This is from a letter St. Hildegard of Bingen sent to Pope Anastasius IV in 1153 or 1154. It’s longer that what we usually post, and it’s written to a man, not a woman. But the wisdom here is so vivid—I found it impossible to leave out anything.
Bright defender and consummate leader of God’s holy City! Listen to the One who lives forever and never wearies. Your wisdom weakens. You’re tired, and the people around you are arrogant. Pull up these evil roots, who strangle the flowers and other good plants. You’ve turned your back on justice, who is God’s daughter. She was yours to protect, but you’ve merely stood by and watched her thrown to the ground by violent men, who trample her clothing and crown.
When these immature hypocrites call for “Peace!” their words are meaningless, like the din of barking dogs, and when they mouth platitudes (while they seethe inside), their attempt at harmony is nothing but a foul noise, like the stupid cackling of hens. They lie. They secretly want to bite someone—they’re like the dog that wags its tail before it sinks its teeth into a faithful knight. Why haven’t you corrected them? They’re blind and foolish. They love chaos. You’re supposed to fight evil!
Don’t forget that whatever God made, radiates. So listen. Before God made the world, he said to himself, “Here’s My dear Son!” and from this original Word, the world was formed. Then God said, “Be!” and all kinds of animals appeared. Our God creates, but evil is never creative. It’s nothing, merely the by-product of rebellion. Through his Son, God saved humanity, clearly rejecting immorality—stealing, stubbornness, murder, hypocrisy, and bullies.
That’s why you as pope must never collude with corruption. If you do, you confuse those who look to you as their leader, because in effect, you’re saying to them, “Embrace what’s really nothing.” You must be a mature leader. You must look to the mountains, to the community of clergy all around you, to strengthen your faith. If you humble yourself, they’ll lift you up.
Listen to the eternal One. Today many people have chosen to walk a lust-riddled path that leads straight to sadness. But healing comes from within. Then you’ll know abundant joy and the dawning of a fresh and abiding enthusiasm. You’ll realize anew how precious-beyond-words life is.
May you, Father and Shepherd, find the path of justice, because you don’t want to be reprimanded by the great Physician for not disciplining your sheep. Remember that—through penance—any thoughtless acts can be cleansed. Get back on the right path. God will guide you. He’ll lead you back into His flock, where you’ll feel His eternal blessing.
Our dear Hildegard wrote this to the pope! Well, you and I are not the pope, but how does Hildegard’s wisdom apply to our situations? What’s your favorite line from this letter? Please discuss!