Meet Hildegard of Bingen

A brief introduction to the person and personality of one of the greatest ladies of the Catholic Church.

 

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We can know God.

Born in 1098, Hildegard of Bingen, a sickly child born of nobility was given at the age of eight to Jutta of Sponheim for care in a hermitage as an oblate of St. Benedict. At Jutta’s death, Hildegard was elected abbess. Attracted to her greatness and sanctity, the convent overflowed with vocations and she went to establish two new monasteries.

Her early education was poor, but she was instructed in Latin enough to chant the Psalms. Here and in the Church she met the Lord. He granted her visions from an early age. After revealing them to her spiritual director, she was instructed to write them all down. These visions were approved as being from God by Church authorities. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux encouraged her. Pope Eugene III authorized her to write and speak in public.

She wrote books on theology and mysticism, medicine and natural sciences. We have 400 of her letters, addressed to simple people, to religious communities, popes, bishops and the civil authorities of her time. She composed sacred music.

In his letter proclaiming her Doctor of the Church, Pope Benedict wrote, “The corpus of her writings, for their quantity, quality and variety of interests, is unmatched by any other female author of the Middle Ages.”

Hildegard died at the age of 81. It took 800 years for her to be formally elevated by the Church.

 

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In the great canon of her work, she spoke of the reciprocal relationship between men and women, the complementarity, and contrasted with other traditions, did not blame women for the fall. Her writings acknowledged the hylomorphic reality: that we are created body and soul, and body and soul will be involved in our search for God.

Summarizing her teaching, Pope Benedict continued: Hildegard asks herself and us the fundamental question, whether it is possible to know God: This is theology’s principal task. Her answer is completely positive: through faith, as through a door, the human person is able to approach this knowledge. God, however, always retains his veil of mystery and incomprehensibility. He makes himself understandable in creation but, creation itself is not fully understood when detached from God. Indeed, nature considered in itself provides only pieces of information which often become an occasion for error and abuse. Faith, therefore, is also necessary in the natural cognitive process, for otherwise knowledge would remain limited, unsatisfactory and misleading.

Creation is an act of love by which the world can emerge from nothingness. Hence, through the whole range of creatures, divine love flows as a river. Of all creatures God loves man in a special way and confers upon him an extraordinary dignity, giving him that glory which the rebellious angels lost.

… man, of course, is the creature who can answer the voice of the Creator with his own voice. And this can happen in two ways: in voce oris, that is, in the celebration of the liturgy, and in voce cordis, that is, through a virtuous and holy life.

…In this regard, the most precise description of the human creature is that of someone on a journey, homo viator. On this pilgrimage towards the homeland, the human person is called to a struggle in order constantly to choose what is good and avoid evil.

Meet Edith Stein

A brief introduction to the person and personality of one of the greatest ladies of the Catholic Church.

 

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During her beatification, John Paul II described Edith Stein as  “A personality who united within her rich life a dramatic synthesis of our century. It was a synthesis of a history full of deep wounds that are still hurting…and also the synthesis of the full truth about man. All this came together in a single heart that remained restless and unfulfilled until it finally found rest in God.”

Biographical accounts will tell you, Edith Stein was born in Breslau, Poland to a Jewish family on 12 October 1891, the youngest of 11 children.

The major events of his life were: the death of her father when she was two years old; the loss of faith at age 14; regaining her faith in adulthood; the completion of her doctorate, summa cum laude, in 1917, after writing a thesis on “The Problem of Empathy”; entry into the Catholic Church on January 1, 1922; joining the Carmelite Convent of Cologne on October 14; making her final vows April 21, 1938; her arrest by the Gestapo on August 2, 1942 and deportation to Auschwitz with 987 Jews; and her death seven days later in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. She was beatified in 1987 and canonized on October 11, 1998.

 

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But what can we learn by meeting Edith Stein?

God does not ask us to leave behind who we are at our core when he calls us to him. Rather he deepens and enhances the skills and gifts with which he created us.

On the exterior, Edith was an avid student, a brilliant philosopher, a feminist, a Jew, a Roman Catholic, a Carmelite nun.

Interiorly, the question of the suffering ran throughout the fabric of her life. In her early life, prayer seemed irrelevant to life’s challenges. It was a meeting with a young woman that radically altered Edith’s understanding of life. She described this moment, “This was my first encounter with the Cross and the divine power it imparts to those who bear it … it was the moment when my unbelief collapsed and Christ began to shine his light on me – Christ in the mystery of the Cross.”

 

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Despite obstacles in her scholarship (she was first denied a professorship because she was a woman, then later, because she was a Jew) she learned that it was possible to pursue scholarship as a service to God. God would draw her deeper into the world rather than ask her to retreat from it.

Edith presented in herself a desire to carry the cross for those who had not met the all-encompassing love of Christ. Like Queen Ester, taken from her people in order to represent them before the King. After many years absent from prayer, she wrote she “did not begin to feel Jewish again until I had returned to God” through the Catholic Church.

Let us reflect on her words:

“God is there in these moments of rest and can give us in a single instant exactly what we need. Then the rest of the day can take its course, under the same effort and strain, perhaps, but in peace. And when night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed: just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands and leave it with Him. Then you will be able to rest in Him — really rest — and start the next day as a new life.”

Photojournalism Tips in my Notebook that Celebrate Small Town Life

Sharing with you my photos of the week (viii)

Last season I rediscovered the joy of using the local library. While it is an excellent source for Anne of Green Gables, some of its offerings are a little out-dated, though not useless!

Checking out Photojournalism: A Professional’s Approach, I learned a thing or two which I am learning to apply to my photographs. Combined with the wisdom of How to Style Your Brand and the deliciously laid out Brand Brilliance (not found at my library), stride might just be in the making.

1. Let your photograph tell a story.

Kyle Casey of Casey Music Service assists you with all things music. Educate: private music lessons. Restore: bringing those instruments back to glory through tunings and repair. Create: custom wind chimes for the music lover.

There should be enough elements in the photograph to tell you as much of the “who, what, when, where and how” as possible. Bonus branding points if your photograph includes the colors associated with your business in marketing photographs.

From here, we know this guy (my husband and owner of Casey Music Service) tunes pianos, works in people’s homes, doesn’t kill plants, uses a cell phone while he works but still with foreign-looking tools. We know he can hear and his hearing is required for his work (or he is blind but then that type of phone might not be as helpful).

Digital programs replaced the tuning fork but piano tuning still requires a good ear. Kyle Casey of Casey Music Service assists you with all things music. Educate: private music lessons. Restore: bringing those instruments back to glory through tunings and repair. Create: custom wind chimes for the music lover

2.Take an overall shot, an action shot and a detail shot of the story you are telling.

Even if you do not use all three, it frames them in our mind for your project.

Young Ladies Institute (YLI), a Catholic women's organization celebrates unity, sisterly love and protection (looking out for each other) in a world when most of our connections are losing their real-life touch.

3. Climb on the chair.

To get the right photograph you might need to stand on a chair, a table or lay on the ground. It depends on what you’re aiming for.

Young Ladies Institute (YLI), a Catholic women's organization celebrates unity, sisterly love and protection (looking out for each other) in a world when most of our connections are losing their real-life touch.

 

At the YLI 3rd Sunday of Lent Mass and Breakfast, it did not get too complicated and only a little disruptive to the people whose cookies I stole in order to take this picture.

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4. When you believe in your subject, it shows.

Photography is art. It is a skill that can be learned, but like the copy it accompanies, when you truly care, truly want to celebrate the accomplishments of the subjects, that love comes through. Here, celebrating Small Town Life, we have two boys going off to play in the World Series of the Little League…and they couldn’t be more excited.

Please note Photojournalism: A Professional’s Approach was a remarkable book but it does have explicit images. Approach with caution and away from little ones.