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St. Hildegard of Bingen

St. Hildegard’s Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Fire of the Spirit, life of the lives of creatures,
spiral of sanctity, bond of all natures,
glow of charity, lights of clarity, taste
of sweetness to sinners, be with us and hear us.

Composer of all things, light of all the risen,
key of salvation, release from the dark prison,
hope of all unions, scope of chastities, joy
in the glory, strong honour, be with us and hear us.
Amen.

St Hildegard of Bingen

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Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is a most attractive person with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, a keen intellect and good zeal of a Benedictine nun. Knowing her history you would say she is a polymath. She said once, “There is the Music of Heaven in all things, and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing.”

For many years it was hoped that Hildegard would be officially raised to the altar and be declared a Doctor of the Church. In deed, it was Pope Benedict who gave the Church this supreme gift of this saintly woman a witness to the new evangelization. Benedict stated:

In Saint Hildegard of Bingen there is a wonderful harmony between teaching and daily life. In her, the search for God’s will in the imitation of Christ was expressed in the constant practice of virtue, which she exercised with supreme generosity and which she nourished from biblical, liturgical and patristic roots in the light of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Her persevering practice of obedience, simplicity, charity and hospitality was especially visible. In her desire to belong completely to the Lord, this Benedictine Abbess was able to bring together rare human gifts, keen intelligence and an ability to penetrate heavenly realities.

Hildegard’s eminent doctrine echoes the teaching of the Apostles, the Fathers and writings of her own day, while it finds a constant point of reference in the Rule of Saint Benedict. The monastic liturgy and the interiorization of sacred Scripture are central to her thought which, focusing on the mystery of the Incarnation, is expressed in a profound unity of style and inner content that runs through all her writings.

The teaching of the holy Benedictine nun stands as a beacon for homo viator. Her message appears extraordinarily timely in today’s world, which is especially sensitive to the values that she proposed and lived. For example, we think of Hildegard’s charismatic and speculative capacity, which offers a lively incentive to theological research; her reflection on the mystery of Christ, considered in its beauty; the dialogue of the Church and theology with culture, science and contemporary art; the ideal of the consecrated life as a possibility for human fulfilment; her appreciation of the liturgy as a celebration of life; her understanding of the reform of the Church, not as an empty change of structure but as conversion of heart; her sensitivity to nature, whose laws are to be safeguarded and not violated.

For these reasons the attribution of the title of Doctor of the Universal Church to Hildegard of Bingen has great significance for today’s world and an extraordinary importance for women. In Hildegard are expressed the most noble values of womanhood: hence the presence of women in the Church and in society is also illumined by her presence, both from the perspective of scientific research and that of pastoral activity. Her ability to speak to those who were far from the faith and from the Church make Hildegard a credible witness of the new evangelization.

(Pope Benedict XVI, 7 October 2012)

Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg

Until I read somewhere else today, I never heard of Blessed Jutta of Disibodenberg (c. 1084-1136), a German noble woman, an anchoress, and the teacher of children, especially Saint Hildegaard of Bingen.

Blessed Jutta’s history says that taught female students from wealthy families at her hermitage. She taught and raised them all, most notably the child Hildegard of Bingen.

Jutta was known for her sanctity and her life of extraordinary penance; Justta was known as a healer.

On the Day of All Saints, November 1, 1112, Hildegard was given over as a Benedictine oblate into the care of Jutta. It was Jutta who taught Hildegard to write; to read the psalms used in the Liturgy;  to chant the recitation of the Canonical hours. She probably also taught Hildegard to play the zither-like string instrument called the psaltery.

Saint Hildegaard of Bingen, succeeded Jutta as abbess; Benedict XVI named Hildegard a Doctor of the Church and we would make the claim that she owes her fundamental knowledge of life to Blessed Jutta. Let us pray for those who were our first teachers of life and faith.

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

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God our Father, who by sending into the world the Word of truth and the Spirit of sanctification made known to the human race your wondrous mystery, grant us, we pray, that in professing the true faith, we may acknowledge the Trinity of eternal glory and adore your Unity, powerful in majesty. 


For many preachers don’t handle the “idea feast” of the Most Holy Trinity. Their method is typically confused. Admittedly, the theology of the Trinity is not well represented in sacred Scripture in a direct way. You have to be able to read and interpret the indications given by Revelation. You can also read what the theologians have said, but you also may go to the poets and musicians (see the previous post today) but we have other spirited people like the saints. A reflection from Saint Hildegard of Bingen, last Doctor of the Church may shed some light on how we relate to this sublime of Mysteries. I happen to think that the saints and many artists are more successful in teaching some complexities of our faith, for example, a triune God but one.


 Before time, all creatures were in the Father. He organized them in himself and afterwards the Son created them in fact. How is that to be understood? It is similar to the situation among human beings when one carries the knowledge of a great work in herself and then later through her word brings it to the light of day, so that it comes into the world with great acclaim. The Father puts things in order; the Son causes them to be…The Holy Spirit streams through and ties together ‘eternity’ and ‘equality’ so that they are one. This is like when someone ties a bundle together – for there would be no bundle if it weren’t tied together; everything would fall apart. Or it is like when a smith welds two pieces of metal together in a fire as one…The Holy Spirit is the firmness and the aliveness. Without the Holy Spirit eternity would not be eternity. Without the Holy Spirit equality would not be equality. The Holy Spirit is in both, and one with both of them in the Godhead. The one God.”

Two new Doctors of the Church

procession-of-st-hildegards-relics-2012Today, the Holy Father proclaimed two new Doctors of the Church, the highest honor for saints because of their exemplary lives and insightful doctrine.

Saint Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is the fourth woman Doctor of the Church. Saint Hildegard was a 12th century German  Benedictine nun, writer, composer, philosopher, polymath, and mystic. The sainted abbess was also the founder of several monasteries. On 10 May 2012, Pope Benedict formally proclaimed her a saint by an equivalent of canonization, and therefore added her to the Church’s roster of saints (Roman Martyrology) extending her liturgical feast throughout the world.

Pope Benedict also proclaimed Saint John of Avila (1500-1569), a Doctor of the Church. He’s known as the Apostle of Andalusia, priest, reformer, educator, mystic, author, and patron of the early Carmelite Reform and the Jesuits.

May Saints Hildegard and John of Avila bless the work of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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