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Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) was a theologian, pastoral advisor, poet, monastic manager, composer, homilist, and scientific and medical encyclopedist.

Hildegard, dedicated to religious life at a young age, described being overcome by a fiery light coming from the opened heavens and then 'suddenly tasting the understanding of the exposition of Scripture.' 

Notes from Sanctuary

With visionary powers since her early childhood, 1141 marked a significant turning point, 'crystallizing her sense of being mandated by God to communicate her visions for the enlightenment of the faithful.' From then on, for her entire life, she spoke, wrote, and acted in the voice of the Living Light. [1]

Hildegard responded to letters from nuns and laywomen, bishops and priests, kings and princes. These letters requested her insight about difficulties they all faced.

Hildegard’s powerful work concerning the cosmos and charity allows us not only a glimpse of the function of the universe but insight into the glimmering 'miracle of the Holy Spirit becoming material as it operates in the universe.' Caritas—Charity, the stunning bride of the Spirit is, 'the innermost life-giving part of creation. She 'nourishes all green, brings forth life, is filled with the breath of the Spirit.' [2]

Hildegard gathered her liturgical music into a collection entitled Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum (Symphonia of the harmony of celestial revelations). With over 70 pieces, these works were largely intended for use in the Divine Office, for which most liturgical music was composed, since texts for the Mass were already in place by her time. Hildegard's poetic words are set to haunting music that is unique from the traditional chants of the Office.

Music, the harmonious expression of humanity, 'connects us to the music of cosmic charity, which sings with the stars, planets, and other moving spheres.' [2]

Hildegard, to me, was a woman who put together a system to stay close to the tremendous mystery that the Gospel of John has put us up against in the last five weeks, about how God abides in us and we abide in God.

I guided the group through a contemplative experience of that mystery while listening to Hildegards music. The Practise today was a culmination of all of my experience and best practises.

We began with a Song of Sybil, a liturgical drama, the lyrics of which compose a prophecy describing the Apocalypse, which has been performed at some churches uninterruptedly since medieval times. It was declared a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010. [3]

August 29 Practise


Cant De La Sibilla

O Virtus Sapiente

A dove gazed in - Columba aspexit

Ancient Suite

Vision 1 'The fire of creation'

Below is the transcript of our time together. Once settled into a contemplative state (steps found in August 1st practise here), spend a few minutes at each stage.

Hold the image of yourself sitting there in the pew in your minds eye. Watch yourself sitting there quietly in your pew. Now take that image of yourself sitting there, and pull it into your heart and breathe. Place a little image of you sitting there—into your heart and breathe with that image of you in your own heart.

Now, pull back a little farther in your bird’s eye view, pull back farther and place the Parish, the pre-school, the performing arts school, the neighborhood of oak bay, and then Victoria, all the streets, schools, hospitals and all the people in them, all the relationships there and imagine that, imagine Victoria in your minds eye and hold it there – looking at it with your imagination. And then, put that image of Victoria into your heart, and breathe.

Now pull back further, up farther, bringing all of the west coast – western Canada and some of the pacific rim into your minds eye. All the boats, ships, vessels, whales, trees, moss, ferns, rocks, and insects. All the people, the cars, the trains, the bicycles, or people eating, celebrating, mourning, resting, all the relationships. Now hold this image of the west and look at it, use your imagination to look at it – like a birds eye view. Now take the west and pull it into your heart, and breathe.

Now, pull back further to hold all of Asia, America, Europe, and the rest of earth and its peoples and creatures. All the different kinds of people from all corners of the earth, all the different music, clothing, art, buildings, cultures, the skies, the seas, the lands  all life came to be. All the saints, sinners, the whole human family. Hold all of that in your minds eye. Now pull all of that into your heart, and breathe.

Now, pull back further, until you are in orbit of the earth and you can see the earth. The world. Pull back further until you can see the beautiful earth. Watch its beautiful blues and greens in your minds eye. Now pull the earth as it spins into your heart, and breathe

Now pull back further until the whole solar system is in front of you… Look at the planets as they move in their orbits. See the solar system against the larger backdrop of the cosmos and universe. Hold the solar system in your minds eye. Now bring the solar system into your minds eye. Put it there. And breathe

Now float back, let go and drift, drift back into the unknown of the expanding universe. Now imagine yourself there -in the cosmic harmony of the universe, amongst all the colours, amid the twinkling stars, drift in the vast space, the quiet and vast space. And hold this image in your minds eye. Hold the image of you floating in the universe in your minds eye—hold it there and now, know, that God has pulled you in all this into God’s heart. Rest there. Breathe there. Breathe and rest in God’s heart. You are there.

We are all there, resting and abiding in Gods heart.

This is a painting by Joseph Stella of St. Hildegard. I have it in the room I live in while attending seminary. I compose myself on rough mornings with the help of this painting. I am encouraged with how Hildegard honoured her visions and experiences and made use of them to serve God.



ps. If you want an advanced practise to compliment this experience, send me an email.

[1]  Anne L. Clark, “Hildegard of Bingen,” The Encyclopedia of Christianity (Grand Rapids, MI; Leiden, Netherlands: Wm. B. Eerdmans; Brill, 1999–2003), 546.

[2] Wighard Strehlow, Hildegard Of Bingen's Spiritual Remedies (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2002), 146.

[3] Wikipedia contributors, "The Song of the Sibyl," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,