Inspiring saint: St. Hildegard of Bingen
Feast Day: September 17 

St. Hildegard of Bingen (c. 1098- 1179) was a woman of her time — an abbess, visionary, mystic, composer, and one of four female Doctors of the Church. She came from nobility and was the youngest of ten. At the age of eighteen, Hildegard became a Benedictine nun. She experienced visions of God throughout her life, seeing humans as living sparks of God, like daylight from the sun.

What inspiration can we draw from St. Hildegard of Bingen regarding Laudato Si’ and Care for Creation? Hildegard saw harmony in creation. She had a relationship with creation and understood its sacramentality. Through the Incarnation, God reveals Himself through us and creation. Each creature reflects something of God and communicates something to us. What is a Sacrament? There are three aspects:

1. They are outward signs – God conveys His unseen grace through material and tangible means

2. They are instituted by Christ – fashioned during Jesus’ public ministry and ascension into heaven.

3. They are channels of grace – they give sanctifying grace (participation in the divine life) and actual grace (act on the soul to steer towards the good)

Hence, a sacrament is a sensible sign that Christ instituted, where grace and, in turn, inward sanctification, are communicated to our soul. In chapter six of Laudato Si’, on ecological education and spirituality, Pope Francis writes about sacramental signs:

“The Sacraments are a privileged way in which nature is taken up by God to become a means of mediating supernatural life. Through our worship of God, we are invited to embrace the world on a different plane…For Christians, all the creatures of the material universe find their true meaning in the incarnate Word, for the Son of God has incorporated in his person part of the material world, planting in it a seed of definitive transformation” (LS 235).

Hildegard often referred to God as “the greening”, referring to the Spirit and its renewing power, which enlivens and manifests divinity in all of creation. She says, “The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.” In her worldview, creation can sing simply through a beam of light.

Considering my own relationship with creation, perhaps I can deepen it, understanding it to be sacramental. The more I partake of the Sacraments, the more my relationship with creation is deepened. St. Hildegard of Bingen, pray for us!