Ecstasy in Celibacy Postscript: A Prayer from Gertrude the Great

Ecstasy in Celibacy Postscript: A Prayer from Gertrude the Great June 13, 2019

I’m reading Caroline Walker Bynum’s excellent Jesus as Mother: Studies in the Spirituality of the High Middle Ages, and I threw a little bit of it into my Revoice presentation. But I didn’t quote this prayer, since I hadn’t gotten that far in the book yet! It’s from St. Gertrude the Great (Gertrude of Helfta) and what I find so striking here–and so necessary for gay Christians, and Catholics in these times–is the combination of Christ as good Lover and good Ruler. He responds to our needs for love, intimacy, tenderness, authority, and governance with equal care; He cherishes us and orders our hearts. He is, if I can put the sharpest point on it, the opposite of an abuser or a cover-up man. His wise counsel is His caress; His rule is His love.

You are the overflowing abyss of divinity,
Oh king of all kings most worthy,
Supreme emperor,
Illustrious prince,
Ruler of infinite sweetness,
Faithful protector.
You are the vivifying gem of humanity’s nobility.
Craftsman of great skill,
Teacher of infinite patience,
Counselor of great wisdom,
Most kind guardian,
Most faithful friend.
You are the delicate taste of intimate sweetness.
Oh most delicate caresser,
Gentlest passion,
Most ardent lover,
Sweetest spouse,
Most pure pursuer.
You are the burgeoning blossom of natural beauty.
Oh most lovable brother,
Most beautiful youth,
Happiest companion,
Most munificent host,
Most courteous administrator.


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