23 July – Memorial of Saint Bridget of Sweden
Daughter of Birger Persson, the governor and provincial judge of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. Her father was one of the greatest landowners in the country, her mother was known widely for her piety, and the family were descendants of the Swedish royal house. Related to Saint Ingrid of Sweden.
Bridget began receiving visions, most of the Crucifixion, at age seven. Her mother died c.1315 when the girl was about twelve years old, and she was raised and educated by an equally pious aunt. In 1316, at age thirteen, Bridget wed prince Ulfo of Nercia in an arranged marriage. She was the mother of eight, including Saint Catherine of Sweden; some of the other children ignored the Church.
Friend and counselor to many priests and theologians of her day. Chief lady-in-waiting to Queen Blanche of Namur in 1335, from which position she counseled and guided the Queen and King Magnus II. After Ulfo’s death in 1344 following a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, Spain she pursued a religious life, for which she was harassed by others at the court. She eventually renounced her title of princess. Franciscan tertiary. Cistercian. Mystic, visionary, and mystical writer. She recorded the revelations given her in her visions, and these became hugely popular in the Middle Ages.
Founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines) at Vadstena, Sweden in 1346. It received confirmation by Pope Blessed Urban V in 1370, and survives today, though few houses remain. Pilgrim to Rome, to assorted Italian holy sites, and to the Holy Lands. Chastened and counseled kings and Popes Clement VI, Gregory XI, and Urban VI, urging each to return to Rome from Avignon. Encouraged all who would listen to meditate on the Passion, and of Jesus Crucified.
– The Patron Saint Index
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove back the sea with a strong easterly wind all night, and he made dry land of the sea. The waters parted and the sons of Israel went on dry ground right into the sea, walls of water to right and to left of them. The Egyptians gave chase: after them they went, right into the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
In the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians from the pillar of fire and of cloud, and threw the army into confusion. He so clogged their chariot wheels that they could scarcely make headway. ‘Let us flee from the Israelites,’ the Egyptians cried. ‘The Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians!’
‘Stretch out your hand over the sea,’ the Lord said to Moses, ‘that the waters may flow back on the Egyptians and their chariots and their horsemen.’
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and, as day broke, the sea returned to its bed. The fleeing Egyptians marched right into it, and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the very middle of the sea. The returning waters overwhelmed the chariots and the horsemen of Pharaoh’s whole army, which had followed the Israelites into the sea; not a single one of them was left. But the sons of Israel had marched through the sea on dry ground, walls of water to right and to left of them.
That day, the Lord rescued Israel from the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. Israel witnessed the great act that the Lord had performed against the Egyptians, and the people venerated the Lord; they put their faith in the Lord and in Moses, his servant.
It was then that Moses and the sons sang this song in honour of the Lord:
Jesus was speaking to the crowds when his mother and his brothers appeared; they were standing outside and were anxious to have a word with him. But to the man who told him this Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand towards his disciples he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.’
Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother
Filial piety is one of the values which some societies value and sometimes the passage in the Gospel today may seem to contradict it. Yet if we explore this further, there might be a different dimension to the passage which may show us that it may not be incompatible with the value of filial piety as it we initially thought it would be.
Moses could have chosen to disobey God’s instructions to stretch out his hands but when he chose to obey God, he was showing to the people of Israel that he chose to follow the commandment of God and in doing so, helped the whole people of Israel discover that God is taking care of them. God does expect us to listen to his commandments and there is no conflict between his commandments and what society expects us to do.
Obedience and mercy are two aspects of our faith which we must always show to those around us. We cannot neglect the issue of charity of course but we are called to identify the areas in our life where we have the opportunity to show this love and generosity to all around us and by doing so, be a living witness to others of God’s love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Nicholas Chia)
Prayer: Dear Lord, let us follow you earnestly and willingly.
Thanksgiving: We give thanks for all who have discovered the call of God in their life.