Pope: Church renewal comes from a spirit of penance and conversion
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - An authentic renewal of the Church "is not achieved by change in structures rather from a sincere spirit of penance and active path of conversion". This lesson of St. Hildegard of Bingen "is a message that we should never forget," said Benedict XVI, as he dedicated a second week of general audience reflections to the twelfth-century mystic nun. Again during his Wednesday meeting with pilgrims he expressed the hope that "the Holy Spirit will inspire in the Church holy and courageous women like Hildegard, who give their valuable contribution to the spiritual growth of the Church of our time."
Hildegard, whom the Pope described as a “founder of monasteries, preacher, and counsellor to the personalities of her time, a naturalist, musician and painter", is also an example of how" even theology can receive content peculiar to women, because they are able to speak of God and faith with their special sensitivity".
Hildegard, a Benedictine nun who "distinguished herself for her spiritual wisdom and holy life" in her writings that describe her mystical visions "interpreted the Holy Scriptures in the light of God, applying them to the various circumstances of life." "Rich in theological content, her writings refer to the main events of salvation history" and "those who heard her felt bound to live a Christian life."
In her work, "with the characteristic traits of feminine sensibility, she develops the theme of mystical marriage between God and humanity, consummated on the cross". Furthermore, in her "vision of God who animates the cosmos, she highlights the deep relationship between man and God and reminds us that the whole creation of which man is the summit, receives life from the Trinity."
Hildegard illustrates the "cultural vitality of the female monasteries of the Middle Ages, contrary to the prejudices that are still present regarding that era". Her popularity pushed many people to write, there are numerous letters addressed to the monastic community from men and women, bishops and abbots. They contain considerations that are still valid today, such as for example " spiritual life must be nurtured and cared for with great dedication: at the beginning it is a bitter fatigue" because it forces us to sacrifice, but one must be open to the search for holiness, to find true happiness in God.
And when the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa caused a schism, by creating three anti-popes "Hildegard did not hesitate to remind him that he too was subject to the judgement of God."
"In later years, despite her age and medical condition she set off to talk about God to the people who gladly listened to her, even when her tone was stern, believing her sent by God. She called for a return to the Truth. She opposed the movement of the Germans Cathars, "whom she scolded for wanting to subvert the very nature of the Church, in as much as the authentic renewal of the Church "is not achieved by structural change but rather by a spirit of penance and a journey of conversion”.
Finally in greetings to English speaking pilgrims present at the audience in the Vatican, Benedict XVI spoke of his visit to Britain next week, welcoming the efforts made not only by Catholic communities, but also the government and different authorities in England and Scotland.