalm 1O9), she knew that the light of the Divinity is so great and so incomprehensible, that even if each saint who has lived or who will live, from the time of Adam to the end of the world, were given a special knowledge of it, as clear, as elevated, and as extended as could be given to any creature, so that none should be able to explain it to the other, nor to share in their knowledge – even should the number of saints be a thousand times greater than it is – the Divinity would still remain infinitely beyond their conception. Thus it is not written splendore, but in splendoribus – “In the brightness [plu.] of Thy saints; from the womb, before the day-star, I begot Thee.”

Chapter XI

How we must carry our cross after Jesus Christ, and how the mercy of God chastises the elect.

At the Antiphon Qui vult – “If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me” (Matthew 16) – Gertrude beheld our Lord walking by a road which seemed pleasant, because of the beauty of the verdure and flowers which covered it, but which nevertheless was narrow, and rough with thorns. Then she beheld a cross which went before Him, and separated the thorns from one another, making the road wider and more easy; while the Saviour turned to those who came after Him, and encouraged them, looking at them with a sweet and loving countenance, and saying: “Let him that will come after Me take up his cross, and deny himself, and follow Me.” By this she knew that our temptations are our crosses. For example: it is a cross to one person to be obliged by obedience to do what she dislikes; to another, to be restrained. Now, each ought so to carry his cross as to be willing to suffer with a good heart all that crosses him, and yet to neglect nothing which he thinks may be for the glory of God.

Chapter XII

They Who Labour for the Advancement of Religion are Rewarded as if They Had Clothed the Saviour – Angels Encompass the Blest

By the Response which commences Induit me, Gertrude learned that he who labours by his works and by his words for the advancement of religion, and the defence of justice, acts as if he clothed God Himself with a magnificent and sumptuous garment; and the Lord will recompense him in the life eternal, according to the riches of His royal liberality, by clothing him with a robe of gladness, and crowning him with a diadem of glory: but, above all, that he who suffers for the promotion of good, or for religion, is as agreeable to God as a garment which warmed and covered him would be to a poor man; and that if he who labours for the good of religion makes no progress on account of the obstacles he meets with, his reward will not be the less for this before God.

While they chanted the Response, Vocavit angelus, she knew that choirs of angels, whose assistance is so powerful, surround the elect to defend them. But God, by His paternal Providence, sometimes suspends the effect of this protection, and permits the just to be tempted, that He may recompense them gloriously when they have gained a victory with less help from on high and from their angels.

At the Response, Vocavit angelus Domini Abraham, she learned that as Abraham satisfied the claims of obedience by raising his arm, and merited to be called by an angel, so, when the elect bend their minds and their wills to perform any painful work for the love of God, they merit to taste at that moment the sweetness of grace, and to be consoled by the testimony of their own conscience. And this is a favour which the infinite liberality of God bestows even before those eternal recompenses which shall be given to each according to the measure of his works. As the Saint reflected on some trials which she had formerly suffered, she inquired of God why she had been thus tried by these persons. “When the hand of a father wills to chastise his child,” replied our Lord, “the rod cannot oppose itself. Therefore, I desire that My elect should never attribute their sufferings to those whom I make use of to purify them; but rather let them cast their eyes on My paternal love, which would not allow even a breath of wind to approach them unless it furthered their eternal salvation; and therefore they should have compassion on those who stain themselves to purify them.”

Chapter XIII

How We Should Offer Our Actions Through the Son to the Eternal Father

One day the Saint offered a painful duty to the Eternal Father, saying: “Lord, I offer Thee this action through Thy only Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit, for Thy eternal glory.” And it was made known to her that this intention gave an extraordinary value and price to her work, and elevated it above a mere human action; and that this offering was very agreeable to God the Father. And even as objects appear green when seen through green glass, or red when seen through red glass, so all that is offered to the Eternal Father through His only Son becomes most pleasing and acceptable to Him.

Of the utility of prayer when it does not produce sensible fruit.

Gertrude inquired of God what advantage some of her friends had gained by her prayers, since they did not seem better for them. The Lord instructed her by this comparison: “When a child returns from visiting an emperor, who has enriched him with vast possessions and an immense revenue, those who behold him in the weakness of childhood little imagine the treasures of which he is in possession, although those who have been present are well aware how powerful and important his wealth will render him hereafter. Do not, therefore, be surprised if you do not see the fruits of your prayers with your bodily eyes, since I dispose of them, according to My eternal wisdom, to greater advantage. And know that the more you pray for any one, the happier they will become, because no prayer of faith can remain unfruitful, although we do not know in what manner it will fructify.”

Of the eternal recompense of directing our thoughts to God.

Gertrude desired to know what advantage there was in referring our thoughts to God, and she received this instruction: that when man raises his mind to heaven by meditation or reflection, he presents, as it were, before the throne of God’s glory a bright and shining mirror, in which the Lord beholds His own image with pleasure, because He is the Author and Dispenser of all good. And the more difficulty any one finds in this elevation of soul, the more perfect and agreeable this mirror appears before the Most Holy Trinity and the saints, and it will remain for the eternal glory of God and the good of this soul.

Chapter XIV

Why God Is Pleased by Images of Jesus Crucified

On the return of the community from a procession which had been ordered for fine weather, Gertrude heard the Son of God speak thus to His Father from a crucifix which had been carried before the procession: “Eternal Father, I come with My whole army to supplicate You, under the same form in which I reconciled You to the human race.” And these words were received by the Eternal Father with as much complacence as if a satisfaction had been offered to Him which surpassed a thousand times all the sins of men. Then she beheld God the Father taking up the image of the crucifix into the clouds, with these words: “This is the sign of the covenant which I have made with the earth.” (Genesis 9)

On another occasion, when the people were suffering exceedingly from the inclemency of the weather, the Saint often implored the mercy of God with others, but without effect. At last she addressed her Lord thus: “O charitable Lord, how canst Thou so long resist the desires of so many persons, since I, who am so unworthy of Thy goodness, have often obtained much more considerable favours merely by the confidence I have in Thee!” “Why be surprised,” replied our Lord, “that a father should allow His son to ask him repeatedly for a crown, if he laid by a hundred marks of gold for Mm each time the request was made 1 Neither should you be surprised if I defer answering your petition; because each time that you implore My aid by the least word, or even in thought, I prepare a recompense for you in eternity of infinitely greater value than a hundred marks of gold.”

Chapter XV

The Value and Efficacy of Good Desires

On another occasion, as the Saint grieved in her heart that she could not form as ardent desires for the glory of God as she wished to do, she was taught by God that He is perfectly satisfied with our desires when we are not able to do more; and that they are great in proportion to our desire that they should be great. When, therefore, the heart forms a desire, or wishes to have a desire, God takes the same pleasure in abiding therein as men do in dwelling where flowers are budding forth in the spring-time. Once also, when she found herself negligent and distracted from infirmity, and, entering into herself, began to confess her fault to our Lord with humble devotion – though she feared that it would be long before she should recover the sweetness of Divine grace, of which she had been deprived – the infinite mercy of God was moved towards her, and He said to her: “My daughter, thou hast been always with Me, and all that I have is thine.” Then she knew by these words that when, through frailty, we fail to refer our intention to God, His mercy still esteems our will worthy of eternal recompense, provided only that our will has not strayed from Him, and that we often make acts of contrition for our sins.

As the Saint felt an illness coming on her immediately before a festival, she desired that our Lord would preserve her health until it was over, or at least permit her to have sufficient strength to assist at it; still, she abandoned herself entirely to the will of God. Then she received this reply from the Lord: “In asking Me these things, and at the same time in submitting entirely to My will, you lead Me into a garden of delights, enamelled with flowers, which is most agreeable to Me. But I know that if I grant what you ask, and allow you to assist at these services, I shall be obliged to follow you into the place which pleases you; whereas, if I refuse you this, and you still continue patient, you will follow Me into the place which I prefer, because I find more pleasure in you if you form good intentions in a state of suffering, than if you have devotion accompanied by pleasure.”

Chapter XVI

How We May Profit by the Merit of Others

Gertrude was requested by a person, when she offered to God all the gratuitous gifts with which He had favoured her, to ask that she might have a share in their merit. As she prayed thus, she perceived this person standing before the Lord, who was seated on His throne of glory, and held in His hand a robe magnificently adorned, which He presented to her, but still without clothing her in it. The Saint, being surprised at this, said to Him: “When I made a similar offering to Thee, a few days since, Thou didst at once take the soul of the poor woman for whom I prayed to the joys of paradise; and why, most loving Lord, dost Thou not now clothe this person with the robe which Thou hast shown her, and which she so ardently desires, through the merits of the graces Thou hast bestowed on me, though so unworthy of them?” Our Lord answered: “When anything is offered to Me for the faithful departed, I immediately use it for them, according to My natural inclination to show mercy and pardon, either for the remission of their sins, for their consolation, or for the increase of their eternal felicity, according to the condition of those for whom the offering is made. But when a similar offering is made for the living, I keep it for their benefit, because they can still increase their merit by their good works, by their good desires, and by their good will; and it is only reasonable that they should endeavour to acquire by their labour what they desire to obtain through the intercession of others.

“Therefore, if she for whom you pray desires to be clothed with your merits, she must study these three things: first, she must receive this robe with humility and gratitude – that is to say, she must acknowledge humbly that she has need of the merits of others – and she must render Me fervent thanksgivings for having deigned to supply her poverty out of their abundance; secondly, she must take this robe with faith and hope – that is, hoping in My goodness, she must believe that she will receive thereby a great assistance to her eternal salvation; thirdly, let her clothe herself in charity, exercising herself in this and in other virtues. Let all those who desire a share in the merits and virtues of others, act in like manner, if they would profit thereby.”

Chapter XVII

How Our Lord Consoled Saint Gertrude by Offering Her His Heart

As it usually happens that the injuries which we receive from a friend are more difficult to bear than those which we receive from an enemy, according to the words of Scripture, “If my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it” (Psalm 54) – Gertrude, knowing that a certain person, for whose welfare she had laboured with extreme solicitude, did not respond with the same fidelity to her care, and even, through a kind of contempt, acted contrary to what she advised, had recourse to our Lord in her affliction, who consoled her thus: “Do not be grieved, My daughter, for I have permitted this to happen for your eternal welfare, that I may the oftener enjoy your company and conversation, in which I take so much pleasure. And even as a mother who has a little child whom she loves specially, and therefore desires to have always with her, places something that will alarm her, and oblige her to come back into her arms when she has strayed from her; so also, desiring to have you always near Me, I permit your friends to contradict you in some things, that you may find no true fidelity in any creature, and therefore have recourse to Me with all the more eagerness, because you know that I possess the plenitude and stability of all contentment.”

After this it seemed to her as if our Lord placed her in His bosom like a little child, and there caressed her in many ways; and, approaching His adorable lips to her ears, He whispered to her: “As a tender mother soothes the troubles of her little one by her kisses and embraces, so do I desire to soothe all your pain and grief by the sweet murmur of My loving words.” After the Saint had enjoyed these and many other consolations for some time, our Lord offered her His Heart, and said to her: “Contemplate now, My beloved, the hidden secrets of My Heart, and consider attentively with what fidelity I have ordered all that you have ever desired of Me for your benefit and the salvation of your soul; and see if you can accuse Me of unfaithfulness to you, even by a single word.” When she had done this, she beheld our Lord crowning her with a wreath of flowers, more radiant than gold, as a reward for the trial of which we have just spoken.

Then the Saint, remembering some persons who, she knew, were tried in other ways, said to God: “Surely these persons merit to receive from Thy liberality, Father of mercies, a richer recompense, and to be adorned with more splendid ornaments, than I, since they are not assisted by the consolations which I receive, though so unworthy, and since I do not bear what happens to me with the patience I ought?” Our Lord replied: “In these things, as in all others, I manifest the special charity and tenderness which I have for you; even as a mother who loves her only child wishes to adorn her with ornaments of gold and silver, but, knowing that she could not bear their weight, decks her with different flowers, which, without incommoding her, do not fail to add to her attractions. So, also, I moderate the rigour of your sufferings, lest you should fall under the burden, and thereby be deprived of the merit of patience.”

Then, as the Saint reflected on the great care of the Divine mercy for her salvation, she began to praise Him with great gratitude; and she perceived that those flowers with which her sufferings had been mystically rewarded, expanded more and more as she returned thanks. She understood also, that the grace that God had given her, of praising Him in adversity, was as much more excellent as an ornament of solid gold is to one which has merely been gilt.

Chapter XVIII

The Value of a Good Will

A certain nobleman having sent to the monastery to ask the religious to found a convent, Gertrude – who was always anxious to accomplish the will of God, though she was unable to comply with this request – cast herself before a crucifix, and offered herself to God, with her whole heart, praying that His holy will might be accomplished. It seemed to her that our Lord was deeply touched by this offering, that He descended from the cross to embrace her with extreme affection and gladness, and received her with marks of ineffable joy – even as a sick person who had been given over by the physician would receive a remedy which he had long desired, and which he hoped might restore his health – and having then gently approached her to the adorable Wound of His Side, He said to her: “You are welcome, My beloved; you are the balm of My wounds, and the sweetener of all my griefs.” Gertrude knew by these words that when any one abandons his will without reserve to the good pleasure of God, whatever adversity may be impending, our Lord receives it as if He had anointed His wounds, even at the very hour of His Passion, with the most precious and healing ointments.

After this, as Gertrude prayed, she began to think of many things by which she hoped to procure the glory of God and the advancement of religion. But after a time she reproached herself for these reflections, which perhaps could never bear any fruit, because she was so weak that she seemed more likely to die than to be able to undertake any laborious work. Then the Lord Jesus appeared to her in the midst of her soul, radiant with glory, and adorned with roses and fair lilies; and He said to her: “Behold, how I am adorned by your good will, even as I was by the stars and the golden candlesticks, in the midst of which Saint John, in the Apocalypse, declares that he saw the Son of Man standing, and having seven stars in His right hand; and know that I have received as much pleasure from the other thoughts of your heart as from this sweet and agreeable garland of lilies and roses,”

“O God of my heart!” exclaimed the Saint, “why dost Thou embarrass my soul with so many different desires, which are all without effect, since it is so short a time since Thou didst give me the thought and desire of receiving extreme unction, and disposed my soul to receive it by filling me with such joy and consolation. And now, on the contrary, Thou dost make me desire the establishment of a new monastery, although I am still so weak that I am scarcely able to walk.”

“I do this,” replied our Lord, “to accomplish what I have said at the commencement of this book, that ‘I had given you to be the light of the Gentiles that is, to enlighten many people: therefore it is necessary that your book should contain information on many subjects, for the consolation and instruction of others. And as two persons who love each other often find pleasure in conversing on subjects which do not specially concern them – as a friend often proposes to his friend the most difficult and intricate questions – so do I take pleasure in proposing many things to My elect which will never happen to them, in order to prove their love and fidelity for Me, and to reward them for many purposes which they cannot carry into effect, counting all their good intentions, as if they had been carried into action. So I inclined your will to desire death; and, consequently, made you feel this wish to receive extreme unction. And I have preserved in the depth of My heart, for your eternal salvation, all that you have done in thought or act to prepare yourself for this Sacrament. Thus you may understand these words: ‘The just man, if he be prevented with death, shall be in rest.’ For if you were deprived of this Sacrament by sudden death, or if you received it after you had lost consciousness – which often happens to my elect – you would not suffer any loss thereby, because all the preparation for death which you have made for so many years is preserved in the unfading spring-time of My Divinity, where, by My cooperation, it always remains green and flourishing, and fructifying for your eternal salvation.”

Chapter XIX

Of the Languor Caused by Divine Love

Soon after, during the seventh illness of the Saint, as her mind was occupied with God, on a certain night our Lord approached her, and said to her, with extreme sweetness and charity: “Tell Me, My beloved, that you languish for love of Me.” She replied: “How can I, a poor sinner, presume to say that I languish for love to Thee?” Our Lord answered: “Whoever offers himself willingly to suffer anything in order to please Me, he truly glorifies Me, and, glorifying Me, tells Me that he languishes for love of Me; provided that he continues patient, and that he never turns his eyes away from Me.” “But what advantage canst Thou gain from this assurance, my beloved Lord?” inquired the Saint. The Lord answered: “This assurance imparts joy to My Divinity, glory to My Humanity, pleasure to My eyes, and satisfaction to My ears. Further, the unction of My love is so powerfully moved thereby, that I am compelled to heal the contrite heart – that is to say, those who desire this grace; to preach to those who are in captivity – that is, to pardon sinners; to open the door to those who are in prison – that is, to release the souls in purgatory.”

Gertrude then said to the Lord: “Father of mercies, after this sickness, which is the seventh that I have had, wilt Thou not restore me to my former health?” Our Lord replied: “If I had made known to you at the commencement of your first illness that you would have to endure seven, perhaps you would have given way to impatience through human frailty. So, also, if I now promised you that this would be the last sickness, the hope with which you would look forward to its termination might lessen your merit. Therefore the paternal providence of My uncreated wisdom has wisely ordained that you should remain ignorant on both subjects, that you might be obliged to have recourse to Me continually with your whole heart, and to commend your troubles, whether exterior or interior, to My fidelity; since I watch over you so faithfully and lovingly, that I would not permit you to be tried beyond your strength, knowing how much your patience can bear. This you can easily understand, if you remember how much weaker you were after your first sickness than you are now after you seventh; for although human reason might have considered this impossible, yet nothing is impossible to my Divine omnipotence”

Chapter XX

How the Pleasure of the Senses Deprives of Spiritual Pleasures

As the Saint one day reflected on the arrangements of Providence, by which some are filled with consolation, while others experience only dryness, God made known to her that He had created the human heart to contain pleasure, as a vase contains water. But if this vase lets out the water by little holes, it soon becomes empty; or if any water remains, it will eventually dry up. So, if the human heart, when filled with spiritual delights, pours itself out through the bodily senses, by seeing, hearing, etc., it will at last become empty, and incapable of tasting the pleasures which are found in God, as each may know by his own experience. If we give a glance or say a word without reflection, it passes away like water emptied from a vessel. But if we do ourselves violence for the love of God, celestial sweetness will so increase in our hearts that they will seem too small to contain it. Thus, when we learn to restrain the pleasures of the senses, we begin to find pleasure in God; and the more this victory costs us, the more joy we find in God.

Once, as the Saint was exceedingly troubled about a matter of little consequence, and offered her trouble to God, for His eternal glory, at the moment of the Elevation, it seemed to her that our Lord drew her soul by the Host as if by a ladder, until He made it repose on His bosom, and then He spoke thus lovingly to her: “In this sacred couch you shall be exempt from every care; but whenever you leave it, your heart will be filled with a bitterness as an antidote against evil.”

Chapter XXI

How the Soul Is Purified and Embellished by the Merits of Jesus Christ

On the Sunday Invocabit, as Gertrude felt unable to receive the Body of our Lord, she besought Him with her whole heart to supply, by His forty days’ fast, for the dispensations which her infirmity obliged her to accept. Then the Son of God rose up and knelt before His Father, with a joyful countenance, saying: “I, who am Thy only Son, coeternal and consubstantial with Thee, know, by My inscrutable wisdom, the defects of human weakness as man could not know; therefore do I abundantly compassionate this weakness, and, desiring to supply for it perfectly, I offer Thee, O holy Father, the restraints of My blessed Mouth, in atonement for all sins of omission and commission of which the tongues of men are guilty; I offer Thee, O just Father, the restraints of My Ears for all their sins of hearing; I offer Thee the restraints of My Eyes for all their sins committed by seeing; I offer Thee the restraints of My Hands and Feet for all the sins of those members. Lastly, I offer to Thy Majesty, O most loving Father, My Divine Heart for all their sins of thought, desire, or will.”

Then the Saint stood before God the Father, clothed in a red and white garment, and adorned with many ornaments. The white robe indicated the innocence conferred on her soul by the mortifications of Christ; the red signified the merits of His fasts; and the diversity of ornaments, the many ways and exercises by which our Lord laboured for our eternal salvation. Then the Eternal Father took this soul thus adorned, and placed it at a banquet between Himself and His only Son. On the one side, the splendour of the Divine omnipotence overshadowed her, to enhance her apparel and her dignity; on the other side, she was illuminated by the light of the inscrutable wisdom of God the Son, which had adorned and embellished her with the treasures and perfections of His life. Between these two lights there was an opening, through which might be seen the humble sentiments which this soul had of her baseness and defects; and her humility pleased God so much, that it won for her the tenderest affection of this Almighty King.

Then our Lord placed before Saint Gertrude the three victories over His three-fold temptations in the wilderness, which are mentioned in the Gospel of the day, under the form of different kinds of food, that they might serve her as an antidote against the three vices to which men are most subject – namely, delectation, consent, and concupiscence. First, He manifested to her the signal victory which He had gained over the devil, who tempted Him to the pleasure of eating, when he asked Him to change the stones into bread, and our Lord wisely answered him, that man doth not live by bread alone; and He desired her to offer it to God, in satisfaction for all the sins which she might have committed through love of pleasure, and to obtain strength to resist such temptations for the time to come. For the more we yield to temptations, the less capable we are of resisting them; and each may thus offer our Lord’s victory for their own needs. Our Lord then gave her His second victory for the remission of all the sins which she might have committed by consent, and to obtain grace for the future to resist these temptations efficaciously; and each may also offer this victory for the same end, and with the same advantage, to obtain from God the pardon of all sins of thought, word, or act, and grace to avoid falling for the time to come. Lastly, our Lord gave her His third victory as a remedy against avarice, which desires the goods and advantages of earth, and to obtain strength to resist this temptation.

During the Epistle at Mass, the Saint applied herself to noting the virtues mentioned therein, which she thought might be most useful to practise or to teach others; and as she felt she needed the gift of understanding, she said to the Lord: “Teach me, O Beloved, which of these virtues will please Thee best; for, alas! I am not specially earnest in any.” Our Lord replied: “Ob- serve that the words In Spiritu Sacto (‘in the Holy Ghost’) occur in the middle of these victories. As, therefore, the Holy Spirit is a goodwill, study above all things to have this goodwill, for you will gain more by it than by any other virtue, and it will obtain for you the perfection of all virtue. For whoever has a perfect will to praise Me, if he could, more than all the world, or to love Me, thank Me, suffer with Me, or exercise himself in the most perfect manner in all kinds of virtue, will certainly be recompensed by My Divine liberality more advantageously than one who has actually performed many other things.” Then the Holy Spirit appeared before Gertrude, enlightening in a marvellous manner that place where the depravity and imperfection of her soul could be seen; so that, the virtue of this Divine light having entirely removed her defects, she found herself happily immersed in the Source of eternal light.

Chapter XXII

Of the True Manner of Spiritually Performing the Corporal Works of Mercy

The second feria after the Sunday Invcabit, as these words were read in Matthew 25:31-46, “Come, ye blessed of My Father; for I was hungry,” etc., Saint Gertrude said to our Lord: “O my Lord, since we cannot feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, because our Rule forbids us to possess anything of our own, teach me how we may participate in the sweet blessings with which Thou hast promised in this Gospel to reward works of mercy.” Our Lord replied: “As I am the Salvation and Life of the Soul, and as I continually hunger and thirst for the salvation of men, if you endeavour to study some words of Scripture every day for the benefit of others, you will bestow on Me a most sweet refection. If you read with the intention of obtaining the grace of compunction or devotion, you appease My thirst by giving Me an agreeable beverage to drink. If you employ yourself in recollection for an hour each day, you give Me hospitality; and if you apply yourself daily to acquire some new virtue, you clothe Me. You visit Me when sick, by striving to overcome temptation, and to conquer your evil inclinations; and you visit Me in prison, and solace My afflictions with the sweetest consolations, when you pray for sinners and for the souls in purgatory.” He added: “Those who perform these devotions daily for My love, especially during the holy season of Lent, will most certainly receive the tenderest and most bountiful recompense which My incomprehensible omnipotence, My inscrutable wisdom, and My most loving benevolence, can bestow.”

Chapter XXIII

Of the Oblation of the Merits of Jesus Christ for the Sins of the Church

On the Sunday Reminiscere, Saint Gertrude, being favoured with singular marks of the love and tenderness of her Spouse, such as no human being could describe, besought our Lord to indicate some practice which might be profitable during this week. Our Lord replied: “Bring Me two good kids – I mean the souls and the bodies of all mankind.”

The Saint understood from this that she was required to make satisfaction for all mankind; and then, impelled by the Holy Ghost, she said the Pater noster five times, in honour of the Five Wounds of our Lord, in satisfaction for all the sins which men had committed by the five senses; and three times for the sins committed by the three powers of the soul – namely, by reason, temper, and concupiscence; and for all omissions or commissions: offering this prayer with the same intention and for the same end, as our Lord had formed it in His sweetest Heart; that is to say, in satisfaction for all the sins of frailty, ignorance, or malice which man had opposed to His omnipotent power, His inscrutable wisdom, and His overflowing and gratuitous goodness.

When Gertrude offered this prayer, our Lord appeared to take an incredible pleasure therein, and made the sign of the cross on her from her head to her feet; blessing her, and then embracing her, He led her to His Father to receive His benediction also. God the Father also received her with great condescension and magnificence, and blessed her in so ineffable a manner, that He gave her as many benedictions as He would have given to the whole world if it had been prepared to receive this favour and grace.

This prayer may be offered to God during this week to obtain the pardon of our sins and omissions, and in satisfaction for the sins of the Church, that we may obtain the effect of so salutary a benediction through the merits of Jesus Christ, who with such condescension and good ness has deigned to be the Spouse and Head of His Church.

Chapter XXIV

How We May Obtain a Share in the Merits of the Life of Jesus Christ

On the Sunday Oculi, as the Saint desired, as usual, to conform her devotions to the Church’s offices, she asked our Lord to teach her how she should occupy herself during this week. He replied: “As in chanting your Office during this week you record how Joseph was sold by his brethren for twenty pieces of silver, recite the Pater noster thirty-three times, and thus purchase the merit of My most holy life, which lasted for three-and-thirty years, during which I laboured for the salvation of men; and communicate the fruit of what you thus acquire to the whole Church, for the salvation of men and My eternal glory.” As the Saint complied with this direction, she perceived in spirit that the whole Church was like a spouse adorned and embellished in a marvellous manner with the fruit of the perfect life of Jesus Christ.

Chapter XXV

The Saint Is Instruction How to Atone for the Sins of the Church

On Laetare Sunday, as the Saint sought for some instruction from our Lord how to spend this week, He replied to her: “Bring those persons to Me whose souls you prepared seven days since, through the virtue of My life; for they must eat at My table.” She replied: “How can I do this? For myself, however unworthy I am, I will venture to say, that if I could bring to Thee all the children of men in whom Thou dost take delight, I would willingly traverse the whole earth with bare feet from this moment until the day of judgment, and carry them in my arms to Thee, to correspond, in some manner, with Thy infinite love. And were it possible for me to do so, I would divide my heart into as many portions as there are men living in the world, to impart to each a share in the good-will which is most pleasing to Thy Divine Heart.” Our Lord replied: “Your good-will suffices and satisfies Me perfectly.” Then she beheld the whole Church marvellously adorned and presented to the Lord, who said to her: “You shall serve all this multitude today.”

Then Saint Gertrude cast herself at the feet of her Spouse, being divinely inspired, and kissed the Wound of His Left Foot, in satisfaction for all the sins which had ever been committed in the Church, by thought, will, or desire; beseeching our Lord to give her for this purpose the perfect satisfaction which He had made by washing away the sins of all men. Our Lord then imparted this grace to her under the form of bread, which she immediately offered Him with thanksgiving, and which He received with great condescension, and, raising His eyes to His Eternal Father, blessed it, and gave it to her to distribute to His Church. Then she kissed the Right Foot of our Lord, in satisfaction for the omissions of the faithful in good thoughts and desires, and in good-will; beseeching our Lord to impart to them a share in that perfect satisfaction which He had made for the debts of all men. Then she kissed the Wound of the Left Hand, in satisfaction for the sins of the whole world, whether committed by word or deed; beseeching our Lord to grant the merits of His words and actions for this intention. She then kissed the Wound of the Right Hand, in satisfaction for the omissions of good words and works; beseeching our Lord to impart the plenitude and perfection of His actions to supply what was deficient in His Church.

At each of these offerings she received bread, and returned each portion to our Lord, who blessed it, and gave it to her to distribute to the Church. Then she approached the loving Wound of the Side of Jesus, and, embracing it with her whole heart, besought Him to supply to His Spouse, the Church, what was wanting to her perfection and merits, even after He had so perfectly expiated her sins, and so fully supplied for her defects; so that His Divine Life – which is agreeable in the sight of God the Father, and shines with such surpassing brightness – might become her crown and everlasting beatitude. Then the Saint rejoiced for the grace which God had given her, and distributed these loaves as one would a dessert after a meal, and said to our Lord: “Ah, Lord! what wilt Thou give me for Thy Spouse the Church, instead of the fish which are mentioned in this day’s Gospel?” Our Lord replied: “I will give you all My most perfect actions to distribute to those who have neglected to serve Me as much as they ought to have done, and all the most noble actions of My soul to atone for their coldness and want of fervour in praising Me for the benefits which they have received from Me.”

By the loaves which our Lord presented to the Saint, she understood that whenever any one performs a good action for God – even should it be only to say a Pater noster, or Ave Maria, or any other prayer for the Church – that the Son of God receives it as if it were the fruit of His Holy Humanity, and offers it to God His Father, blessing it and multiplying it by this benediction, so that it may be distributed for the good and advancement of the whole Church.

This devotion may be performed by any one who says five Pater nosters in honour of our Lord’s Five Wounds, kissing them in spirit, and praying for all sinners who are in the bosom of the Church, to obtain the remission of their sins and negligences, if they hope firmly to receive this grace from the Divine goodness.

Chapter XXVI

How the Beatitude and Glory of Saint Benedict was Shown to Saint Gertrude

On the Feast of the glorious father Saint Benedict, Saint Gertrude assisted at Matins with special devotion to honour so excellent a father; and she beheld him in spirit, standing in the presence of the effulgent and ever-peaceful Trinity, radiant with glory. His countenance was full of majesty and beauty; his habit shone surpassingly; while bright and living roses seemed to spring forth from his limbs, each rose producing another, and these others, the last surpassing the first in fragrance and beauty, so that our holy father, blessed both by grace and by name, being thus adorned, gave the greatest pleasure to the adorable Trinity and the heavenly court, who rejoiced with him because of his beatitude. The roses which thus sprang forth from him signified the exercises which he had used to subjugate his flesh to his spirit, and all the holy actions which he had performed, and also those of all whom he had drawn by his persuasions or induced by his example to leave the world and live under regular discipline, who following him in this royal road, had attained, or will yet attain, to the port of the celestial country and to life eternal, each of whom is a subject of particular glory to this great patriarch; and for which all the saints praise God, and congratulate him continually.

Saint Benedict also carried a sceptre, which was marvellously embellished on each side with precious stones of great brilliancy. As he held it in his hand, the side which was turned towards him emitted a glorious light, which indicated the happiness of those who had embraced his Rule and amended their lives, and on their account God overwhelmed him with inconceivable joy. On the side which was turned towards God, the Divine justice shone forth which had been magnified in the condemnation of those who had been called to this holy Order, but who had rendered themselves unworthy of it, and therefore had been condemned to eternal flames; for it is just that he whom God has called to the holiest of Orders, should be most severely punished if he lives an evil life.

Now, as Saint Gertrude offered the blessed father the recital of the entire Psalter in his honour, on the part of the community, he appeared exceedingly rejoiced, and he offered the verdure with which he was adorned for the welfare of those who sought his protection with pure hearts, and walked in his footsteps by faithful observance of his Rule.

While the Response, Grandi Pater fiducia morte stetit preciosa, was chanted, Saint Gertrude said to him: “Holy father, what special reward have you received for your glorious death?” He replied: “Because I gave up my last breath while I was in prayer, I now emit a breath of such surpassing sweetness, that the saints delight to be near me.” Then she besought him, by his glorious death, to assist each religious of that monastery in their last hour. The venerable father replied: “All who invoke me, remembering the glorious end with which God honoured me, shall be assisted by me at their death with such fidelity, that I will place myself where I see the enemy most disposed to attack them; thus, being fortified by my presence, they will escape the snares which he lays for them, and depart happily and peacefully to the enjoyment of eternal beatitude.”