Revelations of St. Bridget
In Chapter Eighty-Eight of Book Four of the Prophesies and Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden, Christ shares with the bride how all creation is according to His divine Will, except for human beings to whom He gave free will. He likens man's voyage in the world to three sea vessels. These ships are described as the first being one without a rudder or anchor and are tossed to and fro in the sea of life with no compass and will surely sink. The second is one whose rudder and anchor could bread at any moment if the sea churns too much and they flail away, perishing in the deep. The third galleon is one whose sails are firm, the rudder sturdy and the anchor solid. It is set to sail at any time but only if God is attached to them by the three nails of fear of the Lord, humility, and contemplation of His good works. If they are not vigilant, the water of disintegration will seep in and corrode the nails, and all could fall apart. That is why we must keep maintenance on the cables of faith and hope, and make sure the anchor of good will is firm. Then we will know that we are His friends and be confident to sail wherever He so wills.
Christ speaks to the bride and tells her about the way a spiritual knight should behave in battle, namely, to trust in God and not in one's own strength. He gives two short prayers for the knight to say daily. He also says that the knight should be armed with the spiritual weapons described here.
The Son speaks: "Whoever desires to be a fighter has to be noble in spirit and get up again if he falls, trusting not in his own power but in my mercy. A person who does not trust in my goodness has the following thoughts: 'If I make any attempts at restraining the flesh by fasting or struggling in vigil, I will not be able either to persevere or to keep myself from vices, for God does not help me' - that person deserves to fall.
Hence, a person who wants to be a spiritual fighter trusts in me and is confident that he will be able to achieve it with the aid of my grace. So he should have the intention of doing good and avoiding evil and of getting up again whenever he falls. He should say this prayer: 'Lord God Almighty, you who guide all souls toward the good, I am a sinner who has strayed far away from you through
my own wrongdoing. I thank you for leading me back to the right path, and I ask you, gracious Jesus, who hung on the cross in blood and sorrow, to have mercy on me. I entreat you by your five wounds and by the pain that passed from your shattered veins to your heart. Deign to keep me safe today, lest I fall into sin. Give me the power to withstand the spears of the enemy and to get up again manfully, should I chance to fall into sin.'
In addition, in order that the fighter may be able to persevere in the good, let him pray in this way: 'O, Lord God, for whom nothing is impossible and who can do all things, give me the strength to carry out good works and to be able to persevere in the good.'
After this, he should take his sword in hand, that is, he should make a good confession, which must be polished and gleaming. It must be polished by a careful examination of conscience regarding how and how much and where he has failed and why. It should also be gleaming in the sense that he must not be ashamed of anything nor hide anything nor describe a sin in a way other than he has committed it. This sword should have two sharp edges, namely, the intention of no longer sinning and the intention of making up for the sins he has committed. The point of the sword should be contrition. This slays the devil whenever a man who earlier delighted in sin feels contrition and sorrow for having provoked me, his God, to anger. The sword should have the hilt of the consideration of God's great mercy. His mercy is so great that no one is such a sinner that he cannot obtain forgiveness, provided he asks for it with a will to improve.
The sword of confession, then, must be held with this idea that God has mercy on all. However, in order that his hand may not be cut by the edges, a piece of iron is placed in between the edge and the hilt. A pommel prevents the sword from falling from his hand. Similarly, a person who holds the sword of confession and hopes in God's mercy for the remittance and cleansing of sin must beware not to let it fall by presuming on God's forgiveness. To prevent this there is the bolt of godly fear that makes him afraid that God will take away his grace and display anger because of his presumption. In order that his operative hand may not be cut or impaired, a piece of iron is placed between the hand and the edge. This is the consideration of God's fairness, for, though my justice is so great that I leave nothing unexamined or unpunished, yet I am also so merciful and fair that I demand nothing beyond what nature can bear. Moreover, I forgive great punishment for the sake of a good intention and great sin in return for a little reparation.
The knight's coat of mail represents abstinence. Just as a coat of mail consists of many small rings of chain, so too abstinence consists of many virtues, for example, abstinence from immoral sights or things affecting the other senses, from gluttony and lust and superfluity, and from many other things that St. Benedict laid down as forbidden. One cannot put this coat of mail on alone without another's help. Therefore, my Mother, the Virgin Mary, should be invoked and venerated, for every good example and type of virtue are to be found in her. If she is steadfastly invoked, she will indicate to your spirit all the perfect types of abstinence.
The helmet stands for perfect hope. It has two openings, as it were, through which the knight can see. The first opening is the consideration of what things must be done, and the second that of what things must be avoided. Everyone who hopes in God should always consider what must be done or avoided in accordance with God's will. The shield stands for patience with the help of which one can cheerfully endure anything that happens."
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Revelations and Prophesies Imparted to St. Bridget of Sweden
Book Four: Chapter Eighty-Nine