“The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ.” (C.S. Lewis).
I have been reflecting upon Christ’s revelations to Saint Brigid of Sweden…
Saint Brigid of Sweden was born (and died) in the 14th century. After receiving a vision of Christ Crucified at the age of 10, the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ became the centre of her spiritual life. When she was fourteen years old, she was married to a Swedish Lord, Ulf Gudmarsson, and delivered eight children, six of whom survived infancy (which was a very unusual thing in those days). One of her daughters later became Saint Catherine of Sweden. Following her husband’s death (after twenty years of marriage) Saint Brigid founded a religious community and became a nun in the Order of the Most Holy Saviour.
Throughout her life, Saint Brigid received many revelations from Christ, and I have found myself reflecting on part of one of those revelations, which goes as follows:
“I voluntarily gave myself up to My enemies, and My friends remained, My Mother in most bitter grief and pain. And though I saw the lance, nails, scourges, and other instruments of torture ready, I nevertheless went joyfully to My Passion. And although My head was bedewed with blood on all sides, and even if My enemies touched My very heart, I would rather have it divided than be deprived of thee... Let thy feet, that is, thy affections, by which though shouldst go to Me, be crucified to pleasure, that as I suffered in all My members, so let them all be ready for My service.” (One of Christ’s revelations to Saint Brigid).
And as I have been reflecting on the revelations made to this Saint, I have found myself thinking of the actions and reactions of another blessed soul. I have been thinking about the martyr, Blessed Philip Powell who was executed in 1646 for the crime of being a Catholic. Blessed Philip was a Welsh Benedictine priest (who had been a lawyer prior to entering the monastery). During the anti-Catholic persecution by the Anglicans, he was arrested. Upon being sentenced to death (for being a Catholic and refusing to renounce his Catholic faith), Blessed Philip replied, happily, “Oh what am I that God thus honours me and will have me die for His sake?” He cheered and asked for a glass of wine before being hanged, drawn and quartered for the crime of being a Catholic.
And I have been reflecting on that cheering, because it occurs to me that the Christian writer, C.S. Lewis was correct when he said, “The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self – all your wishes and precautions – to Christ.” Because what this really means – in many circumstances – is that I must learn to sit at the table with Judas. For it is only when I have learned to sit at the table with Judas that I will have learned the love of Christ, who was willing to “divide” His heart rather than be deprived of me…
For though it seemed to me – in times gone by – that when Christ left the ninety-nine sheep to seek out the one he was being illogical, irrational and senseless, now – knowing that I was that one – I can do nothing less than cheer… (Matthew 18:12-14). For I recall the words of Blessed Philip, who said so happily before his death, “Oh what am I that God thus honours me…” And I wonder, if I shall ever proclaim such words of faith before mine…
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.