St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. John of Avila were recently named the 34th and 35th Doctors of the Church. Word On Fire Research Assistant Jack Thornton discusses Pope Benedict XVI's announcement.
On October 7th, Pope Benedict XVI marked the beginning of the Synod on the New Evangelization by declaring St. Hildegard von Bingen and St. John of Avila as the 34th and 35th Doctors of the Church. The fact that only 35 figures have been named as Doctors of the Church indicates how significant this announcement is. The title of Doctor of the Church is bestowed on those whose writings the Church recognizes as particularly important in the development of doctrine and theology.
St. Hildegard was born the tenth child in a noble family in what is now Germany around the year 1098. From a very early age she experienced mystical visions, which continued throughout her life. She became an anchorite nun at a young age where she learned Latin, and studied Scripture, music and natural science. She eventually became the prioress of her community and, from all accounts, managed her community with grace and wisdom. She wrote extensively on natural science and medicine, composed poetry, morality plays and some of the more influential musical pieces of the early classical tradition, in addition to eventually writing accounts of her visions, Scriptural exegesis and theological treatises.
At first she was reluctant speak of or write about her visions since she worried that they were illusions or did not come from God, but eventually she dictated some of them to her confidants. Later she received encouragement to write from St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Pope Eugenius III, and, out of humble respect for their approval and support, she wrote several great theological works, spoke publicly on a number of topics all over Germany, and corresponded with many of the most important clergy and political figures in Europe. One topic of particular interest, that was especially evident in her lectures and letters, was her call for a reform of the clergy...
The Summer Olympics are here. Jack Thornton reflects on the sportsmanship and patriotism, and wonders what we have to do to get Vatican City represented at the next games.
You recognize that tune don’t you? No? Ok, let me hum it for you again.
Did you get it? Still no?
Le sigh. No one ever gets it when I write music out like that.
It’s the theme for the Olympics and it’s been in my head all week because it’s just that time.
Ah, the Olympics. It’s a time for both strong patriotism and appreciation of other cultures and nations. It’s a time for thrilling victories and crushing defeats; a time for heartwarming stories of athletes who give their all in pursuit of a dream, and a time for less heartwarming stories of badminton players who throw matches so they can play lesser opponents in the losers bracket.
It’s a time for citizens all over the world to suddenly discover interest in sports that they only think about every four years. Yes, once every four years gymnastics, swimming and track rise to the level of football, baseball and basketball and we all obsess over athletes whose names we didn’t know two weeks ago and who we will forget as soon as the NFL pre-season starts. But we watch them and read about them because that’s what we do and that’s the way we like it...