Margaret of Scotland; Gertrude, V

+Luke 17:26-37

When the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed

Jesus said to the disciples:

‘As it was in Noah’s day, so will it also be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating and drinking, marrying wives and husbands, right up to the day Noah went into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. It will be the same as it was in Lot’s day: people were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but the day Lot left Sodom, God rained fire and brimstone from heaven and it destroyed them all. It will be the same when the day comes for the Son of Man to be revealed.

‘When that day comes, anyone on the housetop, with his possessions in the house, must not come down to collect them, nor must anyone in the fields turn back either. Remember Lot’s wife. Anyone who tries to preserve his life will lose it; and anyone who loses it will keep it safe. I tell you, on that night two will be in one bed: one will be taken, the other left; two women will be grinding corn together: one will be taken, the other left.’ The disciples interrupted. ‘Where, Lord?’ they asked. He said, ‘Where the body is, there too will the vultures gather.’


+2 John 1:4-9

The commandment which you have heard since the beginning is to live a life of love

It has given me great joy to find that your children have been living the life of truth as we were commanded by the Father. I am writing now, dear lady, not to give you any new commandment, but the one which we were given at the beginning, and to plead: let us love one another.

To love is to live according to his commandments: this is the commandment which you have heard since the beginning, to live a life of love.

There are many deceivers about in the world, refusing to admit that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. They are the Deceiver; they are the Antichrist. Watch yourselves, or all our work will be lost and not get the reward it deserves. If anybody does not keep within the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it, he cannot have God with him: only those who keep to what he taught can have the Father and the Son with them.

Source: Jerusalem Bible

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Conversion And Society

1886 Society is essential to the fulfillment of the human vocation. To attain this aim, respect must be accorded to the just hierarchy of values, which “subordinates physical and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones:”

Human society must primarily be considered something pertaining to the spiritual. Through it, in the bright light of truth, men should share their knowledge, be able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations, be inspired to seek spiritual values; mutually derive genuine pleasure from the beautiful, of whatever order it be; always be readily disposed to pass on to others the best of their own cultural heritage; and eagerly strive to make their own the spiritual achievements of others. These benefits not only influence, but at the same time give aim and scope to all that has bearing on cultural expressions, economic, and social institutions, political movements and forms, laws, and all other structures by which society is outwardly established and constantly developed.

1887 The inversion of means and ends, which results in giving the value of ultimate end to what is only a means for attaining it, or in viewing persons as mere means to that end, engenders unjust structures which “make Christian conduct in keeping with the commandments of the divine Law-giver difficult and almost impossible.”

1888 It is necessary, then, to appeal to the spiritual and moral capacities of the human person and to the permanent need for his inner conversion, so as to obtain social changes that will really serve him. The acknowledged priority of the conversion of heart in no way eliminates but on the contrary imposes the obligation of bringing the appropriate remedies to institutions and living conditions when they are an inducement to sin, so that they conform to the norms of justice and advance the good rather than hinder it.

1889 Without the help of grace, men would not know how “to discern the often narrow path between the cowardice which gives in to evil, and the violence which under the illusion of fighting evil only makes it worse.” This is the path of charity, that is, of the love of God and of neighbor. Charity is the greatest social commandment. It respects others and their rights. It requires the practice of justice, and it alone makes us capable of it. Charity inspires a life of self-giving: “Whoever seeks to gain his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it.”


Psalm 118(119):1-2,10-11,17-18

They are happy who follow God’s law.

They are happy whose life is blameless,

who follow God’s law!

They are happy who do his will,

seeking him with all their hearts.

They are happy who follow God’s law.

I have sought you with all my heart;

let me not stray from your commands.

I treasure your promise in my heart

lest I sin against you.

They are happy who follow God’s law.

Bless your servant and I shall live

and obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see

the wonders of your law.

They are happy who follow God’s law.


Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045 – 16 November 1093), also known as Margaret of Wessex, was an English princess of the House of Wessex. Margaret was sometimes called “The Pearl of Scotland”. Born in exile in the Kingdom of Hungary, she was the sister of Edgar Ætheling, the shortly reigned and uncrowned Anglo-Saxon King of England. Margaret and her family returned to the Kingdom of England in 1057, but fled to the Kingdom of Scotland following the Norman conquest of England in 1066. By the end of 1070, Margaret had married King Malcolm III of Scotland, becoming Queen of Scots. She was a very pious Roman Catholic, and among many charitable works she established a ferry across the Firth of Forth in Scotland for pilgrims travelling to St Andrews in Fife, which gave the towns of South Queensferry and North Queensferry their names. Margaret was the mother of three kings of Scotland, or four, if Edmund of Scotland, who ruled with his uncle, Donald III, is counted, and of a queen consort of England. According to the Vita S. Margaritae (Scotorum) Reginae (Life of St. Margaret, Queen (of the Scots)), attributed to Turgot of Durham, she died at Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1093, merely days after receiving the news of her husband’s death in battle. In 1250 Pope Innocent IV canonized her, and her remains were reinterred in a shrine in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. Her relics were dispersed after the Scottish Reformation and subsequently lost. Mary, Queen of Scots at one time owned her head, which was subsequently preserved by Jesuits in the Scottish College, Douai, France, from where it was subsequently lost during the French Revolution.

Early Life

Margaret was the daughter of the English prince Edward the Exile, and granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England. After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, King Canute the Great had the infant Edward exiled to the continent. He was taken first to the court of the Swedish king, Olof Skötkonung, and then to Kiev. As an adult, he travelled to Hungary, where in 1046 he supported the successful bid of King Andrew I for the Hungarian crown. King Andrew I was then also known as “Andrew the Catholic” for his extreme aversion to pagans and great loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church. The provenance of Margaret’s mother, Agatha, is disputed, but Margaret was born in Hungary c. 1045. Her brother Edgar the Ætheling and sister Cristina were also born in Hungary around this time. Margaret grew up in a very religious environment in the Hungarian court.

Return to England

Still a child, she came to England with the rest of her family when her father, Edward the Exile, was recalled in 1057 as a possible successor to her great-uncle, the childless King Edward the Confessor. Whether from natural or sinister causes, her father died immediately after landing, and Margaret continued to reside at the English court where her brother, Edgar Ætheling, was considered a possible successor to the English throne. When Edward the Confessor died in January 1066, Harold Godwinson was selected as king, possibly because Edgar was considered too young. After Harold’s defeat at the Battle of Hastings later that year, Edgar was proclaimed King of England, but when the Normans advanced on London, the Witenagemot presented Edgar to William the Conqueror, who took him to Normandy before returning him to England in 1068, when Edgar, Margaret, Cristina, and their mother Agatha fled north to Northumbria, England.

Journey to Scotland

According to tradition, the widowed Agatha decided to leave Northumbria, England with her children and return to the continent. However, a storm drove their ship north to the Kingdom of Scotland in 1068, where they sought the protection of King Malcolm III. The locus where it is believed that they landed is known today as St Margaret’s Hope, near the village of North Queensferry, Fife, Scotland. Margaret’s arrival in Scotland, after the failed revolt of the Northumbrian earls, has been heavily romanticized, though Symeon of Durham implied that her first meeting of Malcolm III may not have been until 1070, after William the Conqueror’s Harrying of the North.

King Malcolm III was a widower with two sons, Donald and Duncan. He would have been attracted to marrying one of the few remaining members of the Anglo-Saxon royal family. The marriage of Malcolm and Margaret occurred in 1070. Subsequently, Malcolm executed several invasions of Northumberland to support the claim of his new brother-in-law Edgar and to increase his own power. These, however, had little effect save the devastation of the County.

Piety

Margaret’s biographer Turgot of Durham, Bishop of St. Andrew’s, credits her with having a civilizing influence on her husband Malcolm by reading him narratives from the Bible. She instigated religious reform, striving to conform the worship and practices of the Church in Scotland to those of Rome. This she did on the inspiration and with the guidance of Lanfranc, a future Archbishop of Canterbury. She also worked to conform the practices of the Scottish Church to those of the continental Church, which she experienced in her childhood. Due to these achievements, she was considered an exemplar of the “just ruler”, and moreover influenced her husband and children, especially her youngest son, the future King David I of Scotland, to be just and holy rulers.

“The chroniclers all agree in depicting Queen Margaret as a strong, pure, noble character, who had very great influence over her husband, and through him over Scottish history, especially in its ecclesiastical aspects. Her religion, which was genuine and intense, was of the newest Roman style; and to her are attributed a number of reforms by which the Church [in] Scotland was considerably modified from the insular and primitive type which down to her time it had exhibited. Among those expressly mentioned are a change in the manner of observing Lent, which thenceforward began as elsewhere on Ash Wednesday and not as previously on the following Monday, and the abolition of the old practice of observing Saturday (Sabbath), not Sunday, as the day of rest from labour.”

She attended to charitable works, serving orphans and the poor every day before she ate and washing the feet of the poor in imitation of Christ. She rose at midnight every night to attend the liturgy. She successfully invited the Benedictine Order to establish a monastery in Dunfermline, Fife in 1072, and established ferries at Queensferry and North Berwick to assist pilgrims journeying from south of the Firth of Forth to St. Andrew’s in Fife. She used a cave on the banks of the Tower Burn in Dunfermline as a place of devotion and prayer. St. Margaret’s Cave, now covered beneath a municipal car park, is open to the public. Among other deeds, Margaret also instigated the restoration of Iona Abbey in Scotland. She is also known to have interceded for the release of fellow English exiles who had been forced into serfdom by the Norman conquest of England.

Margaret was as pious privately as she was publicly. She spent much of her time in prayer, devotional reading, and ecclesiastical embroidery. This apparently had considerable effect on the more uncouth Malcolm, who was illiterate: he so admired her piety that he had her books decorated in gold and silver. One of these, a pocket gospel book with portraits of the Evangelists, is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England.

Malcolm was apparently largely ignorant of the long-term effects of Margaret’s endeavours, not being especially religious himself. He was content for her to pursue her reforms as she desired, which was a testament to the strength of and affection in their marriage.

Death

Her husband Malcolm III, and their eldest son Edward, were killed in the Battle of Alnwick against the English on 13 November 1093. Her son Edgar was left with the task of informing his mother of their deaths. Margaret was not yet 50 years old, but a life of constant austerity and fasting had taken its toll. Already ill, Margaret died on 16 November 1093, three days after the deaths of her husband and eldest son. She was buried before the high altar in Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. In 1250, the year of her canonization, her body and that of her husband were exhumed and placed in a new shrine in the Abbey. In 1560 Mary Queen of Scots had Margaret’s head removed to Edinburgh Castle as a relic to assist her in childbirth. In 1597 Margaret’s head ended up with the Jesuits at the Scottish College, Douai, France, but was lost during the French Revolution. King Philip of Spain had the other remains of Margaret and Malcolm III transferred to the Escorial palace in Madrid, Spain, but their present location has not been discovered.

Veneration

Pope Innocent IV canonized St. Margaret in 1250 in recognition of her personal holiness, fidelity to the Roman Catholic Church, work for ecclesiastical reform, and charity. On 19 June 1250, after her canonisation, her remains were transferred to a chapel in the eastern apse of Dunfermline Abbey in Fife, Scotland. In 1693 Pope Innocent XII moved her feast day to 10 June in recognition of the birthdate of the son of James VII of Scotland and II of England. In the revision of the General Roman Calendar in 1969, 16 November became free and the Church transferred her feast day to 16 November, the date of her death, on which it always had been observed in Scotland. However, some traditionalist Catholics continue to celebrate her feast day on 10 June.

She is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church.


Gertrude the Great (or Saint Gertrude of Helfta; Italian: Santa Gertrude; January 6, 1256 – c. 1302) was a German Benedictine nun, mystic, and theologian. She is recognized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, and is inscribed in the General Roman Calendar, for celebration throughout the Latin Rite on November 16.

Life

Little is known of the early life of Gertrude. Gertrude was born on the feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1256, in Eisleben, Thuringia (within the Holy Roman Empire). At the age of four, she entered the monastery school at the monastery of St. Mary at Helfta (with much debate having occurred as to whether this monastery is best described as Benedictine or Cistercian), under the direction of its abbess, Gertrude of Hackeborn. It is speculated that she was offered as a child oblate to the Church by devout parents. Given that Gertrude implies in the Herald that her parents were long dead at the time of writing, however, it is also possible that she entered the monastery school as an orphan.

Gertrude was confided to the care of St. Mechtilde, younger sister of the Abbess Gertrude, and joined the monastic community in 1266. It is clear from her own writings that she received a thorough education in a range of subjects. She, and the nun who authored Books 1 and 3-5 of the Herald, are thoroughly familiar with scripture, the Fathers of the Church such as Augustine and Gregory the Great, and also in more contemporary spiritual writers such as Richard and Hugh of St Victor, William of St Thierry, and Bernard of Clairvaux. Moreover, Gertrude’s writing demonstrates that she was well-versed in rhetoric, and her Latin is very fluent.

In 1281, at the age of 25, she experienced the first of a series of visions that continued throughout her life, and which changed the course of her life. Her priorities shifted 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. Gertrude became one of the great mystics of the 13th century. Together with her friend and teacher St. Mechtild, she practiced a spirituality called “nuptial mysticism,” that is, she came to see herself as the bride of Christ.

Gertrude died at Helfta, near Eisleben, Saxony, around 1302. Her feastday is celebrated on November 16, but the exact date of her death is unknown; the November date stems from a confusion with Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn.

Veneration

Gertrude was never formally canonized, but a liturgical office of prayer, readings, and hymns in her honor was approved by Rome in 1606. The Feast of St. Gertrude was extended to the universal Church by Clement XII and today is celebrated on November 16, the date of her death. Some Religious communities, including the Benedictines, celebrate her feast on November 17. Pope Benedict XIV gave her the title “the Great” to distinguish her from Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn and to recognize the depth of her spiritual and theological insight.

Gertrude showed “tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory” and urged prayers for them.She is therefore invoked for suffering souls in purgatory. The following prayer is attributed to St. Gertrude, and is often depicted on her Prayer card:

“              Eternal Father, I offer You the most precious blood of thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, for those in my own home and in my family. Amen.       ”

Perhaps for that reason, her name has been attached to a prayer that, according to a legend of uncertain origin and date (neither are found in the Revelations of Saint Gertrude the Great), Christ promised to release a thousand souls from purgatory each time it was said; despite the fact that practices relative to alleged promises to free one or more souls from purgatory by the recitation of some prayer were prohibited by Pope Leo XIII. Nonetheless, the material that is found in her Revelations, such as the celebration of Gregorian Masses for the departed, is well in line with the devotions approved by the Catholic Church.

Source: Wikipedia