Inspire. May.

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I know we’re a little late with our inspiration, but May has been both inspiriing and challenging. When I decided to share my inspiration received from St. Hildegard of Bingen, I needed some quotes. Then I went to a workshop about her. Then I thought I’d add a picture, and here we are.

Friday Food will continue to be delayed but I expect it to be published within the next seven days, despite the end of May creeping upon us.

“To sense each creature singing the hymn of existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

“Humanity: take a good look at yourself. Inside, you have heaven and earth and all of creation. You are a world. Everything is hidden within.”

St. Hildegard of Bingen

Last week I had the privilege of attending the first of three explorations of Catholic mystics, Hildegard of Bingen; the other two are St. Catherine D’Ricci and St. Julian of Norwich. I have long been intrigued by St. Hildegard, both because of her strong personality at a time when that was frowned upon in women as well as her body of work in a plethora of fields.

“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

St. Hildegard

Her words from the 16th century are equally true today for us as they were then; perhaps moreso. Her words of advice remain a strong reminder that we remain brave and strong, and in control.

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”

St. Hildegard

Like St. Julian of Norwich (whose feast day was last Friday) and Thomas Merton, a mystic from our own time, Hildegard’s words strike out at us because they are prescient and so relevant to us in modern times. She has said things over five hundred years ago that when repeated today feel as fresh and new as a spring rain.

In searching for a definition to give you on what is Catholic mysticism, the best one I found is best included verbatim from America Magazine: Mysticism, broadly defined, is the transcendent experience of an encounter with God. For Catholic mystics like Julian, Hildegard von Bingen, St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, it takes the form of a vision. For others, it is akin to the “still, small voice,” a moment of encounter with the ineffable that becomes transformational to their spiritual lives. [Kaya Oakes, 12/17/20]

Hildegard of Bingen was not only a mystic, an independent Abbess, a healer, musician, and a preacher and prophet, she was also a prolific writer and artist of books, hymns, music, inspiration, and art. Green was a verb. It was said to be greening in springtime. The word Hildegard used was viriditas. She said, “the entire world has been embraced by the Creator’s kiss.

In her work, Scivias, she wrote: “Singing summons the Holy Spirit.” It is said that our deepest connection to G-d is through music. Scivias was the result of the command to write down her visions, which had just begun, and thus command was accompanied by a blinding of the vision. She became the first female prophetess acknowledged by the RC Church.

She had horrible health, but a great scientific mind. She wrote two medical books that were ahead of their times. Her times relied on herbs and plants, concoctions and salves. “All nature serves humanity and supplies its treasures in love and joy.” Nature is all around us, to use and to take care of.

I found an interesting website that I want to explore further: Hildegarden.

She said, “…the waters flow as if they were alive,” but she also said, “Drink beer for health.” This may sound a bit odd, but in her day water wasn’t particularly safe to drink. Because of how beer (and wine) was made, it was healthier than water to drink.

She was excommunicated at the age of 79 and her monastery went under interdict – no masses, no burials, no confession taken. Up until then, she had lived in relative independence as the head of the monastery. Abbesses carried croziers and had the authority to take confession. It was eventually reversed and she did die in grace.

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI wanted to declare her a Doctor of the Church, but wasn’t able because she wasn’t yet a saint. She was canonized on May 10, 2012 and declared a Doctor on October 7, 2012. It just shows that sometimes we think things are true and they’re just not true yet.

“Focus on love’s splendid garden. Gather the flowers of humility and simplicity of soul. Study G-d’s patience. Keep your eyes open.”

St. Hildegard

There was a healing garden years and years prior to Hildegard’s monastery being built on that spot.

St. Hildegard of Bingen inspired. Original art. (c)2022

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