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"Whatever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man...When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
Edmund Burke


St. Bernard of Clairvaux: His Experience of God's Love Proved the Pen Mightier than the Sword

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Died August 20th 1153 at the age of 62.
Canonized January 18, 1174, Rome by Pope Alexander III
Patron of Burgundy, beekeepers, candlemakers, Knights Templar
Honoured in the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Before the reformers of the Protestant Reformation were reformers like St. Bernard. Saints who reformed the Church from within while preserving the unity of the body of Christ. Many today might forget that even as early as the twelfth century the prospects for the Church, the bride of Christ in the world, looked grim. The Church in that time faced spiritual decline, possible schism from heresy, and the threat of militant Islam. But even more mightily than Charlemagne's sword centuries earlier, St. Bernard's pen moved in defense of Christendom. The mellifluous voice from Clairvaux Abbey attacked moral decadence, heretics and schismatics, and the military threat from Islam. Bernard's devotion to Christ, St. Mary, and all the Angels and Saints led him to experience the love of God in a way that impressed bishops, kings and commoners alike.

The more sophisticated but spiritually decadent theologians and academics of his time, like Peter Abelard, were no matched for his simple but pure devotion to the teachings of the Gospel. Anti-popes like Anacletus II and Christian heretics like the Cathars alike could not temper the zeal with which he defended the Orthodox Faith. And meditating upon the feats of the Maccabees and the just war teachings of St. Augustine, he seamlessly fused the seemingly contradictory professions of monk and warrior into a new knighthood.  If there's anything we should remember today in remembering St. Bernard it is that man may try to rationalize God in his mind in vain, but it is opening one's heart to God's word that is the key to loving and understanding God. And that it is therefore evangelization and living a holy life, and not ecumenism and merely being scholarly, that is the key to the unity of the church.

At the end of his life Saint Bernard confessed to being conflicted by his desire to serve Christ in this world and have his soul reunited with God.  Reciting one of the many verses from Sacred Scripture which he knew by heart, he repeated Saint Paul's words in Philippians 1:23 . “I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far".

Now let us pray to God and take to heart the words and exoteric experience of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux:

Rejoice Jerusalem, and recognize now the time in which you are visited! Be glad and give praise together, wastes of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people. He has ransomed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm in the sight of all peoples. O virgin of Israel, you were fallen and there was none to raise you up. Arise now and shake off the dust, O virgin, captive daughter of Sion. Arise, I say, and stand on high. See the happiness which comes to you from your God. You will no longer be referred to as the forsaken one, nor your land any more termed a wilderness; for the Lord takes his delight in you, and your land shall be peopled. Raise your eyes, look about you and see; all these are gathered together and come to you. Here is the help sent to you from the Holy One! Through them is already fulfilled the ancient promise, “I will make you the pride of the ages, a joy from generation to generation. You will suck the milk of the nations and be nourished at the breasts of their sovereignty.” And again, “As a mother consoles her children, so will I console you, and in Jerusalem you will be comforted.”


St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Wikipedia)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: On Loving God

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: In Praise of the New Knighthood