Friday, July 23, 2010

St. Bridget of Sweden, Religious - Pilgrimage - Pope Benedict XVI's advancement

O God, who guided Saint Bridget of Sweden along different paths of life, and wondrously taught her the wisdom of the Cross, as she contemplated the Passion of your Son, grant us, we pray, that walking worthily in our vocation, we may seek you in all things. Through our Lord.

Patron saint of Sweden, Bridget married a young prince and lived happily with him for 28 years, bearing him eight children. St. Catherine of Sweden was their daughter.

After her husband died, Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, erecting at Vadstena a double monastery for monks and nuns. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she later went to Rome, where she worked for the return of the Popes from Avignon. This Scandinavian mystic is famous for her Revelations concerning the sufferings of our Redeemer.

Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a most holy life. While she was yet unborn, her mother was saved from shipwreck for her sake. At ten years of age, Bridget heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord; and the next night she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with fresh blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. Thenceforward meditation on that subject affected her to such a degree, that she could never think of our Lord's sufferings without tears.

She was given in marriage to Ulfo prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She devoted herself with maternal love to the education of her children. She was most zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet.

Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill at Arras; but St. Dionysius, appearing to Bridget at night, foretold the restoration of her husband's health, and other future events.

Ulfo became a Cistercian monk, but died soon afterwards. Whereupon Bridget, having heard the voice of Christ calling her in a dream, embraced a more austere manner of life. Many secrets were then revealed to her by God. She founded the monastery of Vadstena under the rule of our Savior, which was given her by our Lord himself. At his command, she went to Rome, where she kindled the love of God in very many hearts. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but on her return to Rome she was attacked by fever, and suffered severely from sickness during a whole year.

On the day she had foretold, she passed to heaven, laden with merits. Her body was translated to her monastery of Vadstena; and becoming illustrious for miracles, she was enrolled among the saints by Boniface IX [Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.]

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Now that my retreat is over, I feel quite refreshed spiritually and look forward to facing with the Lord the challenges ahead.

Not everyone can arrange for a week of spiritual renewal, and there are other ways of encountering with the Lord, particularly pilgrimage trips in the summer months. I had a wonderful five-day trip organized by John Simpson of the Halifax Archdiocese several years back to St. Anne de Beaupre, St. Joseph's Oratory and Cap de la Madeleine.

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Closer to home, this year marks the 136th consecutive pilgrimage to St. Anne de Beaupre begun by Mgr Thomas Duhamel, Ottawa's first archbishop. For many years now, lead by a local bishop, the faithful have journeyed on a common pilgrim weekend to Our Lady of the Cape and to pray for the intercession of "Good Saint Anne" from Ottawa, the Archdiocese of Gatineau and the dioceses of Alexandria-Cornwall, Mont Laurier and Pembroke.

This year, Mgr Roger Ebacher of the Archdiocese of Gatineau will be the spiritual guide. The poster gives some details. For more information, contact Mike Budge by email at: or 613-224-8110.

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One other special spiritual gathering to watch for is the celebration with the Canadian Bishops of the Canonization of Blessed Brother Andre (to take place in Rome on Sunday, October 17) at a special Mass of Thanksgiving at Montreal's Olympic Stadium on the afternoon of Saturday, October 30, 2010.

More details about this extraordinary event will be forthcoming shortly from the Pastoral Services sectors of the Diocesan Centre.

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His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI is now the seventh oldest Pope since reliable records began being collected in the year 1400, according to a U.S. statistician.

In the words of Pope Benedict himself, however, age is not as important as wisdom.

Anura Guruge, an IBM information systems expert, IT adviser and obvious fan of papal history, presented a table offering a ranked list of the oldest known Popes on his site on Monday.

On that very day, Benedict XVI passed into the seventh slot on his list, just behind John Paul II who died at 84 years old (and whom the Holy Father would pass on the list of oldest popes on Leap Day, February 29, 2012).

Not all Popes in history are considered in the study, explains Guruge on the site, because dates logged in records before the year 1400 "are either unreliable or unavailable and as such are impractical for meaningful analysis."

According to his information, at the age of 83, Benedict XVI is currently seventh on the list of most aged Popes, but should he remain at the helm of the See of Peter until 2015, he will overtake Clement XII, currently in second place after living to 87.

Topping the list of oldest Popes in the last six centuries is Leo XIII, who died at 93 years of age in 1903.

An earlier entry on the same site reports that, since 1400, Joseph Ratzinger was the fifth oldest Pope on his election date and more advanced in age at that time than any other Pontiff in the 274 years prior. He had only just turned 78 years old three days before his election.

Guruge's table also features the number of years each of the oldest 11 Popes reigned and the percentage of their lives they spent as the Successor of Peter.

Vatican Radio, in a Wednesday article that picked up the story, commented on the latter as a "curious" statistic which points to "a deeper reflection, if we look at it on a different level."

"It suggests a spiritual characteristic proper to the Petrine ministry" that is tied to the value of longevity, about which the Holy See's radio station pointed out, Pope Benedict himself made an observation in a Nov. 2008 homily remembering deceased cardinals and bishops.

Reflecting on a passage from the Book of Wisdom, Benedict XVI said, "True, honorable old age is not just an advanced age, but wisdom and a pure existence, without malice ... The world reputes that he who lives a long life is fortunate, but God, more than at age, looks at the rectitude of the heart. The world gives credit to the 'wise' and to the 'learned,' while God prefers the 'little ones'.

"God," asserted the Pope at the time, "is the true wisdom that does not age, he is the genuine richness that does not spoil, he is the happiness to which the heart of every man aspires profoundly."

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