Just this month, an explosively-creative, self and divinely-taught woman became one of only four Doctors of the Church.
Although some have written that she would reject women's liberation as we practice it today, her fearlessness went beyond most of our's. She said what she prayerfully found needed to be said. And she did what she knew needed doing -- despite the fact she was a woman.
She wrote and spoke widely concerning social justice -- the duty of seeking with all our heart and soul the freedoms and opportunities for all to have the opportunity to develop the divinely-appointed potential at the heart of each and all -- no matter our background.
Hildegard spoke about the natural world as infused at the center through and through with beauty and energy and entrusted to our care -- not to be wrecked but rather to be held sacred for the benefit of the many.
If a Pope or an Emperor needed a rebuke, she rebuked them.
Her work is STILL seen as completely contemporary as well as expansive.
To this day, Hildegard of Bingen brings art, science, and religion together and offers us a way to see all three as vitally connected. They each provide spiritual and practical insights in her theology.
She uses expressions which are more natural to non-western traditions -- thus providing a helpful bridge to riches and spiritual giants outside the usual avenues of theology and art for much of the world. (About which we would do well to understand sooner rather than later -- even if only in small measure.) For example, Hildegard's use of metaphor, symbols, visual imagery, parables and various sorts of artistic means of communication goes beyond pat expected words and helps God make all things new. As Flannery O'Conner indicated in metaphor of her dramatically different work -- yet similar role -- to the deaf (the writer) must shout and to the blind (the artist) must write large.
May we be nurtured by the fact that Hildegard's humility, rather than underplaying her feminine role, reminded her world then and our world now that sometimes God through the Spirit does give VISIONS and teachings to unexpected people. We can be sure that the Divine school can be truly effective -- even with those who've not been privileged to receive a traditional education.
"O God, by whose grace your servant Hildegard, kindled with the fire of your love, became a burning and shining light in your Church: Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love, and walk before you as children of light...in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever."
In a letter to the Monk Guibert, 1176, she said: "The marvels of God are not brought forth from one's self. Rather, it is more like a chord, a sound that is played. The tone does not come out of the chord itself, but rather, through the touch of the Musician. I am...the lyre and harp of God's kindness."