Dr. Sheryl A. Kujawa-Holbrook has been helping people deepen their spiritual life for more than 30 years, introducing them to the works of medieval women mystics — especially Hildegard — through spiritual direction, retreats, sermons, and classes in seminaries and churches.
She is an Episcopal priest and professor of practical theology at Claremont School of Theology as well as a popular teacher, speaker and retreat leader on topics related to Christian spirituality, mysticism, social activism, and interreligious encounter. She is the author of Pilgrimage: The Sacred Art, Journey to the Center of the Heart, which Spirituality & Practice selected as one of the 50 Best Spiritual Books of 2013.
This paperback is part of SkyLight Illuminations Series, books that provide "keys to opening the spiritual classics." Like others in the series, it presents original texts on one page with comments and annotations on the facing page. This gives the reader direct access to the wisdom of Hildegard of Bingen with the benefit of commentary from someone who has studied it for decades.
Hildegard of Bingen stands out in the medieval Christian tradition as an immensely accomplished visionary, abbess, composer, dramatist, poet, and healer. This German mystic was a religious solitary who lived a rigorous life of fasting and prayer and also became an abbess of a Benedictine religious community. She found time to leave behind an enormous personal correspondence of over 400 letters.
Hildegard was a very disciplined, creative, and charismatic woman whose visions often left her frazzled and ill. Two aspects of her spirituality that stand out are her experiences of "Living Light" and her zeal as a reformer. There are many firsts in her ministry including being the first saint whose official biography includes her own first-person memoir; she also was the most recognizable composer of her era known by name. Summing up Hildegard's legacy, Kujawa-Holbrook notes "her ability to address the many challenges and tribulations of her own time, across an incredible breadth of disciplines, and to such a wide audience."
This comprehensive overview of Hildegard's writings includes excerpts from her books, letters, descriptions of her visions, liturgical songs, and even scientific and medical works. Key themes are reflected in the chapter titles: Living Light, Blazing Fire, Divine Love, Holy Wisdom, Spiritual Community, Noble Greenness, God's Creation, Celestial Harmony, Healing Sciences, Women's Health, and Worldly Wisdom. Kujawa-Holbrook does a commendable job interpreting the often poetical and mystic writings of this accomplished saint. You will find many gems here, including this one sent to the Pope: "May the sweetest fragrance be in you. May you never grow weary on the path of justice."