MONDAY THE TWENTIETH OF AUGUST, 2018
High and holy God, give me this day a word of truth to silence the lies that would devour my soul and kind encouragements to strengthen me when I fall. Gracious one, I come quietly to your door needing to receive from your hands the nourishment that gives life. Amen and Amen.
( Bernard of Clairvaux )
O Jesus, king most wonderful, O conqueror renowned,
your sweetness most ineffable, in whom all joys are found!
Once you have visited the heart, the truth begins to shine,
then earthly vanities depart, then kindles love divine.
O Jesus, light of all below, the fount of life and fire,
surpassing all the joys we know, and all we can desire.
Your wondrous mercies are untold, through each returning day;
your love exceeds a thousand fold, whatever we can say.
May every heart confess your name and ever you adore;
and seeking you, itself inflame, to seek you more and more.
You may our tongues forever bless; you may we love alone;
and ever in our lives express the image of your own.
( Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091–1153 )
MEDITATION by Tim Madsen
Bernard of Clairvaux: terrible, yet tender, in his love for Christ
While today is a feria day at Saint Laika’s, some calendars suggest remembering Saint Bernard of Clairvaux on this day. Bernard was a man driven to passionate action by his faith and love for Christ. This had both a tender side and a terrible side. As such Bernard is a worthy subject for our attention because he helps us to see the interior struggle of many Christians, wrestling both with God’s grace and mercy and with human nature and sin.
Bernard was a Benedictine monk but he left his community with a number of other brothers to found a new, stricter order, known as Cistercians. They established themselves at the monastery of Clairvaux, France in 1115. He instituted such a harsh regimen during the monastery’s first year, that the monks became discouraged and threatened to leave. He softened his rule and the monastery took root and grew.
He wrote treatises and letters on virtually every controversy that affected the Church in the twelfth century. He took on Peter Abelard and vigorously disputed with him the place of reason in Christian doctrine (he favoured less reason, more mysticism). He wrote to the Pope a treatise warning of the temptations to which wielders of spiritual power were subjected.
He encouraged the Church, by his preaching, to rise up and suppress the French heretics known as Cathars. Many individuals were subjected to intimidation and torture and many innocent people were killed in the name of Christ and the Church. On the other hand he was a vociferous defender of the Jews at a time in Europe when many advocated their destruction. He personally confronted those who called for the slaughter of Jews and the forcefulness of his preaching quelled the movement. To this day many Jews in the Rhineland honour Bernard as a “righteous gentile.”
He was most tender in his devotion to Christ and has left us the texts of several hymns that are still in use by the Christian Church. Perhaps the most famous of these is “Jesu dulcis memoria,” here in a translation by Edward Caswall:
“Jesus, the very thought of you fills us with sweet delight;
but sweeter far your face to view and rest within your light.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame, nor can the mind recall
a sweeter sound than your blessed name, O saviour of us all.”
By the time of his death, on this date in 1153, his Cistercian order had spread to sixty monasteries.
Scripture. In the fifteenth chapter of "John," at verse nine and ten we read:
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
... for peace in the world.
... that we may so order our lives that we have the time and state of mind to contemplate Christ's sacrifice for us and so become more united with him in his resurrection life.
... for beekeepers, chandlers, advertisers, wax melters and refiners and all who claim Bernard of Clairvaux as their patron.
... for those who suffer from malaria; for those who care for them when they are sick and for the success of those searching for ways to treat and control the disease. DETAILS
... for the people of Hungary who celebrate their national day today.
... for the people of Venezuela, in particular, for those trying to escape the chaos in the country. DETAILS
... for the people of the Indonesian island of Lombok which has been shaken by two strong earthquakes, after weeks of tremors that have killed hundreds of people. DETAILS
... for those who have died recently and for those who mourn their passing.
... for those who are unwell and for those caring for them.
... for those, both close to us and far off, who we hold in our personal prayers.
... for ourselves.
THE LORD'S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.
From “On Loving God" by Bernard de Clairvaux:
To love our neighbour's welfare as much as our own: that is true and sincere charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. Whosoever loves his own prosperity only is proved thereby not to love good for its own sake since he loves it on his own account. And so he cannot sing with the psalmist, "0 give thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious." Such a man would praise God, not because he is goodness, but because he has been good to him: he could take to himself the reproach of the same writer, "So long as you do well unto him, he will speak good of you."
One praises God because he is mighty, another because he is gracious, yet another solely because he is essential goodness. The first is a slave and fears for himself; the second is greedy, desiring further benefits; but the third is a son who honours his father. He who fears, he who profits, are both concerned about self-interest. Only in the son is that charity which seeks not her own.
Charity alone is able to turn the soul away from love of self and of the world to pure love of God. Neither fear not self—interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire. Sometimes a slave may do God's work; but because he does not toil voluntarily, he remains in bondage. So a mercenary may serve God, but because he puts a price on his service, he is enchained by his own greediness. For where there is self-interest there is isolation and such isolation is like the dark corner of a room where dust and rust befoul. Fear is the motive which constrains the slave; greed binds the selfish man, by which he is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. But neither fear nor self-interest is undefiled, nor can they convert the soul. Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.
O God, by whose grace your servant Bernard of Clairvaux, kindled with the flame of your love, became a burning and a shining light in your Church: grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline and walk before you as children of light; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
NOW LIGHT A CANDLE
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