Derived from a Greek adjective mystikos, the term mysticism refers to the hidden Christian meaning of the Old Testament, the presence of Christ as well as the experience of GOD Himself through His presence in the scriptures . From this meaning, one gets the notion that there is a reality obscured by exterior manifestation, but accessible to all Christians. On the other hand, Mysticism refers to distinctive practices or traditions meant for human transformation. In modern times, the concept has been broadly associated with religious traditions and practices. This paper seeks to discuss two contrasting spiritualists St. Clare and Von Bingen, who pioneered their religious teachings to ensure social wellbeing as well as elevating people through their teachings to keep them close with GOD.
Both Hildegard and St. Claire were from Noble families in their respective places of birth. They all had any worldly possessions they could acquire, but ended up serving GOD throughout their lives. Although, St. Clare made her own decision to become a follower of GOD and serve him, Hildegard on the other hand, changed her stand. The decision was made for her since she was the tenth child in her family, and it was tradition for the tenth child to be dedicated to GOD’s work. The work of these two Saints in the Church is considered a milestone, however, they practiced their religious services on different concepts to elevate all of human kind that they could transform.
St. Clare’s inspiration was on the faith she based on social work and how it could impact the wellbeing of the poor in society . She worked closely with St. Francis, and they are both credited for advocating for social justice, as well as fair treatment of the marginalized persons within the community. Her practice was to enable the most underprivileged persons to society to realize their place in the social order and how they were also meaningful to GOD’s fulfillment. Hildegard on the hand was known for empowering women in such harsh times during the Middle Ages where even the churches did not allow women to sing in the Church. In her memoirs and journals she explicitly explained how she had visions from GOD on the songs that she wrote. These songs were recognized to be special since they were written specifically for female voices, a notion that had never been experienced before. From the above, we can see that both women practiced their spiritual connection with GOD in a different manner but the result was almost identical. They were both trying to fight the condemnation that the society had placed on women as well as vulnerable groups during the time through their service to the Lord .
St. Clare was known for her leadership skills. She always relied on Gods infinite grace to make her decisions and fulfill her objectives as mother superior. Through this divine power, she was able to attract other nuns and form a church at San Damiano where she was able to protect her sisters.
As we have seen in the above paragraphs, St Clare’s conversion was subject to the inequalities she had experienced in the economic, social as well as political lines not forgetting how women were being mistreated at the time. This was different from what might propel conversion at these modern times. These days the concept might take place when a person is subjected to illness, loss of a job, loss of a relationship among other things. On the other hand, Hildegard conversion can be said to be subject of her unwavering desire to send God’s message across all platforms of the society since she exchanged correspondence with kings, dukes, archbishops and other influential figures across Europe during her time. She was mostly consulted by powerful figures on matters of church and state.
Besides the music, Hildegard mystic powers were also evident on the encyclopedias she wrote on different herbal medicines. This was a time where scientific medicine had not kicked off; her herbal medicines were considered helpful by most people who considered her gifted. Just like St. Clare, who believed that the church had no responsibility to the poor, she took it herself to ensure that the poor knew that God would provide for them . Hildegard also believed that God had provided man with natural gifts such as herbs to act like medicine, and she was gifted with the mystic powers God to identify as well as administering these portions through dreams and visions.
God has been able to influence his people and pass messages through a selected few over the years. Both St. Clare and Hildegard were a chosen few by God, who influenced people through different mystic powers, as well as religious practices, to pass messages as well as ensure society is controlled. Religion has been used over the years to cure the social ills and elevate people to become closer through Gods teachings. Although their practices were different, both of these two nuns were able to bring change and impact society in a positive manner as well as empowering women into realizing that they also could be chosen to perform Gods work and come out as victors.
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Dupre, Louis K and James A Wiseman. Light from Light: An Anthology of Christian Mysticism. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2001.
Weuste, Michael and Dorothea Epple. "St. Francis and St. Clare as Inspirations for the Faith Based Social Worker." North American Association of Christians in Social Work (2008): 22.