Moved by the Passion of Christ



Today, 23 Jul 2012, is the feast day of St Bridget of Sweden, a 14th century noble woman, wife, mother, mystic and foundress of a religious order. From at least her teenage years she experienced visions from God ,and a mission to be the mouthpiece of Jesus towards many, especially rulers and monarchs. 

Bridget was the daughter of a prince of Sweden. Her parents loved Jesus very much, and from them she learned a great love for His Passion. In obedience to her father, she married Prince Ulfo and had eight children, the youngest is St Catherine of Sweden. When Ulfo died, Bridget became a nun and built the monastery of Wastein, which became the mother house of the Bridgittine Order. She went to the Holy Land on pilgrimage. She died, aged 70, in Rome in 1373.

We owe St Bridget a great debt of gratitude for the set of 15 prayers attributed to her. There are several places online where you can access them, http://ladyofroses.org/brigit1.htm , http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pray0345.htm , http://www.wjpbr.com/bridget.html and http://www.fisheaters.com/15prayersofstbridget.html . For a printer friendly version go to http://catholicdaily.net/societyofsaints/resources/ and scroll down until you find the PDF. These 15 prayers are a guided meditation upon the Passion of Jesus. Praying them on your own takes around 25-30 minutes. Praying them with someone else, where you take turns leading the meditations and the Our Fathers and Hail Marys takes around the 15 minute mark. There are special promises attached to those who pray these prayers daily for a whole year. Probably the most important promises are the release of 15 souls in Purgatory, 15 souls preserved in grace and 15 souls converted in the family lineage. So for any grandparent concerned about the eternal destiny of their children and grandchildren these prayers are an anchor of hope.

In recent times I have read parts of the Revelations of St Bridget for the first time. Sadly I haven’t been able to read much from them yet, but just enough to be thoroughly impressed. If you have been fortunate enough to have read the Dialogues of St Catherine of Siena, the Life and Revelations of St Gertrude the Great or the Diary of St Faustina, then you will understand how highly I am recommending the Revelations of St Bridget when I say that they are just as valuable. Thankfully it is possible to read them for free online via www.archive.org at the third PDF option in the list at the following link : http://archive.org/details/RevelationsOfSaintBridget  

In the Revelations of St Bridget, the Lord Jesus addresses Bridget as His bride. This denotes an especially close relationship between Jesus and Bridget, the kind of relationship that He wants with each one of us. Of particular interest are several revelations about the judgement of souls, purgatory, heaven and hell. Much of it is very practical teaching for how to live a life pleasing to Jesus. Some of it is prophecy about the leaders and political climate of her times. Because the gift of prophecy rarely occurs without the gift of intercession, Bridget would have spent much of the latter part of her life interceding for situations in Europe that Jesus had revealed to her. Due to this, and to her active involvement in seeking the conversion of the leaders and nations of Europe, St Bridget of Sweden has been named one of the patrons of Europe.

And now for a taste or two of what is in the Revelations:

From Book 1 Chapter 1 : Jesus to St Bridget : ‘..I took flesh without sin, without concupiscence, entering the body of the Virgin like the sun shining through the clearest crystal. The sun does not damage the glass by entering it, nor was the Virgin’s virginity lost when I took My human nature….Brightness is never separated from fire, nor was My divinity ever separated from My humanity, not even in death. Next I willed for My pure and sinless body to be wounded from the sole of My foot to the crown of My head for the sins of men, and to be hung on the Cross. It is now offered each day on the altar in order that people might love Me more and call to mind My favours more frequently.’   

From Book 4 Chapter 4 : God teaching Bridget : ‘The good spirit again speaks to the woman’s mind and advises her : ‘I know two things to be eternal – heaven and hell. no one who loves God above all things will enter into hell. Those who do not love God will not gain heaven. The incarnate God Himself trod the path to heaven and confirmed it with signs and by His death. How glorious it is to be in heaven, how bitter is the malice of the devil, and how empty are the things of the earth! His Mother and all the Saints imitated God: they preferred to endure every punishment and lose everything – they even despised their very selves- so as not to lose heavenly and eternal possessions.”

Incalculable is the debt of gratitude that we owe to this holy woman, St Bridget of Sweden, for her response to God in prayer, sacrifice and fidelity and for all the good and ongoing good she won for souls flowing from the Passion of Christ.

St Bridget of Sweden, pray for us.

Learning how the Holy Spirit works



Today, 27 May 2012, is the Feast Day of Pentecost for the whole Church, and the beginning of the Year of Grace for the Church in Australia. So today, in honour of the Holy Spirit and his vast works of Grace within the Church, we will learn a bit more about Him from a few sources less frequently read. May He be praised, adored and glorified.

This first except comes from the The Revelations of St Birgitta (Bridget) of Sweden Volume 2 compiled by Bridget Morris and Denis Searby, Chapter 12 : ‘The Virgin Mother speaks: ‘In this world God’s friends must sometimes find themselves spiritually distressed, at other times spiritually comforted. Spiritual consolation means the infusion of the Holy Spirit, contemplating God’s great works, admiring His forbearance, and putting all this cheerfully into practice. Spiritual distress is when the mind is involuntarily disturbed by unclean and vexing thoughts, when it suffers anguish over dishonour shown to God and over the loss of souls, when one’s heart is forced to occupy itself with worldly concerns for a good reason. God’s friends can also at times be comforted with a temporal kind of comfort, such as edifying conversation, decent entertainment, or other activities in which there is nothing demeaning or indecent…If a fist were always held tightly closed, then either the muscles would be strained or the hand would grow weak. It is similar in spiritual matters. If the soul always remained in contemplation, then she would either forget herself and perish through pride, or else her crown of glory would be lessened. The reason why God’s friends are at times comforted by the infusion of the Holy Spirit and are at other times, with God’s permission, distressed is that their distress tears up the roots of sin and firmly plants the fruit of righteousness.’ ‘

It is good to know that if you are not feeling on top of the world with spiritual joy today, that it doesn’t mean that the Holy Spirit hasn’t been active in your life.

This next excerpt comes from Fr Frederick Faber’s book ‘The Precious Blood’ : ‘Was there ever any such fertility as that of the Holy Spirit? The leaves of the trees, the blades of grass, the matted entanglement of tropical herbs in the moist forest, the countless shoals of living inhabitants of ocean…These are but types of the fecundity of the Holy Spirit in the operations of grace…The poor child, who has no notion of money but in pence, would be bewildered if he were called upon to deal in gold and to count his gold by millions. So we in earthly things are accustomed to dimensions, and to numbers, on so dwarfish a scale, that even our exaggerations will not raise our ideas to the true magnitudes and multitudes of the world of angels…If we try to bring before ourselves the variety of vocations in the world, the strictly peculiar needs of each single soul and the distinctive characteristic shape of the holiness of each single soul, then the multiplicity of the processes of grace prolonged perhaps over half a century or more, we shall see that the arithmetic of even human graces is amazing….Through the instrumentality of the Precious Blood, the Holy Spirit is everywhere and always making all things productive of sanctity in some measure and degree. Sanctification may be called the production of heavenly beauty in the world.’ 

Remembering these luminous words of Fr Faber’s would certainly help us pray ‘…I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son, Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified…’ with more gusto. 

Often it is worthwhile revisiting what the Catholic Catechism of St Pius X has to say about the Holy Spirit : ’12. Q. What does the Holy Spirit do in the Church? The Holy Spirit gives life to the Church by His grace and by His gifts, as the soul gives life to the body; He establishes in her the Kingdom of truth and of love; and He helps her to lead her children in safety along the way to Heaven.

Lastly, let us learn a bit from Paul Y. Cho’s experience of the Holy Spirit, from his book ‘Prayer: Key to revival’ : The Holy Spirit can bless you when you read the Scriptures. The holy Spirit can direct you as you witness for Christ. The Holy Spirit can anoint you as you preach and teach the Word of God. But if you want to have an intimate communion with the Holy Spirit you need to pray. I first realised this truth in the early days of my ministry. I tried so hard to lead people to Christ, but with few results. As I was in prayer, the Lord spoke to my hart, ‘how many quail would Israel have caught if they had gone quail hunting in the wilderness?’ I responded, ‘Lord, not too many.’ ‘How did the quail get caught?’ the Lord continued to ask me. I then realised that God sent the wind which brought the quail. The Lord was trying to show me the difference between chasing souls without the Holy Spirit’s strategy and working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Then the Lord said something to me that totally changed my life, ‘You must get to know and work with the Holy Spirit!’…I have also discovered that I am not smart enough to solve the thousands of problems that come to me regularly. Yet, I can just say to the Holy Spirit, ‘Sweet Spirit, please let me tell You about the problem I have. I know you know the mind of God and You already have the answer.’ With assurance, I then await the answer from the Holy Spirit.’

On this Pentecost day 2012, let us promise the Holy Spirit that we will truly seek His help and His strategies for the work of bringing souls back to God.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of Your love!