One Easter, St Gertrude the Great made a special request of Our Lord. She was about to receive Holy Communion and she asked Jesus if it would please Him that by her taking into herself His Precious Body and Blood, her reception of the Eucharist would serve to make up for her past failings.  

Jesus did not speak to Gertrude. Instead, Our Lord Jesus answered Gertrude by way of a vision that showed her faults and sins, but then showed her transformed through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. 

Gertrude saw herself dressed in an extraordinary religious habit. Now, ordinarily, Gertrude was always clothed in her black Benedictine nun's habit. But this habit was made of many pieces, and as she studied it, she saw that there was a piece of cloth for each year that she had been in her convent. Every piece corresponded perfectly to her memories of that year. The first section of the fabric was for the first year she had lived in the convent in Helfta, Germany, and the second section was for the second year, until she saw that every year was represented. 

What's more, every hour and every day was noted and her good and bad thoughts, good and bad words and good and bad actions, even the tiniest deeds were recorded; and most importantly the intention Gertrud had had in performing each conversation, each thought and every action. Her deeds were highlighted as to whether she had done them for her salvation, for the glory of God or for the benefit of others. Also shown were her fasts and refreshments, how she had obeyed or acted of her own free will, and the artifices she had employed to get her own way, or how she had changed her manner in order to get a superior in the convent to ask Gertrude what Gertrude had wanted to be asked to do.  This formed the pattern of Gertrude's root sin: pride in making her will triumph, whereby she treated her will as better than others.  

Gertrude was noted throughout her life as someone who was exceptionally smart, of very high emotional and intellectual intelligence, and there were times when Gertrude was able to bend her superiors to her will, even though she had vowed to be under their rule. Thus Gertrude was guilty of a type of mutiny; she had been able to play her superiors into thinking her will was their will, when she had been manipulating their actions to her liking. Before this vision began, she had asked that her failings be made up for, but now she was being shown that her negligences in the nunnery were very well recorded.  And a little disgustingly, she saw that her manipulative deeds were attached to her habit by clumps of dirt and it seemed as though they would fall off. 

Then - wow - the vision was made new. She saw what happened when Our Lord applied the offering of His holy and perfect life for her: the same habit was transformed. The pieces of fabric were completely covered with a wondrous, transparent gold that also acted as a crystal. 

Gertrude was made to understand that there is a record, a precise account made of every person's life. No tiny detail is left out. Yet gone and forgotten are the sins that have been purged totally by penance, but there still remains marks in the place of sins that exists for this purpose: that we may be eternally reminded to thank Our Lord for having forgiven them. 

You and I may have two heavenly garments, our old one that did not know the purge of penance, and had not been offered through the life of Christ.  And our new one that has  seen the stains of sin scrubbed clean, but a hallmark remains that reminds you, the wearer to praise the mercies of God and to stir your soul to sigh in thanksgiving. This new garment is covered completely in gold because it has been transformed through Christ's offering of Himself - the gold of Our Lord's glory. 

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The picture that accompanies this blog is of the high altar statue of St Gertrude in Grafenbach, Austria.  And yes, that's a mouse scuttling up the broom handle. 


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