Gregory The Great; Translated by Dom David Hurst OSB
At the dividing line between Antiquity and the Middle Ages, scholar-diplomat-pastor-writer-pope Gregory the Great drew on his profound knowledge of Scripture and his personal experience to preach the Gospel. These forty homilies show the practical concerns Gregory faced as well as the theological expectations he had of his flock.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098—1179) describes the virtue of Fortitude teaching the other virtues in the fire of the Holy Spirit. Like Fortitude, Hildegard was enkindled by the Holy Spirit and edified many with her teaching. Hildegard of Bingen's Homilies on the Gospels are here translated for the first time from Latin into English. Hildegard's sisters recorded and preserved her informal preaching in this collection of homilies on twenty-seven gospel pericopes. As teacher and superior to her sisters, Hildegard probably spoke to them in the chapter house, with the scriptural text either before her or recited from memory, according to Benedictine liturgical practice. The Homilies on the Gospels prove essential for comprehending the coherent theological vision that Hildegard constructs throughout her works, including the themes of salvation history, the drama of the individual soul, the struggle of virtues against vices, and the life-giving and animating force of greenness (uiriditas). Moreover, the Homilies on the Gospels establish Hildegard as the only known female systematic exegete of the Middle Ages. Beverly Mayne Kienzle, John H. Morison Professor of the Practice in Latin and Romance Languages, Harvard Divinity School, has published several books on medieval sermons and preaching, including Hildegard of Bingen and Her Gospel Homilies (2009); Hildegard of Bingen, Expositiones euangeliorum, coedited with Carolyn Muessig (2007); and The Sermon: Typologie des sources du moyen Âge occidental, fasc. 81—83 (2000).
The brief, unforgettable homilies in this second collection of monastic homilies speak of the human realities and are no less applicable to persons in the parish than they are to monks. A profound devotion to Christ underlies them all. Some are startling; all are challenging and marked by spontaneity and exquisite imagery. Preached after more than nine years in solitude, these short sermons reflect a mature experience with a unique mix of wry humor and utter seriousness.
In these homilies Matthew Kelty speaks to his brothers in community, challenging them 'to remove from their vision what is false and fraudulent, artificial and contrived'. This is the task not only of monks but of all Christians seeking God.