Friday, September 10, 2010

The Pope, St. Hildegard, and Authentic Supernatural Gifts

Starting last week, and continuing this week, Pope Benedict XVI focused in his Wednesday audience on what he referred to as the "Exemplary Ministry of Authority" of the ever fascinating St. Hildegard of Bingen (whose story, like that of so many others, really throws a spanner in the works of the tired old narrative that the medieval Catholic Church was oppressive to women or something).

Anyhow, what particularly caught my attention were these words from the Pope's address last week:

The sign of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, the source of all charisms, is that the individual possessing supernatural gifts never boasts of them, never shows them off and, above all, demonstrates complete obedience to ecclesiastical authority. All gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit are, in fact, intended for the edification of the Church and it is the Church, through her pastors, who recognises their authenticity.

The converse, of course, is also true. Namely: if an individual who supposedly possesses supernatural gifts does boast of them, or shows them off, or, above all, fails to demonstrate complete obedience to ecclesiastical authority, then sure as shootin', he's a fraud.

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