Saint Mechtildis of Hackeborn

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Saint Mechtildis of Hackeborn

Abbess
(1240-1298)

Saint Mechtildis, born in 1240 in Saxony, was the younger sister of the illustrious Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn. She was so attracted to religious life at the age of seven, after a visit to her sister in the monastery of Rodardsdoft, that she begged to be allowed to enter the monastic school there. Her gifts caused her to make great progress both in virtue and learning.

Ten years later, when her sister had transferred the monastery to an estate at Helfta offered by their brothers, Mechtildis went with her. She was already distinguished for her virtues, and while still very young became the valuable Assistant to Abbess Gertrude. One of the children who in the monastic school were committed to her care, was the child of five who later became known as Saint Gertrude the Great.

Saint Mechtildis was gifted with a beautiful voice, and was choir mistress of the nuns all her life. Divine praise, it has been said, was the keynote of her life, as also of her famous book, The Book of Special Grace. When she learned, at the age of fifty, that two of her nuns had written down all the favors and words of their Abbess, which she had become, she was troubled, but Our Lord in a vision assured her that all this has been committed to writing by My will and inspiration, and therefore you have no cause to be troubled over it. He added that the diffusion of the revelations He had given her would cause many to increase in His love. She immediately accepted the Lord’s bidding, and the book became extremely popular in Italy after her death. Its influence on the poet Dante’s Purgatorio is undeniable, for she had described the place of purification after death under the same figure of a seven-terraced mountain. The Donna Matelda of his Purgatorio, who guides him at one point in his vision, is Saint Mechtildis as she represents mystical theology. She died in 1298 at the monastery of Helfta.

*On leap years, the feast day of this Saint is celebrated on February 27.

The Catholic Encyclopedia, edited by C. G. Herbermann with numerous collaborators (Appleton Company: New York, 1908); Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, a compilation based on Butler’s Lives of the Saints and other sources by John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Brothers: New York, 1894).

CHAPLET OR CROWN OF THE HOLY FACE

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CHAPLET OR CROWN OF THE HOLY FACE

The purpose of the Chaplet or Crown of the Holy face is to honour the Five Wounds of Our Lord Jesus Christ and to ask God the Triumph of His Holy Church. This chaplet is composed of a cross and thirty-nine beads; of these, six are large beads and thirty-three are small. To this chaplet is attached the Medal of the Holy Face.

On the Cross, which reminds us of the Mystery of Redemption,, we begin the chaplet by praying:

Incline unto my aid, O God! O Lord, make haste to help me!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it
was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. Amen.

The thirty-three small beads represent the 33 years of Our Lord’s
life on earth. The first 30 recall to us the 30 years of His hidden life and are divided into 5 parts of 6 beads each, in honor of the senses of touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste, as these senses were primarily in His Holy Face; we do this to render reparation for all the sufferings which Our Lord has endured in His Face through each of these senses.

EACH SIX BEADS ARE PRECEDED BY A LARGE BEAD, AFTER WHICH A GLORY BE IS SAID WHILE RECALLING THE SENSE WE ARE HONORING IN A PARTICULAR SECTION.

THE OTHER THREE BEADS MARK OUR LORD’S PUBLIC LIFE AND HAVE FOR THEIR INTENTION TO HONOR ALL THE WOUNDS OF HIS ADORABLE FACE; THESE ARE ALSO PRECEDED BY A LARGE BEAD, AFTER WHICH A GLORY BE IS ALSO SAID FOR THE SAME INTENTION.

ON EACH LARGE BEAD PRAY:

My Jesus, mercy!

ON THE SMALL BEADS:

Arise, O Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let them
that hate Thee fly before Thy Face!

The Glory Be is recited seven times in all, after the prayer of the large
bead in each section, in honour of the Seven Last Words of Jesus
on the Cross, and the Seven Sorrows of Mary.

The chaplet is concluded by praying on the Medal:

God, our Protector,, look down upon us and cast Thine
eyes upon the Face of Thy Christ!

LENT WITH MARY

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LENT WITH MARY

Keep your Mother Company this Lent

I’ve been praying about how best to live this Lenten season. It has become clear that Our Lord is inviting me to keep company with Mary on the Way of the Cross. Mary can aid us to peer into the mystery of the Passion and death of Jesus to discover a love we need to know. She will protect us from countless temptations in the desert of Lent when the devil would like to sift us like sand. He fears Mary and would rather flee than be near the Woman who is the New Eve: obedient and full of grace!

Mothers are adept at helping us to clean up, get ready, and put things in proper order again. Mothers are skilful at applying healing salves to the wounds of children. Mary excels at holding us close to her heart in an embrace that brings peace and strength. Mary never tires of repeating the truth that we are beloved of God. She can help break the chains that bind us from true freedom such as the pesky addictions (alcohol, food, TV, Internet), the compromises (missing times of prayer and the sacraments, illicit relationships, numbing laziness, or frenzied busyness). If we invite Mary into our imperfect souls, her holiness will take over and help to sever whatever binds us from the true freedom of the children of God. But Our Lady doesn’t invade our lives; we need to invite her. The Blessed Mother enriches our spiritual journey always. Perhaps we can consider living the Lenten season with Mary as fulfilling our Marian consecration also.

How do we walk with Mary during Lent? Here are some little steps.

1. Take up Mary’s spiritual practices, which included, praying the Psalms, meditating on the Sacred Scriptures, offering hymns of praise and gratitude to God such as her Magnificat. Come to Vespers. Say some of the Divine Office of Our Lady.

2. Imitate Mary’s courageous “be it done” more intentionally as you walk the Stations of the Cross with her.

3. With Mary, sit at the feet of Jesus, choosing the better part—perhaps attend All Night Adoration or Benediction more frequently.