St. Hildegard of Bingen
Abbess, artist, author, composer, mystic, pharmacist, poet, preacher, theologian--where to begin describing this remarkable woman?
Born into a noble family, she was instructed for ten years by the holy woman Blessed Jutta. When Hildegard was 18, she became a Benedictine nun at the Monastery of St. Disibodenberg. Ordered by her confessor to write down the visions that she'd received since the age of three, Hildegard took ten years to write her Scivias (Know the Ways). Pope Eugene III read it and in 1147 encouraged her to continue writing. Her Book of the Merits of Life and Book of Divine Works followed. She wrote over 300 letters to people who sought her advice; she also composed short works on medicine and physiology, and sought advice from contemporaries such as St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
Hildegard's visions caused her to see humans as "living sparks" of God's love, coming from God as daylight comes from the sun. Sin destroyed the original harmony of creation; Christ's redeeming death and resurrection opened up new possibilities. Virtuous living reduces the estrangement from God and others that sin causes.
Like all mystics, she saw the harmony of God's creation and the place of women and men in that. This unity was not apparent to many of her contemporaries.
Hildegard was no stranger to controversy. The monks near her original foundation protested vigorously when she moved her monastery to Bingen, overlooking the Rhine River. She confronted Emperor Frederick Barbarossa for supporting at least three antipopes. Hildegard challenged the Cathars, who rejected the Catholic Church claiming to follow a more pure Christianity.
Between 1152 and 1162, Hildegard often preached in the Rhineland. Her monastery was placed under interdict because she had permitted the burial of a young man who had been excommunicated. She insisted that he had been reconciled with the Church and had received its sacraments before dying. Hildegard protested bitterly when the local bishop forbade the celebration of or reception of the Eucharist at the Bingen monastery, a sanction that was lifted only a few months before her death.
In 2012, Hildegard was canonized and named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict spoke about Hildegard of Bingen during two of his general audiences in September 2010. He praised the humility with which she received God's gifts and the obedience she gave Church authorities. He praised the "rich theological content" of her mystical visions that sum up the history of salvation from creation to the end of time.
Pope Benedict said, "Let us always invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he may inspire in the Church holy and courageous women like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who, developing the gifts they have received from God, make their own special and valuable contribution to the spiritual development of our communities and of the Church in our time."
Hildegard once wrote, "In the year 1141...a fiery light, flashing intensely, came from the open vault of heaven and poured through my whole brain. Like a flame that is hot without burning, it kindled all my heart and all my breast, just as the sun warms anything on which its rays fall. And suddenly I could understand what such books as the Psalter, the Gospels and the other Catholic volumes both of the Old and New Testament actually set forth."
Daily Prayer - 2015-12-17
Dear Lord, you have called me by my name.
Lord, grant me the grace to be free from the excesses of this life.
How am I really feeling? Lighthearted? Heavy-hearted?
The Word of God
Reading 1 Gn 49:2, 8-10
Jacob called his sons and said to them:
Responsorial Psalm PS 72:1-2, 3-4ab, 7-8, 17
R. (see 7) Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel Mt 1:1-17
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
Some thoughts on today's scripture
Jesus you speak to me through the words of the gospels.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
3rd Week of Advent
Justice shall flower in his days. (Psalm 72:7)
Are we there yet? This question, which is a favorite of young children enduring a long journey, is just as appropriate for us as we look at the world around us. Will we ever reach the destination God has promised in Scripture—the peaceful kingdom where there is no injustice, violence, or division, where peace abounds, "till the moon be no more" (Psalm 72:7)?
Psalm 72 is a coronation song expressing the people's hopes that their new king will follow in the footsteps of David, the ideal king. He was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Samuel 13:14) and a powerful warrior who credited God for all his accomplishments and repented wholeheartedly when he had sinned.
As time went on, the kings of Judah strayed further and further from the fidelity of their ancestor David. Many became corrupted by their desire for wealth and power. Only a few paid attention to God's laws or tried to establish the kind of justice envisioned in this psalm—the justice that reaches down to lift up the lowly.
By the time the Psalter was brought together in its final form, the Davidic dynasty was long gone. The last few kings had been too weak to resist the Babylonians and too idolatrous to turn to God for deliverance. As a result, the Jewish people experienced exile, persecution, and occupation. They become keenly aware of the disparity between God's promises and the reality of their present situation.
With inspired hindsight we can see that no human ruler is capable of fulfilling the aspirations expressed in this psalm. Only God can rescue his people from their real oppressors: not war or Babylon or Rome, but sin and Satan and death. Only Jesus, God incarnate, could fulfill the destiny of the chosen people—not by making foreigners "lick the dust" (Psalm 72:9), but by extending salvation to people of every nation (72:17).
We may revere David for his bravery and Solomon for his wisdom, but only Jesus fulfills the antiphon the church prays today:
"O Wisdom, breath of the Most High, pervading and permeating all creation, come and save us!"
Genesis 49:2, 8-10
Son of Abraham
Today's 5minutos ended with the lines: "The scepter of Judah, the scepter that passed from hand to hand and descendant to descendant, arrives to Jesus. But He does it in a new manner, there is a new fruitfulness."
Notice how the scepter was passed on from generation to generation. God's lineage traces us back to Abraham and to Adam and Eve, where they once walked with God in His Holy Presence. Notice how it comes full circle after many generations with Jesus. The scepter He holds is never ending because this man in this lineage never died forever, but only in the body to rise up again and behold the Kingdom of God forever. There were many stories of anguish, torment, and despondent throughout the generations, many of little faith. Yet somehow, they made it. A miracle shown in thousands of years zoomed out. That serves to prove one thing...Emmanuel, God is with us no matter what. He doesn't show Himself very well when we separate from Him, through sin.
We pray the Psalms today "Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever." Right now, for many, their peace has been ripped from them. I led vigil prayers last night for a family. A couple seemed more distraught than others. Where is this so called peace now? Some are suffering the anguish of a divorce right now, where is this so called peace? There are two things I just mentioned: Death, and sin. Because sin is separation, and death is separation. And our Lord stands to reconcile, and the question is, will you join? Will you join this reconciliation effort? I didn't have the words to console the families. I said at the vigil "I want to just say a few words of encouragement, but they are not my own, we heard scriptures tell us to 'Hope In The Lord'" and went off from there. I didn't have words for some divorcing, all I could say was to hunker down in the faith, hold on to Jesus through this storm. And they say they are, but it is only the beginning. So where is this peace our Lord is speaking of? It is with Him. Wherever He is; the Blessed Sacrament, a silent retreat, with Him forever after the first death...the second. Because the first death comes in a full and real baptism, a taking on of Christ. The second death is the death of the body. But He will rise and raises the dead. These are important moments of our lives, especially the moments of fullness. I told the families "cherish those moments we have each other, because we never know how much time we have on earth". What did you do with the moments? I continued "do you sit down with your family and pray? How hard is that?" I know it is hard even for me, a so called devout and faithful follower of Christ. On my desk sits a spanish DVD called "Cristeros". It is a movie about the great persecutions against the Catholics in Mexico not even a century ago. Cristero is not an easy word to translate, i kind of means "Christer" one who does the Christ thing. In a sense, it means a warrior, but in reality it means those that died for Christ. What if we start a movement called "Cristero"? And it required that ultimately, you give up your life...for Christ? I mean, who does that nowadays? Some priests? Some nuns? What about the rest? Who truly does this with all their heart, mind, and soul?
In today's Holy Gospel, the lineage of Jesus is traced from Abraham, the chosen and holy man of God to leave everything and follow God's will. Abraham had to trust in the Lord in Heaven. It took Him through many lows and highs. What's the good of living high if all you see is what is below and you can not get to the rivers and rich valleys...that where the Lord can be found? Then the high is to merely serve for you to see and maybe others to see you. To see you stand out in your faith. To see you not afraid to climb the danger, to accomplish what is atop only to be able to better serve what is below. And what is below is where it's at. Here in reality is where angels and saints would love to be, in your place, in your place of suffering, in your place of loneliness, in your place of vast richness that God reaches to if only yearned for. If you do not understand what this means, then you can not grasp the message of the cross, that of Jesus. What I admire is faithfulness. In today's saint, she persevered, even though the church put her in timeout....she was faithful. We must be faithful and obedient, and above all...grasp for holiness and be what Christ was and is to the world today. Pope Benedict said that Pope John Paul II said of today's saint that she was " A "light for her people and her time":. Now, in the dark, you can be that light. As we await Christ's coming, we can be that light, in hopeful and joyful anticipation. And there is no better way than to already be a Cristero. No need for a full onslaught of persecution, for it is already here. You can not pray. You can not take your family to church. You can not speak openly about your faith. And funny thing is, it's not all just the worldly laws, but evil oppressing it. I want you to be free from this slavery that haunted God's people from the time of Abraham forward and before Abraham. Suddenly, they were ousted. Suddenly, they were ashamed. Suddenly they couldn't pray. Suddenly they were being choked. But Jesus has now entered our lives, and the whole thing of it is to reach out to Him for mercy, holiness, nourishment, and ultimately salvation, complete freedom and peace. No one said this owas going to be easy, but looking right, there is no better way...