Our Lord tells Saint Bride by example that nothing pleases God so much as that he be loved above all things.
The Mother of God speaks to the spouse of Christ, Saint Bride, and says: ”Nothing pleases God so much as that man love him above all things. See, I shall tell you by the example of a heathen woman who knew nothing of the Christian faith; but she thought thus to herself: 'I know', she says, 'of what matter I am, and how I came to be in my mother's womb. I believe also that it is impossible for me to have a body, joints, bowels, and senses, unless someone had given these to me. And therefore there is some creator and maker who made me so fair a person of mankind, and would not make me as foul as worms and serpents.
Therefore it seems to me that though I had many husbands, if they all called me, I should rather go at one call from my maker than at the calling of them all. I have also many sons and daughters, yet if I see them with food in their hands and I know that my maker was hungry, truly I would take away the food from my children's hands and gladly give it to my maker. I have also many possessions which I dispose of at my own will. Yet if I knew the will of my maker, I would most desire to leave my own will and dispose of them according to his praise'.
But see, daughter, what God did with this heathen woman. Truly, he sent his friend to her, who informed her in the holy faith. And God himself visited her heart, and you may well understand by the woman's words, for when that man of God preached to her that there was one God without beginning and end who is the Creator of all things, she answered: 'It is well to be believed, that he who made me and all things has no maker above him. And it is likely true that his life is everlasting who could give me life'.
When this woman heard that the same Creator took mankind of a Virgin and preached with his own mouth, she answered: 'It is well to believe all virtuous works are of God. But, Friend of God, tell me what are the words that come from my Creator? For I will leave my own will and obey his according to all his words'.
Then, the Friend of God preaching to her of his Passion, Crucifixion and Resurrection, she answered with weeping eyes and said: 'Blessed is that God who so patiently showed his charity on earth that he had for us in heaven. Therefore if I have loved him first, for he made me, now I am much more bound to love him, for he showed me the right way and bought me with his holy blood. I am also bound to serve him with all my might and all my limbs, for he bought me with all his limbs. And furthermore, I am bound to put away from me all my own will and desire that I previously had for my goods, possessions, children, family relations and friends, and only to desire my Creator in his bliss and in that life that never ends' ”.
Then said the Mother of God: ”See, daughter, this woman obtained a many fold reward for her love, and so is each day reward given to each one after that time that God had lived in this world”.
This is a revelation sent to the holy spouse of Christ, Saint Bridget, in which our Lady Saint Mary reproached the pride of women in their stance, bearing, speech, dress, and other behavior, with the example of three wretched women: of which one was in Hell, another in Purgatory, and the third, alive.
The holy spouse of Christ, Saint Bridget, spoke to our Lord Jesus Christ words of love and praise for the great grace that he shaped with her, and said: ”Praise to you, almighty God, for all the things that have been made, and praise for all your virtues. Service be rendered to you by all creatures for your great love and charity. I, therefore, always unworthy and sinful from my childhood, thank you, my God, that you do not deny grace to any sinner who asks for it. But you spare and have mercy for all. O my sweetest God, it is truly marvelous that you work with me; for when it pleases you, you bring my body into a spiritual sleep, and then you excite and raise up my soul to see and hear and feel spiritual things.
O my most sweet God, how sweet have been your words to my soul, which swallows them as the most sweet food. And then enter with joy into my heart, for when I hear your words, I am both full and hungry; full, because nothing delights me except your words; hungry, because the more I hear them the more fervently I want them. Therefore, blissful God, give me help always to do your will”.
Our Lord Jesus Christ answered and said: ”I am without beginning and without end. And all things which are are made by my power; all things are disposed by my wisdom and all things are governed by my judgement and will; and all my works are ordered by charity. Therefore for me there is nothing that is impossible. But that heart is over-hard which neither loves me nor fears me, since I am ruler of all things and Judge. And yet man fulfills the will rather of the devil, who is my tormentor and a deceiver, who gives out venom largely through the world, for which souls may not live, but they are drowned down into the death of Hell. This venomous sin, which, though it is bitter to the soul, yet to many tastes sweet, and each day it is drawn out of the devil's hand upon many people.
But who ever heard any such things, that life is offered to all, and they choose death rather than life. Nevertheless I, God of all, am patient and have compassion on their wretchedness. For I do as a king who sends wine to his servants and says: 'Pour it forth to many, for it is wholesome. It gives health to the sick, mirth to them who are depressed, and a courageous heart to those who are whole.' But yet the wine is not sent but by an appropriate vessel. So I have sent my words, which are like wine, to my servants by you, who are my vessel, which I will fill and draw out after my own will. My Holy Spirit shall teach you where you will go and what you shall say. Therefore speak joyfully and without fear the things that I order; for there is no one who shall prevail against me”.
Then answered the spouse, Saint Bridget: ”O king of all glory and bliss, giver of all wisdom and granter of all virtues, why do you choose me for such work, who has wasted my body in sins? I am like a donkey, unlearned and unwise and defective in virtues; and I have trespassed in all things and amended nothing”.
Our Lord Jesus Christ answered: ”If money or other metal were presented to a lord, who should marvel, though he made of it for himself crowns or rings or coins to his own profit. So it is no marvel though I receive the hearts of my friends presented to me and do my will in them. And just as much as one has less understanding and another more, so do I use the conscience of each as is expedient to my praise. For the heart of a rightful man is my money; therefore be firm and ready to do my will”.
Then spoke the Mother of God to Saint Bridget, saying: ”What do the proud women say in your kingdom?” Saint Bridget answered: ”O Lady, I am one of them, and therefore I am ashamed to speak in your presence”. ”Though I know it better than you, yet I would hear it from you”.
Saint Bridget answered: ”When”, she said, ”true humility was preached to us, we said that our ancestors willed to us and gave us in heritage great possessions and a good education as to behavior and class. Why therefore should I not follow them? My mother sat with the first and the highest and was clad and arrayed nobly, having many servants and educating them with praise. Why should I not also pass on such things to my daughter, who has learned to bear herself nobly and to live with bodily joy and to die with great praise from the world?”
The Mother of God answered: ”Each woman who has these words and follows them in deed goes by the true way to Hell. And therefore such an answer is very difficult. What does it profit to have such words, when the Creator of all things suffered his body to live and dwell on earth in all humility from the time of his birth until his death, and never wore upon himself the clothing of pride. Truly, such women do not consider his face, how he stood living and dead upon the cross, bloody and pale from pain; nor those who reckon nothing of the criticism which he heard, nor of his despicable death which he chose; neither have they in mind the place where he gave up the spirit, for where thieves and robbers had received many wounds, there was my Son wounded.
And I, who before all creatures, am most dear to him, and in me is all humility, was present there. And therefore they who did such proud and pompous things, and given other occasion to follow them, are like a sprinkler, which, when it is filled with a burning liquid, burns and befouls all of them whom it sprinkles. Right so do the proud give examples of pride and very grievously they burn souls by evil examples.
And therefore I will now do like a good mother, who, fearing for her children, makes them see the rod, which the servants also see. But the children, seeing the rod, fear to offend their mother, thanking her for threatening them but not beating them. The servants fear to be beaten if they trespass. And so from dreading the mother the children do more good deeds than they did before, and the servants do less evil.
So truly, because I am the mother of mercy, therefore I will show you the reward of sin, that the friends of God may be more fervent in the charity of God. And sinners, knowing their peril, flee from sin, at least, from fear. And in this way I have mercy on both good and evil; on the good people, that they may obtain and get more crowns and rewards in heaven, on the wicked, that they suffer less pain. And there is none who is so great a sinner, but I am ready to help him; and my Son to give him grace, if he ask mercy with charity”.
After this, there appeared three women: that is to say, the mother, and the daughter, and the niece, that is, that daughter's daughter. But the mother and the granddaughter appeared dead, and the daughter appeared to be alive. The said dead mother seemed to come creeping out of a foul and dark clay ditch; her heart was drawn out of her body, her lips cut off, and her chin trembled; her teeth, shining, white and long, ground and chattered together; her nostrils were all gnawn; her eyes were put out, hanging down on her cheeks between sinews; her forehead was hollow; and instead of her forehead there was a great and dark depth.
In her head the head pan failed and had fallen away, and the brain boiled up as if it had been lead, and flowed out like black pitch. Her neck turned about like wood that is turned in the instrument of a joiner, against which was set a blade of the sharpest iron, cutting and shaving away without any comfort. Her breast was open and full of worms long and short; and each of them wallowed hither and thither upon each other. Her arms were like the hafts or handles of a grinding stone. Her hands were like keys full of knots and long. The chines or vertebrae of her back were all dissolved, each from the other; and one going up, another going down, they never ceased moving. A long and large serpent came forth from the nether part of her stomach to the other parts; and joining the head and tail together as a round bow, went round about her bowels continually, like a wheel. Her hips and her legs seemed like two rough staves of thorns full of most sharp prickles. Her feet were like toads.
Then this dead mother spoke to her daughter who was alive saying: ”Hear you, altogether my tom and venomous daughter. Woe is me that I was ever your mother. I am she who set you in the nest of pride, in which you, made hot, grew until you came of age. And then it was pleasing to you that you had spent your time in that nest. Therefore I say to you that as often as you turn your eyes to look at, or see pride, which I taught you, so often cast you boiling venom in my eyes with insufferable burning heat. As often as you speak words of pride which you learned from me, so often swallow I most bitter drink. As often as your ears are filled with the wind of pride which the waves of arrogance and pride excite and stir up in you, that is to say, to hear praise of your own body and to desire praise from the world, which you learned from me, so often comes to my ears a fearful and dreadful sound, with blowing and burning wind.
Woe, therefore, to me, who am poor and wretched; poor because I have nor feel anything of good, and wretched because I have abundance and plenty of evil. But you, daughter, are like the tail of a cow which, going in foul clay, as often as she moves her tail, as often does she befoul and sprinkles those near her. So you, daughter, are like a cow; for you have no goodly wisdom, and you go after the works and impulses of your body.
Therefore as often as you follow the works of my custom, that is to say, those sins which I taught you, so often is my pain renewed, and the more grievously it burns upon me. Therefore, my daughter, why are you proud of your generation and parentage? For it would be honor and respect to you that the uncleanliness of my bowels was your pillow, my shameful member was your birthing, and the uncleanness of my blood was your clothing when you were born? Therefore, now, my womb, in which you lay, is altogether eaten by worms.
But why, daughter, do I complain to you, when I ought more to complain about myself? Because there are three things which torment me most grievously in my heart. The first is that I, made by God for heavenly joy, misused my conscience and have disposed myself to the sorrows of Hell. The second is that while God made me fair as an angel, I deformed and misshaped myself so that I am more like the devil than an angel of God. The third is that in the time given to me, I made a very evil change. For I received a little thing, short and transitory, that is to say, delight in sin, for which now I feel endless evil, that is, the pain of Hell”.
Then said this dead mother to the spouse of Christ, Saint Bridget: ”You”, she said, ”who see me, see me not but by bodily likeness. For if you should see me in that form in which I am, you would die from fear; and all my members are devils. And therefore the Scripture is true which says that as rightful men are members of God, so sinners are members of the devil. Right so I now experience the devil's arms fastened into my soul; for the will of my heart has disposed me to so much filth, deformity and misshapenness.
But hear now more. It seems to you that my feet are toads. That is because I stood firmly in sin; therefore now fiends stand firmly in me. And always biting and gnawing at me, they are never full. My legs and my thighs are as staves full of prickly thorns, for I had a will after fleshly delight and my own lust.
That each chine of my back is loose, and each of them moves against the other; that is therefore because the joy of my lust sometimes went too much upward for worldly solace and comfort, and sometimes too much downward because of too much depression, grouching, and wrath because of the adversity and disease of the world. And there as the back is moved and stirred after the motions of the head, so ought I to have been stable and moveable according to God's will, who is the head of all good. But because I did not do so, therefore I justly suffer these pains which you now see.
That a serpent creeps forth from the lower parts of my stomach to the higher parts, and standing like a bow turned about as a wheel, is because my lust and delight were inordinate; and my will would have had all the world's goods in its possession; and in many ways to have spent them, and indiscreetly. Therefore the serpent now searches about in my entrails without comfort, gnawing and biting without mercy.
That my breast is open and altogether gnawn with worms, shows the true justice of God, for I loved foul and rotten things more than God; and the love of my heart was all given to transitory and passing things of the flesh and of the world. And therefore as from small worms are brought longer worms, right so is my soul; for the foul stinking things which I loved are filled with devils. My arms seem as if they are beams; that is because I had my desire like two arms; that is to say, because I desired a long life, that I might have lived longer in sin.
I would also and desired that the Judgement of God had been easier than the Scripture said. Nevertheless, my conscience told me very well that my time was short and the Judgement of God insufferable. But again my desire and delight that I had in sinning stirred me to think that my life should be long and the Judgement of God bearable. And of such suggestions my conscience was subverted and turned upside down, and my will and reason followed lust and delectation. And therefore the devil is now lodged in my soul against my will, and my conscience understands and feels that the Judgement of God is right.
My hands are like long keys. And that is because the precepts and commandments were not pleasing to me; and therefore my hands are now to me a great burden, and lack any use. My neck is turned like wood which is placed against a sharp blade; that is because the words of God were not sweet to me to swallow and taste them in the charity and love of my heart; but they were too bitter, for they argued and criticized the delight and will of my heart; and therefore now a sharp blade stands at my throat.
My lips are cut off, for they were ready with vain, joking, and dishonest words of pride; but they failed and found it irksome to speak the words of God. My chin appears to be trembling, and my teeth grind and beat together; that is because I was wilfull in giving food to my body, so that I might seem fair and desirable, whole and strong to all the delights and pleasures of the body. And therefore now my chin trembles and quakes without comfort, and my teeth beat together; for all that they wasted was but unprofitable work as far as being fruit for the soul.
My nose is cut off; because amongst you it is done to them who trespass in such a case to their greater shaming, right so is the mark of my shame set upon me for ever. That my eyes hang down by sinews upon my cheeks is correct for, just as the eyes joyed in the fairness of my cheeks for ostentation and showing-off from pride, so now from much weeping they are put out and hang down to my cheeks with shame and confusion. And right so is my forehead hollow, and instead of it there is a great darkness. For about my forehead was set the veil and array of pride; and I would appear glorious, and be seen of fairness, and seem fair. And therefore is my forehead now dark and foul, deformed and misshapen. That my brain boils up and flows out like lead and pitch, is well deserved. For as lead is soft and may be bent according to the will of him who uses it, so was my conscience, which lay in my brain, bowed to the will of my heart, although I understood well the things that I should have done.
And the Passion also of the Son of God was in no way fastened in my heart, but it flowed out like a thing that I knew well and took no heed of. And furthermore, of that holy blood which flowed out of the members of the Son of God, I took no more heed than of pitch, and fled, as if they were pitch, from the words of charity and of the love of God, lest they should convert me or trouble me from the delights of the body. Nevertheless, sometimes I heard the words of God to the shame of man; but as quickly as they entered, so quickly went they out of my heart again. And therefore now my brain flows out like burning pitch, with extremely hot boiling. My ears are stopped with hard stones, for words of pride entered in them joyfully, and softly and sweetly they went down into the heart, for the charity of God was closed out of my heart. And because I did all that I could for pride and for the world, therefore now joyful words have been shut out from my ears.
But you may ask if I did any meritorious or good deeds. And I answer you I did as does a money changer, who clips and cuts the money; and then reassigns or takes it again to the lord to whom it belongs. So I fasted and made alms and such other good works; but I did them for fear of Hell, and to escape the adversities and disease of the body. But because the charity and the love of God was cut off from my deeds, therefore such deeds were not valuable to me for obtaining Heaven, although they were not without reward. You might also ask how I am within in my will, when so much foulness and distortion is without. I answer: My will is as the will of a manslayer or of him who would gladly slay his own mother. So I covet and desire the worst evil to God, my Creator, who has been to me the best and most sweet”.
Then the dead granddaughter, that is, the daughter's daughter of the same dead Beldame, spoke to her own mother who was still alive, saying: ”Hear, you scorpion, my mother, woe is me, because you have evilly deceived me. For you showed me your merry face, but you pricked me very grievously in my heart. Three counsels you gave me of your mouth, three things I learned of your works. And three ways you showed me in your process and going out. The first counsel was to love bodily in order to get carnal love and fleshly friendship. The second was to spend temporal goods over abundantly for praise from the world. The third was to have rest for the delectation and delight of the body.
These counsels were very harmful to me and a great hindrance. For I loved carnally, therefore I now have shame and spiritual envy. And because I spent temporal goods wastefully, therefore was I deprived of grace and the gifts of God in my life, and after my death I have obtained great confusion and shame. For I delighted in the quest and rest of the flesh in my life, therefore in the hour of my death began the unrest of my soul without comfort.
Three things also I learned of your works. The first was to do some good deeds, and nevertheless use them and not to leave that sin which delighted me: as a man should do who mixed honey with venom, and offered it to a Judge; and he, moved by that to anger, dropped it on him who offered it. So am I now expert in many fold anguish and tribulation.
The second is that I learned from you a marvelous manner of clothing myself; that was to conceal my eyes with a kerchief, to have sandals on my feet, gloves on my hands and the neck all naked in front. This kerchief concealing my eyes means the fairness of my body, which so obscured my spiritual eyes that I took no heed nor saw not the fairness of my soul. The sandals, which protect the feet underneath and not above, mean the holy faith of the Church, which I held faithfully, but there followed no fruitful works. For as sandals furthered my feet, right so my conscience, standing in the faith, promoted my soul. But because good works did not follow, therefore my soul was naked.
The gloves on the hands mean a vain hope I had; for I extended my works which are meant by the hands, into so great and large mercy of God, which is signified in the gloves, that, when I groped for the justice of God, I felt it not nor took any heed of it. Therefore I was overbold in sinning. But when death came, then the kerchief fell down from my eyes upon the earth, that is to say, upon my body. And then the soul saw and knew itself as naked, for few of my deeds were good, and my sins were many. And for shame I might not stand in the palace of the eternal king of bliss, because I was shamefully clothed. But then devils drove me into hard punishment, where I was scorned with shame and confusion.
The third thing, mother, that I learned of was to clothe the servant in the lord's clothes, and to set him in the lord's seat, and to praise him as a lord, and to minister to the lord the reliefs of the servant and all things that were despicable. This lord is charity and the love of God. The servant is a will to sin. Truly in my heart where ought to have reigned godly charity was set the servant, that is, delight and lust of sin, whom I clothed then when I turned my will to all temporal things that are made. And the reliefs and parings and the most abject things I gave to God, not out of charity, but out of fear. So therefore was my heart glad of fulfilling and delight of my own will, for the charity and love of God was excluded from me, and the good Lord cast out and the evil servant closed within. See, mother, these three things I learned from your doings.
Three ways you showed me also in your going out. The first was bright. But when I entered in it, I was blinded by its brightness. The second was compendious and slippery as ice, in which, when I went one step forward, I slid again backward a whole step. The third was very long, in which, when I went forth, there came after me a sudden rushing flood and bore me over a hill into a deep ditch.
In the first way is noted the going forth of my pride, which was too much; for the ostentation and showing which proceeded from my pride shone so much in my eyes that I did not think about the consequences of it, and therefore I was blind.
In the second way is noted that disobedience in this life is not long; for after death a man is compelled to obey. Nevertheless, to me it was long, for when I went one step forward in meekness of confession, I slid backward a step. Because I would that the sin confessed have been forgiven, but after making confession, I would not flee from the sin. And therefore I did not stand firmly in the step of obedience, but I slid again into sin, as does he who slides upon ice; because my will was cold and would not get up and flee from the things which delighted me. So therefore when I went a step forward, confessing my sins, I slid a step backward; because I would fall again to those sins and delectations that delighted me, of which I had made confession.
The third way was that I hoped for a thing which was impossible; that is to do more sin and not have lengthy pain; also to live longer, and the hour of death not be near. And when I went forth by this way, there came after me a hasty rushing flood; that is to say, death, which from one year to another caught me and turned my feet upside down with pain of illness.
What were these feet, but when sickness comes about, I might take little heed of the profit of the body and less to the health of the soul? Therefore I fell into a deep ditch, when my heart that was high in pride and hard in sin burst, and the soul fell down low into the ditch of pain for sin. And therefore this way was long; for after the life of the body was ended, soon there began a great pain. Woe, therefore, to me, my mother; for all those things that I learned from you with joy, now I wail about them with weeping and sorrow”.
Then spoke this same dead daughter to the spouse of Christ, Saint Bridget, who saw all these things, saying: ”Hear, you who see me. To you it seems that my head and my face as like thunder, thundering and lightning within and without; and my neck and my breast as it were put into a hard press, with long sharp pricks; my arms and my feet are as it were long serpents; and my womb is smitten with hard hammers; my thighs and my legs are as it were flowing water out of the gutters of a roof, and my feet are frozen together.
But yet there is one pain within that is more bitter to me than all these. Right as if there were any person of whom all the breaths of his living spirits were stopped and all the veins, filled with wind, pressed up to the heart, which for violence and strength of those winds should begin to burst; so am I disposed within very wretchedly for the wind of my pride, which was to me much cherished. Nevertheless, yet I am in the way of mercy, for in my most grievous sickness I was confessed in the best manner I could, for fear of pain. But when death came near, than came to my mind the consideration and vision of the Passion of my God, how that was much more grievous and more bitter than all that I was worthy to suffer for my sins and demerits. And with such consideration, I became tearful and wept and wailed that the charity and the love of God was so much to me and mine so little to him.
Then I beheld him with the eyes of my conscience and said: 'O Lord, I believe you, my God. O you Son of the Virgin, have mercy upon me for your bitter Passion; for now from henceforth would I amend my life, if I had time, very willingly'. And in that point of time was there lit and kindled in my heart a spark of charity, by which the Passion of Christ seemed more bitter to me than my own death. And so then burst my heart, and my soul come into the hands and power of devils to be presented to the Judgement of God.
Therefore it came into the hands of devils, because it was not worthy that the angels of fairness should come near the soul of so much foulness. But in the Judgement of God, when the devils cried and asked that my soul should be judged and damned to Hell, the Judge answered: 'I see', he said, 'a spark of charity in the heart which ought not to be quenched, but it must be in my sight. Therefore I judge the soul to Purgatory, until the time that it be so worthily purged and made clean that it deserve and have forgiveness'.
But now you might ask if I shall have part of all the goods and good deeds that were done for me. I answer you with a parable. Just as if you saw two balances hanging, and in that one were naturally bearing downward and in the other were some light thing going upward, the greater things and fair that were put in the empty balance, so much the rather should they lift up the other balance that is heavy and of great weight. It is so with me; for the deeper that I was in sin, the more grievously am I gone down into pain. And therefore what ever is done to the praise of God for me, it lifts me up from pain; and specially that prayer and good that is done by rightful men and the friends of God, and benefits that are done by well-gotten goods and deeds of charity. Such things, truly, they were that make me each day become closer to God”.
After this spoke the holy Mother of God to the spouse of Christ, Saint Bridget, and said: ”You marvel how I, who am Queen of Heaven, and you who live in the world, and that soul which is in Purgatory, and that other which is in Hell, speak together. This I shall tell you. I, truly, never go from Heaven, for I shall never be departed from the sight of God. Nor that soul which is in Hell shall not be separated from pain. Nor that soul which is in Purgatory, neither, until it is purged clean. Nor shall you come to us before the departure of your bodily life.
But your soul with your understanding, by virtue of the spirit of God, is lifted up to hear the words of God in Heaven: and you are allowed to know some pains in Hell and in Purgatory, for warning and amendment of evil livers and to the comfort and profit of them who are good. Nevertheless, know that your body and your soul are joined together on earth, but the Holy Spirit who is in Heaven gives you understanding to understand his will”.
After this, the third woman who was alive left all the world and entered into the religious life, and lived all her life after in great perfection and holiness.
Our Lord Jesus Christ teaches Saint Bride how active life and contemplative ought to be kept through the example of Mary and Martha; and first, of contemplative life.