Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Mother in the Trinity

“I, the fiery life of divine essence, am aflame beyond the beauty of the meadows.  I gleam in the waters, and I burn in the sun, moon and stars . . . . I awaken everything to life.”  --the voice of God revealed in the visions of St. Hildegard von Bingen and recorded in her book, Liber Divinorum

Just to explicate a little further on the Motherhood of God in the Trinity, I will use a human analogy.  The feminine principle, which I will call the "Bride", is contained within the Father.  Human marriage symbolizes this divine union, a God who has both a masculine and a feminine nature.  The Son is generated from this union.  The Holy Spirit comes into personhood as the maternal Love proceeding from the Father and Son, as a woman (bride) becomes fully mother only once her child is born.  The Father, then, is also inherently "Mother".  Ruah Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, can be mystically understood as the womb of God.  St. Hildegard of Bingen, recently made Doctor of the Church, saw the universe as an egg contained in the womb of God:

Hildegard, called the Sibyl of the Rhine, saw a vision from God of divine, feminine beings who were named Sapientia, Ecclesia, and Caritas.  These Latin words, respectively, mean Wisdom, Church, and Love.  While orthodox in her Catholicism, God appeared to Hildegard as Mother.  Her trinity of the divine feminine is almost exactly akin to my vision of Sophia at the heart of the Trinity, with the correspondences of Holy Wisdom, Holy Mother Church, and Shekinah (divine presence/glory cloud).  Surely Love is the divine Presence.  Ecclesia revealed herself to Hildegard as "the true, hidden Church".  Again the theme of the hidden quality of the feminine nature of God comes to the fore.  The following poem seems to indicate the feminine trinity within the Trinity.  Note the third wing which "hovers everywhere", a clear reference to the action of Ruah Elohim, the Spirit of God. 

O power of wisdom!
You encompassed the cosmos,
Encircling and embracing all in one living orbit
With your three wings:
One soars on high,
One distills the earth’s essence,
And the third hovers everywhere.
Hildegard von Bingen, O virtus sapientia

In September of 1999, Pope John Paul II told a crowd of pilgrims at St. Peter's Square that God has both a male and female nature and can be referred to as "God the Mother".  A similar declaration had been made by his predecessor, Pope John Paul I, shortly before his death, who said, "God is both mother and father and is more mother than father."  There is a long stream of Catholic tradition which acknowledges the motherly nature of God and the association of Lady Wisdom with the Holy Spirit, understood in feminine terms both by some early Fathers of the Church and in Judaism, before the birth of Christianity.  Yet it seems that this tradition has been intentionally suppressed, and language about God remains terribly lopsided toward the patriarchal.  Let us walk with the sainted abbess Hildegard awhile and see what else our Holy Doctor might reveal... 

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