St Bernard, Abbot & Doctor – 20 Aug
Born to the French nobility; brother of Saint Humbeline. At age 22, fearing the ways of the world, he, four of his brothers, and 25 friends joined the abbey of Citeaux; his father and another brother joined soon after. Benedictine. Founded and led the monastery of Clairvaux which soon had over 700 monks and eventually 160 daughter houses. Revised and reformed the Cistercians. Advisor to, and admonisher of, King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young. Attended the Second Lateran Council. Fought Albigensianism. Helped end the schism of anti-Pope Anacletus II. Preached in France, Italy, and Germany. Helped organize the Second Crusade. Friend and biographer of Saint Malachy O’More. Spritual advisor to Pope Eugene III, who had originally been one of his monks. First Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius VIII.
Every morning Bernard would ask himself, “Why have I come here?”, and then remind himself of his main duty – to lead a holy life.
St Bernard was born in 1090 at Fontaines-les-Dijon, Burgundy, France and died on 20 August, 1153 at Clairvaux Abbey, Ville-sous-la-Ferte, Aube, France.
In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal. – Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
Love is sufficient of itself; it gives pleasure by itself and because of itself. It is its own merit, its own reward. Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself. Its profit lies in the practice. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return. The sole purpose of his love is to be loved, int he knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him. – from a sermon by Saint Bernard
Look at that clever calumniator! He begins by fetching a deep sigh, he affects to be humble, and puts on a modest look, and with a voice choking with sobs tries to gloss over the slander which is on the tip of his tongue One would fancy that he expressly assumed a calm and easy demeanor; for when he speaks against his brother, it is in a tender and compassionate tone. I am really hurt, says he, to find that our brother has fallen into such a sin; you all know how much I love him, and how often I have tried to correct him. It is not today that I have noticed his failing; for I should always be on my guard to speak of others, but others have spoken of it too. It would be in vain to disguise the fact; it is only too true, and with tears in my eyes I tell it to you. This poor unfortunate brother has talent, but it must be confessed that he is very guilty, and however great may be our friendship for him, it is impossible to excuse him. – Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 24th sermon on the Canticles