"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Hymn: Wisdom's Praises

Wisdom, we praise you, Creator of all,
Granting your law as a life-giving call;
Parting the Red Sea with powerful hand,
Leading through desert to new promised land.

Wisdom, we praise you, enfleshed at our door,
Welcoming children and feeding the poor;
Teaching your people, awaiting your hour,
Dying in birth pangs and rising in pow’r.

Wisdom, we praise you, O sweet fragrant breath,
Transforming evil and conquering death;
Dancing in beauty, your love never ends,
Making us prophets and calling us friends.

Wisdom, we praise you, our great One in Three:
Mother of mercy as deep as the sea,
Christ, gentle servant of greatest and least,
Spirit who calls us to the joy of the feast.

Text: Laura M. Grimes, in loving memory of Catherine Mowry LaCugna
Tune: Slane (Be Thou My Vision)

Here's a gently inclusive Trinitarian hymn dedicated to my M.A. adviser and original Ph.D. doktormutter, Catherine Mowry LaCugna; I miss her brilliance and advocacy for me on earth and treasure the evaluation officially affirming that I was the best of the first year doctoral students (with a nursing baby!) but am very grateful for her generous intercession for all the ways I live my theological vocation. Her tragic death from breast cancer prevented my completing the dissertation with her as well as, more importantly, the completion of a crucial work of pneumatology (theology of the Holy Spirit) following up on her groundbreaking God With Us: The Trinity and Christian Life.

Catherine was a courageous pioneer of the first generation of professional women theologians; the misogyny she faced, even greater than I did, meant she was never able to have a family herself which likely contributed to the severe and early onset breast cancer that took her seven years younger than I am now. She was a poised and eloquent speaker but one of my dearest memories is when she had the guts to call me in the hospital after the car accident that killed my Rachel and admit she felt terribly awkward and had no idea what to say. I was so glad that she got to meet tiny Nicholas shortly before her death and treasure the long time I spent nursing him and praying by her body in the Lady Chapel and the next day at the funeral mass and sunlit procession to the cemetery at the edge of campus.

I felt her through the touch and words of her dearest friend and housemate, "May you always find joy in theology," during the sisterly blessings at my farewell Vespers on the feast of Mary Magdalene before I left for my first full time teaching position. It was a great joy to sing the hymn in worship with a full cafeteria of Methodist seminarians during intensive residence week the year I taught a mostly online course. And I knew her blessing again when I received the award named for her from the Catholic Theological Society of America for an article on Gertrud and Augustine that was adapted from one of my dissertation chapters--a huge affirmation given the many sacrifices and challenges of academic mothering!

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