Spiritual Exercises (St. Gertrude)
165 pages, Paperback
From the back cover:
The remarkable monastery of Helfta was a ‘place where learning and art, courtesy and holiness flowered in a dark season’ (M. Jeremy Finnegan, OP) of interregnal warfare. The nuns drew their inspiration from the twin roots of Citeaux: the Rule of Saint Benedict and the constitutions of Citeaux: their spirituality, liturgy, customs, and habits were modelled on those of the White Monks, even though juridically they were not part of the Cistercian Order.
Under the guidance of the thirteenth-century abbes Gertrude of Hackeborn, the nuns of Helfta steadfastly pursued learning and holiness. Among them were three outstanding women whose works have come down through the centuries: Mechtilde of Hackeborn (the saint for whom Mother Mectilde was named), Mechtilde of Magdeburg, and the scholarly Gertrud the Great (also spelled Gertrude).
Having entered the monastic life at the age of five, Gertrud combined a deep knowledge of the Church Fathers and earlier medieval writers, and intimate familiarity with Scripture, and innate common sense. Her Spiritual Exercises—prayers, litanies, meditations, and hymns—articulate a spirituality that is both traditionally monastic and authentically, but unself-consciously, feminine.
Hers is a mysticism of light and love, of humility and commitment, of freedom and discipline, and—most of all—joy.