Converted Prudently

From “Second Sermon for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost,” Homilies on the Gospels (ca. 1175)

“The master praised the steward of iniquity.” In other words, God praised the will, since it demonstrated its conversion to the angels and saintly souls… The Lord praised him because he had acted prudently, that is, because although the human will had first turned itself away from the good, it finally converted prudently to another path where it would discover its Lord.

“For the children of this age are more prudent in their own generation than the children of light.” Sinners living in the world are more prudent because when sinners reject and leave their sins behind in repentance, with their entire progeny of penitents, by this they become more prudent than the evil angels… When sinners do penance for evil acts, so that they receive glory for their repentance, the evil angels who led them to such iniquities are confounded.

The one who offers remission of sins to sinners says to the penitents… “Make virtues for yourself from the sprouting of iniquity, that is, of vices, so that you may associate virtues to yourselves by repentance, and leave behind the burning lust of vices. In that way, when you lack vices, and you do not want to sin further, they will receive you, repentant and renewed into the pastures of life where there is no lack of security and the fullness of eternal joys.

St. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a German Benedictine abbess, mystic, and scholar, who wrote extensively on scientific and religious subjects and was among the most influential figures of her age. She received a series of visions late in life, which she interpreted in several volumes of speculative theology, which have been appreciatively received among modern believers. Her Homilies on the Gospels record homilies which she delivered to members of her community. Her feast day is January 17. The text is adapted from the translation of B.M. Keinzle (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2011).


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