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Liturgical day: July 23th: Bridget, religious, patron saint of Europe

1st Reading (Gal 2:19-20): Brothers: For through the law I died to the law, that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.
Responsorial Psalm: 33
R/. I will extol the Lord at all times.
I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.

Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.

Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Versicle before the Gospel (Jn 15:9b.5b): Alleluia. Remain in my love says the Lord. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. Alleluia.

Gospel text (Lk 2,36-38): There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father's home, she had been seven years with her husband, and since then she had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.

«She had been continually about the Temple, serving God as a widow night and day in fasting and prayer»

Fr. Joan Ant. MATEO i García
(La Fuliola, Lleida, Spain)

Today, we celebrate the festivity of one of the Patrons of Europe, St. Bridget or Brigitta. One hot morning, on July 23rd 1373, in Rome, while Peter, prior of Alvastrâ, was celebrating the Mass in her cell, Bridget passed away while muttering «into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit», when the priest was raising the Host.

She was 70 years old and she was culminating a life of faithfulness to God's designs, in similar manner as prophetess Anna, daughter of Phanuel, who: «was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer» (Lk 2:36-37).

St. Bridget's life is fascinating: daughter, wife, mother of eight children, widow, princess and counselor to kings, pursued a religious life, foundress... But, most of all, she was Jesus' beloved wife, whom He confided heavenly secrets to, while introducing her to the love revealed in His Passion. John Paul II included her amongst the Patrons of Europe. Just as Anna, Bridget served her Lord as a married woman as well as a widow. Like Anna, she was worshipping her Lord night and day.

God revealed Himself in her visions and she submissively accepted God's designs. She was a faithful instrument and greatly influential in the renewal of the Europe of her time. Quite an example for us today. We are, also today, hoping that Europe will be at last liberated of its enslavements and its Christian blood could shine again. God relies upon us for that. If we are his faithful instruments, He will carry out great deeds through us. Let us hear God's voice in the silence and in our prayer. Let us give up so many superfluous and futile things. Let our wealth and riches be our Lord only. And let us not ever lose our illusion to love God more every day and grow in sanctity.

«Blessed may you be, my Lord Jesus Christ. You redeemed our souls with your precious blood and most holy death, and in your mercy you led them from exile back to eternal life» (St. Bridget).