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Archive for August, 2017

“Hildegard: One of the Most Remarkable Women of the Middle Ages”
Distributed by: Vision Video
52 minutes.

Hildegard was an astonishing woman who left us her remarkable legacy in books, drawings, songs, and plays. Her works are beautiful and lasting. They have also stood the test of time because of the spiritual comfort that they still bring to thousands today.

The setting of the video is at the monastery of St. Disibod on the Rhine in central Germany. The events portrayed are those leading up to Hildegard’s examination and trial for heresy in 1148. Hildegard cared for people the way she believed Jesus would care for them. The abbot, concerned only with his legalistic rules, disagreed with the way Hildegard cared for these people and put her and the abbey under interdict – a punishment. They were commanded not to sing. They could not receive the sacraments. Hildegard did not back down. Eventually she lodged a protest with the superior of the Abbot. A trial was held where she was completely vindicated.

Later in a vision Hildegard realizes it is time to move. The video ends with Hildegard and the nuns and their priest making the move to Bingen where she would found a monastery. There, Hildegard continued her labors until her death in 1179 at the age of 82.

This production of Hildegard’s life includes illustrations in a beautiful and stunning fashion that portray what some of Hildegard’s visions may have looked like. They are based on Hildegard’s drawings in the Scivia. A group of nuns (female actors with beautiful voices?) perform some of Hildegard’s music. You will be uplifted as you hear the praises to God sung by these women.

 

 

Some background before you watch the video:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) is best known as a twelfth-century abbess with an extraordinary mind and she is known for her visions. Whatever one thinks about the subject of visions and dreams, certainly Hildegard was a wise, talented, intelligent, dedicated, and devout Christian woman who rose above her circumstances to serve God in extraordinary ways. She has been authenticated by the pope in her day (Eugene III) and recently by Pope Benedict.

Hildegard became a nun while just a young girl. We do not know much about her next few years, except that she must have been a good assistant to the mother of the abbey who was also her aunt, Jutta. When her aunt died in 1136, Hildegard was chosen to be the abbess in her place. Hildegard was thirty-eight years old.

As the mother of the abbey Hildegard sought to lead a life of holiness and to encourage the other nuns to do likewise. Of major importance to her was caring for the poor as Jesus did. Though she tried to stay within the church’s rules sometimes she went her own way out of compassion. In the video you will see two incidents that were typical of how Hildegard cared for the humans under her protection – a young persecuted girl that she rescued, and a dying soldier from the Crusades. The abbot wanted to just toss these people out as heretics, but Hildegard showed them the love of Jesus.

Later Hildegard moved to a place where she could run the abbey without interference from less than spiritual men who only loved control. She personally oversaw the construction of the new convent at Rupertsberg, near Bingen, Germany. They moved into the new convent in 1150, and she became known as Hildegard of Bingen.

One of her many talents was writing. Around 1141, she had begun to write a book, Scivias, (or Sciens Vias, “Know the Way”), which eventually took her ten years to complete. This book included 26 drawings of things that she had seen in her visions.

You will see some of these drawings and visions illustrated in the video. She claimed that these visions helped her to understand the Old and New Testaments. Men and women of her day, including the well-known Bernard of Clairvaux, endorsed her visions. Many believed that she could understand the past, present, and future. She astonished people by claiming things which later came true.

Here in her own words is a description of one of her visions:

It happened in the year 1141 of the Incarnation of God’s Son Jesus Christ, when I was forty-two years and seven months old, that the heavens were opened and a fiery light of great brilliance came and suffused my whole brain and set my whole heart and breast afire like a flame – yet not burning but warming, as the sun warms an object on which it sheds its rays. And suddenly I came to understand the meaning of the book of Psalms, the Gospel, and the other canonical books of both the Old and New Testaments — … in a marvelous way, I had sensed the power and mystery of secret, wonderful visions in myself from girlhood, from the age of five, even to the present time.”   

After Scivias, Hildegard wrote other books, including the Book of Life’s Merits, and the Book of the Divine Works. She wrote these in Latin, the language of educated men, even though she had not been formally trained in it.

Many people sought Hildegard’s wisdom. Archbishop Philip of Cologne was repeating what many Christians thought when he said that Hildegard had divine gifts including the gift of prophecy.

During her lifetime, Hildegard composed over 70 vocal works. In the 1980’s they were rediscovered and many have now been recorded. She had composed the music and the lyrics. Her works show her love and her longing for Christ.

When she was about sixty years old, retirement age for many people today, Hildegard undertook several preaching tours. As she traveled around, she even preached to men, a fact which shows how much respect she had gained by this time. Her sermons sound much like many we hear today; she taught on the corruption of the Church and how it needed cleansing. She gave a tongue lashing to those who were “lukewarm and sluggish” in living the Christian life. She berated those who were slow in justice for the poor.

Hildegard died at age eighty-two on September 17, 1179. With her lifelong learning and perseverance, she overcame many obstacles for women in her day. She had seized the opportunities placed before her and worked to her limits. She became one of the most influential women of the Middle Ages and is still loved today.

 

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To be a living sacrifice will involve all my time. God wants me to live every minute for Him in accordance with His will and purpose, sixty minutes of every hour, twenty-four hours of every day, being available to Him. No time can be considered as my own, or as “off-duty” or “free.” I cannot barter with God about how much time I can give to serve Him. Whatever I am doing, be it a routine salaried job, or housework at home, be it holiday time and free, or after-work Christian youth activities, all should be undertaken for Him, to reveal His indwelling presence to those around me. The example of my life must be as telling as my preaching if He is to be honored.  Helen Roseveare

Helen Roseveare (1925 – 2016) knew from early childhood that she wanted to be a missionary. And she did indeed give all of her life to God.

Helen made the decision at a Sunday School class on her eighth birthday. Her teacher had put together a project for the students involving pictures of Indian children. As Helen looked at the pictures and learned that most children in India had never heard about God she felt sorry for them. Helen could not imagine what it would be like not to know God.

Helen began to pray and study the Bible daily with other Christian women. She spent six and a half years getting a medical degree. Then she spent six months in missionary training and six months in Belgium studying French and tropical medicine. She was going to a place in Eastern Africa that was known as Congo in that time. In 1953, Helen sailed for the Congo with the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade whose motto was, “If Christ be God and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Little could Helen know that she would be called on to make a horrendous sacrifice for Christ.

Helen was the only doctor for two and a half million people. Her initial hospital was made of mud and thatch. Helen learned to make bricks and build walls. She would not ask others to do something that she would not do herself. She learned the Swahili language to enable her to accomplish more.

A few years later a 14-acre plot of land had been converted into a 100-bed hospital and maternity complex. Now tens of thousands of patients could be treated. A medical school had also been started and Helen was very busy teaching the nursing students. The Africans would have their own trained medical personnel to help with the tremendous work.

In the early 1960’s the Congo underwent a revolution. The former colony received its independence and renamed itself Zaire. The transition was a very hard time. Many missionaries went home rather than face the danger from roving bands of rebels. News of murders in other villages was occurring daily.

Helen decided to stay. This meant that she now was only one of two doctors in a very large area. Her African friends were very grateful to her but she was taking a grave risk.

On the night of October 29, 1964, rebel soldiers took her away and abused her horribly. She was humiliated and suffered fierce physical pain. She later testified, “They were brutal and drunken. They cursed and swore, they struck and kicked, they used the butt-end of rifles and rubber truncheons. We were roughly taken, thrown in prisons, humiliated, threatened.” Helen felt that God had failed her. Why didn’t He step in earlier? Why did things have to go so far? She began to be tempted to doubt God’s existence.

Even as Helen was questioning God, she remembered when she gave her life to Christ. God reminded her, “You asked Me, when you were first converted, for the privilege of being a missionary. This is it. Don’t you want it? These are not your sufferings. They’re Mine. All I ask of you is the loan of your body.”

Finally, after five long months of cruel treatment Helen and the others were released. She went back to Britain to recuperate. On this furlough Helen testified all over the United Kingdom about the sufficiency of God. She felt privileged to be an ambassador of Christ, a missionary, and one who identified with His sufferings.

No one would have blamed Helen if she decided not to go back to Congo (Zaire). But she wanted to return and finish the work she had started. The African people still desperately needed doctors. And so Helen returned in March 1966.

Besides work at the hospital and the nursing school, Helen helped to establish 48 rural health clinics in the vicinity. Patients were hearing the Gospel from Helen and the missionary chaplains.

Eventually Helen became exhausted form overwork and not enough rest. She returned to Britain in 1973. She began speaking at conferences all around the world.

In 1989 Helen returned to visit her people in what was then called the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

A film was made about her life of service at this time. It is called, Mama Luka Comes Home. “Luka” was the name given to Helen by the Congolese because it is the feminine form of Luke, the gospel writer who was a physician.

My copy of the video was distributed by Vision Video. It is 60 minutes long. It is beautifully photographed. Helen is very honest about her feelings as she revisits the places where she served and suffered for her faith. Helen’s testimony is one of love and forgiveness.

 

 

Helen has also written – Give Me This Mountain (1966), He gave us a Valley (1977) and Digging Ditches (2005) besides numerous articles. She has been a speaker at Urbana at least three times.

Helen died on December 7, 2016 at the grand old age of 91 in Northern Ireland.

“It would seem that God had merely asked me to give Him my mind, my training, the ability that He has given me; to serve Him unquestioningly; and to leave with Him the consequences…. How wonderful God is, and how foolish we are to argue with Him and not to trust Him wholly in every situation as we seek to serve Him!”

Praise the Lord for this wonderful woman’s life and testimony to the goodness and faithfulness of God.

 

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