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Browsing News Entries

St. Gertrude the Great

On Nov. 16, the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of a distinguished medieval nun and writer in the Benedictine monastic tradition, Saint Gertrude of Helfta, better known as “St. Gertrude the Great.� One of the most esteemed woman saints of the Christian West, she was a notable early devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “She was an exceptional woman, endowed with special natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, the most profound humility and ardent zeal for her neighbor's salvation,� Pope Benedict XVI said of St. Gertrude in an October 2010 general audience. “She was in close communion with God both in contemplation and in her readiness to go to the help of those in need.� Born in Germany on Jan. 6, 1256, Gertrude was sent at age 5 to a monastery in Helfta, to receive her education and religious formation. Under the leadership of the abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, the monastery was highly regarded for its spiritual and intellectual vitality. The young Gertrude’s teacher, later canonized in her own right, was the abbess’ sister Saint Matilda of Hackeborn. A gifted student with a great thirst for knowledge, Gertrude excelled in her study of the arts and sciences of her day, while living according to her community’s strict practice of the Rule of Saint Benedict. By her own account, however, something seems to have been lacking in Gertrude’s personal devotion, which suffered due to her overemphasis of intellectual and cultural pursuits. A change in her priorities began near the end of the year 1280, in the season of Advent. Gertrude was 24 and had greatly distinguished herself in many fields of study. But her accomplishments began to seem meaningless, as she considered the true meaning and goal of her monastic vocation. Anxious and depressed, Gertrude felt she had built a “tower of vanity and curiosity� rather than seeking to love God above all things and live in union with him. In January of the following year, she experienced a vision of Christ, hearing him declare: “I have come to comfort you and bring you salvation.� During 1281, her priorities shifted dramatically, away from secular knowledge and toward the study of Scripture and theology. Gertrude devoted herself strongly to personal prayer and meditation, and began writing spiritual treatises for the benefit of her monastic sisters. Understanding the love of Christ as the supreme and fundamental reality, Gertrude communicated this truth in her writings and strove to live in accordance with it. Though acutely aware of her own persistent faults, she also came to understand the depths of God’s mercy. She accepted the illness and pain of her final years in a spirit of personal sacrifice, while recalling the goodness of God that had transformed her life. St. Gertrude the Great died on Nov. 16, though it is not known whether this was in the year 1301 or 1302. While some of her written works were lost, others survive: “The Herald of Divine Love,� “The Life and Revelations,� and St. Gertrude’s “Spiritual Exercises.�

Beginning the Synod on the Amazon

Hello and welcome! This past week, I have been in Rome to attend the Synod on the Amazon, but I want to begin by sharing with you several events that took place in Boston before I left. Wednesday evening, we hosted our first Connect-Boston event at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which brought together […]

Our Convocation for Permanent Deacons

Hello and welcome! Last Thursday evening, I attended a reception at the home of Jim and Joanne Gallagher highlighting the work of Catholic Charities. Jim is the former Chairman of the Board of Catholic Charities. During the evening I addressed the group, along with the current chairman of the board, Kevin MacKenzie, along with Catholic […]

New Permanent Deacons for Boston

Hello and welcome! Last Friday, we had one of our regular cabinet meetings, which is a gathering with the heads of the departments of the Archdiocese of Boston to discuss the affairs of the archdiocese. Just as I do with other groups of consultors such as the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, the Archdiocesan Finance Council, and […]

Honoring our priests

Hello and welcome! This week I joined with the four diocesan bishops of Massachusetts in issuing a statement on the environment and climate change entitled Embracing Laudato Si’. Conscious of the need to protect our common home, it is important that people take practical decisions concerning the environment and trying to avoid what the Holy […]

Celebrating Our Lady of El Cisne

Hello and welcome, Certainly, immigration is such an important theme in the life of the Church — not just in the United States, but throughout the world. This is a time when there are more refugees than at any point since World War II, and many people are suffering. We, as Americans and Catholics, need […]

Opening the year at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary

Hello and welcome! As I mentioned last week, we celebrate a Mass of the Holy Spirit at each of our seminaries to open the academic year and, last Friday, I had an opportunity to go to Pope St. John XXIII National Seminary in Weston to celebrate the Mass with them. On Fridays, they always celebrate […]

The Mass of the Holy Spirit at St. John’s

Hello and welcome! Each year, we open the academic year in all three of our seminaries with a Mass of the Holy Spirit. This week, I celebrated the Mass at St. John’s Seminary. After the Mass, I joined the seminarians for lunch, including our newly arrived seminarians, whom we were very pleased to welcome. We […]

The renovated chapel at Regina Cleri

Hello and welcome! Last Sunday, I attended the wake service for Karen Coughlin, the wife of Deacon Paul Coughlin, at Holy Family Church in East Taunton. She was a graduate of the Masters of Arts in Ministry program at St. John’s Seminary, and her whole life was dedicated to passing on the faith and preparing […]

Meetings and farewells

Hello and welcome! Marking the 160th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney, the patron saint of priests, the Holy Father wrote a beautiful letter to priests, reflecting on the life of the saint and the joys and challenges of priesthood. In it, he also speaks about the crisis and the suffering of so […]