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Title: A Retreat with Gerard Manley Hopkins and Hildegard of Bingen: Turning Pain into Power
Author: Gloria Hutchinson
St. Anthony Messenger Press, Cincinnati, OH, pp. 124

Excerpt from Jacket of Book:

Your directors for this retreat, Turning Pain into Power, are Jesuit priest-poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Hopkins, a profound appreciator of life, suffered frequent bouts of melancholia and depression. Without benefit of worldly success for his poetry, the consolation of family life or the elation of fully investing his gifts, Hopkins remained hopeful, often cheerful and ever faithful to Christ. He enkindles us with grace to burn brightly and live justly.

Hildegard, gifted with visions since childhood, recorded her wisdom, guiding readers through the mysteries of the Bible, the complexities of the moral life and the narrow gate into the Kingdom. She became prophet, teacher, preacher and diplomat.

Excerpts from Book:

On Hildegard: Sitting slightly apart from them, the abbess [Hildegard] is as content as a mother hen with a healthy brood. Amused by an anecdote about a befuddled monk, she laughs long and commends the storyteller. A young novice arches her eyebrow, signaling her disapproval.

Mother Hildegard is not one to let a teaching opportunity escape her. Secure in her knowledge of human anatomy and psychology, she takes the novice aside to enlighten her.

"Laughter is a healthy thing. It promotes respiration and breath is life; it carries blood through tissues and muscles, liver and spleen. It is true that raucousness makes the spleen fat. But laughter is from the heart."

On Hopkins: Ignatian spirituality is also characterized by a sacramental awareness of creation. One biographer of the saint, Pedro de Ribadeneira, observed that Ignatius, at the sight of a single leaf or common earthworm, could "reach through into things which lie beyond the senses." The founder urged young Jesuits to seek God in the enjoyment of landscapes, pleasant walks, good conversations and other pursuits that exercise the senses. In this regard, Gerard Manley Hopkins was perfectly obedient to his spiritual father's teaching.

From the Retreat: Ordinary life is a prudent shoplifter. While we are attending to other things, it depletes our inventory. If we fail to nab the culprit in time, we become the victims of a first-class felony. The crime? We have been robbed of our commitment to follow Christ with all our hearts, minds and souls. The means by which the criminal deed was done? Tools of the trade include: chronic worry, overwork, depression, exhaustion, sickness, failures and losses of every hue.

Oddly enough, these same tools, in the hands of the saints, achieve the opposite effect. They do not deplete; they build up inner treasure. They do not weaken; they generate strength. They prove Paul's assertion: "For whenever I am weak, then am I strong."

Table of Contents:

Getting to know the directors

Day One: Catching the Windhover

Day Two: Becoming a Feather

Day Three: Relishing the Juice and Joy

Day Four: Make Music to the Lord

Day Five: Being Each Other's Comfort Kind

Day Six: Being at One with Ourselves

Day Seven: Seeking Rain for Our Roots

Go Forth to Live the Theme