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Revelations of St. Bridget

Revelations and Prophecies Imparted to St. Bridget


Book Four

Chapter Seventeen

          In Book Four, Chapter Seventeen of the Prophesies and Revelations of the holy mystic St. Bridget of Sweden, Saint Agnes returns to impart an excellent instruction to the daughter on the merits of living in a good and praiseworthy fashion, and the vital importance of avoiding a bad life that would be displeasing to God. A carriage symbolizes here fortitude and patience; its four wheels symbolize these four virtues: the complete surrender of everything for God's sake, humility, loving God wisely, and restraining the flesh discerningly. Certain other things are also added about members of religious orders.

    Agnes speaks to the bride of Christ: "Did you see Lady Pride in her carriage of pride today?"

    The bride answers her: "I saw her, and I got upset, because flesh and blood, dust and dirt was looking to be praised instead of humbling herself as she ought rightly to do. Such a display means nothing other than a lavish wasting of God's gifts, mere vulgar adulation, a trial to the righteous, a misery to the poor, a provocation to God, a forgetting of one's nature, an aggravation of one's future judgment, and the loss of souls."

    Agnes answers: "My daughter, be happy that you have been saved from things like that. Let me tell you about a carriage in which you can rest securely. The carriage where you should sit is fortitude and patience in suffering. When people begin to keep the flesh in check and to entrust all their will to God, then either the mind is troubled by pride, puffing people up above and beyond themselves, as though they were righteous and had become like God, or else impatience and lack of discernment break them so that they either fall back into their old habits or fail in strength and so become unfit for the work of God. This is why a discerning patience is necessary so that a person does not relapse impatiently or persevere undiscerningly but, rather, adapts to his or her own capacity and circumstances.

    "The first wheel of this carriage is a wholehearted intention to surrender everything for the sake of God and to desire nothing but God. Many there are who give up temporal possessions in order to avoid the bother but keep enough for their use and desire. Their wheel is not easily steered or guided, for when they feel the pinch of poverty, they desire adequate comfort, and when problems weigh down on them, they demand prosperity. When humiliation tries them, they murmur against God's providence and seek to obtain honors. When asked to do something that goes against their inclinations, they desire their freedom. Accordingly, a person's will is pleasing to God when it seeks nothing of its own both in good times and in bad.

    "The second wheel is humility. This makes people regard themselves as unworthy of any good thing, keeping their sins in mind at all times and looking on themselves as guilty in God's sight.

    "The third wheel is a wise love for God. A wise love for God obviously belongs to people who examine themselves and detest their vices, who are saddened by the sins of their neighbors and relatives but rejoice in their spiritual progress toward God, who do not want their friends to live for enjoyment and comfort but to serve God, and who are wary of their friends' worldly advancement, in case it entails offenses against God. Such, then, is the wise love that detests vice, that does not fawn on people in order to gain favor or honor but loves those people more who are seen to be more fervent in their charity for God.

    "The fourth wheel is the discerning restraint of the flesh. A married person may reason in this manner: 'Look, the flesh is pulling me about inordinately. If I live according to the flesh, I know for certain that I will anger the Creator of the flesh, Who is able to wound and enfeeble, to kill and to give life. Therefore, for the love and fear of God, I will restrain my flesh with a good will. I will live in a decent and orderly way to the honor of God.' A person with such thoughts, who also seeks the help of God, has a wheel that is acceptable to God. If he or she belongs to a religious order and reasons thus: 'Look, the flesh is pulling me toward pleasure, and I even have the place, the time, the means, and the age to enjoy it, yet with God's help, and for the sake of my holy vows, I will not sin just to gain a momentary pleasure. I made a great vow to God: I entered poor and shall depart poorer and undergo judgment for each and every action. Therefore, I will abstain so as not to offend my God or scandalize my neighbor or do myself injury.' Abstinence like that deserves a great reward.

    "Another person may be living amid honors and pleasures and may reason in this way: 'Look, I have plenty of everything, but there are needy poor and we all have one God. What have I done to deserve what I have or what have they done not to deserve it? What, after all, is the flesh but food for worms? What are all these pleasures but a source of nausea and sickness, a waste of time and an inducement to sin? Therefore, I shall keep my flesh in check, so that worms do not run riot in it, and so that I do not receive a heavier sentence or waste my time of penance. Perhaps my poorly trained flesh will not be easily bent to the coarse fare of a pauper, but I shall withdraw it by degrees from certain delicacies that it can easily do without, so that it gets what it needs but nothing beyond that.'

    "Someone with such thoughts, and who makes an effort to act on them according to his or her ability, can be called both confessor and martyr, for it is a kind of martyrdom to have access to pleasure and not to make use of it, to live in honor yet to despise honor, to have a great reputation yet to think little of oneself. Such a wheel is very pleasing to God.

    "Well, my daughter, I have described for you the image of a carriage. Its driver is your angel, so long as you do not shake off his bridle and yoke from your neck, that is, so long as you do not dismiss his saving inspirations by opening up your senses and your heart to vain or obscene things.

    "Now I want to tell you about the kind of carriage in which that lady was seated. That carriage is obviously impatience - her impatience with God and with her fellow man and with herself. She is impatient with God when she criticizes His secret decisions, for things do not go as well for her as she would like. She maligns her fellow man, for she cannot get at his possessions. She is moreover impatient with herself, for she impatiently reveals the hidden things of her heart.

    "The first wheel of this carriage is pride, in that she gives preference to herself and is judgmental of others; she despises the lowly and is ambitious for honor.

    "The second wheel is disobedience to God's precepts. This leads her to make excuses in her heart for her own weaknesses, to make light of her guilt, to be presumptuous in her heart and to defend her own wickedness.

    "The third wheel is greediness for worldly possessions. This leads her to spend her possessions wastefully, to neglect and forget her own situation and the coming world, to fret at heart, to be lukewarm in the love of God.

    "The fourth wheel is her self-love. This bars out reverence and fear of God and distracts her attention from her own death and judgment.

    "The driver of this carriage is the devil. He fills her with audacity and glee in every undertaking he inspires in her. The two horses drawing the carriage are the hope of a long life and the intention to keep on sinning until the very end. The bridle is her guilty fear about going to confession. Through her hope of a long life and her intention to persevere in sin, this guilty fear pulls the spirit from the straight path and ladens it so heavily with sin that neither fear nor shame nor warning can make her get up. Just when she thinks she is on firm footing, she will sink down to the depths unless the grace of God comes to her aid."

ADDITION

    Christ speaks of the same lady: "She is a viper with the tongue of a harlot, the bile of dragons in her heart, and bitter poison in her flesh. Her eggs will therefore be poisonous. Happy are they who have no experience of the burden of them!"


Revelations and Prophesies Imparted to St. Bridget of Sweden
Book Four: Chapter Seventeen