Neither are the souls of the pious dead separated from the Church which even now is the kingdom of Christ. Otherwise there would be no remembrance of them at the altar of God in the communication of the Body of Christ. -- Saint Augustine of Hippo from “The City of God

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich


Stigmatist and Visionary

During the 1700's Germany was basically a land made up of independent Duchies and Principalities. It also embarked on obtaining as much land as possible, including partitioning parts of Poland, who strongly objected to these invasions from the Germans.
And during these difficult times of internal squabbling and outright warfare, there was the destructive influence of the Lutheran Reformation, which struck at the heart of the Catholic Church.
The 18 century was also the Era that the age of enlightenment was born and prospered, as many disregarded the religious practices and deeply held reverence within the Teachings of the Catholic Church in favour of mans reasoning and logic. This was to introduce a major heresy in the form of rationalism and relativism, through such writers as Voltaire, Locke, Rousseau and many others.
Into this troubled decade was born Anne Catherine Emmerich in the year 1774 to poor parents Bernard and Anne Emmerich, who though their lifestyle could only obtain the basics raised their children with a pious and holy reverence for the Catholic Church.
Anne Catherine’s life was touched from the beginning with Mystical experiences and she conversed with her guardian Angel from early in her youth. Due to her parents great poverty Anne Catherine despite her fragile health was often sent out to work on farms in order to provide her family with the necessary means to live and to help provide food. These were hard years for the Emmerich family who though they struggled to live day by day still embraced their faith with true devotion and instilled into their children a great love and reverence for God.
Though Anne Catherine struggled to help her family as much as possible there were many times when she herself went without food as she gave most of her own food to those she felt were worse off than herself. This enormous compassion for those in need would stay with Anne Catherine during her entire life but it also helped to make her own health even more fragile as she became undernourished.
During all this Anne Catherine’s Mystical experiences never stopped and she was given many gifts including that of reading souls and conversing with our Lord and our Blessed Mother as well as various Saints and her Angels. This at times brought much ridicule from her neighbours and friends, but Anne Catherine with true humility and meekness accepted all these insults as a cross for her to bear through her life with great patience.
From a young age Anne Catherine longed to enter the Religious Order of the Augustinians but through ill health, and her giving to the poor this delayed her entry into the Order she so loved. But in 1802 Anne Catherine’s dearest wish was granted and she had saved the money needed to enter the Augustinian Convent. But her life was not to be an easy one within the Convent as her fellow sisters, grew jealous of her many visions and ecstasies, even though Anne Catherine’s health was delicate this did not stop her being delegated with some of the heavier jobs within the Convent. But in 1812 her convent was closed and Anne Catherine was left to fend for herself she eventually found shelter at the home of a widow.
Though Anne Catherine had many struggles and many of her contemporaries treated her with suspicion still her Faith never wavered in face of such persecution and strain. And through all these trials her visions continued even when she became bedridden a short time after leaving the Convent. She prophesied the downfall of Napoleon, as well as being able to diagnose the ill who came to seek her help, and through her great suffering Anne Catherine never lost her love or joy which she found in her beloved Jesus.
It was also during this period that Anne Catherine became the recipient of the Stigmata, which was to bring further harsh judgements from those who were grew weary of Anne Catherine’s messages and visions. As many questioned through their own envy why Anne Catherine was especially favoured by God and not themselves. Because of these extraordinary visions, ecstasies and the Stigmata the Church began an investigation into nature of these supernatural abilities. This would grieve her deeply as Anne Catherine wished to remain unknown and unseen as a suffering victim soul for the souls in purgatory and the wickedness of the world which she could foresee.
Whilst undergoing this investigation Anne Catherine would be tormented by those seeking to find the truth, either by insulting her or flattering her but through all this Anne Catherine kept her composure and her obvious and sincere piety was seen by all who met her.
But through all these sufferings including physical, mental and emotional Anne Catherine led a very deep prayer life which strengthened her through out all her ordeals. For throughout her life Anne Catherine was to undergo years of misunderstanding and ridicule by those who should have supported her. And though the authorities who investigated her found nothing contradictory in her behaviour and life, still her fellow Sisters found difficulty accepting this strange woman with the visions.
Through all this time Anne Catherine was to be recipient of our Lords instruction as to His life on earth, including His Passion and the life of our Blessed Mother. It was then that a well known writer, Klemens Brentano went to visit Anne Catherine, upon talking to her, he was amazed that she had already known he would be sent to help her.
It was this writer Klemens Brentano who would write the first edition of what would be known as 'The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ' and also 'The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary' which had been dictated to him through Anne Catherine’s visions.
Other revelations given to Anne Catherine included these, that each parish and diocese, each city and country has its own particular and powerful guardian angel. Also, how the various indulgences we gain actually remit specific punishments which otherwise would await us in Purgatory. And this too, that to gain an indulgence we must approach the Sacraments with true repentance and a firm purpose of amendment–or we do not gain it. And also this great reminder, that saints are particularly powerful on their feast days and should be invoked then, and this most touching aspect revealed by our Lord, that He suffered from the wound in His shoulder more than from any other. And revealed to her was this warning in a vision, that the enemies of the Church tearing it down and trying to build a new one on strictly human plans, but none of the saints would lend a hand. Later, this church of men is destroyed and the saints of God join in to rebuild the true Church of God, which becomes more glorious than ever before. But once again we are uplifted by this Divine message, which told her of the revival of the priesthood and the religious orders after a period of great decadence.
Anne Catherine’s life was not an easy one and though the recipient of Divine revelations this was to cause more pain and anguish to her life as many chose to look at her with suspicion if not outright dislike, most especially her fellow Religious! But Anne Catherine was a most noble soul who allowed none of this to impact on her love for God, nor did she take offence as with true humility, meekness and serenity of soul, she accepted all as a Gift from God.
Some Quotes
"Man's value before God is estimated by the dispositions of his heart, its uprightness, its good-will, its charity, and not by keenness of intellect or extent of knowledge."
"From the lips of those that pray I see a chain of words issuing like a fiery stream and mounting up to God, and in them I see the disposition of the one who prays, I read everything. The writing is as varied as the individuals themselves."
"Now, for all who are not in living union with Jesus Christ by faith and grace, nature is full of Satan's influence."
Anne Catherine Emmerich died in 1824.
Blessed Anne Catherine was beatified in 2004 by Pope John Paul ll.
I would encourage all to see the movie 'The Passion of the Christ' directed by Mel Gibson.
Peace of Christ to ALL
Copyright © 2005 Marie Smith. All rights reserved.

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