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The Benedictine The

The Benedictine The orderly, well-balanced Benedictine rhythm of life in space, time and communal existence permeated all of Hildegard’s life. The pillars of spiritual life – prayer and work, study and spiritual reading, solitude and communal living – formed her every thought and action and was at the root of all of her work and ministry. Hildegard’s life and daily routine, like that of all nuns and monks, was defined by the Scriptures. In a monastery, liturgy regulates the course of the day; prayer times punctuate the varied tasks. This fosters composure and concentration, and helps us to view everything before God and in his gaze and to focus on the essential. In doing so, all things become connected and reciprocally interrelated. For Hildegard, the Benedictine canon of values – love of God and love of man, attentiveness and readiness to listen, reverence and hospitality, compassion and benevolence, liberty and constancy, peace and responsibility, centeredness and moderation, gratitude and humility – is the foundation on which she stands and the source from which she draws. In that sense she is a true Benedictine saint and a witness to the undiminished fascination and ever new reality of this concept of life. Saint Hildegard was profoundly shaped by Benedictine thought. From this she drew strength for her prophetic mission. In this was rooted the strength to proclaim her faith – 900 years ago, as today. For me it is a gift of God’s graces that of all the popes it was the one that bears the name of our founding father Benedict, who proclaimed Hildegard a Doctor of the Church. Edeltraud Forster OSB Abbess em., Abbey of St Hildegard The first light of day marks the devout words of apostolic teaching, but the dawn of day shows the beginning of the (monastic) way of life, which first originated in the desert and in caves; but then the sun shows the particular and well-structured way of my servant Benedict. I have infused him with a glowing fire and taught him (…) because this Benedict is like a second Moses. Hildegard, Liber Scivias Since Saint Benedict wrote his Rule in the fear of God, in charity, love and mercy, nothing must be added to it or removed from it, as it does not lack in anything, since it was written and brought to perfection by the Holy Spirit. Hildegard, Explanations on the Rule of St Benedict, II.3 Edeltraud Foster OSB, Abbess em. and Clementia Killewald OSB, Abbess, the 34th and 35th successors of Saint Hildegard

The Visionary The word ‘vision’ is derived from the Latin word ‘videre’ – to see. From a biblical point of view, to see means more than just the exterior perception of reality. What is meant is a loving discernment, access to an understanding of the essential and ultimately an intuitive vision and cognizance of God. Saint Hildegard was a Benedictine and as such familiar with the Bible, which she studied daily. In prayer and contemplation she received what she herself referred to as an “understanding of the Scriptures”. In consequence, her works were above all holistic interpretations of the Scriptures in a visionary-allegorical form. What is so specific about Hildegard’s visions, which almost all begin with the words “Et vidi” (“And I saw”), can be explained in five steps: What intrinsically is a basic feature of each and every Christian – though for the most part in an unspectacular way – was most exceedingly bestowed upon the seer of the Rhine: the gift and the task not to become fixated on the beautiful and the difficult things of everyday life, not to be confined by one’s limited horizon, not to be absorbed by the major and minor demands of the here and now, but to see further than the end of one’s nose, beyond one’s own existence and to glimpse of the whole of the world and all history. Stephan Ackermann Bishop of Trier p When still a child, Hildegard was called by God in a special way and lived all of her life in a profound closeness to her creator. p In her daily study of the Scriptures, in the light of faith and on the background of her universal learnedness, the mysteries of God revealed themselves to her, p which she saw inwardly in ever new visionary images p wrote down at the behest of God p and then interpreted theologically and spiritually But the visions that I saw, I have not experienced in dreams nor was I asleep or in mental confusion, nor were they heard with the physical ears of the exterior person nor in hidden places, but I received them wide-awake and of sound mind with the eyes and ears of the inner person, in open places according to the will of God. In which way this is happening is very difficult to understand for a corporeal person. Hildegard, Liber Scivias And I have not written these things according to a contrivance of my heart or some other person, but as I have seen and heard them in a heavenly realm and received them by the veiled mysteries of God. Hildegard, Liber Scivias

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