OREMUS: 17 September 2008

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Tue Sep 16 17:00:00 GMT 2008


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OREMUS for Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Hildegard, Abbess of Bingen, Visionary, 1179

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, O God,
in Christ the walls that divide are broken down,
the chains that enslave are thrown aside,
and we are freed from death and despair
to life and hope,
liberated from hate and war
and empowered to love and seek peace.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever!

An opening canticle may be sung. 

http://www.oremus.org/ocan.html

Psalm 29

Ascribe to the Lord, you gods,*
 ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name;*
 worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters;
   the God of glory thunders;*
 the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;*
 the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendour.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;*
 the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf,*
 and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord splits the flames of fire;
   the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;*
 the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe*
 and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the Lord*
 all are crying, 'Glory!'
The Lord sits enthroned above the flood;*
 the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;*
 the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, O Lord,
   because you have lifted me up*
 and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to you,*
 and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead;*
 you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
Sing to the Lord, you servants of his;*
 give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye,*
 his favour for a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,*
 but joy comes in the morning.
While I felt secure, I said,
   'I shall never be disturbed.*
 You, Lord, with your favour,
   made me as strong as the mountains.'
Then you hid your face,*
 and I was filled with fear.
I cried to you, O Lord;*
 I pleaded with the Lord, saying,
'What profit is there in my blood,
   if I go down to the Pit?*
 will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
'Hear, O Lord, and have mercy upon me;*
 O Lord, be my helper.'
You have turned my wailing into dancing;*
 you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy;
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing;*
 O Lord my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

A Song of the Word of the Lord (Isaiah 55.6-11)

Seek the Lord while he may be found,  
call upon him while he is near; 
Let the wicked abandon their ways,  
and the unrighteous their thoughts; 
Return to the Lord, who will have mercy;  
to our God, who will richly pardon. 
'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,  
neither are your ways my ways,' says the Lord. 
'For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts. 
'As the rain and the snow come down from above,  
and return not again but water the earth, 
'Bringing forth life and giving growth,  
seed for sowing and bread to eat, 
'So is my word that goes forth from my mouth;  
it will not return to me fruitless, 
'But it will accomplish that which I purpose,  
and succeed in the task I gave it.'

Psalm 147:13-end

Alleluia!
Worship the Lord, O Jerusalem;*
 praise your God, O Zion;
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates;*
 he has blessed your children within you.
He has established peace on your borders;*
 he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth,*
 and his word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool;*
 he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
He scatters his hail like bread crumbs;*
 who can stand against his cold?
He sends forth his word and melts them;*
 he blows with his wind and the waters flow.
He declares his word to Jacob,*
 his statutes and his judgements to Israel.
He has not done so to any other nation;*
 to them he has not revealed his judgements.
   Alleluia!

FIRST READING [Job 5:8-18]:

Eliphaz the Temanite continued,
'As for me, I would seek God,
   and to God I would commit my cause.
He does great things and unsearchable,
   marvellous things without number.
He gives rain on the earth
   and sends waters on the fields;
he sets on high those who are lowly,
   and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
He frustrates the devices of the crafty,
   so that their hands achieve no success.
He takes the wise in their own craftiness;
   and the schemes of the wily are brought to a quick end.
They meet with darkness in the daytime,
   and grope at noonday as in the night.
But he saves the needy from the sword of their mouth,
   from the hand of the mighty.
So the poor have hope,
   and injustice shuts its mouth.

'How happy is the one whom God reproves;
   therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he binds up;
   he strikes, but his hands heal. 

HYMN 
Words: O viridissima Virga. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1175)
tr June Boyce-Tillman (b.1943)   Stainer & Bell Ltd
Tune: Gelobt sei Gott

Flourishing branch you bear rich fruit,
answer tradition's quest for truth.
new life that springs from ancient roots,
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Warmth of the sun distilled in you,
glows and makes fragrant blossoms new,
balsam and rose and dusky rue.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Skies drop their dew on rolling fields;
deep in your womb the dark earth yields;
sheltering nests their fledglings shield.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Fine is the flower that grows in you,
dryness is ended, earth made new.
God's creativity breaks through.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Your greening pow'r has borne rich fruit;
from a fine trunk new branches shoot;
firmly they stand on ancient roots.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Earth is rejoicing, now made new;
blossoming power is flowing through;
paradise visions come in view.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

SECOND READING [Matthew 12:31-end]:

Jesus said, 'Therefore I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy,
but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against
the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not
be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

'Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad;
for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good
things, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings
evil things out of an evil treasure. I tell you, on the day of judgement you will have to
give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be
justified, and by your words you will be condemned.'

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him, 'Teacher, we wish to see a sign
from you.' But he answered them, 'An evil and adulterous generation asks for a sign,
but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah
was for three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days
and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth. The people of
Nineveh will rise up at the judgement with this generation and condemn it, because
they repented at the proclamation of Jonah, and see, something greater than Jonah is
here! The queen of the South will rise up at the judgement with this generation and
condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of
Solomon, and see, something greater than Solomon is here!

'When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it wanders through waterless
regions looking for a resting-place, but it finds none. Then it says, "I will return to my
house from which I came." When it comes, it finds it empty, swept, and put in order.
Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter
and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also
with this evil generation.'

While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing
outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, 'Look, your mother and your
brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.' But to the one who had told
him this, Jesus replied, 'Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And pointing
to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the
will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'

The Benedictus (Morning), 
the Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

Prayer:
We pray for the use of God's gifts to his Church, saying
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy, hear us

God our Father,
you give us gifts that we may work together
in the service of your Son:
Bless those who lead,
that they may be firm in faith, 
yet humble before you.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us.

Bless those who teach,
that they may increase our understanding,    
and be open to your word for them:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who minister healing,
that they may bring wholeness to other, 
yet know your healing in themselves:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those through whom you speak,
that they may proclaim your word in power,
yet have their ears open to your gentle whisper:
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who work in your world today
that they may live for you, fulfil your purposes,
and seek your kingdom first
in the complexity of their daily lives.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

Bless those who feel they have no gifts and are not valued,
and those who are powerless by the world's standards,
that they may share their experience
of the work of your Spirit.
Jesus, Lord of your Church:
in your mercy hear us. 

No creature has meaning
without the Word of God.
God's Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.
The Word is living, being,
spirit, all verdant greening,
all creativity.
This Word flashes out in
every creature.
This is how the spirit is in
the flesh the Word is indivisible from God.

Most glorious and holy God,
whose servant Hildegard, strong in the faith,
was caught up in the vision of your heavenly courts:
by the breath of your Spirit
open our eyes to glimpse your glory
and our lips to sing your praises with all the angels;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
       
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Let your peace, O God,
fill our hearts, our world, our universe. Amen.

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The psalms are from _Celebrating Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The
Society of Saint Francis 1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer uses phrases from a hymn by Walter Farquahrson and a prayer by
Satish Kumar. The closing prayer uses a sentence from the same prayer by Kumar. 

Hymn (c) by Stainer & Bell Ltd. (admin. by Hope Publishing Co., Carol Stream, IL 
60188). All rights reserved.  Used by permission. For permission to reproduce this hymn,
contact: In US & Canada:  Hope Publishing Company, 
www.hopepublishing.com
Rest of the World:  Stainer & Bell Ltd., 
www.stainer.co.uk

The intercession is from _Patterns for Worship_, material from which is
included in this service is copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 1995.

The first collect is by Hildegard of Bingen and the second collect is from _Common
Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England_, material from which is
included in this service is
copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2000.

"Listen: there was once a king sitting on his throne. Around him stood great
and wonderfully beautiful columns ornamented with ivory, bearing the banners
of the king with great honor. Then it pleased the king to raise a small feather
from the ground, and he commanded it to fly. The feather flew, not because of
anything in itself but because the air bore it along. Thus am I, a feather on the
breath of God."
Hildegard of Bingen has been called by her admirers "one of the most
important figures in the history of the Middle Ages," and "the greatest woman
of her time." Her time was the 1100's (she was born in 1098), the century of
Eleanor of Aquitaine, of Peter Abelard and Bernard of Clairvaux, of the rise of
the great universities and the building of Chartres cathedral. She was the
daughter of a knight, and when she was eight years old she went to the
Benedictine monastery at Mount St Disibode to be educated. The monastery
was in the Celtic tradition, and housed both men and women (in separate
quarters). When Hildegard was eighteen, she became a nun. Twenty years
later, she was made the head of the female community at the monastery. Within
the next four years, she had a series of visions, and devoted the ten years from
1140 to 1150 to writing them down, describing them (this included drawing
pictures of what she had seen), and commenting on their interpretation and
significance. During this period, Pope Eugenius III sent a commission to
inquire into her work. The commission found her teaching orthodox and her
insights authentic, and reported so to the Pope, who sent her a letter of
approval. (He was probably encouraged to do so by his friend and former
teacher, Bernard of Clairvaux.) She wrote back urging the Pope to work
harder for reform of the Church.
The community of nuns at Mount St. Disibode was growing rapidly, and they
did not have adequate room. Hildegard accordingly moved her nuns to a
location near Bingen, and founded a monastery for them completely
independent of the double monastery they had left. She oversaw its
construction, which included such features (not routine in her day) as water
pumped in through pipes. The abbot they had left opposed their departure, and
the resulting tensions took a long time to heal.
Hildegard travelled throughout southern Germany and into Switzerland and as
far as Paris, preaching. Her sermons deeply moved the hearers, and she was
asked to provide written copies. In the last year of her life, she was briefly in
trouble because she provided Christian burial for a young man who had been
excommunicated. Her defense was that he had repented on his deathbed, and
received the sacraments. Her convent was subjected to an interdict, but she
protested eloquently, and the interdict was revoked. She died on 17 September
1179. Her surviving works include more than a hundred letters to emperors
and popes, bishops, nuns, and nobility. She wrote 72 songs including a play set
to music. Musical notation had only shortly before developed to the point
where her music was recorded in a way that we can read today. Accordingly,
some of her work is now available on compact disk, and presumably sounds
the way she intended. My former room-mate, a non-Christian and a
professional musician, is an enthusiastic admirer of her work and considers her
a musical genius. Certainly her compositional style is like nothing else we have
from the twelfth century. The play set to music is called the Ordo Virtutum and
show us a human soul who listens to the Virtues, turns aside to follow the
Devil, and finally returns to the Virtues, having found that following the Devil
does not make one happy.
She left us about seventy poems and nine books. Two of them are books of
medical and pharmaceutical advice, dealing with the workings of the human
body and the properties of various herbs. (These books are based on her
observations and those of others, not on her visions.) I am told that some
modern researchers are now checking her statements in the hope of finding
some medicinal properties of some plant that has been overlooked till now by
modern medicine. She also wrote a commentary on the Gospels and another on
the Athanasian Creed. Much of her work has recently been translated into
English, part in series like Classics of Western Spirituality, and part in other
collections or separately. 
But her major works are three books on theology: Scivias ("Know the
paths!"),
Liber Vitae Meritorum (on ethics), and De Operatione Dei. They deal (or at
least the first and third do) with the material of her visions. The visions, as she
describes them, are often enigmatic but deeply moving, and many who have
studied them believe that they have learned something from the visions that is
not easily put into words.
Her use of parable and metaphor, of symbols, visual imagery, and non-verbal
means to communicate makes her work reach out to many who are totally deaf
to more standard approaches. In particular, non-Western peoples are often
accustomed to expressing their views of the world in visionary language, and
find that Hildegard's use of similar language to express a Christian view of
reality produces instant rapport, if not necessarily instant agreement.
Hildegard wrote and spoke extensively about social justice, about freeing the
downtrodden, about the duty of seeing to it that every human being, made in
the image of God, has the opportunity to develop and use the talents that God
has given him, and to realize his God-given potential. This strikes a chord
today.
Hildegard wrote explicitly about the natural world as God's creation, charged
through and through with His beauty and His energy; entrusted to our care, to
be used by us for our benefit, but not to be mangled or destroyed. [James
Kiefer, abridged]



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