News from San Antonio Church – July 23, 2023

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Weekly Bulletin July 23, 2023

by Terrie Evans

On this 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, we honor the feast of St. Bridget of Sweden born in Upland, Sweden in 1303.   Bridget’s parents were Birger and Ingeborg Peterson, part of the reigning family of the country.  Bridget’s father Birger went to confession every Friday and made many pilgrimages to the Holy Land.    At the age of ten, her mother died leaving her sister Katharine aged nine and a newborn boy Israel to live with their maternal aunt who promoted her devotion to her faith and education.  When Brigit was in her teens she married and over the years, gave birth to 4 daughters and 4 sons with all of them surviving infancy.    In the early years of her marriage, Bridget   was requested by the King of Sweden, Magnus Erickson to serve as a Lady-in-Waiting to the young Queen, Blanche of Namur a position she continued to serve in the Court of the King and Queen of Sweden for 10 years.  At the age of 41 she lost her husband Ulf Gudmarsson when they returned from a pilgrimage to Santiago di Compostela.  Bridget was devastated and during   her long mourning period, spent many long hours in prayer near Ulf’s grave.  She prayed for guidance in the Abbey at Alvastra while seeking God’s intercession and an answer to what her next mission in life would be.  She consulted with her children, took care of her affairs, and soon, her answer was for Bridget   to find   a new religious order for women.  The new order would be seen as a “vineyard full of grapes” with the wine made from those grapes to be used to revive the Church.   In the vision she received, Bridget was told of   plans for the Abbey Church and how it was to be built, of the clothing and of the prayers for the nuns and for the number of priests and chaplains. 

There would be two communities with 60 nuns, 13 priests, 4 deacons, and 8 lay brothers, ruled by an Abbess who represent the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Bridget requested and received a plot of land and a small palace donated by the King of Sweden for the new Monastery.  In 1349, Brigit needed to consult the Pope for his blessing for the new Order and   traveled to Rome, to await his return from France. She resided in Rome all during the Holy Year of 1350 and was finally given the support of Pope Urban V in 1370, never to returning to Sweden.  During the last years of her life, Bridget had visions concerning the future and fought for Church reform.  Bridget went on to direct those in authority to make the changes she had hoped for the Church.  Her one desire to become a nun never happened and she never visited the Convnet Church of the Pax Mariae Abbey in Vadstena, the first Bridgettine Monastery.  None of her desires took form and she died in Rome on July 23, 1373, tired and worn from all her failed plans with her body returned for her burial in the Monastery at Vadstena.   She was Canonized by Pope Boniface IX on October 7, 1391, eighteen years after her death and to some she is thought of as the Patroness of Failures.  Bridget is considered the foundress of the religious Order, the Bridgettines Nuns and Monks primarily for women with permanent chaplains and an Abbess in charge and dedicated to devotion to the Passion of Jesus Christ.  The brothers within the Order had a Confessor General responsible for the spiritual business of both convents.  The Bridgettine Monks are in Amity Oregon at the Monastery of Our Lady of Consolation founded in 1976 and is the only monastery of men since the 1st of the 19th century. 

There were Monasteries from Scandinavia although Europe and into Italy.  It expanded into Spain in 1629, Rome in 1911, United States in 1970, and Mexico in 2012.  The Motherhouse where Bridget once lived is located on the Piazza Farnese in Rome.  and at present there is one male convent in the U.S.A.  St. Brigit is the patroness of Sweden and once said “True wisdom, then, consists of un the works, not in great talents which the world admires; for the wise in the world’s estimation are the foolish who set at naught the will of God, and know not how to control their passions.” 

A prayer to St. Brigit: “Brigit, you were a woman of peace.  You brought light into darkness.  You brought hope to the downcast.  May the mantle of your peace cover those who are troubled or anxious, and may peace be firmly rooted in our hearts and our world.  Inspire us to act justly and to revere all God has made.”  In 1999, The Holy Father added 3 women as Patron saints of Europe:  St. Brigit of Sweden, St. Catharine of Siena and St. Edith Stein.

On July 30th we will celebrate “World Day for Grandparents and Elderly.”  This was established by Pope Francis near the liturgical memorial of Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus.

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