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Time well spent

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Time well spent

The words below were given by Our Lord to St Gertrude:

 My daughter, seek those words of mine which most exude love.  Write them down, and then, keeping them preciously like relics, take care to reread them often… be assured then that the most precious relics of mine on earth are my words of love, the words which have come from my most sweet heart.’

In this age of sophisticated communications technology, words abound to the point of excess.  However, in St Gertrude’s time (13th century), the written word was as valuable as it was rare.  It was not uncommon for books to be chained, even in palace libraries, to prevent them from wandering.  Even in monasteries, access to the written word was carefully controlled: a monk’s private reading took place at the discretion of the librarian, in the library and only in the library.  One can imagine, therefore, that as part of your precious reading time, you might try harder to memorise relevant texts, so that later, when you no longer had the book to hand, you could recall passages from memory.

If we fast forward seven centuries, we find St Therese of Lisieux jotting down the above words of St Gertrude’s… and not only jotting them down, but living them, as she had a beautiful and endearing love of scripture.  Of course books were much more plentiful by the end of the nineteenth century, but interestingly, St Therese still only had half an hour a day for scripture study and her contemporary in Dijon, Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity, only quarter of an hour!

With our spiritual reading, it is perhaps the case that ‘less is more’.  A short passage of scripture often offers a word or phrase to which we can return throughout the day, and therefore allow God’s words of love to sanctify our day, from the rising of the sun to its setting.

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