Cloistered Dominican Nuns Corpus Christi Monastery

What Will Happen to the Poor Souls: Bl. Margaret Ebner, O.P.

Bl. Ebner

The forty years of Blessed Margaret’s religious life were spent in the practices of regular observance, into which she daily strove to put fresh love, more diligence and care and more profound respect.  Under a simple and modest exterior lay concealed an intimacy with God such as the Imitation describes: He habitually converses with the interior man in profound peace and with overwhelming familiarity.  A cloistered nun in the Dominican Order, Bl. Margaret was intimately connected with the spiritual renaissance in the Rhineland during the fourteenth century – she was friend and guide to many and in frequent correspondence with other mystics, including John Tauler, O.P.

Born to a noble family, Margaret was very young when her taste for prayer became evident.  It was no surprise to anyone that she decided to enter a monastery at the age of 15.  She lived a holy life in a Bavarian Dominican monastery for five years, when she suddenly became very ill and eventually, nearly completely paralyzed.  For thirteen years she lived in constant pain and helplessness; she offered her suffering for the souls of those who died in the war, which was then raging throughout the country.  All the while, she was in union with God and had visions of countless poor souls coming to her, begging for prayers.

Margaret suffered intensely and for a long time and she offered her suffering as a prayer of expiation for the sins of others.  In the account written by herself in obedience to her confessor, Father Henry Niidlingen, we find her five special devotions: 1) the Infant Jesus; 2) the Holy Eucharist; 3) the Holy Name of Jesus; 4) the Passion; and 5) the Poor Souls in Purgatory.  Her zeal embraced in particular four classes of persons: poor sinners, the sick, the agonizing, and the abandoned poor.

At the end of her suffering, Margaret was suddenly cured and returned to regular life within the community.  But this peace was short-lived, for the monastery was forced to close because of the war.  Margaret and a lay sister returned to her home, where she continued her nearly perpetual silence and continual prayer.  One day, the lay sister scolded her for her silence, which seemed excessive to her.  Suddenly the lay sister was granted a vision to what Margaret saw and heard all the time – the house was teeming with souls begging for Margaret’s prayers.  Looking at the lay sister, they said to her, “If you do not want to help us yourself, at least don’t keep other people from helping us.”

As soon as it was possible, the monastery reopened and Margaret returned for the remainder of her life, continuing her works of kindness, charity, prayer, and selfless devotion to doing the will of God as a Dominican nun.

Prayer: O Virgin Mary, you are the sacred tabernacle of the Divinity, you are the delightful garden wherein was called the most beautiful flower, Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.  Hail, violet of profound humility, rose of charity and most pure lily of chastity.  Grant, O Blessed Virgin, that should I happen to lose the grace of devotion through my own fault, I may seek it again with all diligence, and after having found it, guard it with more care, that thus I may earnestly give myself to the service of my Creator (Louis of Granda, O.P.).

Practice: During the day help some poor person; at night pray for the dying.

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