This month’s selection is actually from a Cistercian Mother–St. Gertrude of Helfta. But in what sense was she a Cistercian, since her monastery wasn’t under the jurisdiction of Citeaux? From the earliest days, the monks were reluctant to be responsible for monasteries of women. However, women were directed from the start to Tart, a reformed Benedictine nunnery, visited by the Abbot of Citeaux. This reserve, however, did not discourage women inspired by the Cistercian reform. If they couldn’t be accepted by the Order, per se, no one could prevent them from adopting Cistercian usages and dressing in the black and white habit and living the Cistercian life/charism, even if not part of the institutional structures. Many scholars agree that St. Gertrude’s monastery of Helfta followed Cistercian usages.
O God, love, who have cherished me gratuitously, grant that I may cherish you with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength. O love, most almighty God, embolden me in your love. O wisest love, grant I may love you wisely. O most dulcet love, grant that I may taste you pleasantly. O dearest love, grant that I may live for you alone. O most faithful love, console and aid me in every tribulation. O most companionable love, work all my works in me. O most victorious love, grant I may persevere in you to the very end. O love very close to my heart, who have never forsaken me, to you I commend my spirit.