Monthly Archives: December 2012

Hildegard of Bingen: Celibacy is Green: (Part 2)

Hildegard of Bingen (sehildegard 4e previous blog of 14/12/12 ) wrote of celibate women:

By their purity of purpose, these women have overcome their vain, empty unpredictable desires. Through their passionate love for the true Son, they have ascended to that level beyond the confines of prescribed laws and now they breathe a new air, an air pure beyond the clarity of the purest water; and they shine with radiance beyond the radiant glory of the sun. In the green life of their virginity and in the blossoming of body and spirit, these women have revealed their sweetest longings. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, they have been filled with the fragrance and power of many virtues. And now they feel the breath of a new air, air that breathes the fresh green force of all the herbs and flowers of earth and paradise; air that is filled with the fragrance of life-giving power, just as the summer is filled with the perfume of green plants and flowers.” (The Wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen)green 1

It’s easy to be cynical of words like this: the medieval way of thinking is certainly quite distant from our own. But aren’t they positive, reaching upwards and not inwards, revealing the need to live supernaturally, in touch with God? Don’t they paint a picture of celibates fulfilled in their union with God and satiated by the life He brings?

Hildegard thought green … abundant, verdant, well-watered, God-breathed life  … O to feel the breath of a new, pure air, air that breathes the fresh green force .. air filled with life-giving power ... the Holy Spirit. How we need Him and the abundant life He brings!

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Posted by on Fri 21st Dec 2012 in Historical, Quotes


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Hildegard of Bingen [1098-1179] Celibacy is Green! (Part 1)

What greater praise can I give you than to call you green?’

hildegard 2This Saturday is Accelerate (women’s training day in the Jesus Fellowship). Following the traffic light theme, we’ve already had ‘red’ and ‘amber’ days so now it’s ‘green’ day for ‘go’ – ‘ready for action!’

But, you know, Hildegard of Bingen loved the colour green and she is one of my heroes so we had to invite her to step into our day somewhere! We’re going to have a presentation on her life and dress our Coventry Jesus Centre in ‘living green.’

Yes, Hildegard, she’s got a lot to say to us women, whether single or married.

Hildegard, described as “one of the most remarkable woman of the Middle Ages,”* was born in Bermersheim in Rheinhessen, Germany, in 1098. She was the tenth child of a noble family and her father was a soldier.

At the age of eight she began to be trained and educated by a nun called Jutta who lived nearby in a Benedictine monastery in Disobodenberg. Others soon joined them and, at 15, Hildegard became a Benedictine nun.

Jutta died in 1136 and Hildegard, with her deep love for God and creative leadership ability, was elected the new leader of the community. In 1150 she left Disobodenberg to found a new community in Rupertsberg near Bingen. Fifteen years later, a daughter house at Eibingen was established nearby.

When Hildegard was about forty, she felt God tell her to dictate to someone what she had learned about Him and the quality of life He longs to bring. (She could read but never learned to write.) Although reluctant at first, her works began to be circulated and she found crowds of people flocking to her for advice and help. Some were local but others came from more distant parts of Europe. She became spiritual advisor to many of the leading religious and political figures of the day, corresponding with kings and queens, abbots and abbesses as well as ordinary people. She began travelling extensively whilst still continuing to lead her two communities.

Hildegard’s energy and vision led her into many fields: she authored works on medicine and natural science and composed music. She painted her visions and wrote poetry. She even invented a new language which was a mixture of Latin and German!

At the centre, and fuelling Hildegard’s great industry and love of life, was her profound love for Jesus, which found expression in her celibate gifting. To her, Jesus has not come primarily to take away the old life but to gift us with abundant, new life. For her, the celibate life is always meant to be vibrant and ‘green’, not life denying and ‘grey.’ In her writings she makes much of the subject of greenness, drawing her inspiration from the fresh and verdant life that is manifest in God’s creation. To her, celibates are the jewel of God’s glorious creation.

Hildegard wrote that celibacy has at its core a passionate love for Jesus and, through this love, celibates can experience life on a higher plain and not continually be dominated by natural pleasures and loves. Celibates need not dwindleHildegard but blossom and positively shine and radiate God’s love and life as they are acquainted and filled with the Holy Spirit.

 Although suffering from ill health all her life, Hildegard lived to be eighty. The test of true greatness in spiritual writers is that both their life example and their works stand the test of time and have something to say to every generation. This is certainly true of Hildegard of Bingen.

*The Penguin Dictionary of saints, Donald Attwater.)

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Posted by on Fri 14th Dec 2012 in Historical


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A Celibate’s Love – Love and Serve All Whom God Loves

connerpaul_2006tnA celibate’s love is freed from  commitment to one or a few people and so is opened to all. Not only can he better love the Lord; he can also better love and serve all whom God loves. With greater ease he prays for all and gives himself to the apostolic work that the Lord Himself would want to do for them.

Paul Conner. Celibate Love. Sheed & Ward, London 1979.

Paul Conner is currently Associate Professor of Theology at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.

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Posted by on Thu 6th Dec 2012 in Quotes


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