The 'b' Word And The Wild Goose

What is the 'B' word? I vowed I would never mention Brexit in public. In UK and beyond it foments civil strife among friends and strangers alike - though now everyone is war weary.

Is  the 'B' word Britain, which might break up, even  though Scotland and its neighbours will still be one island bound by a silver sea that has a shared first language, currency, trade, kin, Christianity and history. Northern Ireland may then leave the Union that has been known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

No, the 'B' word is the name of someone many here have never heard of - Birgitta of Sweden.

Last week Bob and Lyria Normington visited, whom I have not seen for nearly forty years.  They reminded me of something I had quite forgotten. The year before UK voted to join the European Common Market (which morphed into the European Union) I developed a passion that Britons and the wider  world would understand the soul of Europe.  I organised a bus tour that took people to the Taize Community in France, the interntional peace-making centre at Caux, Switzerland, and to Young Christians on the Offensive at Bensheim in Germany.  I also drafted an unpublished manuscript entitled The Soul of Europe. This included chapters on Sergius (Builder of Russia), Wenceslas of Bohemia (Forgiveness in Politics), Joan of Arc (Leaders who Listen to God) and Birgitta of Sweden, a married mother of umpteen children who became a nun and who personally pleaded with a sexually abusive pope to stop behaving like a spoilt child!

Birgitta founded a new style of monastic community at Vadstena, in Sweden, within a Catholic Church which had sold its soul to power politics, and patriarchal abuse.  Following World War Two three devout Catholic political leaders (Germany's Adenauer, France's Robert Schuman and Italy's de Gasperi) had a vision of a just social order inspired by Catholic teaching on the Common Good. Recently Mary McCleese, Ireland's former President and a lay canon theologian at the Vatican, likened her church to a mysogynist empire.  Catholics and others who follow a new monastic way of life can be modern Birgitta's who renew the church from within, and who inspire Europe to live Christ's values.

The day following Bob and Lyria's visit Swedish pilgrim pastor Egil Midtbö brought pilgrims who had walked Saint Cuthbert's Way to our retreat house on Holy Island. He invited me to explore with them how new monastics who follow a way of life can be prophetic signs and help their churches be catalysts to transform wider society

The previous day The USA Wild Goose magazine had popped up on my screen. In this Emily Williams writes in an article 'Ray mentioned the role of contemporary prophets is important for members as well. When I wear my Aidan
and Hilda cross, it often becomes a “visual prophet.” Occasionally friends and strangers ask about it and thus
an opportunity is given to share information about our community.

Posted at 09:10am on 21st August 2019
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