Main | Prayer Partners (David Burman, SHH '13) »
Wednesday
Feb202013

It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)

St. Hilda is symbolic. She was a dedicated worker who demonstrated the incarnational presence of Christ crucified by her enduring service, sacrifice and love. It is said that she was ill with a fever for years before she died, and all the while she was still working and building up the Church.

For those of you who do not know about the Lenten craze sweeping the nation, according to the website lentmadness.org, “Lent Madness began in 2010 as the brainchild of the Rev. Tim Schenck. In seeking a fun, engaging way for people to learn about the men and women comprising the Church’s Calendar of Saints, Tim came up with this unique Lenten devotion. Combining his love of sports with his passion for the lives of the saints…”

So whether you think pitting one saint against another in an online popularity contest is fun or heretical, it is clear that the intention of Lent Madness is to inspire Christian education of the Episcopal Calendar of Saints, and promoting discussions about the lives of the saints. Lent Madness is sponsored by the Forward Movement who publishes the daily devotionals, Forward Day by Day.

Lent Madness is causing a stir outside of the Church as well, with articles written about it published by the Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-tim-schenck/lent-saints-alive_b_1385393.html, and recently from USA Today,http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/06/saints-lent-ncaa-march-madness/1896965/.

On February 21st, St. Hilda of Whitby will square off against Samuel Seabury. “Celebrity bloggers” from the Lent Madness website will post a brief history of both individuals and then the rest of us will have 24 hours to cast our votes, 8am-8am EST. 

Vote against Samuel Seabury? I could not possibly vote against the first bishop of Connecticut, the man who is responsible for ensuring that the Episcopal Church maintained apostolic succession. Seabury’s connection to my state and to Yale is undeniable and as a resident of New Haven how could I possibly vote against him? Despite the internal conflict this may cause, I have reconciled my decision by telling myself, I am voting for St. Hilda, not against Seabury. 

some of the deaconesses of Saint Hilda'sBut why vote for St. Hilda? In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I am an alum of the Episcopal Service Corps young adult program-St. Hilda’s House, http://sainthildashouse.org. Why is the program named after St. Hilda? “In 1910, Fr. Frederick Burgess established deaconesses in habit (nun's garb) to be resident at Christ Church. They lived in a residence called Saint Hilda's House; they would serve the sacristy of the church, the children of the church school, and the poor and orphaned of New Haven until the early seventies operating a free medicine clinic, soup kitchen, and many other ministries.  In remembrance of their work and in that tradition, we have retained the name Saint Hilda's House.” 

So one of the reasons I may be inclined to vote for the abbesses and founder of the abbey at Whitby may be because I was a part of a program that bears her name. But beyond this obvious connection, St. Hilda is symbolic. She was a dedicated worker who demonstrated the incarnational presence of Christ crucified by her enduring service, sacrifice and love.

It is said that she was ill with a fever for years before she died, and all the while she was still working and building up the Church. Born in 614 AD, it could not have been easy as a woman to find a leadership role in an often patriarchal church. She followed the call to become a nun when she was 33, (the presumed age of our Lord when he was crucified) and though her own sacrifice would mean that she would never get married, have children, have a lover, etc., she made a difficult choice that helped bring Christianity to England and lead the way for Samuel Seabury and so many others. 

In his The Ecclesiastical History of the English, the Venerable St. Bede had this to say about St. Hilda, “All who knew her called her mother because of her outstanding devotion and grace". St. Bede was known to be a pretty accurate historian and I don’t believe him to be someone who would heap lavish praise onto another if it was unfounded. So if we are to believe this saint and early Church historian, then there was something extraordinary about St. Hilda, something we have yet to discover. I often feel that I simply do not know enough about St. Hilda because she did not write confessions, or volumes of theological work.

She did not have the leisure time to create tomes espousing her beliefs. St. Hilda “rolled up her sleeves” and did the work she felt called by God to do. In this way St. Hilda is like a kindred spirit. I may never write a great theological work, or be able to craft an impressive apologia for some doctrinal belief, but I can roll up my sleeves and do the work I feel called to do.  

But Hilda is not just an extension of my idealized self. St. Hilda established her own rule of life at Whitby, and was apparently known for her great wisdom. Church bells that were 13 miles away were heard at the moment of her death, and a devout nun saw St. Hilda’s soul being “borne to heaven by angels.” Looking at her icon; a stately woman holding a crosier in one hand and Whitby Abbey in the other, I have no doubt that although I may never fully understand who she was, The Episcopal Church USA, The Anglican Church, and The world-wide Anglican Communion, all owe her a debt of gratitude.
The very least I can do to show my love and thanksgiving for this great woman is cast my vote on her behalf. (And yes, I’m fully aware that if St. Hilda were alive today she would tell me to stop wasting my time on silliness and get back to work-here’s hoping she also had a great sense of humor). 

 

References (11)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Response: Freebies For Free
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Response: speaking of
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Response: rug steam cleaning
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Response: Newsy
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)
  • Response
    Response: Warmgangeinhausung
    Saint Hilda's House - The Saint Hilda's Blog - It is Meet and Right: Why I am voting for Saint Hilda in Lent Madness (Sarah Raven, Ascension House and SHH '12)

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>