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The Revelations of St Bridget and Church Reform

CONTENTS: Introduction 1. Early Mystical Experiences 2. The Voice of God 3. Reform in Scripture and Church History 4. Apostasy 5. Causes of Apostasy 6. Reform: Repentance and Confession 7. Atonement for Sins Committed 8. Gods Mercy and Justice 9. The Blessed Virgin Mary 10. Visions of Hell and Purgatory 11. Heresy and Dissent 12.Superstition and the Occult 13. The Yoke of the World vs. the Yoke of Christ 14. Eucharist: The Real Presence 15. The Passion of Christ 16. Perfect Charity 17. Teaching by Word and Example 18. Preaching 19. Chastity 20. Admonishing Sinners 21. Contempt for the World 22. Humility 23. St Bridget for Today Notes Introduction God is disgusted by the fall and ruin of his holy Church.drops of burning and smoking sulfur are dripping from the roof; the walls are as revolting to look at as pus mingled with rotting blood.1 These are startling words, and they are from one of the many revelations received by St Bridget (or Birgitta) of Sweden (1303-1373): wife, mother of eight, widow, social and Church reformer, mystic, and foundress of the Order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as the Brigittine Order.2 The world has witnessed in recent years a rapidly growing interest in St Bridget among Catholics as well as Protestants, and even non-Christians, scholars and the general population alike. Pope John Paul II declared St Bridget Co-Patroness of Europe (1 Oct 1999) and called her a Model for Todays Woman (3 Oct 2002), seeing in her life and in her writings a powerful witness to the Gospel, a "icon" as it were, reflecting the beauty, goodness and loving mercy of God as well as his justice to our modern world in great need, like the Prodigal Son, of coming to its senses and returning to its Father. St Bridget is best known for the Revelations, the divinely inspired messages she received from God the Father, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and numerous saints over a period of almost 30 years. 3 Although the Revelations consist of nine books and hundreds of pages and treat of a wide variety of subjects, there can be found throughout the work messages which are of utmost pertinence for today, showing the actuality of St Bridget for the Church and for the world in our times.

1. Early Mystical Experiences Even as a young girl Bridget received extraordinary graces, including at least one apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary when she was six years old and one of Jesus Christ. The latter, when Bridget was ten years old, involved the vision of Christ with freshly received wounds over his whole body. Jesus said to her, See how I have been wounded! Oh, my Lord! Bridget cried out, terribly shaken by what she was seeing, who has done this to you? Christ answered her: Those who despise me and forget My love.4 This profound mystical experience became indelibly marked in Bridgets memory and in her heart, and in the years ahead she would never forget the love of Christ, especially in his redemptive sufferings. 2. The Voice of God Bridget later married and had eight children. Soon after the death of her husband Ulf, she heard the voice of God speaking to her from a bright cloud, inviting her to become Christs bride as well as a specially chosen instrument of divine revelation to the world. It was from this moment in 1344 that her life became one of unwavering service as a medium of Gods word and inspired messenger of his justice and mercy. These divine messages included calls to repentance and reform and prophetic admonitions, including warnings of temporal and eternal punishment for those who spurn Gods laws, especially those in positions of power and influence in the Church and in society. St Bridget also received revelations concerning the life, sufferings and glories of Jesus and Mary, and numerous other matters. But the revelations concerning Gods call to repentance and personal and ecclesial reform take on a special relevance today, when the Church is experiencing a crisis of widespread apostasy in many ways similar to that which the Revelations of St Bridget addressed. In fact, in reading some of the revelations which describe the sad moral state of the Church and society in her time, one is tempted to think they were written more for our time than any other. 3. Reform in Scripture and Church History Christs first recorded words in his public ministry were Reform your lives! (or Repent) (Mk 1:15; Mt 4:17). John the Baptist called the many who flocked to him to repentance and they confessed their sins (Mt 3:2, 6), but he also warned them to reform their conduct to escape Gods punishment (Lk 3:10-14; cf. Jn 5:14; 8:11). In Rom 12:2 St Paul says, Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed (or reformed) by the renewal of your mind. Throughout the whole of Sacred Scripture, in fact, the idea of reform is closely linked to repentance and conversion that is, converting ones life and thinking according to the mind and will of God as well as to nonconformity to the ways, beliefs and values of the world.5 G.K. Chesterton wrote in Orthodoxy that reform means that we see a certain thing out of shape and we mean to put it into shape. And we know what shape (Chapter 7). The Church is always reforming and always in need of reform ecclesia semper reformans, semper reformandabeginning with the individual believer. One of the important lessons we learn from history is that the Catholic Church, although indeed holy in Christ her head, in her sacraments, in her teachings and in her saints, is in continuous need of spiritual reform primarily because all of her members, from the Pope on down, have sins to repent of as well as virtues to acquire and develop. As Pope Benedict XVI states in his book, God and the World, one will "never reach the point of not needing to be forgiven" (p. 68). In fact, the prerequisite for any ecclesial reform is always personal reform and conversion of heart and mind. As Archbishop Chaput of Denver writes:

It's always easier to talk about reform when the target of the reform is "out there," rather than in here. The Church does need reform. She always needs reform, which means she needs scholars and liturgists and committed laypeople to help guide her, and pastors who know how to lead with humility, courage and love. But what she needs more than anything else is holinessholy priests and holy people who love Jesus Christ and love His Church more than they love their own ideas. Today, just like 800 years ago, the structures of the Church are so much easier to tinker with than a stubborn heart, or an empty hole where our faith should be. Reforming the Church, renewing the Church, begins with our own repentance and conversion, our own humility and willingness to serveand that's the really hard work, which is why sometimes so little of it seems to get done. 5.5 Again, one remembers Chestertons response to the request that he submit an article on the subject Whats wrong with the world? His reply was two words: I am. In the history of the Catholic Church, however, there have been times when the need for reform has been especially acute. Before St Bridgets Revelations there had been previous movements for Church reform, such as the Carolingian monastic reform (9 th century); the Gregorian reform (11th century) directed at the entire Church, but with special focus on rectifying clerical abuses involving worldliness, greed and sexual immorality; the reform called for by Pope Innocent III and the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), extending beyond even that of Pope Gregory VIIs earlier Church reform to include all Christendom, that is, society in all its political, socioeconomic, and cultural dimensions. The rise of the mendicant Orders, the Dominicans and the Franciscans in the early 13th century was also a reform movement. They both emphasized an authentic return to gospel values, especially the imitation of Christ, manifested in a zeal for the salvation of souls and a love of poverty, thus leading the laity to reform their own lives and to strive for Christian perfection. The Brigittine Order itself was founded principally as a reform movement in the Church, as Christ declares to Bridget at the beginning of the Rule of the Saviour (see note 2). Then two centuries after St Bridget we see probably the greatest reform movement in the Churchs history with the Council of Trent (1545-63) and its sequelae, especially in regard to clerical reform and the inestimable influence of the Jesuits. Although some reform movements in Church history have involved Church structures and institutions, the fundamental character of Christian reform is that it is first of all individual and personal and only secondarily collective and institutional. Unless there is personal conversion, no amount of legislation, organization or institutional change will bear positive and lasting fruit. St Bridget in her Revelations emphasizes this point and further states that the reform of the clergy is required for the reform of the laity: when the Pope, bishops, and priests live lives of holiness, the laity will follow, as sheep follow their shepherds. This principle had already been expressed earlier in the fourteenth century in the formula tam in capite, quam in membris, as in the head, so also in the members of the body. There is also an ancient proverb: When the head aches, all the body is the worse. 4. Apostasy The peopleand the priestshave not separated themselves from the peoples of the land with their abominations. Furthermore, the leaders and rulers have taken a leading part in this apostasy! (Ezra 9:1-2) The words of the Old Testament prophet describe well the perennial tendency of Gods people throughout history, in both the old and new dispensations, to abandon God and his ways and to follow the sinful ways of the world. And as in the Old Testament, so also in fourteenth century Europe the religious leaders were in large part responsible for the widespread infidelity. The principle, corruptio optimi pessima, the corruption of what is best becomes the worst, in fact, can be seen to apply throughout Bridgets revelations that pertain to

apostasy and reform. Bridget writes that the Church in her time had among its members, both clerical and lay, a disproportionate number of apostates, primarily those who had succumbed to the temptations of pride, avarice, and carnal indulgence. She states that Christs bride, meaning Christians, had become an adulteress, preferring the devil to Christ (Revelations, Bk. 6, Ch. 33; hereafter 6.33). These apostate Christians are members of Christs Church merely outwardly, while their hearts belong to the world, the flesh and the devil. Hardly anyone believes that Christ is a just judge who will punish evildoers severely after death. And those who are within the Church but do not belong there on account of their evil lives, attack and oppress Gods elect who remain faithful (1.5). St John the Baptist tells Bridget: Not in a thousand years has Gods anger at the world been so great (4.134). In fact, Bridget saw her fourteenth century as the beginning of the age of widespread apostasy that would last until the end of the world and the Final Judgment, the first age having lasted from Adam to Christ and the second from Christ to her time. The Antichrist would be born at the end of the third age (6.67). In the Revelations Christians of all classes are accused of having fallen away and having rebelled against God, but especially the two leading classes of clergy and knights, who cause both themselves and their subjects to perish. The clergy are the worst of all on account of their exalted spiritual calling, since Christ chose them before all the angels, giving them alone the power to handle his Body in the Eucharist. But now they offend him more than all others, and for that reason the judgment of the world, Christ tells Bridget, will begin with them (3.5; 1.48).6 5. Causes of Apostasy Bridget states that in the general apostasy of her time Christians are living primarily for the pleasures of the flesh and worldly gain, and in so doing manifest a contempt for Christ as well as for their neighbor, and provoke Gods judgment. Love of the world, rooted in pride and disordered self-will, along with avarice and unbridled sensuality are seen as the sources of mans alienation from God (3.5). In Revelation 1.23 Christ passes this judgment on a bishop: all of his thought is directed toward things of the present rather than things eternal, toward how he may be well regarded by men and what serves the flesh, rather than how he is regarded by me and what is profitable to mens souls. One aspect of pride particularly affecting the clergy is vainglory, in which they seek to gain the praise of others by being considered learned (1.33). They outwardly praise Christ while their intention is to receive praise themselves and to advance themselves in the Church and in worldly holdings (6.37). They will often refuse to admonish sinners and will say what people want to hear in order to be liked and appreciated (1.55). Avarice or covetousness (cupiditas) in relation to the clergy and religious often refers not only to a disordered love of material wealth and possessions, but also to a desire for higher offices and honors (4.126). Especially serious, according to Bridget, is this sin when it pertains to religious since they have made a vow of poverty, although secular clergy can also sin grievously by their worldly ways and attachments. The third vice, sensuality or inordinate carnal pleasure (carnalis voluptas), is sometimes referred to in the Revelations as disordered delight or concupiscence, and denotes an excessive and disordered appetite for what is pleasurable to the body. Christ plaintively says to Bridget that no one desires to have me as their delight (Extravagantes 51.3).7 Instead of Sister Abstinence, most Christians embrace Lady Delight in the Flesh (4.45). Bridget accuses a great number of Christians, especially priests, of lacking true contrition for their sins, lacking a firm purpose of amendment and not detaching themselves from the causes and occasions of sin. One priest is accused by demons who say, The liar! We can testify that his confession is like that of Judas, for he says one thing with his mouth but has another in his

heart (1.48). Bridget accuses many priests of hypocrisy, concealing their impurity and other sins under the outward appearance of piety. Such hypocrites are worse than Judas, who at least acknowledged his wicked deed and regretted it, although he did not turn to Gods mercy. These priests, however, continue to feign righteousness (4.132). Christians also lack a salutary fear of Gods justice, Bridget writes. Priests in particular are guilty of lacking fear when they celebrate Mass, not realizing their utter unworthiness to approach Christs altar, nor how pure they ought to be who actually handle Purity Incarnate (6.9). Christ also complains, through Bridget, that priests and religious offend him by not trusting in him to give them what they need, for he wants to support them in all their temporal and spiritual needs, but they lack the necessary confidence in God. This lack of trust and confidence in God also leads many religious to violate their vow of poverty (6.35). Bridget writes that many religious are negligent in their duties, for example monks rarely chant the Divine Office together in choir, and even the private recitation of the Office is considered a great burden by many priests and religious (1.47; 2.20), and spiritual reading is disdained (4.58). She reproaches many of the clergy for having abandoned their primary duty of helping to save the souls of those entrusted to them because of their inordinate concern for their own temporal aims (1.59; 4.43; 4.132-133). The bad example of many priests leads many people gradually into spiritual blindness and to become complacent in sin, and then to even boast about it, even if previously they had been ashamed of it (4.132). Priests and religious are accused by Christ of being deficient and often totally negligent in their preaching and instructing the people in the faith. Christ complains to Bridget: They do not speak of my wonderful deeds nor do they teach my doctrine, but instead they teach love of the world (4.132). Bridget writes that many priests succumb to the temptation to avoid preaching and teaching about the hard sayings of Christ in order not to offend people and to be well received by them, and also for monetary gain. They yield to the demands of the world because they fear and cannot endure being persecuted and hated by the world. By presenting what is agreeable to people, Christs justice remains hidden and the people blindly live in presumptuous confidence of their salvation.8 One is reminded of Christs denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees of his time: Woe to youyou hypocrites! You who shut up the knowledge of the kingdom of heaven in mens faces, neither going in yourselves nor allowing others to go in who want to (Mt 23:13); Compare this with Jn 15:19: If you were of the world, the world would love [you because you are] its own; but because you are not of the world, because I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you; Mt 10:22: and you will be hated by all for my names sake.* [Note at bottom of page] [*Priests today who have an immoderate aversion to being hated by the world will rarely if ever mention in their preaching and teaching such things as the evil of pornography, sodomy and the gay lifestyle, other sins of impurity, immodesty, contraception, divorce and remarriage, or hell. They should ponder the words of Our Lady of Fatima to Blessed Jacinta Marto: More souls go to hell on account of sins of the flesh than for any other reason. When the world has gone from slouching toward Gomorrah to sprinting there, as one Catholic commentator put it, a little boldness, not excluding admonitory rhetoric with some shock value in it (as in the Revelations), may sometimes be required of shepherds. Then indeed the world will hate them (including the more carnal and worldly-minded of their parishoners), but they will lead many more souls, including their own, to the joy that the world cannot give, plus eternal life.] Bridget hears the devil tempting a certain bishop: Of what concern is it to you how this or that person lives? Why should you offend and correct those by whom you could be honored and loved? If they dont offend you and your loved

ones, why should you care how they live or whether they offend God? If you are good yourself, why should you judge others? (3.2; cf. 4.126). Bridget states that many priests follow this advice, to their own damnation. They ignore sin that should be corrected. They choose to forget, on account of their worldly and carnal attachments, as well as inordinate concern for human respect, that reproving the sinner is a spiritual work of mercy the neglect of which they will be held accountable before God (3.15). She also accuses bishops of tolerating and ignoring the great scandal of priests living unchaste lives (1.23). The Revelations also condemn the widespread practice of simony, i.e., the buying and selling of ecclesiastical offices and benefits, even the sacraments. Many of the clergy will hardly do a thing, Bridget says, without the hope of material profit or temporal gain. She states that those guilty of simony, like the duplicitous priests referred to above, are worse than Judas, who at least returned the money after having betrayed Christ (4.132).* Absenteeism is another pervasive evil which Bridget speaks of, beginning with the French popes living in Avignon for worldly reasons, as well as bishops neglecting their flock and abbots living outside their monasteries, both oftentimes residing in great castles and living in luxury.** [Notes at bottom of page] [*Although the buying of ecclesiastical offices is not a widespread occurrence today, there is, however, a kind of rampant selling of ecclesiastical benefits to the laity in the form of preaching only Catholicism Lite in exchange for their continued membership (i.e. financial support). How many priests and bishops, especially since the 1960s have out of fear of losing church revenues failed to preach and teach about the great moral evil of contraception, which Pope Paul VI prophetically warned in Humanae Vitae would be the wedge breaking open the floodgates leading to widespread moral breakdown, and the weakening and destruction of marriage, the family and societynot to mention the loss of countless souls?] [**One sees a parallel between medieval absenteeism and the growing practice today of priests living away from their parishes for the sake of having more privacy, freedom and comfort, oftentimes being unavailable outside office hours.] Although we are focusing primarily on the apostasy of the clergy and religious mentioned in St Bridgets Revelations, she also accuses Christians in general of having departed from the way of salvation by their many sins, and places a special blame on those in political authority and persons of higher social standing. 6. Reform: Repentance and Confession Some of the most important revelations received by St Bridget pertiain to apostasy and reform. In order to bring about both individual and ecclesial reform, Bridget exhorts all Christians who have turned away from God to first humbly repent. Recourse to the Sacrament of Confession as soon as possible after falling into sin is emphasized. Bishops are advised to confess weekly (4.126). The same is recommended for priests and even laity who desire to live a devout life (Extrav. 56.8). Bridget urges sinners to not be ashamed of confessing any sin. She compares the relatively insignificant shame experienced when confessing to a priest to the unimaginable disgrace one will experience before many at the Judgment if one refuses to confess (6.16). In one revelation, the Holy Spirit tells Bridget of the importance of confessing and seeking to overcome even venial sins:

All who do not attend to what is smallest will fall into what is greater. For even a venial sin, by which conscience is disturbed, will become mortal if exercised and made habitual, and will be punished severely because of the negligence shown (6.114). 7. Atonement for Sins Committed The necessity of making satisfaction for sins forgiven in sacramental Confession is also emphasized. Christ tells Bridget: No sin of yours that is punished by penance in your lifetime will come before my judgment. Concerning those sins for which penance has not been made, they will either be purged in purgatory or by some other secret judgment of mine, unless they are amended here by satisfaction (1.36). Bridget states that compensation for sins committed should not be neglected and should be undertaken wholeheartedly, since the sufferings of purgatory will be much greater (4.4). Besides the traditional works of satisfaction of prayer, fasting and almsgiving, the Revelations emphasize the importance of exercising patience in infirmity in order to atone for past sins (4.109). Another way to avoid the pains of purgatory is the gaining of indulgences, which first requires the will to amend ones life and sin no more (4.80; 4.114). 8. Gods Mercy and Justice Another part of Bridgets program for Church reform is the need for both hope in Gods mercy as well as fear of his justice (2.17). The danger of succumbing to the sin of despair, or its opposite, presumption, is always present, however. Thus both fear of God and trust in his mercy must abide in the soul together. To those who belittle the importance of having fear of God's justice, Bridget states that anyone with such an attitude is like an unlocked door, through which a mortal enemy can enter and kill him (2.27). 9. The Blessed Virgin Mary Bridget writes that Gods justice is mitigated for sinners who humbly and confidently turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Being the loving Mother of all who have recourse to her intercession, she will defend them and draw down Christs mercy upon them (4.138; 6.34).9 The Revelations give an example of a sinner who feared Christs judgment on account of his many grievous sins, who in fact had provoked Christs severe sentence of condemnation and did not even dare to ask him for mercy. But he turned to Mary praying, I beg you, have mercy on me, for you will not refuse mercy to anyone who asks. Mary interceded for him and obtained forgiveness, since it is Gods will that she be the Mother of Mercy to all who call upon her (6.39). 10. Visions of Hell and Purgatory Although Bridget writes of both Gods tender mercy for the repentant and his severe judgment on unrepentant sinners, a greater proportion of the revelations deal with the latter. In this she echoes the thought of St Augustine, who stated that although the best kind of men are drawn by love, the majority need fear to move them.10 Indeed some very vivid and striking imagery relating to both hell and purgatory can be found in the Revelations. Bridget hears these words describing the lecherous Queen Giovanna of Naples, for example (nicknamed regina meretrix or harlot queen by her own people): This woman is a monkey that sniffs at its own stinking

posterior. And the queen is seen in a vision by Bridget as wearing a crown of twigs spattered with human excrementand sitting naked on a tottering beam perched over the fires of hell (7.11). Such strong and revolting imagery is used in order to inspire an aversion and disgust for sin, in this case sins of impurity. In fact, the punishments experienced by sinners after death are immeasurably worse than anything imaginable in this life (5.8; 6.52). Bridget experienced visions in which she sees the punishment meted out to souls in both purgatory and hell. The purpose of these visions is to inspire good Christians to persevere in grace and sinners to flee the great danger threatening them (6.35; 4.102). The Revelations emphasize both the eternity of hell and the extreme severity of the tortures experienced therein. The punishments in hell are of many different kinds, depending on the type of sins one is guilty of. Certain souls in purgatory suffer extremely, in a manner similar to the damned, and some even experience despair of forgiveness, not being permitted to know whether they will be saved or not (6.66). Bridget warns that the condemned soul will in great anguish realize too late that Christs promises were real and great and that his own name has been forever erased from the book of life in heaven (7.12). In a vision Christ speaks to Bridget of a certain bishop: May rotting waste be put on the bishops head instead of a mitre. Instead of honor, may he receive shame. Instead of many servants, may he be attended on by a wild mob of demons (3.4). Bridget describes the most fearful punishments in great detail. One soul, not even in hell but the lower region of purgatory, is described as flowing with blazing fire. The mouth was open and the tongue, drawn out through the orifices of the nostrils, hung down to the lips. Both hands seemed to hold and squeeze some putrid substance, sticky with blazing pitch. And from it came forth something like the discharge from an ulcer with the blood rotting and a stench so evil that it could not be compared to the worst stench in the world (4.7). In case one might be tempted to dismiss such descriptions as either the product of an overactive imagination or, worse, medieval superstition, one should take into account the high degree of authenticity and authority attached to the Revelations by many high ranking theologians and ecclesiastics, including several popes and Church councils (see note 3 below). But Bridget does state that these visions are not to be taken literally. She sees them by bodily likeness. But this fact should only evoke an even greater horror in those who hear them and an even greater sorrow for their sins for the reality of hell and purgatory is even worse, immeasurably so, in fact, and if Bridget herself were to see the reality as it actually is she would die of fear (6.52). And she is referring to purgatory, not hell. The latter is seen as a kind of torture chamber where the damned will be tortured without end and the torturers [the demons] will live without end (1.56). Bridget also describes the terrors experienced by the damned on account of the never-ending companionship of the devil and the other demons. She says that if their horrible appearance were to be seen as it really is, one would lose ones mind at the mere sight (5.8). One of the most severe punishments in purgatory is when the demons are allowed to touch the souls (4.8; 6.21). But in hell the demons can tear them to pieces and devour them, yet they will not be consumed (1.5). Since the fear of Gods justice is weak or nonexistent in most Christians of her time, St Bridgets Revelations utilize these and other striking images in order to lead as many as possible to repentance. The shock value has no other end but the salvation of souls which are perilously headed for eternal torments that, like St Paul says of heaven, no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered the mind of man to imagine (1 Cor 2:9).

11. Heresy and Dissent Bridget writes that Christians must not only fear Gods judgment and hope in his mercy in order to attain eternal life, but must also firmly believe in the complete truth God has revealed, including the uncomfortable truth regarding sin and repentance, judgment and hell, and the entire moral law. She warns of the danger of departing in any way from the true faith as found in the Church of St Peter (1.3). Those embracing heresy are urged to return to the true faith and to friendship with God (4.23). 12. Superstition and the Occult During St Bridgets day, as in our own and indeed in most ages and cultures, there was a widespread belief in fate, as well as in fortune, astrology, witchcraft and other superstitions. In her Revelations she speaks out against such practices which offend God, subject their adherents to the deceit and influence of demons, and manifest a disbelief in divine Providence. Bridget is told by Christ that the devil is able to know about certain events, which he reveals to people who are involved in superstitious practices, but only in order to deceive them and gain control over them. Such people, however, are cursed and hateful in the sight of God (7.28; 8.62). 13. The Yoke of the World vs. the Yoke of Christ Opposing the growing belief during her time in moral determinism and the inability of human nature to observe Gods commandments, Bridget writes that the yoke of slavery to the world and to the flesh are much heavier and more wearisome than the yoke of Christ. She states that the the yoke of Christ is full of delight and his law is very easy, although in the beginning it feels somewhat heavy on account of the transition from a life of sin to that of virtue. But after a brief exertion the law of Christ becomes a source of joy and one can truly say Gods yoke is sweet (1.58; 1.15; cf. Mt 11:28-30; 1 Jn 5:3). In Rev. 2.1 Christ speaks of the two ways: that which is narrow in the beginning, but ends in joy and that which is pleasing for a short time, but ends in great torment. The first begins with some modest and endurable labor and ends in the unimaginable joy of heaven; the second begins with worldly delights and pleasures of the flesh, but soon ends in great misery and finally damnation. One should then consider which is best: to have a little sorrow and eternal joy or a little joy and eternal sorrow. 14. Eucharist: The Real Presence Along with widespread immorality, there was in fourteenth century Europe a diminishing of belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Although probably less than is the case today (especially in the more economically developed countries), many people in Bridgets time believed that Christ was in the Eucharist only symbolically rather than in a real and miraculous manner. Bridget uses several biblical examples to help people believe in the Real Presence, for example stating that when Moses staff transformed into a serpent, it did not merely have the appearance of a serpent but was in reality a serpent through the miraculous power of God, who can change one thing into another just as he can create the whole universe from nothing (Extrav. 4.2). She also uses several biblical examples to help people to believe that Christ is in every host that is consecrated. In one example, she says that all the leftover pieces of bread gathered after Christs multiplication of the loaves were pieces of real bread, not just having the likeness of bread (4.63). On one occasion, at the elevation of the host during Mass, Bridget had a vision of Christ in the

hand of the priest, saying, I bless all of you who believe; to those who do not believe I shall become a judge (6.86). Bridget also affirms that while those who are in the state of sanctifying grace receive a greater sharing in Christs life and also greater spiritual strength in receiving the Eucharist, unrepentant sinners who approach the Lords table receive no grace but rather a more severe punishment for committing sacrilege (4.61-63). 15. The Passion of Christ The Swedish visionary also writes of the importance of meditating on the infinite love of God in his work of creation and especially in the redemption of mankind through the passion and death of Christ. Considering the sufferings of Christ helps to instill and nurture the virtue of charity, without which there is no salvation. It also helps to free one from attachments to the world and the flesh, as well as to endure sufferings and afflictions, and to acquire and grow in the virtues of purity, patience, and humility (1.11, 35; Extrav. 13.4). St Bridget experienced many visions relating to Christs passion and death, and these made a profound impression on her. In the Revelations she describes in great detail many of the sufferings Christ endured for our salvation and in order to turn mens hearts back to God. She hears Christ speaking to her: I shed my blood for you and suffered the most bitter torment for you (1.28). Christ repeatedly stresses the words pro te and pro vobis in order to bring people to repentance and to make them grateful for the great love he has for them (1.10), not only freely suffering his passion, but even eagerly enduring the cruel torments because of his infinite desire for the salvation of souls (2.15). 16. Perfect Charity Frequent consideration of Christs passion leads souls to the attainment of perfect charity, which involves the curbing of self-will because of God. For everyone who loves God perfectly and entirely keeps for himself nothing of his own will that may be contrary to God (4.74). Perfect charity means the will to suffer any tribulation rather than transgress any of Gods commandments (4.14). Bridget reproves those who have no desire to attain spiritual and moral perfection, but are content with fulfilling the minimum requirements for saving their souls. Oh, what insane thoughts! she exclaims, for no one who has not sought and attained perfection can enter heaven where all are perfect. Those who lack perfect charity when they die must first endure the pains of purgatory which, as noted above, are much greater than any sufferings in this life (3.28). Perfect charity toward God and neighbor is essential, says Bridget, for Church reform. When speaking about love of neighbor she emphasizes the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, placing the greater emphasis on the latter. The greatest spiritual need of our neighbor is the salvation of his soul, and one should be willing to gladly die for this (4.74). 11 To work for the salvation of souls is the responsibility of all Christs friends, but especially priests and religious and those to whom the care of souls is entrusted (1.59). Bridget sees a great impediment to the salvation of souls and to Church reform in the indifference of many Christians to whether others are saved or not, or do not care enough to instruct or reprove others in order to help them on the road to salvation. She says such complacency and fear of offending others is inspired and encouraged by the devil, who does everything he can to prevent Christs followers from helping others in their spiritual needs, especially the need to convert (6.65). 17. Teaching by Word and Example

Numerous passages in the Revelations speak of the importance of edifying ones neighbor by word and by example (verbo et exemplo). The clergy have a grave responsibility in this matter since they have been appointed as guardians of Gods temple and as watchmen of souls (4.58). Bridget states that personal sanctity is necessary to bring Gods people to the knowledge and love of God and love of neighbor, and that the clergy must conform their lives to the Gospel in order to effectively preach the Gospel (4.58). She warns those clergy who teach but do not set a good example that they are like those who foolishly construct a building without using mortar. When the storm comes the building is destroyed (4.129). 18. Preaching Priests and bishops should preach the undiluted truth of Christs message bravely, without fear of offending the worldly and carnal-minded, preaching even to those who reject the truth and will not listen (6.4). For the good seed may take root in some who will later be moved to repentance through a sermon or some other means, and return to God (1.22). The clergy have a great responsibility before God to preach and teach in such a way that their hearers will be moved to live devout lives and refrain from disordered affections. Sinners are to be shown how to rise from their sinful state, how to avoid falling into sin, how to make moral and spiritual progress and resist evil desires (2.14). Anyone who is living in sin should be warned of the great peril to their souls and shown the spiritual remedies and any other necessary measures by which they can amend their lives (3.13). Bishops should admonish obstinate sinners charitably about the peril of their souls, as a father does with his children when they oppose him (3.13). Sometimes the hard hammer of reproof is required when correcting those who stray (4.129). There is also the duty to rebuke licentious people (4.59). Bridget is confident that when bishops and priests manifest, by word and example, that they take seriously their work for the salvation of souls, then many people will be converted and turn to a life of virtue, knowing that their shepherds in correcting them do not hate them but only their sins (3.13).12 Bridget advises the Queen of Cyprus to choose as a confessor a priest who neither glosses over sins nor fears to reprove her for them (6.16). 19. Chastity Bridget tells the archbishop of Naples that Christ has entrusted her with a message for him, including these words: My Lord, I begin by first speaking to you of those things that touch the salvation of many souls. I advise you that, if you would have Gods friendship, neither you nor any other bishopshould be willing to promote anyone to sacred orders unless he has first been diligently examined by good clergy and has been found to be so suitable in his life and character that, by testing of wise and truthful men, he is declared worthy to receive such an office. Know too that priests who have concubines and celebrate Mass are as acceptable and pleasing to God as were the inhabitants of Sodom whom God submersed in hell. (7.12). Bridget adds that bishops who are guilty of ordaining unsuitable especially morally unsuitable candidates shall render a most strict account when they stand before the judgment seat of God (7.12). Bishops are entrusted with the important task, after reforming themselves, of reforming the clergy and, through them, the laity: tam in capite, quam in membris. Bridget writes that priests who are unchaste are cursed and separated from God and deserve to be deprived of their priestly office (7.10). In order to inspire repentance and disgust for sins of impurity, Bridget writes that when fornicating priests celebrate Mass, it is as welcome to Christ as if a prostitute poured her

menses in a cup and offered it to a nobleman to drink (6.9). It would be better before God, in fact, that no Mass be celebrated than that the hands of harlots should touch the Body of Christ.13 In the Revelations there are vivid descriptions of how God punishes unchaste priests (2.2; see also note 5 below). Against those who would permit priests to marry, Bridget strongly objects, describing the torments in hell awaiting the pope who would give in to such demands, since the introduction of clerical celibacy was inspired by God and he would be very offended if it were to be repealed (7.10). Against objections that priests in the Old Testament and in the early Church were allowed to marry, Christ says to Bridget: If the priests of the Old Testament were permitted to have intercourse when they were not offering [sacrifice], it is not to be wondered at, for they carried the shell but not the kernel. Now, however, once truth has come and figures have passed away, one should apply himself to supreme purity, the more so as the kernel is sweeter than the shell (4.58). Even St Peter realized that conjugal union with his wife was not compatible with his clerical office and so chose to abstain from intercourse even though it was permissible (2.2). 20. Admonishing Sinners Bishops are urged to not neglect their responsibility to correct and censure priests who fail to live up to their duties. Bridget uses the example of the priest Eli in the Old Testament, whose sons he failed to reprove because his love for them was not spiritual but carnal. Because of this he brought disaster upon himself and shame upon his descendants (6.53; 1 Sam 2:29ff). Those who do not punish evildoers will receive a double punishment themselves, for not acting according to justice and because their negligence is a cause of scandal, leading others into sin and future punishments (8.21). In all things, however, justice must be seasoned with mercy, following Christs example, who showed mercy to penitent harlots and tax collectors while rejecting the self-righteous and proud (6.22). 21. Contempt for the World Combined with zeal for God and for the salvation of souls, the Revelations call for a corresponding contempt for the world (contemptus mundi), in the sense of detachment from worldly things and disdain for the worldly values of power, temporal honors, and inordinate wealth and pleasure. Bridget states that one who desires nothing but God and his will comes to account all worldly things as vain and burdensome (4.14, 74). But contempt for the world (which of course is not to be equated with contempt for Gods creation) ought to be motivated by the desire for eternal life and by horror of sin (3.2). In overcoming worldly desires it is also helpful to consider the vanity, instability, and brevity of worldly pursuits and pleasures (3.21). Anyone, however, who prefers the world to Christ is an adulteress and an idol-worshiper (6.33; 1.53). All superfluous possessions ought to be considered a burden rather than a benefit, Bridget writes, even by the laity. One should consider that such possessions not only make it more difficult to reach heaven but they also draw one away from Gods service. They also cannot offer any consolation in time of affliction, and especially when death approaches (1.15; 4.127). Moreover, the greater ones temporal possessions, the greater the account one must make on the day of Judgment (5.5). 22. Humility

St Bridgets Revelations lay a special emphasis on humility as the foundation of all other virtues and on obedience as the practical expression and embodiment of humility. In a beautiful phrase the Blessed Virgin promises to lead to her Son everyone whom obedience nourishes on the knee of humility (4.18). In another image Bridget compares charity to a tree, with obedience the first of its fruits (6.120).14 Both charity and obedience can therefore be seen to have their vital source and root in humility. On the other hand, nothing so easily leads to eternal damnation than following ones own ungoverned will (5.4). Humility is nurtured, moreover, by continually recognizing and reflecting on Gods goodness and mercy, and also on ones own ingratitude and sins and the punishment they deserve (2.23). 23. St Bridget for Today St Bridget, in many ways like the Old Testament prophets and early Christian apostles and evangelists, was a voice of prophecy and channel of the Holy Spirit ( Extrav. 47) chosen by God during a critical period of salvation history. Acting as Gods mouthpiece, she announced the threat of divine judgment and the promise of mercy to a sinful, rebellious and apostate Christian world. Like our troubled world today, Bridget lived in an age of widespread moral corruption in which both Church and society were in great need of reform.15 Her Revelations stress the importance of seeing and judging all things from the aspect of eternity ( sub specie aeternitatis); of thinking often of the love, mercy and justice of God, the brevity of this life and of what spiritual writers call the magna cogitatio, the great thought: Eternity, encompassing the four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell; the need for bishops, clergy and religious to be reservoirs of grace and holiness before they can become channels of grace to the laity and thus bring about authentic renewal in the Church and in society as a whole. All of this naturally applies not only St Bridgets time but to every age and particularly our own, in which we are witnessing the accelerating decay of Western culture and in its place a culture of death in which belief in objective truth (much less divinely revealed truth) and in the natural moral order in our once-Christian civilization may very well be at an all-time low. Fr. John Hardon, S.J. (1918-2000), a true prophet of Church reform in our time, stated that the modern crisis of faith and morality in the Church, especially from the mid-sixties to the present time, is the worst that the Church has faced in her history and he didnt even live to see the present scandals afflicting her.16 In what we may soon see to have been a prophetic statement, he asserted: Catholicism is in the throes of the worst crisis in its entire history. Unless true and loyal Catholics have the zeal and the spirit of the early Christians, unless they are willing to do what they did and to pay the price that they paid, the days of America are numbered. Fr. Hardon also stated that Pope John Paul II told him in a private audience that unless Catholics in the U.S. returned to a belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, whole dioceses would disappear.17 In Mt 5:13 we read : if the salt has lost its tasteit is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men. Are we not now seeing the beginning of a modern day equivalent of the 16th century dissolution of the monasteries and Church property, in the increasingly Draconian measures (including the waiving of statutes of limitation) applied against the Church in the U.S. in sexual abuse lawsuits, not to mention mandatory contraceptive and abortion health care coverage, coercive pro-homosexual legislation, and many other forms of persecution? Because the salt has in great measure lost its taste, with the worlds perennial hatred against the moral authority of the Catholic Church, along with unbounded greed, now compounded by the mammoth power of the media, public education, and other cultural forces, as well as an ever-increasing globalism, will God perhaps use an increasingly brutal persecution of the Church throughout the world for the sake of bringing about her purification and reform? The great Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc once stated that the only remedy for our modern

evils is catastrophe that is to say, catastrophe would be the morally necessary condition, given human natures fallen state, for our apostate culture returning to God and consequently for its revitalization. Catastrophe, affliction, chastisement has in fact usually been the necessary remedy for apostasy from God throughout history, from the primordial apostasy of Adam and Eve through Old Testament times even to our own day. (The conversion of all the Ninevites at the preaching of Jonah, before any temporal affliction takes place [Jonah 3:4-10], is a good example of what unfortunately happens much less often.) Post-lapsarian man for the most part needs affliction in order to know Gods will and to live according to it (Ps 119:71, 67). 18 When we have our legs cut out from under us, so to speak, and are flat on our backs, it is easier to look up and to call upon God in our distress: Call on me in the day of distress. I will free you and you shall honor me (Ps 50:15).19 When he slew them then they would seek him, return and seek him in earnest (Ps 78:34). It is a manifestation of Gods love when he chastises us when we sin (Prov 3:12).20 More often than not we tend to dismiss or belittle Gods commandments until we experience personal (and collective) affliction (Ps 119:75).21 Then the scales fall from our eyes and we realize that we have strayed from God and have lived for ourselves and sought our own will rather than his. But although we create our own harsh winter of affliction,22 Gods loving Providence never fails and, as Msgr. Ronald Knox once wrote, The worlds winter is followed by Gods spring. St Bridget of Sweden warned that the apostasy of her time would bring upon the peoples of Europe the fierce winter of temporal chastisement, e.g. the bubonic plague or Black Death (1348-50), and the scourge of war, including the Hundred Years War (1337-1453). And also punishment in the next world. But Bridget also spoke of Gods spring, his love and mercy for all who would return to his loving embrace through humility, repentance and obedience, leading to eternal salvation and even temporal blessings. The inspired writings of this great saint need to be more widely known, and her call for Church reform which is indeed Gods call through her needs to be seriously taken to heart. 23 When it is we shall see Christs Bride, the Church, arise from the darkness of the present storm of widespread apostasy and immorality, truly transformed and renewed, in splendor, without spot or wrinkleholy and without blemish (Eph 5:27), and resplendent with the light and life of holiness to which she and all her members are called. Then she will truly be the Bride she was meant to be a beautiful Bride adorned to meet her Husband.24 Notes 1 St Bridget, Originaltexter, Book 2, lines 16-23. Cf. Ingvar Fogelqvist, Apostasy and Reform in the Revelations of St. Birgitta (Stockholm: Almquist and Wiksells International [P.O. Box 638, S-101 28], 1993), 30. This work by Fogelqvist, which is one of the principal sources of information on the Revelations in this booklet, also contains further and more detailed treatment of the subject (as well as social reform), and is highly recommended; see also Claire L Sahlin, Birgitta of Sweden and the Voice of Prophecy (Woodbridge, Suffolk: The Boydell Press), 2001, esp. 34-35, 41-43, 51-53, 76-77, 195-220. Despite occasional unorthodox feminist leanings the work contains a wealth of information on St Bridget, especially in her role as prophetess and moral reformer, and includes an extensive bibliography. "The unanimity with which the Christian idea was accepted in those times made the saint a well-known type of human character...Now the saint, although under the same ecclesiastical dispensation as other Christians, was conceived to have his own special relations with God, which amounted almost to a personal revelation. In particular he was held to be exempt from many of the limitations of fallen humanity. His prayers were of certain efficacy; the customary uniformities of experience were thought to be constantly transcended by the power that dwelt within him; he was often accepted by the people as the bearer to Christendom of a Divine

message over and above the revelation of which the hierarchy was the legitimate guardian. Not infrequently indeed that message was one of warning or correction to the hierarchy....the medieval saints occupied much the same relation to the ecclesiastical system as the Prophets of Israel had done, under the older dispensation, to the Jewish Priesthood. They came out of their hermitages or cloisters, and with lips touched by coal from the altar denounced iniquity wherever they found it, even in the highest places.....for them, as for other Christians, the organization of the Church was Divine; it was by the sacred responsibilities of his office that they judged the unworthy pastor. "An apt illustration of this attitude occurs in the life of the Blessed Colomba of Rieti. Colomba, who was a simple peasant, was called to the unusual vocation of preaching. The local representatives of the Holy Office, alarmed at the novelty, imprisoned her and took the opportunity of a visit of Alexander VI. to the neighboring town of Perugia to bring her before his Holiness for examination. When the saint was brought into the Pope's presence, she reverently kissed the hem of his garment, and, being overcome with devotion at the sight of the Vicar of Christ, fell into an ecstasy, during which she invoked the Divine judgment on the sins of Rodrigo Borgia [the Pope]. It was useless to attempt to stop her; she was beyond the control of inquisitor or guards; the Pope had to hear her out. He did so; proclaimed her complete orthodoxy, and set her free with every mark of reverence." (St Catherine of Siena, Dialogue, tr. Algor Thorold [Rockford: TAN, 1974; orig. 1907] Intro., 5-7) 2 Sometimes spelled Bridgettine or Birgittine. The Order presently consists of five branches: monks, two branches of nuns and two branches of sisters, all of which are known for their loyalty and reverence for the person and office of the Holy Father and fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church; see www.brigittine.org and links, especially www.saintbirgitta.com. The Revelations can be read and downloaded from www.archive.org (in English, Books 1-3 as of this writing; in Latin, all of the Revelations are at .http://62.20.57.210/ra/diplomatariet/CRB/index.htm). The Brigittine Order was founded principally as a reform movement in the Church, as Christ declares to Bridget at the beginning of the Rule of the Saviour (Regula Salvatoris) which Bridget wrote under Christs direction. Jesus says to her, I will plant a new vineyard [the Brigittine Order], from which many other vineyards shall arise. He tells Bridget that the vineyards he had planted in earlier times for a long time produced the very best wine but because the Enemy came and planted an evil seed in them a new vineyard was necessary (Prologue, Chap. 2); cf. Johannes Jorgensen, St. Bridget of Sweden, tr. I. Lund (London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1954), Vol. I, 171. 3 The Revelations were accorded an exceptionally high degree of authenticity, authority and importance from an early date. Pope Gregory XI (1371-78) judged them favorably, as did Boniface IX (1389-1404) in the papal Bull Ab origine mundi, par. 39 (7 Oct 1391). They were later examined at the Council of Constance (1414-18) and at the Council of Basel (1431-49), both judging them to be in conformity with the Catholic faith; The Revelations were also strongly defended by numerous highly regarded theologians, including Jean Gerson (1363-1429), Chancellor of the University of Paris and Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388-1468) (not to be confused with the inquisitor Tomas); see Studies in St Birgitta and the Brigittine Order, ed. James Hogg (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1993), Vol. 1, 235-36; also 259-60, notes 7-10. 4 Valentine Paraiso, St. Bridget of Sweden, 1917, 4; distributed by The Brigittine Monks, Amity, OR. 5 Although the word reform itself is not commonly used in Scripture, the reality it signifies, including conversion and nonconformity to the world and its ways (conformity to the world usually denoted as idolatry in the Old Testament) can be found throughout. See, e.g., Deut 7:1-4; 20:17-18; 32:21; Ezra 9:1-2; Neh 9:2; 1 Macc 2:12-22; Wis 14:24-27; Is 6-9; Mk 6:12; Lk 16:15; Jn 15:19; 17:14-16; Eph 2:1-3; 1 Cor 3:19; Col 3:2; Phil 3:18-19; James 4:4; 2 Pet 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17; 5:19; Rev 2:4-5.

5.5 Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., "Francis As the Model of Authentic Church Reform," 2002, from CatholicCulture.org 6 For revelations relating to Christs judgment of the clergy and religious, see also Rev. 4.132-135; cf. Jorgensen, Vol. 1, 205-209, 227-228, 291-292 note 9; Vol. 2, 213-216; an abridged version of this work by Msgr. Wm. J. Doheny, C.S.C., The Life of Saint Birgitta of Sweden (Rome: Vatican Press, 1980) has been republished as The Life of Saint Birgitta of Sweden, Patroness of Europe by the Brigittine Sisters (Rome: Vatican Press, 2000). 7 Also known as the Additions. 8 See also Mt 5:11-12. Christ also revealed to Bridget: I have borne insults that I might preach the truth; do not fear to bear insult when you bear witness to it; in Valentine Paraiso, St. Bridget of Sweden, 16. 9 See also 1.5; 1.9; 4.139; 6.117; 8.13 in Aron Andersson, The Mother of God and Saint Birgitta (Rome: Vatican Polyglot Press, 1983), 101-121. 10 Letter 185.21. Servile fear (fear of punishment), however, can both lead to, and in fact in most persons (the great majority who are not yet heroically virtuous) ought usually to coexist with, both filial fear (fear of offending God) and supernatural charity, although charity, when perfect, casts out servile fear; cf. S. Theol., 2-2, q. 19, a. 4; also The Imitation of Christ, 1, 24: It is good, however, that although love is not perfect enough to withdraw you from evil, at least the fear of hell restrains you. He who sets aside the fear of God [and his just punishments] will not persevere long in the state of grace, but will soon fall into the snares of the devil. On the need of fear to move men to repentance and obedience, see Ex 20:20; Jud 16:15b; Ps 55:19; Sir 1:22, 2:15-17, 21:6, 23:27; Lk 23:40; Acts 16:29-30. 11 Cf. S. Theol. 2-2, q. 32, aa. 2-3. 12 St Thomas states that although fraternal correction is a common duty of all ( S. Theol. 2-2, q. 33, a. 1), prelates have a more grave responsibility ( 2-2, q. 33, a. 3, ad 1); see also St Augustine, City of God, 1, 9. 13 St. Bridget, Originaltexter, 2.68-72; cf. Fogelqvist, op. cit., 172 14 Cf. Rev. 6.49, in which Bridget states: I am happy to obey what is commanded to me for love of him who obeyed his Father unto death. 15 For social reform in the Revelations see Fogelqvist, op. cit., 173-184 and passim. 16 In a 1988 interview Jean Guitton, lifelong friend and confidant of Pope Paul VI, stated that the Pope repeatedly commented to him with great anguish that the penetration of unbelief into the Church was plunging her into the worst internal upheaval ever in her history. 17 In Marian Catechist Manual and The Crisis of Faith and the Eucharist in his audiotape series, The Blessed Sacrament, respectively; see also Hardons audiotape series Angels and Demons; all three published by Eternal Life (1-800-842-2871; www.lifeeternal.org). 18 Cf. 2 Chron 7:13-14; Neh 9:23-31, esp. 9:28; Ps 79:5, 8-9; Is 26:10; Jer 31:18-19; Hos 5:15-6:1; 1 Pet 4:1b. In Heb 5:8 we read that Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered. If this is true of Christ who was without sin, the same can be said a fortiori of the sinful members of his Mystical Body, the Church, as well as of those outside her. 19 Cf. Deut 4:30; Ps 53:7. 20 Cf. Ps 89:31-34; Prov 13:24; Heb 12:5-8, 11; Rev 3:19. 21 Cf. Num 21:7; Judges 13:1; Neh 9:26-31; Ezek 12:20; 28:9; Sir 47:25. 22 Cf. Judith 11:10b-11: For our people are not punished, nor does the sword prevail against them, except when they sin against their God. But now their guilt has caught up with them by which they bring the wrath of their God upon them whenever they do evildeath will overtake them. 23 The Revelations of St Bridget hold a prominent place among approved private revelations. Although Catholics are not required to believe in private revelations, some, as in those of St Bridget and also of Fatima, for example, are highly recommended to the faithful including clergy and religious to take deeply to heart and apply to their lives.

An English translation of all eight books of the Revelations, plus other writings of St Bridget, is in the process of being published in the U.S., Volumes one and two (Books 1-5) having been published as of this writing (Feb. 2009): The Revelations of St. Birgitta of Sweden Volumes I and II, Liber Caelestis, Books I-III and IV-V respectively, tr. by Denis Searby, with introduction and notes by Bridget Morris (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006 and 2008, respectively), available also as etext at www.saintbirgitta.com. As of this writing, only Book 7 of the Revelations is otherwise available in modern English, in Birgitta of Sweden: Life and Selected Revelations, ed. Margerite Tjader Harris (New York: Paulist Press, 1990). This volume in The Classics of Western Spirituality series also contains an excellent introduction, copious and informative notes and an extensive bibliography. Over the years, St Bridgets divine messages that pertain to apostasy and reform, which indeed comprise the central message intended to be heard throughout the world, thus giving countless nations wisdom to drink (from two revelations cited in The Life of Blessed Birgitta, nos. 6 and 31, in Harris, 72 and 79, respectively) have been somewhat overshadowed by others, in particular those treating of Bridgets visions regarding the birth, infancy and passion of Christ. For this reason her role as a visionary similar to others like Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich has in the popular mind largely eclipsed her much more important role as prophet of moral, social, and ecclesial reform. 24 Rev [Apoc] 21:2. By Br. Sean Wright, OSsS, 2009 This booklet is an expanded and modified version of an article printed in The Wanderer, April 24, 2003 (201 Ohio St., St. Paul, MN 55107, 651-224-5733; www.thewandererpress.com). The author can be reached at bro.sean@brigittine.org.