Today is the feast of St Bridget of Sweden (*1303 +1391), appointed by Pope John Paul II as one of the patron saints of Europe. She was married to a nobleman and had eight children. At the age of 30 she was summoned to the court of the King of Sweden, where she served as lady-in-waiting to the queen. She tried without much success to moderate the riotous and indecent life of the royal court.
After a pilgrimage to the shrine of St James at Compostela in Spain, Bridget and her husband Ulf decided to spend the rest of their lives in monasteries. Ulf died in 1344, but Bridget went on to found a double monastery (for men and women in separate but adjacent institutions) as the start of a new monastic order. In 1350 she travelled to Rome for the Holy Year, and spent the rest of her life there caring for the poor and the sick, denouncing the excesses of the aristocracy, and robustly telling the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon where he was in exile.
Today’s Opening Prayer for Mass sums up the lesson of her life: GRANT.,. THAT WALKING WORTHILY IN OUR VOCATION, WE MAY SEEK YOU IN ALL THINGS. There are a few pointers based on today’s liturgy about how to do this.
Bridget lived purposefully for Christ and the gospel as represented by the First Reading at Mass (Gal 2:19-20):
I have been crucified with Christ [dead to worldliness], and I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me. The life I now live in this body I live in faith: faith in the Son of God who loved me and who sacrificed himself for my sake.
Bridget had an attitude for God’s blessings. As we read in the Psalm:
I will bless the Lord at all times,
his praise always on my lips;
in the Lord my soul shall make its boast.
The humble shall hear and be glad.
Bridget lived and based her life on the Word of God. As we heard in the gospel (I am the True Vine):
You are pruned [formed] already,
by means of the word that I have spoken to you.
The Benedictus Antiphon reminded us that seeking God’s Holy Will is the path to kinship with Jesus:
Whoever does the will of my Father, says the Lord, is my brother and sister and mother.
If we seek the above in our lives, the fruit will be communion with God. As we heard in the gospel:
Make your home in me,
as I make mine in you.