First Sunday of Lent
February 21, 2021
Andrea Westkamp, OSB, Benedictine Sisters of Virginia
Hildegard 1 – Deep Listening
We will set out on our Lenten journey this year with five amazing Benedictine Women! These are depicted in a stained-glass window in our monastery chapel in Bristow, VA. As we ponder what it means to be Benedictine and to celebrate the centennial of our federation, these five saints can be role models for us. How did living the Rule of Benedict transform their lives?
As we pray in the chapel daily, the window and the saints speak to us. You can find St. Hildegard (1098 – 17 September 1179) on the left. She is wearing a big cross that signifies her as an abbess. In her right hand, she is holding a quill and in her left, a book. She was a writer, poet, composer, scientist, and herbalist and had other tremendous gifts. Her spirit shimmers through her writings and continues to inspire many.
How can Hildegard contribute to our Lenten journey?
"Hildegard, who often spoke of herself as 'God's trumpet,' was first and primarily a prophet and she herself felt that calling to be a heavy burden. The God revealed to her did not show her the divine presence in order to draw her God-ward in mystical union, but in order to approach a human listener. Thus while every one of her visions begins with the very personal 'I,' that 'I' is like a door through which another enters, and that other is God. Hildegard was made a servant of the proclamation of salvation that from the deepest beginnings of the divine plan has been directed to and encompasses the whole human race." (Storch, Walburga, OSB. (1997) The Windows of Faith. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.)
Hildegard as human listener. Listening, as you know, is an important Benedictine practice. Benedict wants us to listen with the ear of the heart, indicating that the listening needs to come from a very deep and gentle space within us. Picture Hildegard as the listener, the woman practiced in Lectio, receptive to God's word.
Lent is inviting us to listen deeply. This time of repentance is not just aimed at prayer, sacrifices and alms giving. It is nudging us to conversion, to become the best persons we can be.
For your Lectio this week, let Hildegard's own words speak to you:
Why was I born
to such great misdeeds?
In my soul I have sinned
against you, my God.
I sigh to you
who deigned to take on Adam's shape
from the virgin.
I firmly trust
that you do not despise me,
but free me from my sins.
In the countenance of your sacred humanity
receive me in grace,
for I repent with all my heart.
(Storch, Walburga, OSB. (1997) The Windows of Faith. Collegeville: Liturgical Press.)
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Sister Andrea Westkamp is a member of Saint Benedict Monastery in Bristow, VA. Currently, she is serving as subprioress, canonical treasurer, oblate director and spiritual director. Her background is in pastoral counseling, spiritual direction and early childhood education. She enjoys long walks, artwork, reading mysteries. Her passion is exploring the depth of the Rule of Benedict for our times.