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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Church Militant


I can't let September 17th pass without mention of our patron saint of the day, Hildegard von Bingen. Actually, she is our patron Blessed of the day, because she's not a saint yet. She won't be a saint until she has another miracle under her belt and that won't happen unless someone stands up and sings about her, which would be appropriate because she wrote a lot of music.

She lived in the middle ages at a time when no one listened to woman much at all, except when their mothers screamed at them to watch out for the mongrel hoardes that may ravage their village and to stay out of the bog. Hildegard was consulted by bishops, popes and kings.

Very remarkable considering she was home schooled, so to speak, by a woman who walled herself up in the back of a church. Such a person is called an anchoress. Unless the person is a man. Then the person is called an anchor. These people lived lives of austerity walled into a small room next to a church. They had only a small window through with to communicate with the outside world. That means someone had to pass food in and some pretty distasteful things out through that window.

Now, let's face it, if you or I were stuck with that daily duty we wouldn't think of the person as an anchor anymore. We'd think of them more like a millstone.

But someone must have stepped up to the plate for these folks and done this tiresome job. I find that someone is almost always ready to step up and help out holy people and the clergy. (Note to self: step up when needed.)

Hildegard was taught by the anchoress, Jutta. Good old Jutta was very beautiful but not such a hot teacher, because poor Hildegard was always very embarassed by her own lack of writing skills. (Luckily, our home schoolers today have internet tools and networking and home schooling kits so their children don't all end up only able to embroider with no other skills, even the boys. Today's home schooled children also know that Adam and Eve didn't ride around on dinosaurs...the Catholic ones, anyhow.) That's why it took Hildegard quite some time to write about her amazing visions and mystical experiences. Lucky for her there where people who stepped up and acted as secretaries for her or we'd never know that at some point God went right into her brain and explained THE MEANING OF LIFE.

Or something to that effect.

We're also lucky that Jutta, unlike most anchoresses, had a door. That's how Hildegard got in to be educated and out to tell the tale. Because, really, who would want to hang around talking through that window? Heaven knows what dripped on that sill. I hope the food passers were also good scrubbers.

I'm glad to be able to mention Blessed Hildegard von Bingen, especially after having had this comment from a reader in regard to the Santa Barbara nuns who are being evicted from their convent.

How about we let the superior of this order do her job and we continue to pray for ALL religious trusting Our Lord to do what's best eh?

Okay. Let's.

But let's also live up to our name: The Church Militant. That would include anyone who is alive on earth.

Let's remember that no one would become a saint without the call of the Church Militant. Lets' remember that Hildegard wouldn't have written anything down if people had bugged her about it and helped her with it and that anchors and anchoresses would have starved to death in their own filth without us.

And that sometimes everyone needs help, including bishops, popes and kings. (And Mother Superiors.)

13 comments:

mb said...

That would be along the lines of God helping those who help themselves...... wish I could help, from overseas, I don't see how i can!

Monica said...

mb, well, pray for starters! :) SMM, st. H. looks just like you! Couldn't you photoshop some glasses on her?

I'm for hoping they had 2 windows, but never mentioned the other because it was 'icky'.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping there was a window for passing in and another cut out at floor level for passing out and sweeping out. Yuck

MissJean said...

"God helps those who help themselves" was a Ben Franklin saying. The Bible shows us that God helps those who can't do squat. ;) And He did it through faithful people more often than through angels.

Thanks for the biography, Sister. I have heard her music, including a VERY discotequish album from the early 1990s. But I've never read her work.

Anonymous said...

Ummm..._Mongol_ hordes?

Saint Maker said...

I had never heard of Hildegard von Bingen, thanks.
Peace,
Judy

paramedicgirl said...

Sister, loved your descriptions of the living conditions of the anchoress! (yuck!!)

I voted for your blog just now. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Sister can you refresh us on the miracles needed to help a saint along? Can't say I need a miracle right now (unless living with teenagers counts) but if I do how does the system work to ask for, recieve, and document a miracle?
Another thing, I feel there are Saints that are working for me but then there are others where I don't seem to get any response at all. Do you know what I mean?

Anonymous said...

You can read about all kinds of interesting saints, including Hildegard, in the hilarious book: The Bad Catholic's Guide to Good Living. Page 138 is Hildegard's entry. The book is beyond funny and you'll learn something too.

RobK said...

Speaking of the Church Militant, Sister. My parish bulletin is listing activities at a "Center for Spiritual Development Center" that is run by a group of nuns (this group is a bit out there on the "ecumenical fringe"). Their lead announcement is about "Zen Meditation."

Should one speak out about this? What is the right way to combat a watering down of our Catholic faith? It seems speaking out gets one labeled and then shuffled off to a corner with the other "conservatives." How does one defend the faith WITHIN the Church?

BOSSY said...

Frigging hilarious. Wait, is 'frig' a curse, Sister Mary Martha?

Former Evolutionist Mom said...

"Today's home schooled children also know that Adam and Eve didn't ride around on dinosaurs...the Catholic ones, anyhow."
Hi, Sister, I enjoy your blog, but as a former geologist with a Master's degree who is now homeschooling my children, I finally feel I have to step in and tell you that many Catholics, myself included, have come to believe that an old age for the earth and evolution (in the macro sense,as opposed to variation within limits) are not foregone conclusions, and that the evidence for a young earth and simultaneous appearance of all organisms on the earth is more convincing than conventional scientists would like us to think.

JP said...

I participate in a chapel on a military installation. Strange as it may seem, one priest who spoke about the "Church Militant" was taken to task about it by a retired military guy!

As an RCIA instructor, I find the lovely old terms like Church Militant are SO descriptive of the stages of Christian existence. I tell folks that one does not have to be a happy, obedient, chatty Christian too long before you realize just why we use the term MILITANT! If you aren't, you aren't fulfilling your call to holiness!

The Church is not made up of milque-toasts!

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