A rare female voice in the 12th century Christian Church, Hildegard of Bingen was a German nun, an oracle, a mystic, a prolific writer on religious subjects who practiced medicine, wrote plays, and composed music. The Ways of the Lord contains selections from Scivias, her major religious work, in which Hildegard describes amazing visions and explores the profound spiritual truths hidden within them. A HarperCollins Spiritual Classic, The Ways of the Lord includes a foreword by Homer Hickam, author of Rocket Boys, and is a glorious introduction to the genius and devotion of this extraordinary holy woman of the Middle Ages.
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The HarperCollins Spiritual Classics series presents short, accessible introductions to the foundational works that shaped Western religious thought and culture. This series seeks to find new readers for these dynamic spiritual voices -- voices that have changed lives throughout the centuries and still can today.
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Hildegard of BingenSelections from Her Writings
By Loraine HarperCollins Spiritual Classics
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Loraine HarperCollins Spiritual Classics
All right reserved.
God Enthroned Shows Himself to Hildegard
I saw a great mountain the color of iron, and enthroned on it One of such great glory that it blinded my sight. On each side of Him there extended a soft shadow, like a wing of wondrous breadth and length. Before Him, at the foot of the mountain, stood an image full of eyes on all sides, in which, because of those eyes, I could discern no human form. In front of this image stood another, a child wearing a tunic of subdued color but white shoes, upon whose head such glory descended from the One enthroned upon that mountain that I could not look at its face. But from the One who sat enthroned upon that mountain many living sparks sprang forth, which flew very sweetly around the images. Also, I perceived in this mountain many little windows, in which appeared human heads, some of subdued colors and some white.The strength and stability of God's eternal kingdom
And behold, He who was enthroned upon that mountain cried out in a strong, loud voice saying, "O human, who are fragile dust of the earth and ashes of ashes! Cry out and speak of the origin of pure salvation until those people are instructed, who, though they see the inmost contents of the Scriptures, do not wish to tell them or preach them, because they are lukewarm and sluggish in serving God's justice. Unlock for them the enclosure of mysteries that they, timid as they are, conceal in a hidden and fruitless field. Burst forth into a fountain of abundance and overflow with mystical knowledge, until they who now think you contemptible because of Eve's transgression are stirred up by the flood of your irrigation. For you have received your irrigation. For you have received your profound insight not from humans, but from the lofty and tremendous Judge on high, where this calmness will shine strongly with glorious light among the shining ones.
"Arise, therefore, cry out and tell what is shown to you by the strong power of God's help, for He who rules every creature in might and kindness floods those who fear Him and serve Him in sweet love and humility with the glory of heavenly enlightenment and leads those who persevere in the way of justice to the joys of the Eternal Vision."
As you see, therefore, the great mountain the color of ron1 symbolizes the strength and stability of the eternal Kingdom of God, which no fluctuation of mutability can destroy; and the One enthroned upon it of such great glory that it blinds your sight is the One in the Kingdom of Beatitude who rules the whole world with celestial divinity in the brilliance of unfading serenity, but is incomprehensible to human minds. But that on each side of Him there extends a soft shadow like a wing of wonderful breadth and length shows that both in admonition and in punishment ineffable justice displays sweet and gentle protection and perseveres in true equity. Concerning fear of the Lord
And before Him at the foot of the mountain stands an image full of eyes on all sides. For the Fear of the Lord stands in God's presence with humility and gazes on the Kingdom of God, surrounded by the 1Italics indicate portions of the initial vision that are repeated and explained in the interpretation, which follows. clarity of a good and just intention, exercising her zeal and stability among humans. And thus you can discern no human form in her on account of those eyes. For by the acute sight of her contemplation she counters all forgetfulness of God's justice, which people often feel in their mental tedium, so no inquiry by weak mortals eludes her vigilance. Concerning those who are poor in spirit
And so before this image appears another image, that of a child wearing a tunic of subdued color but white shoes. For when the Fear of the Lord leads, they who are poor in spirit follow; for the Fear of the Lord holds fast in humble devotion to the blessedness of poverty of spirit, which does not seek boasting or elation of heart, but loves simplicity and sobriety of mind, attributing its just works not to itself but to God in pale subjection, wearing, as it were, a tunic of subdued color and faithfully following the serene footsteps of the Son of God. Upon her head descends such glory from the One enthroned upon that mountain that you cannot look at her face; because He who rules every created being imparts the power and strength of this blessedness by the great clarity of His visitation, and weak, mortal thought cannot grasp His purpose, since He who possesses celestial riches submitted Himself humbly to poverty. They who fear God and love poverty of spirit are the guardians of virtues
But from the One who is enthroned upon that mountain many living sparks go forth, which fly about those images with great sweetness. This means that many exceedingly strong virtues come forth from Almighty God, darting fire in divine glory; these ardently embrace and captivate those who truly fear God and who faithfully love poverty of spirit, surrounding them with their help and protection.
The aims of human acts cannot be hidden from God's knowledge big
Wherefore in this mountain you see many little windows, in which appear human heads, some of subdued color and some white. For in the most high, profound, and perspicuous knowledge of God the aims of human acts cannot be concealed or hidden. Most often they display both lukewarmness and purity, since people now slumber in guilt, weary in their hearts and in their deeds, and now awaken and keep watch in honor. Solomon bears witness to this for Me, saying: Solomon on this subject
"The slothful hand has brought about poverty, but the hand of the industrious man prepares riches" [Prov. 10:4]; which means a person makes himself weak and poor when he will not work justice, avoid . . .
Excerpted from Hildegard of Bingen by Loraine HarperCollins Spiritual Classics Copyright © 2005 by Loraine HarperCollins Spiritual Classics.
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