Today we monks celebrate the Cistercian nun, Saint Alice who entered the Abbey of Notre Dame de La Chambre in Brussels when she was only seven years old. At twenty-two she was infected with leprosy and forced to live as a recluse. Her biographer recounts that on the first night of her seclusion “her heart was so severely crushed and bruised, that her spirit fainted away, and her mind remained forcibly in shock.” Although terribly disfigured by disease, Alice was able to sing the praises of God until her death on June 11th, 1250.
We found the prayers of today’s collect at Mass quite moving:
Father, you gave the blessed virgin Alice the grace of bearing patiently for the love of Christ with grievous sickness and disease. With the help of her prayer, may all who suffer pain recognize that they are among the chosen ones whom the Lord calls blessed, and know that they are joined to him in his suffering for the salvation of the world…
Do we believe that when we suffer we are “chosen ones”? Do we trust enough that when we suffer, we are joined with Christ in his sufferings? Saint Alice intercede for us that we may learn to entrust ourselves to Him who is our Hope.
Photograph taken at the monastery this spring by Charles O'Connor.