Saturday, October 6, 2012

St. Hildegard of Bingen - Liber Divinorum Operum: Prima Pars - Prima Visio, II

And the image said this. The words of the image, by which charity is understood, is the name of the fiery life of God's substance, and tells the manifold effects of his power in the diversity of natures or qualities of creatures.

Et imago haec dicebat. Verba eiusdem imaginis, per quam charitas intelligitur, igneam vitam substantiae Dei se nominantis, et multifarios potentiae suae effectus in diversis creaturae naturis vel qualitatibus enarrantis.

2. I am the supreme fire and energy, which kindles the spark of every living being, and I exhale nothing mortal, but I decide that they exist, encircling the circle with my upper wings, hovering around with wisdom that is to say, I ordered it [the circle] well. But I, the fiery life of the substance of the Godhead, also blaze upon the beauty of the fields, and in the rains I shine, and in the sun, the moon and the stars I burn ardently, and with an ethereal wind, a kind of invisible life, which sustains all, I stir up so as to give life to all things. For air is alive in the greenness [viriditas] and in the flowers, the waters flow as though they were alive; and the sun is also alive in its light, and when the moon sets will come the light of the shining sun, as though it comes to life again; the stars too, in their light, as if living, shine clearly. (See also Nathaniel's Translation)

II. Ego summa et ignea vis, quae omnes viventes scintillas accendi, et nulla mortalia efflavi, sed illa diiudico ut sunt, circueuntem [circumeuntem] circulum cum superioribus pennis meis, idem [id est] cum sapientia circumvolans, recte ipsum ordinavi. Sed et ego ignea vita substantiae divinitatis super pulchritudinem agrorum flammo, et in aquis luceo, atque in sole, luna et stellis ardeo, et cum aereo vento quadam invisibili vita, quae cuncta sustinet, vitaliter omnia suscito. Aer enim in viriditate et in floribus vivit, aquae fluunt, quasi vivant; sol etiam in lumine suo vivit, et cum luna ad defectum venerit a lumine solis accenditur, ut quasi denuo vivat; stellae quoque in lumine suo velut vivendo clarescunt.


Probably the most incredible notion to hold on to is that of creation having its source in Love.  This is the principle that St. Hildegard's vision gives when contemplating creation.  The spark, or energy, or life-force that we witness in creation is the presence of Love or Charity.  The natural movements and the beauty of created light is as it were the vibration of the heart of God.  This perspective adds such great depth to our ability to love and encounter God's Creation - because it is Love's Creation.  In Theology, we could say - with Saint Thomas - that Creation was not just the work of God as the Divine Artist, it was the act of Love of God for Creation that caused it to exist.  Here, it is the presence of the final cause - love, goodness - that has effected all of existing creation.  God wasn't trying to create something cool or structurally sound, he was Loving.  In an age where we make so many efforts to "unlock the secrets of the universe," and understand the deep structure of matter and the physical world, Hildegard invites us to perceive that Creation resists understanding from that perspective.  Why is it that the further we go in science, the less what we discover makes sense?  Hildegard invites us to perceive and discover a different causality at work in nature - that of its ultimate source, Love.

It would be interesting to add on to that by noting Hildegard's coined term viriditas, which appears for the first time in this work in this vision.  Viriditas envelopes the concept of "greenness," "life" (as in the green of lively plants), and "the breath of life," this creating Spirit of Love and energy is to be perceived in the vigor of Creation.

What strikes you about this passage?

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