Monday, October 16, 2006

She was always directed toward God

A Contemporary LIfe of St. Hedwig

Hedwig knew that those living stones that were to be placed in the building of the heavenly Jerusalem had to be smoothed out by buffetings and pressures in this world, and that many tribulations would be needed before she could cross over into the glory of her heavenly homeland. And so she exposed herself completely to the waters of suffering and continually exhausted her body with rigorous chastisement. Because of such great daily fasts and abstinences she grew so thin that many wondered how such a feeble and delicate woman could endure these torments.

She afflicted herself with continual mortification of the flesh, but she did so with prudent discretion. The more attentively she kept watch, the more she grew in the strength of the spirit and in grace, and the more the fire of devotion and divine love blazed within her. She was often borne aloft with such ardent desire and impelled toward God that she would no longer be aware of the things that were around her.

Just as her devotion made her always seek after God, so her generous piety turned her toward her neighbour, and she bountifully bestowed alms on the needy. She gave aid to colleges and to religious persons dwelling within or outside monasteries, to widows and orphans, to the weak and the feeble, to lepers and those bound in chains or imprisoned, to travellers and needy women nursing infants. She allowed no one who came to her for help to go away uncomforted.

And because this servant of God never neglected the practice of all good works, God also conferred on her such grace that when she lacked human means to do good, and her own powers failed, the divine power of the sufferings of Christ strengthened her to respond to the needs of her neighbours. And so through divine favour she had the power to relieve the bodily and spiritual troubles of all who sought her help.

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