Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Saint November 19 : St. Mechtilde a Benedictine Nun from Germany who directed Choir and had a Voice like a Nightingale

St. Mechtilde

































BENEDICTINE

Born:
1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony
Died:
19 November, 1298

Benedictine; born in 1240 or 1241 at the ancestral castle of Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony; died in the monastery of Helfta, 19 November, 1298. She belonged to one of the noblest and most powerful Thuringian families, while here sister was the saintly and illustrious Abbess Gertrude von Hackeborn. Some writers have considered that Mechtilde von Hackeborn and Mechtilde von Wippra were two distinct persons, but, as the Barons of Hackeborn were also Lords of Wippra, it was customary for members of that family to take their name indifferently from either, or both of these estates. So fragile was she at birth, that the attendants, fearing she might die unbaptized, hurried her off to the priest who was just then preparing to say Mass. He was a man of great sanctity, and after baptizing the child, uttered these prophetic words: "What do you fear? This child most certainly will not die, but she will become a saintly religious in whom God will work many wonders, and she will end her days in a good old age." When she was seven years old, having been taken by her mother on a visit to her elder sister Gertrude, then a nun in the monastery of Rodardsdorf, she became so enamoured of the cloister that her pious parents yielded to her entreaties and, acknowledging the workings of grace, allowed her to enter the alumnate. Here, being highly gifted in mind as well as in body, she made remarkable progress in virtue and learning.
Ten years later (1258) she followed her sister, who, now abbess, had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta given her by her brothers Louis and Albert. As a nun, Mechtilde was soon distinguished for her humility, her fervour, and that extreme amiability which had characterized her from childhood and which, like piety, seemed hereditary in her race. While still very young, she became a valuable helpmate to Abbess Gertrude, who entrusted to her direction the alumnate and the choir. Mechtilde was fully equipped for her task when, in 1261, God committed to her prudent care a child of five who was destined to shed lustre upon the monastery of Helfta. This was that Gertrude who in later generations became known as St. Gertrude the Great. Gifted with a beautiful voice, Mechtilde also possessed a special talent for rendering the solemn and sacred music over which she presided as domna cantrix. All her life she held this office and trained the choir with indefatigable zeal. Indeed, Divine praise was the keynote of her life as it is of her book; in this she never tired, despite her continual and severe physical sufferings, so that in His revelations Christ was wont to call her His "nightingale". Richly endowed, naturally and supernaturally, ever gracious, beloved of all who came within the radius of her saintly and charming personality, there is little wonder that this cloistered virgin should strive to keep hidden her wondrous life. Souls thirsting for consolation or groping for light sought her advice; learned Dominicans consulted her on spiritual matters. At the beginning of her own mystic life it was from St. Mechtilde that St. Gertrude the Great learnt that the marvellous gifts lavished upon her were from God.
Only in her fiftieth year did St. Mechtilde learn that the two nuns in whom she had especially confided had noted down the favours granted her, and, moreover, that St. Gertrude had nearly finished a book on the subject. Much troubled at this, she, as usual, first had recourse to prayer. She had a vision of Christ holding in His hand the book of her revelations, and saying: "All this has been committed to writing by my will and inspiration; and, therefore you have no cause to be troubled about it." He also told her that, as He had been so generous towards her, she must make Him a like return, and that the diffusion of therevelations would cause many to increase in His love; moreover, He wished this book to be called "The Book of Special Grace", because it would prove such to many. When the saint understood that the book would tend to God's glory, she ceased to be troubled, and even corrected the manuscript herself. Immediately after her death it was made public, and copies were rapidly multiplied, owing chiefly to the widespread influence of the Friars Preachers. Boccaccio tells how, a few years after the death of Mechtilde, the book of her revelations was brought to Florence and popularized under the title of "La Laude di donna Matelda". It is related that the Florentines were accustomed to repeat daily before their sacred images the praises learned from St. Mechtilde's book. St. Gertrude, to whose devotedness we owe the "Liber Specialis Gratiae" exclaims: "Never has there arisen one like to her in our monastery; nor, alas! I fear, will there ever arise another such!" -- little dreaming that her own name would be inseparably linked with that of Mechtilde. With that of St. Gertrude, the body of St. Mechtilde most probably still reposes at Old Helfta thought the exact spot is unknown. Her feast is kept 26 or 27 February in different congregations and monasteries of her order, by special permission of the Holy See.There is another honour, inferior certainly to that of sanctity, yet great in itself and worthy of mention here: the homage of a transcendent genius was to be laid at the feet of St. Mechtilde. Critics have long been perplexed as to one of the characters introduced by Dante in his "Purgatorio" under the name of Matelda. After ascending seven terraces of a mountain, on each of which the process of purification is carried on, Dante, in Canto xxvii, hears a voice singing: "Venite, benedicti patris mei"; then later, in Canto xxviii, there appears to him on the opposite bank of the mysterious stream a lady, solitary, beautiful, and gracious. To her Dante addresses himself; she it is who initiates him into secrets, which it is not given to Virgil to penetrate, and it is to her that Beatrice refers Dante in the words: "Entreat Matilda that she teach thee this." Most commentators have identified Matilda with the warrior-Countess of Tuscany, the spiritual daughter and dauntless champion of St. Gregory VII, but all agree that beyond the name the two have little or nothing in common. She is no Amazon who, at Dante's prayer that she may draw nearer to let him understand her song, turns towards him "not otherwise than a virgin that droppeth her modest eyes". In more places than one the revelations granted to the mystics of Helfta seem in turn to have become the inspirations of the Florentine poet. All writers on Dante recognize his indebtedness to St. Augustine, the Pseudo-Dionysius, St. Bernard, and Richard of St. Victor. These are precisely the writers whose doctrines had been most assimilated by the mystics of Helfta, and thus they would the more appeal to the sympathies of the poet. The city of Florence was among the first to welcome St. Mechtilde's book. Now Dante, like all true poets, was a child of his age, and could not have been a stranger to a book which was so popular among his fellow-citizens. The "Purgatorio" was finished between 1314 and 1318, or 1319 --just about the time when St. Mechtilde's book was popular. This interpretation is supported by the fact that St. Mechtilde in her "Book of Special Grace" (pt. I, c. xiii) describes the place of purification under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain. The coincidence of the simile and of the name, Matelda, can scarcely be accidental. For another among many points of resemblance between the two writers compare "Purgatorio", Canto xxxi, where Dante is drawn by Matelda through the mysterious stream with pt. II, c. ii. of the "Liber Specialis Gratiae". The serene atmosphere which seems to cling about the gracious and beautiful songstress, her virgin modesty and simple dignity, all seem to point to the recluse of Helfta rather than to the stern heroine of Canossa, whose hand was thrice bestowed in marriage. Besides, in politics Dante, as an ardent Ghibelline, supported the imperial pretensions and he would have been little inclined to sing the praises of the Tuscan Countess. The conclusion may therefore be hazarded that this "Donna Matelda" of the "Purgatorio" personifies St. Mechtilde as representing mystic theology.
SOURCE The Catholic Encyclopedia

US Bishops' President Criticizes Biden as he Supports Policies that "...undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion.”- Creation of Team to Deal with Policies



Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, President of the United States Conference of Bishops commented about president elect Joe Biden on Tuesday.  He called it a “difficult and complex” situation that the second ever Catholic president-elect supports abortion rights near the end of the meeting. 
When the USCCB ended the public portion of its two-day national meeting, Gomez drifted from the official agenda to acknowledge the issue. “We are facing a unique moment in our history,” he said. “The president-elect has given us reason to think he will support some good policies" but also some that "undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion.” “These policies pose a serious threat to the common good,” Gomez said. “When politicians who profess the Catholic faith support them ... it creates confusion among the faithful about what the church actually teaches on these questions.”
He has also given us reason to believe he will support policies that are against some fundamental values we hold dear as Catholics . These policies include the repeal of the Hyde amendment and the preservation of Roe vs. Wade. Both of these policies undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion.” These policies also include restoration of the HHS mandate...“These policies pose a serious threat to the common good, whenever any politician supports them. We have long opposed these policies strongly, and we will continue to do so.” “But when politicians who profess the Catholic faith support them, there are additional problems. One of the things it creates is confusion with the faithful about what the church actually teaches on these questions." This is a difficult In
Archbishop José Gomez said Tuesday evening that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is setting up a team to deal with policies the future president may put in place which diverge from Church teaching. Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, USCCB vice president, will lead the special working group. The team will be composed of the chairmen of various committees, including those covering doctrine and communications

Pope Francis Suggests this Prayer “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want” - FULL TEXT + Video at Audience



GENERAL AUDIENCE

Library of the Apostolic Palace
Wednesday, 18 November 2020

 

Catechesis on prayer - 15. The Virgin Mary, prayerful woman

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

On our course of catechesis on prayer, today we meet the Virgin Mary as the prayerful woman. The Madonna prayed. When the world still knew nothing of her, when she was a simple girl engaged to a man of the house of David, Mary prayed. We can imagine the young girl of Nazareth wrapped in silence, in continual dialogue with God who would soon entrust her with a mission. She is already full of grace and immaculate from the moment she was conceived; but she knows nothing yet of her surprising and extraordinary vocation and the stormy sea she will have to cross. One thing is certain: Mary belongs to a great host of the humble of heart whom the official historians never include in their books, but with whom God prepared the coming of His Son.

Mary did not autonomously conduct her life: she waits for God to take the reins of her path and guide her where He wants. She is docile, and with her availability she prepares the grand events in which God takes part in the world. The Catechism recalls her constant and caring presence in the benevolent design of the Father throughout the course of Jesus’s life (see CCC, 2617-2618).

Mary was praying when the Archangel Gabriel came to bring his message to her in Nazareth. Her small yet immense “Here I am”, which makes all of creation jump for joy at that moment, was preceded throughout salvation history by many other “Here I ams”, by many trusting obediences, by many who were open to God’s will. There is no better way to pray than to place oneself in an attitude of openness, of a heart open to God: “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. That is, with a heart open to God’s will. And God always responds. How many believers live their prayer like this! Those who are the most humble of heart pray like this: with essential humility, let’s put it that way; with simple humility: “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. They pray like this and do not get upset when problems fill their days, but they go about facing reality and knowing that in humble love, in love offered in each situation, we become instruments of God’s grace. “Lord, what You want, when You want, and how You want”. A simple prayer, but one in which we place ourselves in the Lord’s hands so that He might guide us. All of us can pray like this, almost without words.

Prayer knows how to calm restlessness. We are restless, we always want things before asking for them, and we want them right away. This restlessness harms us. And prayer knows how to calm restlessness, knows how to transform it into availability. When we are restless, I pray and prayer opens my heart and makes me open to God’s will. In those few moments of the Annunciation, the Virgin Mary knew how to reject fear, even while sensing that her “yes” would bring her tremendously difficult trials. If in prayer we understand that each day given by God is a call, our hearts will then widen and we will accept everything. We will learn how to say: “What You want, Lord. Promise me only that You will be present every step of my way”. This is important: to ask the Lord to be present on every step of our way: that He not leave us alone, that He not abandon us in temptation, that He not abandon us in the bad moments. The Our Father end this way: the grace that Jesus Himself taught us to ask of the Lord.

Mary accompanied Jesus’s entire life in prayer, right up to His death and resurrection; and in the end, she continued and she accompanied the first steps of the nascent Church (see Acts 1:14). Mary prayed with the disciples who had witnessed the scandal of the cross. She prayed with Peter who had succumbed to fear and cried for remorse. Mary was there, with the disciples, in the midst of the men and women whom her Son had called to form His Community. Mary did not act like a priest among them, no! She is Jesus’s Mother who prayed with them, in the community, as a member of the community. She prayed with them and prayed for them. And, once again, her prayer preceded into the future that was about to be fulfilled: by the work of the Holy Spirit she became the Mother of God, and by the work of the Holy Spirit she became the Mother of the Church. Praying with the nascent Church, she becomes the Mother of the Church, accompanying the disciples on the first steps of the Church in prayer, awaiting the Holy Spirit. In silence, always silently. Mary’s prayer is silent. The Gospels recount only one of Mary’s prayers at Cana, when she asks her Son for those poor people who are about to make a horrible impression during the banquet. So, let us imagine: there is a wedding banquet and it will end up with milk because there is no wine! What an impression! And she prays and asks her Son to resolve that problem. In and of itself, Mary’s presence is prayer, and her presence among the disciples in the Upper Room, awaiting the Holy Spirit, is in prayer. Thus Mary gives birth to the Church, she is the Mother of the Church. The Catechism explains: “In the faith of his humble handmaid, the Gift of God”, that is, the Holy Spirit, “found the acceptance he had awaited from the beginning of time” (CCC, 2617).

In the Virgin Mary, natural feminine intuition is exalted by her most singular union with God in prayer. This is why, reading the Gospel, we note that she seems to disappear at times, only to reappear for crucial moments: Mary was open to God’s voice that guided her heart, that guided her steps where her presence was needed. Her silent presence as mother and as disciple. Mary is present because she is Mother, but she is also present because she is the first disciple, the one who best learned Jesus’s ways. Mary never says: “Come, I will take care of things”. Instead she says: “Do whatever He will tell you”, always pointing her finger at Jesus. This behaviour is typical of the disciple, and she is the first disciple: she prays as Mother and she prays as a disciple.

“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Thus the evangelist Luke depicts the Mother of the Lord in the infancy narrative in his Gospel. Everything that happens around her ends up being reflected on in the depths of her heart: the days filled with joy, as well as the darkest moments when even she struggles to understand by which roads the Redemption must pass. Everything ends up in her heart so that it might pass through the sieve of prayer and be transfigured by it: whether it be the gifts of the Magi, or the flight into Egypt, until that terrible passion Friday. The Mother keeps everything and brings it to her dialogue with God. Someone has compared Mary’s heart to a pearl of incomparable splendour, formed and smoothed by patient acceptance of God’s will through the mysteries of Jesus meditated on in prayer. How beautiful it would be if we too could be a bit like our Mother! With a heart open to God’s Word, with a silent heart, with an obedient heart, with a heart that knows how to receive God’s Word and that allows itself to grow with the seed of good for the Church.


Special Greetings

I cordially greet the English-speaking faithful. In this month of November, let us continue to pray for our deceased loved ones, and for all who have died, that the Lord in his mercy will welcome them into the Kingdom of heaven. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!



US Bishops Approve 3 Action Items at the General Assemble - Full Text Release



U.S. Bishops Approve Three Action Items During 2020 General Assembly
WASHINGTON—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved today three action items at their 2020 Fall General Assembly that met November 16-17 in a virtual format.

The full body of bishops approved the Revised Strategic Priorities for the 2021-24 USCCB Strategic Plan, “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope” by a vote of 193 - 3 with two abstentions.

The bishops also voted to approve the renewal of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism that focuses on addressing the sin of racism. The committee was established in August 2017, upon the unanimous recommendation of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and in consultation with members of the USCCB's Committee on Priorities and Plans. The vote to renew the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism was 194 - 3 with one abstention.

The bishops also accepted the recommendations of the Committee on Budget and Finance for approval of the 2021 Proposed Budgets by a vote of 193 - 1 with four abstentions.

News updates, vote totals, texts of addresses and presentations, and other materials of the General Assembly can be found at www.usccb.org/meetings.

Source: USCCB

Saint November 18 : St. Rose Philippine Duchesne - Known by Natives as "Woman-Who-Prays-Always" - Nun of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus


 

Rose-Philippine Duchesne (1769-1852) 

religious, of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus 

ROSE PHILIPPINE DUCHESNE Was born August 29, 1769 in Grenoble, France. She was baptized in the Church of St. Louis and received the name of Philip, the apostle, and Rose of Lima, first saint of the new continent. She was educated at the Convent of the Visitation of Ste. Marie d'en Haut, then, drawn to the contemplative life, she became a novice there when she was 18 years old.

At the time of the Revolution in France, the community was dispersed and Philippine returned to her family home, spending her time nursing prisoners and helping others who suffered. After the Concordat of 1801, she tried with some companions to reconstruct the monastery of Ste. Marie but without success.

In 1804, Philippine learned of a new congregation, the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and offered herself and the monastery to the Foundress, Mother Madeleine Sophie Barat. Mother Barat visited Ste. Marie in 1804 and received Philippine and several companions as novices in the Society.

Even as Philippine's desire deepened for the contemplative life, so too her call to the missions became more urgent - a call she had heard since her youth. In a letter she wrote to Mother Barat, she confided a spiritual experience she had had during a night of adoration before the Eucharist on Holy Thursday: "I spent the entire night in the new World ... carrying the Blessed Sacrament to all parts of the land ... I had all my sacrifices to offer: a mother, sisters, family, my mountain! When you say to me 'now I send you', I will respond quickly 'I go"'. She waited, however, another 12 years.

In 1818 Philippine's dream was realized. She was sent to respond to the bishop of the Louisiana territory, who was looking for a congregation of educators to help him evangelize the Indian and French children of his diocese. At St. Charles, near St. Louis, Missouri, she founded the first house of the Society outside France. It was in a log cabin - and with it came all the austerities of frontier life: extreme cold, hard work, lack of funds. She also had difficulty learning English. Communication at best was slow; news often did not arrive from her beloved France. She struggled to remain closely united with the Society in France.

Philippine and four other Religious of the Sacred Heart forged ahead. In 1818 she opened the first free school west of the Mississippi. By 1828 she had founded six houses. These schools were for the young women of Missouri and Louisiana. She loved and served them well, but always in her heart she yearned to serve the American Indians. When she was 72 and no longer superior, a school for the Potawatomi was opened at Sugar Creek, Kansas. Though many thought Philippine was too sick to go, the Jesuit head of the mission insisted: "She must come; she may not be able to do much work, but she will assure success to the mission by praying for us. Her very presence will draw down all manner of heavenly favors on the work".

She was with the Potawatomi but a year; however, her pioneer courage did not weaken, and her long hours of contemplation impelled the Indians to name her, Quah-kah-ka-num-ad,
"Woman-Who-Prays-Always". But Philippine's health could not sustain the regime of village life. In July 1842, she returned to St. Charles, although her heart never lost its desire for the missions: "I feel the same longing for the Rocky Mountain missions and any others like them, that I experienced in France when I first begged to come to America...".

Philippine died at St. Charles, Missouri, November 18, 1852 at the age of 83.

Biography Source: https://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/saints/ns_lit_doc_19880703_duchesne_en.html