Monday, July 23, 2018

S. Bridget on the miracle of the Mass

Today in the Church's calendar we celebrate S. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). From the age of seven her heart had been smitten by the love of Jesus revealed to her in the visions she had of his death on the cross. His love for her became the foundation of her whole life. Married, and the mother of eight children, she was part of the court of the Swedish King Magnus II. Bridget constantly strove to exert her good influence over Magnus - not entirely successfully. But when her husband died, she received as a gift from Magnus land and buildings with which to found a monastery for men and women, which in time expanded into the Order known as the Bridgetines.

In 1350 Bridget braved a plague-stricken Europe to make a pilgrimage to Rome. She never returned to Sweden. But, humanly speaking, her years in Rome were far from happy, as she was frequently in debt, and many opposed her work to overcome the abuses in the Church of the time.

Bridget died in 1373. while on a final pilgrimage to the Holy Land. 

She was one of many strong female leaders in the medieval Church. Notice that her personal relationship with the Lord, and her experience of visions and mystical life of prayer, did not isolate her from contentious affairs of the world and the Church. Her life is a testimony to the possibility of a holy life in the world of politics and the marketplace.

One of S. Bridget's visions is of the fellowship we have with the angelic powers at Mass, as well as the effect of the Eucharistic Sacrifice on the demons of hell. I believe these realities are part and parcel of every Mass. Imagine how fervent our prayer and devotion would be if we really thought that! Here is what S. Bridget wrote:                            

“One day, when a priest was celebrating Mass, 
I saw, at the moment of Consecration, 
how all the powers of heaven were set in motion. 
I heard, at the same time, a heavenly music, 
most harmonious, most sweet. 
Numberless Angels came down, 
the chant of whom 
no human understanding could conceive, 
nor the tongue of man describe. 
They surrounded and looked upon the priest,
 bowing towards him in reverential awe. 
The devils commenced to tremble, 
and took to flight 
in greatest confusion and terror.”


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