OREMUS: 17 September 2010

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Thu Sep 16 17:00:01 GMT 2010

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OREMUS for Friday, September 17, 2010
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. 


Psalm 86

Bow down your ear, O Lord, and answer me,*
 for I am poor and in misery.
Keep watch over my life, for I am faithful;*
 save your servant who trusts in you.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for you are my God;*
 I call upon you all the day long.
Gladden the soul of your servant,*
 for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,*
 and great is your love towards all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer,*
 and attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the time of my trouble I will call upon you,*
 for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord,*
 nor anything like your works.
All nations you have made
   will come and worship you, O Lord,*
 and glorify your name.
For you are great; you do wondrous things;*
 and you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
   and I will walk in your truth;*
 knit my heart to you that I may fear your name.
I will thank you, O Lord my God, with all my heart,*
 and glorify your name for evermore.
For great is your love towards me;*
 you have delivered me from the nethermost Pit.
The arrogant rise up against me, O God,
   and a violent band seeks my life;*
 they have not set you before their eyes.
But you, O Lord, are gracious and full of compassion,*
 slow to anger and full of kindness and truth.
Turn to me and have mercy upon me;*
 give your strength to your servant;
   and save the child of your handmaid.
Show me a sign of your favour,
   so that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed;*
 because you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Psalm 87

On the holy mountain stands the city he has founded;*
 the Lord loves the gates of Zion
   more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are spoken of you,*
 O city of our God.
I count Egypt and Babylon among those who know me;*
 behold Philistia, Tyre and Ethiopia:
   in Zion were they born.
Of Zion it shall be said, 'Everyone was born in her,*
 and the Most High himself shall sustain her.'
The Lord will record as he enrols the peoples,*
 'These also were born there.'
The singers and the dancers will say,*
 'All my fresh springs are in you.'

Psalm 88

O Lord, my God, my Saviour,*
 by day and night I cry to you.
Let my prayer enter into your presence;*
 incline your ear to my lamentation.
For I am full of trouble;*
 my life is at the brink of the grave.
I am counted among those who go down to the Pit;*
 I have become like one who has no strength;
Lost among the dead,*
 like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom you remember no more,*
 for they are cut off from your hand.
You have laid me in the depths of the Pit,*
 in dark places and in the abyss.
Your anger weighs upon me heavily,*
 and all your great waves overwhelm me.
You have put my friends far from me;
   you have made me to be abhorred by them;*
 I am in prison and cannot get free.
My sight has failed me because of trouble;*
 Lord, I have called upon you daily;
   I have stretched out my hands to you.
Do you work wonders for the dead?*
 will those who have died
   stand up and give you thanks?
Will your lovingkindness be declared in the grave?*
 your faithfulness in the land of destruction?
Will your wonders be known in the dark?*
 or your righteousness in the country
   where all is forgotten?
But as for me, O Lord, I cry to you for help;*
 in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Lord, why have you rejected me?*
 why have you hidden your face from me?
Ever since my youth,
   I have been wretched and at the point of death;*
 I have borne your terrors with a troubled mind.
Your blazing anger has swept over me;*
 your terrors have destroyed me;
They surround me all day long like a flood;*
 they encompass me on every side.
My friend and my neighbour you have put away from me,*
 and darkness is my only companion.

FIRST READING [1 Kings 3:4-15]:

The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt-offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, 'Ask what I should give you.' And Solomon said, 'You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?' 

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, 'Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honour all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.' 

Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem, where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt-offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants. 

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 [Matt. 8:28-9:8]:

When he came to the other side, to the country of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs coming out of the tombs met him. They were so fierce that no one could pass that way. Suddenly they shouted, 'What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?' Now a large herd of swine was feeding at some distance from them. The demons begged him, 'If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.' And he said to them, 'Go!' So they came out and entered the swine; and suddenly, the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and perished in the water. The swineherds ran off, and on going into the town, they told the whole story about what had happened to the demoniacs. Then the whole town came out to meet Jesus; and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their neighbourhood. And after getting into a boat he crossed the water and came to his own town. 

And just then some people were carrying a paralysed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.' Then some of the scribes said to themselves, 'This man is blaspheming.' But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, 'Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven”, or to say, “Stand up and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'—he then said to the paralytic—'Stand up, take your bed and go to your home.' And he stood up and went to his home. When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings. 

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

Great are you, Lord, and greatly to be praised!
There is no end to your greatness.
Let your Spirit shape and make new our character,
encourage us in constant prayer,
direct us in the way of love
and bring us at last to heaven with all your saints in light.

All that is unfinished in us and in the world,
we entrust to you, Lord.

Every aspiration, longing and dream
crushed by temptation, sin and dullness of heart,
we entrust to you, Lord.

Holy Church seeking to offer you worship
in every place and culture
we entrust to you, Lord.

Every people and tribe oppressed
by the greed and prejudice of others,
we entrust to you, Lord.

The empty and hungry places in our spirits
and in our relationships with others,
we entrust to you, Lord.

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

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. 

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
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
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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