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Revelations of St. Bridget

Revelations and Prophecies Imparted to St. Bridget

Book Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

          The glorious Virgin's words explaining her humility to her daughter, and how humility is likened to a cloak, and how the characteristics of true humility and its wonderful fruits protect one from the wind, rain and hail of distraction, interference and temptation.

    "Many people wonder why I speak with you. It is, of course, to show my humility. If a member of the body is sick, the heart is not content until it has regained its health, and once its health is restored the heart is all the more gladdened. In the same way, however much a person may sin, if he turns back to me with all his heart and a true purpose of amendment, I am immediately prepared to welcome him when he comes. Nor do I pay attention to how much he may have sinned but to the intention and purpose he has when he returns.

    Everyone calls me 'Mother of mercy.' Truly, my daughter, the mercy of my Son has made me merciful and the disclosure of His mercy has made me compassionate. For that reason, that person is miserable who, when she or he is able, does not have recourse to mercy. Come, therefore, my daughter, and hide yourself beneath my cloak!

    My cloak is contemptible on the outside but very useful on the inside, for three reasons. First, it shelters you from the stormy winds; second, it protects you from the burning cold; third, it defends you against the rain-showers from the sky.

    This cloak is my humility. The lovers of the world hold this in contempt and think that imitating it is a silly superstition. What is more contemptible than to be called an idiot and not to get angry or answer in kind? What is more despicable than the giving up of everything and being in every way poor? What seems sorrier to worldly souls than to conceal one's own pain and to think and believe oneself unworthier and lowlier than everyone else? Such was my humility, my daughter. This was my joy, this my one desire. I only thought of how to please my Son. This humility of mine was useful for those who followed me in three ways.

    First, it was useful in pestilent and stormy weather, that is, against human taunts and scorn. A powerful and violent storm wind pounds a person from all directions and makes him freeze. In the same way, taunting easily crushes an impatient person who does not reflect on future realities; it drives the soul away from charity. Anyone carefully studying my humility should consider the kinds of things I, the Queen of the universe, had to hear, and so he should seek my praise and not his own.

    Let him recall that words are nothing but air and he will soon grow calm. Why are worldly people so unable to put up with verbal taunts, if not because they seek their own praise rather than God's? There is no humility in them, because their eyes are made bleary by sin. Therefore, although the written law says one should not without due cause give one's ear to insulting speech or put up with it, still it is a virtue and a prize to listen patiently to and put up with insults for the sake of God.

    Second, my humility is a protection from the burning cold, that is, from carnal friendship. For there is a kind of friendship in which a person is loved for the sake of present commodities, like those who speak in this way: 'Feed me for the present and I will feed you, for it is no concern of mine who feeds you after death!Give me respect and I will respect you, for it does not concern me in the least what kind of future respect there is to come.' This is a cold friendship without the warmth of God, as hard as frozen snow as regards loving and feeling compassion for one's fellow human being in need, and sterile is its reward.

    Once a partnership is broken up and the desks are cleared away, the usefulness of that friendship immediately disappears and its profit is lost. Whoever imitates my humility, though, does good to everyone for the sake of God, to enemies and friends alike: to his friends, because they steadily persevere in honoring God; and to his enemies, because they are God's creatures and may become good in the future.

    In the third place, the contemplation of my humility is a protection against rain-showers and the impurities coming from the clouds. Where do clouds come from, if not from the moisture and vapors coming from the earth? When they rise to the skies due to heat, they condense in the upper regions and, in this way, three things are produced: rain, hail, and snow. The cloud symbolizes the human body that comes from impurity. The body brings three things with it just as clouds do. The body brings hearing, seeing, and feeling. Because the body can see, it desires the things it sees. It desires good things and beautiful forms; it desires extensive possessions.

    What are all these things if not a sort of rain coming from the clouds, staining the soul with a passion for hoarding, unsettling it with worries, distracting it with useless thoughts and upsetting it over the loss of its hoarded goods? Because the body can hear, it would fain hear of its own glory and of the world's friendship. It listens to whatever is pleasant for the body and harmful to the soul. What do all these things resemble if not swiftly melting snow, making the soul grow cold toward God and blear-eyed as to humility?

    Because the body has feeling, it would fain feel its own pleasure and physical rest. What does this resemble if not hail that is frozen from impure waters and that renders the soul unfruitful in the spiritual life, strong as regards worldly pursuits and soft as regards physical comforts? Therefore, if a person wants protection from this cloud, let him run for safety to my humility and imitate it. Through it, he is protected from the passion for seeing and does not desire illicit things; he is protected from the pleasure of hearing and does not listen to anything that goes against the truth; he is protected from the lust of the flesh and does not succumb to illicit impulses.

    I assure you: The contemplation of my humility is like a good cloak that warms those wearing it; I mean those who not only wear it in theory but also in practice. A physical cloak does not give any warmth unless it is worn. Likewise, my humility does no good to those who just think about it, unless each one strives to imitate it, each in his own way. Therefore, my daughter, don the cloak of humility with all your strength, since worldly women wear cloaks that are a proud thing on the outside but are of little use on the inside. Avoid such garments altogether, since, if the love of the world does not first become abhorrent to you, if you are not continually thinking of God's mercy toward you and your ingratitude toward him, if you do not always have in mind what he has done and what you do, and the just sentence that awaits you in return, you will not be able to comprehend my humility.

    Why did I humble myself so much or why did I merit such favor, if not because I considered and knew myself to be nothing and to have nothing in myself? This is also why I did not seek my own glory but only that of my Donor and Creator. Therefore, daughter, take refuge in the cloak of my humility and think of yourself as a sinner beyond all others! For, even if you see others who are wicked, you do not know what their future will be like tomorrow; you do not even know their intention or their awareness of what they are doing, whether they do it out of weakness or deliberately. This is why you should not put yourself ahead of anyone and why you must not judge anyone in your heart."

Revelations and Prophesies Imparted to St. Bridget of Sweden - Book Two: Chapter Twenty-Three