Friday, September 16, 2016

Celebrating the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, September 17, 2016, The Community of St. Bridget: An Inclusive Catholic Community Presider: Mary Eileen Collingwood, ARCWP

Entrance Hymn:  #581 - Companions on the Journey, v. 1 & 3

P:      Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Hildegard of Bingen, born in 1098 in
         Germany, and died on September 17, 1179.  She was an extraordinary,
         multi-faceted woman.  She was an abbess and prophetic visionary, and
         had a phenomenal impact on the people of her day.  She possessed great
         musical talent as a composer of unique forms of medieval chant.  She
         developed extensive knowledge of plants and their healing properties. 
         She experienced ‘visions’ that brought awakenings and deep spiritual
         insight.  While formed by and rooted in Christianity, her spirituality was
         at the same time cosmic and earth inclusive.  She coined the term
         “viriditas”—the greening power of God, a divine attribute, that was the
         animating life-force within all creation, giving it life, moisture and vitality. 

         Justice was her passion, her impulse.  It permeates her writings and her
         life was exhausted in its service.  Right to the end, she strove against the
         clergy of the area because of what she saw as unjust demands. 
         Hildegard was a woman who knew there was a law above the law and
         adhered to it at any cost, in the face of opposition, despite any popular
         concepts to the contrary.  She was stubborn, strong, visionary, and
         ardently prophetic.  She was a woman for our twenty-first century who
         knew that God spoke through women as well as through men.  She
         resonates as a ‘kindred spirit’ to many through the world.  Since her
         death, and for over eight centuries, she was the people’s ‘Saint
         Hildegard.’  She was officially canonized as such in May of 2012, and
         also proclaimed a Doctor of the Catholic Church in October, 2012.

Many of the prayers and readings in our liturgy today are taken from her
writings.  As we take this liturgical adventure through the visions and
writings of Hildegard, we ask for the Divine Blessing, in the name of God:
Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit.
ALL:   Amen

P:      My sisters and brothers, our God is with you!
ALL:   And also with you.

P:      Welcome everyone!  I am so pleased to be back with you!
For those of you who do not know me, I am Mary Eileen Collingwood, your presider here this evening.  As a Roman Catholic Woman Priest Community, we rejoice when people come and find a spiritual home here with us.  All are welcome at this table.

You will find in the liturgy tonight definitely some new words and expressions, as we reflect on the life of Hildegard.  Also, you will find these words and phrases also reflect a renewed priestly ministry within a community of equals. Our expression and prayers may sound different as we embrace inclusive language within a renewed theology.  The liturgy guides provided will help you through the prayers and responses.


P:      We gather together to enjoy a sacred meal with our friends.  As we
         prepare to celebrate the mystery of Christ’s love, let us ask our
         compassionate God to strengthen and enlighten us, and assist us in
         doing good deeds with kindness.

P:      We express our sorrow for the limits we have put on God’s Spirit at work
         in us, and ask that God be with us.
ALL:   God be with us.

P:      We express our sorrow for our unbelief and lack of understanding of
         God’s Presence in us, and ask that Christ be with us.
ALL:   Christ be with us.

P:      We express our sorrow for our deliberate words and actions that have
         ruptured our connectedness with others and all of creation, and ask that
         God be with us.
ALL:   God be with us.

P:      Hildegard reminds us that:
         If we give up the green vitality of virtues and surrender to the drought of
         our indolence, so that we do not have the sap of life and the greening
         power of good deeds, then the power of our very soul will begin to fade
         and dry up… But if we follow the right road, all our actions will give rise
         to good fruit. (DW 2, 18)
ALL:   Amen.

P:      Glory to God among us…

ALL:   And peace to God’s people on earth.  Loving God, we worship you, we
         give you thanks, we praise you for your glory.  Jesus the Christ, you
         unbind the burdens of the world, be with us now.  You who are one with
         our God, receive our prayer.  For you alone are the Holy One, you alone
         are the Anointed One, you alone are the Reflection of God among us,
         with the Holy Spirit in the glory of God.  Amen.

OPENING PRAYER:  Let us pray…
P:      In the words of Hildegard as she expresses her awareness of the Divine
         touch of creative life happening all around us:

         I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
         I adorn all the earth.
         I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
         I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
         I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
         I am the rain coming from the dew
         That causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
         I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work.
         I am the yearning for good. (Meditations with Hildegard of Bingen,
            Gabriele Uhlein, p. 31)


First Reading:  from Hildegard of Bingen

Who are the prophets?  They are a royal people, who penetrate mystery and see with the spirit’s eyes.  In illuminating darkness, they speak out.  They are a living, penetrating clarity.  They are a blossom blooming only on the shoot that is rooted in the flood of light.  (Uhlein, p.126)

The Word of God as stated by Hildegard.

Responsorial:  Rejoice now, and be glad!

O blooming branch,
Thick with leaves,
You stand upright in your nobility;
As breaks the dawn on high.  R

Rejoice now and be glad,
And deign to free us,
Frail and weakened,
From the wicked habits of our age;  R

Stretch forth your hand
To lift us up aright.  R

Second Reading:  Hildegard of Bingen’s words on “Receiving of the Visions”

In the year 1141 of the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God, when I was forty-two years and seven months of age, a fiery light, flashing intensely, came from the open vault of heaven and poured through my whole brain.  Like a flame that is hot without burning, it kindled all my heart and all my breast, just as the sun warms anything on which its rays fall.  And suddenly I could understand what such books as the Psalter, the Gospel and the other catholic volumes both of the Old and New Testament actually set forth; but I could not interpret the words of the text; nor could I divide up the syllables, nor did I have any notion of the cases or tenses.

Ever since I was a girl—certainly from the time I was five years old right up to the present—in a wonderful way I had felt in myself (as I do even now) the strength and mystery of these secret and marvelous visions.  Yet I revealed this to no one except for a very few people and the religious who lived in the same community as I; but right up until the time when God’s grace wished it to be revealed, I suppressed it beneath strict silence.  The visions which I saw I did not perceive in dreams nor when asleep nor in a delirium nor with the eyes or ears of the body.  I received them when I was awake and looking around with a clear mind, with the inner eyes and ears, in open places according to the will of God.  But how this could be, it is difficult for us mortals to seek to know.

The Word of God as spoken by Hildegard.

ALL:   16-fold Alleluia    

Told to expel from the abbey cemetery the body of a nobleman who had been excommunicated, but subsequently reconciled to the Church, which the local clergy disputed and ordered his body to be exhumed, Hildegard herself at the age of eighty erased the markings on the grave to protect the body from banishment and, with the support of her entire community, submitted to interdict with its denial of Eucharist and liturgical chant rather than surrender her commitment to truth. She explained, “When, a few days after his burial, we were ordered by our superiors to fling him out of the cemetery, I, seized with no little terror at this order. . .  saw in my soul that, if we followed their command and exposed the corpse, such an expulsion would threaten our home with great danger, like a vast blackness—it would envelop us like a dark cloud that looms before tempests and thunderstorms…. So we did not dare expose him…lest we seem to injure Christ’s sacraments.”

The Good News from Hildegard as she shares her letter to her Bishop:     

You ask why I disobey you, my bishop;
I answer in a spirit of prayer,
As I hope you did too in addressing me.

I, the Abbess, disobey, and all my sisters choose to disobey,
Because in such obedience is only darkness.

In our disobedience is light for our spirits,
So has God shown us.

I am not just disobedient,
I am outraged.
A thunderstorm of outrage shakes my soul.

In God’s truth I say to you:
‘You are wrong and we are right.’

We are obeying Christ,
We are following Christ,

We choose not to insult Christ,
As obeying you would force us to do.

Because of what you call our disobedience,
You have forbidden us to sing our psalms.
You have deprived us of the Food of Life.
You have cut off the streams of life, the sacramental graces.

God told me to tell you this also:
Beware of closing the mouths of those who sing God’s praises.

‘Who dares to de-string the harp of heaven?’ God asked me.
‘Only the devil,’ I whispered.

Ask yourself, O bishop, whose side are you on?

The Living Word of God as spoken by Hildegard.

Shared Homily

P:      We realize that God is a living experience, especially as we contemplate
         the words of Hildegard today.  Talking about that experience will take
         different forms in every generation.  If your comfort level allows, please
         join in as we proclaim these words of faith:

ALL:   We believe in God as our Creator and as the creator of the world which
God sets before us as a gift for our joy and use, for us to tend in gratitude and affection.

         We believe in Jesus.  By his life and ministry, he taught us how to love
         God and all that God created, especially other people.  We take the
         teaching and example of Jesus as a model for our lives.

         We believe in the Holy Spirit, God’s abiding presence in this world, to
         encourage and direct us with joy, wisdom, and gentleness to live a holy
         life.  She guides us in the silence of our hearts.

We believe the Church, as the People of God, is the faithful custodian of
the experience of God in the Sacred Scriptures and in the lives of holy
women and men.

We believe that all God’s children, those who lived long ago, those who
today are living, and all those who will ever live are brothers and sisters,
and that the bond of God’s love connects us across space and time.


P:      We are in the presence of our compassionate God.  Calling to mind
Jesus’ words to us: “Ask and you will receive, seek and you will
find, knock and it will be opened to you,” we now ask that God
have compassion on us and consider our requests, as we respond
with “Life of all life, hear our prayer”

Petitions of the Assembly
Leaders of our church and country

And for all those women who are contemplating joining the women priest
movement, as their call becomes more clear and strong, may they be
animated by the Sprit within to step forward, we pray…

P:      O God, hear the prayers of your people.  Hold them and all their
         unspoken desires close to your heart.  Amen.

P:      Life-giving God, we celebrate your fruitful love as we embrace one
         another with joy.  May the peace of God be always with you!
ALL:   And also with you!

P:      Before we prepare the Table and join in the Eucharistic Prayer with one
         mind and one heart, I invite you now to extend a sign of communion and
         charity to one another.  (sign of peace exchanged)

P:      Blessed are you, God of all life
         Through your goodness we have bread, wine, all creation, and our own
         selves to offer.  May all our gifts provide us the spiritual nourishment
         that you so generously provide.

ALL:   Blessed be God forever!
P:      Let us pray:
         O Abundant Blessing, we ask you to accept the gifts of Hildegard that we
         now embrace as hope for our own time.  May the blessings of your grace
         strengthen our minds and hearts as we continue to speak truth to power. 
ALL:   Amen.


P:      Our God is with you.
ALL:   And also with you.
P:      Open your hearts.
ALL:   We open them up to our God.
P:      Let us give thanks to our Loving God.
ALL:   It is right to give God thanks and praise.

P:      All loving and ever-living God, we give you thanks for the gift of
         awareness that allows us to recognize your presence and action in our
         universe.  Everything we have, everything we see, everything we do,
         everyone we love, and everyone who loves us, reveals your sustaining
presence.  We thank you that you animate life and all that exists.  You are the hidden heart of the universe, and when we turn our attention to the affairs of the heart, there we find You, smiling and joyous.  As the Spirit whispers in us, we give you thanks as angels translate the longing of our heart into this chorus of praise:

ALL:   Holy, Holy, Holy God
(sung)  Spirit of Love and Peace.
         Heaven and earth are full of your glory:
         Hosanna in the highest!
         Blessed are all who come in the name of our God.
         Hosanna in the highest! (x2)

P:      O Holy One, you are the fountain of all holiness, and all creation rightly
         gives you praise.  All life, all holiness comes as you gather a people to
         yourself, so that from east to west a human blessing may be given for the
         glory of your name.  We thank you for Jesus, who loved so greatly,
         taught so clearly, and proclaimed so courageously.  He set people free               from images, ideas and religious practices that bound them in fear and a
         false sense of separation from you.  Through Jesus, we know our loving
         actions become a share in your life visible on earth.  We thank you for
         you Spirit of life and love among us.  We are grateful that Your Spirit sets
         us free to discover your presence within us and in all of creation.  And
         for this we thank and praise you.

ALL:   (extend hands over bread and wine)
P:      Therefore, we ask that you intensify the presence of your Spirit in these
         our gifts, as they, and we, become the +Body and Blood of Jesus the
         Christ for the sake of our wholeness and for the wholeness of all

         On the night before he died, Jesus gathered for the Seder supper with
         the people closest to him.  Like the least of household servants, he
         washed their tired and dusty feet, so that they would re-member him. 
         Back at the table, he took the Passover bread, spoke the grace, broke the
         bread and offered it to them saying:

ALL:   Take and eat, all of you.
         This is my body, which will be given up for you.

P:      When supper was ended, Jesus took the cup of wine, spoke the grace,
         and offered it to them saying:

ALL:   Take and drink this cup of my life-blood, the life of the new and
         everlasting covenant.  It is poured out for you and for all, so that you
         might be free.  Whenever you remember me like this, I am among you.

P:      Let us proclaim the sacred presence of our Loving God:
ALL:   Nurtured by your love, nourished by your food, called anew to feed your
         people, we acclaim your praise!

P:      Loving God, through Jesus you entrusted this pledge of love to us.  We
         celebrate the memory of his life, death, and rising to new life, and bring
         to You the gifts You have given us: reconciliation, justice, and peace. 
         You fill us with Your Spirit in the sharing of this meal.  You keep us in
         communion with one another and with all living beings.  Your Spirit
         makes us a sign of unity, a model of equality, and instruments of Your

         Inspire Pope Francis, all our bishops, and all religious and political
         leaders throughout the world, so that they act without fear to bring your
         justice.  May they become peacemakers who transform your church and
         society so that all living beings and our planet may thrive.

         You have gathered us around this table in friendship with Mary, the
         Mother of Jesus, the apostles, and all the saints.  May all who are
         suffering in any way be strengthened and consoled by Your Presence. 
         You bless all who have gone before us and bring them into the lasting joy
         and peace of your Eternal Light.  We praise you in union with them, and
         give you glory through Jesus, our brother.
ALL:   Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
(sung)  may all glory and honor be Yours, all-loving God, forever and ever. 

P:      And we pray together: God, Mother and Father to us all…

ALL:   You exist within all of creation,
         Holy is your name.
         Your kin-dom come, your will be done,
         On earth as it is within your Eternal Presence.
         Give us this day all that will sustain us
         And forgive us our selfish ways
         As we forgive those
         Whose selfish ways have harmed us.
         Lead us away from temptation
         And deliver us from all that is evil.
         For the kin-dom, the power, and the glory are yours
         Now and forever.  Amen.

P:      Protect us O God, from every evil, and grant us peace in our day.  In your
         kindness and compassion, lighten our burdens and rid us of all anxiety
         as we wait in joyful hope for life within the glory of your everlasting
ALL:   Amen.

P:      The highest form of appreciation is not to just utter words, but to live by
         them.  It is in this spirit we now pray as the bread of life is broken and
         shared by all:

ALL:   Loving God, you call us to speak truth to power, we will live justly.

         Loving God, you call us to live your Gospel of justice and peace, we will
         love tenderly.

         Loving God, you call us to be your Presence in the world, we will walk
         humbly with our God.

P:      This is Jesus, the Bread of Life.
         How blessed are we who are called to this Table.

ALL:   Jesus, you affirm our worthiness and
         Through your word, we will heal the world.

P:      Those who desire may come forward to receive Holy Communion.  All are
         welcome at the Table.

P:      Let us pray in the thought patterns of Hildegard:
         The feather flew, not because of anything in itself, but because the air
         bore it along.  Thus I am a feather on the breath of God.
ALL:   Amen.



P:      Our God is always with you!
ALL:   And also with you!

P:      In the words of Matthew Fox, Hildegard’s influence in our world today
         has been felt and believed by many.  And so, we can truthfully declare
         today that:

Hildegard is a woman who found her voice. 
ALL:   Amen.

P:      Women the world over today are learning to find their voice, to be the
         prophets and truth tellers all adults are called to be.
ALL:   Amen.

P:      Hildegard leads from a silenced God to a God who speaks through a
ALL:   Amen.

P:      The Divine Feminine is back!
ALL:   Amen.

P:      God of all, come live is us, your people, and strengthen us by your grace. 
         Help us to remain close to you in prayer and give us a true love for one
ALL:   Amen

P:      And may God: +Source of All Being, Eternal Word, and Holy Spirit bless
         us all!  We are sent forth.  Let our service continue!
ALL:   Praise be to God!

RECESSIONAL HYMN:  #609 - We Are the Light of the World, v. 1,4,7



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