Just like I celebrate baptismal anniversaries with my kids, I also celebrate their patronal feasts. I had two friends in college whose mother was from Catalunya, and they always celebrated their feast days. I loved the idea and filed it away till my own kids were born.
Hildegard has her name because St Hildegard of Bingen was declared a doctor of the church while I was pregnant with her. We thought about the name for the rest of the time I carried her, and it just seemed right.
Thanks to the Liturgical Press’s recent release of Robert Ellsberg’s Blessed Among Us, I have another choice to read aloud for these family celebrations. Today’s reflection on Hildegard is beautiful: “Within the cosmos, [Hildegard] wrote, human beings are the thinking heart, called to be cocreators with God in shaping the world. Both the cosmos and human beings, though estranged from God by sin, may through Christ find their way back to God’s original blessing” (Ellsberg, Sept 17, p. 536). The facing page is on Adrienne von Speyr – a lovely juxtaposition!
Obviously when you name a child you don’t know how appropriate the name will be. But Hildegard has fit my daughter from the moment she opened her eyes. Today for her saint’s day she enjoyed some special time with her little Saint Hildegard. She also looked at the images in our big St Hildegard book and chose one of her favorites, with the Holy Spirit pouring down on Hildegard’s face.
She got a new book today, too: Hildegard’s Gift by Megan Hoyt (YouTube preview!). The illustrations are lovely, and the book mentions Hildegard’s struggles with illness in a way that might go a bit over my three year old’s head, but shows her that gifts can be challenging, too.
I wish that the formation we offer for families in parishes did more encouraging of this kind of family tradition. Many younger parents today (like my husband and I) grew up in families where it wasn’t done. But these little traditions, in the end, do more to encourage the communion of the saints and our children’s love for their brothers and sisters beyond death than the talks and information we do offer them. And it shows them by example that death is not the end, and that the resurrection of Jesus is good news for all of us.
Liturgical Press kindly offered me a free copy of Blessed Among Us for sharing my delight in it in this post. The essays in the book were first published as the “Blessed Among Us” feature in Give Us This Day. All photos in the post are my own.