20130204 Mystics defended the Church 聖賢捍衛教會

The fourteenth century was a century of suffering. Large-scale famines (1315-1317), the Black Death (1347-1351), and the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) claimed many lives in Europe.
Under the powerful influence of the French king, Philip IV, Pope Clement V took up residence at Avignon in southern France. Pope Clement and the other popes lived in France for about seventy years (1305-1377). The Avignon Papacy was under too much control of the French king, and this period is known as “The Babylonian Captivity”.
Saints and scholars begged the popes to return to Rome. Two saints at the time were Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena.
Bridget of Sweden
Bridget was born of the Swedish royal family in 1304.She was married to Ulf Gudmarsson, and had eight children. Her daughter, Catherine of Sweden, became a saint.
After the birth of their last child, Ulf and Bridget made a mutual vow of continence, and made a pilgrimage to Compostella. Ulf died at a Cistercian monastery in 1344. The widow Bridget devoted herself entirely to practices of religion and asceticism.
Bridget founded the monastery of Wastein, which eventually developed into the Order of our Savior (the Bridgettines). The monastery was mainly for women, with a small number of monks who cared for the spiritual needs of the nuns.
Private revelations were given to Bridget. These revelations mainly concern the sufferings and death of Christ. Bridget also foretold the future and fearlessly denounced vice.
Except for pilgrimages, Bridget spent the last twenty-five years of her life in Rome. In August, 1370, Pope Blessed Urban V approved the rule of her new order. Urban V was the only Avignon pope raised to the altar. The great act of his pontificate was his return to Rome on October 16, 1367.
Urban V spent three years in Rome, rebuilding the great basilicas and restoring discipline among the clergy. But eventually, due to local disorders and his desire to be useful to the Universal Church and to France, Urban V returned to Avignon on September 24, 1370.
Bridget foretold that Urban V would soon die if he left Rome. Her prediction came true in less than three months. When Urban V was dying, he stretched himself on the bare floor, covered with ashes, and held a crucifix in his hands.
Bridget herself died on July 23, 1373, and was canonized eighteen years after her death.
Catherine of Siena
Born in Siena in 1347, Catherine had a vision of Christ at six and made a private vow of chastity at seven.
She endured persecution from her family for refusing to marry. But eventually, through patience and virtue, she won the approval of her father, who allowed her to live a consecrated life.
Catherine lived an austere and prayerful life at home. She became a Dominican tertiary and received the black and white habit. At nineteen, she experienced Christ placing a ring on her finger. Catherine then started to reach out assisting the poor, serving the sick, and comforting the afflicted and prisoners.
Miracles of conversions and healings occurred through the prayers of Catherine. The Dialogue of Divine Providence was dictated in ecstasy. Clerics, nuns and lay faithful were among her followers.
Catherine had a great love for the Church. She urged Pope Gregory XI to leave Avignon for Rome, which he did in 1377.
After the death of Gregory XI in 1378, Urban VI was elected pope in Rome. But some dissatisfied cardinals elected an anti-pope, Clement VII, who went to live at Avignon. This is the beginning of the Great Western Schism.
Catherine defended the lawful pope, Urban VI. She died in Rome on April 29, 1380 at the age of thirty-three.
“Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” (St. Catherine)

十四世紀是歐洲的受苦世紀,計有大範圍的飢荒(1315-1317)、鼠疫(1347-1351)和百年戰爭(1337-1453),都奪去了許多寶貴的生命。

在教會方面,教宗格肋孟五世,因政治關係,受法國皇帝菲理伯四世影響,遷居法國南部的亞威農城,之後繼位的七位教宗也如是;這些教宗被稱為「亞威農教宗」。教宗住在亞威農城約七十年(1305-1377) 。這時期被稱為「巴比倫的被擄期」。

因教宗過於受法王的影響,不少聖賢及學者,都主張教宗遷回羅馬;這裡值得一提的,是聖婦碧瑾和聖女加大利納。

聖碧瑾

聖碧瑾在公元1304年出生於瑞典貴族家庭,嫁夫烏爾大.各馬遜,育有子女八人,其中第四女是聖人,教會稱她為瑞典的聖加大利納。

在第八名孩子出生後,烏爾大.各馬遜和碧瑾決定守節。他們一起到君波士達朝聖。公元1344年,烏爾大在西斯德會修院逝世;此後,碧瑾全心投入靈修和苦行的生活。

碧瑾創建了華斯德諾修院,後發展成為「救世主會」。這修會主要是女修會,她亦在這會院旁建有男修院,收納一些聖職人員,以饗修女們的靈修需要。

聖碧瑾得到有關苦難基督的私人啟示,她無懼地斥責罪行,亦有準確的預言。

除了朝聖外,聖碧瑾在她生命最後的二十五年,均留在羅馬。公元1370年八月,教宗真福伍朋五世,批准聖碧瑾的「救世主會」成立。教宗伍朋五世,是唯一得到聖人敬禮的「亞威農教宗」,他於1367年十月十六日從亞威農遷回羅馬。

教宗真福伍朋五世回到羅馬後,用了三年時間,傾力重建各大聖殿,並重振聖職人員作的紀律;但由於羅馬本土的紛亂,也由於教宗亦盼望自己能對普世教會和對法國有更大的貢獻,伍朋五世於是在1367年九月二十四日,回到亞威農城。聖碧瑾曾預言,教宗若離開羅馬,他將不久於人世。果然,在回到亞威農城後三個月,伍朋五世便與世長辭。臨終前他躺在地上,雙手張開,頭上撒灰,手持耶穌苦像。

聖碧瑾壽終於1373年七月二十三日,十八年後被教會隆重宣聖。

聖加大利納

聖女在1347年出生於栖亞那,六歲時耶穌顯現給她,她在七歲時私下發了守貞願。

聖人曾因反抗父母催婚而備受苛待,後藉耐心和聖德感動父親,准其渡貞潔的生活。

加大利納初時在家過著樸素的祈禱生活,做了道明會第三會會士,領了黑白色的會衣。十九歲時,耶穌給她帶上指環,作為締結神婚的標記。自始,加大利納外出照顧貧病者、安慰受苦和被囚的人。

因加大利納的轉禱,很多人奇蹟地皈化或被治癒。她在神魂超拔中口述了『對話錄』一書。加大利納感染了不少追隨者,當中有聖職人員、修道者和平信徒。

聖加大利納熱愛教會,她向教宗國瑞十一世進言,使教宗在1377年重返羅馬。

公元1378年國瑞十一世駕崩,吳朋六世在羅馬當選教宗;可惜不從者城另選偽教宗,取名格肋孟七世,並居住在亞威農;因此掀起西方禮儀的天主教分裂。聖加大利納則全力擁護在羅馬的真教宗吳朋六世。

公元1380年四月二十九日,聖女在羅馬安逝,享年三十三歲。生時其中一句銘言,道:「成為天主所願意你成為的人,你便會使世界熾熱起來!」

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