8 November 2012
All of Creation-a Symphony of Joy
This “illumination” bequeathed to me by my sister, Catherine, RSM, hangs in my bedroom since 1984. The art, attributed to Hildegard of Bingen and the saying “All of Creation is a symphony of joy and jubilation” are very special to me. I don’t know what was in Hildegard’s mind, but to me they speak of the interconnectedness of all life, of the centrality of the Eucharist, our call to be one in mission, always centered in the God of Mercy and reaching out in “mercy unto thousands”. It was not until a few weeks ago that I focused on the artist- Hildegard—declared a Saint in May of this year and as of October 7, named a Doctor of the Church---the latest of four Women Doctors.
Why was this German Benedictine Abbess given this high honor by Pope Benedict XVI? My research mostly on the internet, gave me many interesting insights into Hildegard’s story. She “received the Light”. She read the signs of her time, spoke her Truth with such strength and purpose that even the twelfth- century church had to respect her divinely inspired wisdom. “Drive the heretics out of the church”, she wrote,” but do not kill them at all, for they are made as we/you are in the image of God.” We know what her thinking on the death penalty would be!
For Hildegard the key to creative flourishing is cultivating moderation and balance. The virtue of discretio is about discerning the right path, not being overburdened or overworked so that we are stretched too thin and joy is lost. The principle of viriditas was a phrase Hildegard coined to describe the life greening energy of God present in and sustaining all creation---“earth wears her green vigor”. I was particularly touched by Dr. Nancy Fierro’s poem Viriditas, based on the thoughts of Hildegard. I am grateful for Dr. Fierro’s gracious permission to use it here.
(Dr. Nancy Fierro, living in Culver City, CA, is a noted pianist, recording artist and educator. Performing nationally and internationally, she is a specialist in the life and work of Hildegard and author of the book “Hildegard of Bingen and her Vision of the Feminine”)
“There is a power that has been here since all eternity
and that force and potentiality is green.” Hildegard of Bingen
Viriditas, gift of God
Health, wholeness and holiness
Igniting the world into being
Illuminating all creatures,
Giving them color and vigor.
Root of growth
Proliferation of spring
Making grasses laugh
And flowers blossom
Joy of youthfulness
Zest of the aging
Energy of the heart loving
And the imagination creating
Fragrance of a life lived with compassion and justice
Green sap of the tree of life, drenched in the sun
Exuberant fountain flowing from the Living Light
Bright power of the Luminous Word born from the greenest branch
Grace and healing tonic of the Holy Spirit
Divine Wisdom’s sweet exhalation.
c. Nancy Fierro
Hildegard’s wisdom continues to shimmer brightly across eight centuries. May we catch the beams in this Year of Faith and in our Provincial Chapters and may our lives be fragrant always with Compassion and Justice.
Mary Frances Coleman, RSM