A second letter from Guibert to Hildegard, 14 August 1175

Guibert, least of the servants of God, to his very reverend mother and lady in Christ, Hildegard: may you be found ready, with your lamp prepared, among the wise virgins when the bridegroom comes.

After our letter was lately sent to the presence of your blessedness by the hand of Sister Ida, I and your other friends in our district waited with earnest hope for your honour's replies to the questions we had asked. But when she returned to us, we learned from her words that our hope was, if not completely in vain, at least delayed at the very pitch of the joy of our consolation. For she recounted that you had both received the greetings in our letter kindly and also paid careful attention to its contents, often repeated to you at your bidding, but that you had postponed a reply to my questions (which I had made known either in the letter itself or had explained to you for us in person by the same woman that brought you the letter) until the requested divine power should deign to reveal how they should be answered. We also learned that you could easily have answered some of our questions at once but that you had not wanted to reply to them at present, because of the ones that you wouldn't answer from your own judgement, but had rather arranged this, that if we would send a certain messenger after the feast of the Assumption of the Ever-Virgin was over, in accordance with a sign that you had given, you would send the response to both sets of questions together.

Having heard this, although we were still somewhat saddened by the delay, still we rejoiced abundantly because of the richer fruits of happiness which the aforementioned woman promised us from your holiness' replies, giving thanks humbly both to Divine Providence and to your kindness. Meanwhile when the aforesaid feast was drawing near, while we were earnestly looking for someone whom we could send to the reverend presence of your sweetness -- and no one readily presented himself because everyone was busy with harvest-time -- lo! Unexpectedly, because of a change of mind and by a plan that he had previously rejected completely, the noble man Lord Siger of Wavre, outstanding among your friends dwelling with us, sending one of his men to us, indicated that he would be beginning a journey to you on that very day of the Assumption of Christ's Mother and would deliver my letter if I wanted to write to you. I gave thanks for the good will of our compassionate friend and especially for God, by Whose command what I could scarcely accomplish by myself alone with labour and expense worked out freely for me.

At once on the eve of the aforesaid festival I set to work to write this present letter, strongly entreating that you would deign to unfold to us now (together with those questions which were asked in our earlier letter) what we forgot to ask in it, that is: whether you behold your visions while sleeping, in dreams, or while awake, in an absence of mind; whether you have assigned crowns to be worn by your nuns out of divine revelation or for reason of adornment and why in this matter that we have heard is among them a diversity of opinion is present; why also is the title of your book "Scivias"; does it mean "knowing the ways" or can it be interpreted in some better way; and whether you have written any other books. I also beg you, by the faith that you own to God that you do not find it troublesome to unravel these questions for me, along with the other questions that I asked in our earlier letter.

Your friends staying here with us greet you through me, no less in this letter than in the earlier one, beseeching that you deign to intercede with God for their needs. And I especially ask and implore by the name and love of Jesus Christ that you sigh out prayers and petitions for me, your poor servant, that the mercy of God might appear the more favourable to me, the more I offend against his commandments, disobedient and made useless to Him. For I am living like a beast, following my senses; bearing the priestly order and the habit of a monk without priestly purity and the obedience of a monk, I incurred greater judgement. Singing in choir or serving at the altar, often relapsing into foul and noxious thoughts and always idle, I fully fear neither the present mystery of God nor the sight of his angels. Although I am chiefly set in the midst of spiritual enemies and in a very dangerous place, I prepare no defence and, like one indolent and stunned, I do not even dare to take up arms. Unconcerned without reason for my debt of ten thousand talents, I have no fear about the accounting that I shall make to the Judge for it, nor about the chains and prison of the debt-collector which await defaulters.

And so pray for the mercy of Almighty God that He might make me, seized with a salutary fear, both understand how many and how serious these my dangers are, and also become afraid of them once understood; that He might dissolve the bond, poorly sweetened and weakened by some medicinal bitterness, between me and my flesh or the present life; that He might cause me, although constrained and compelled, to flee to him and might sustain me as I flee with the open embrace of His tenderness. Pray also that at the same time He may restrain my dear friend (whom I warned you about in my earlier letter, without mentioning his name) from the vain pursuit of earthly things and enkindle him with a desire for heavenly things by the grace of His Spirit.

Farewell in Christ, reverend mother.

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