Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

St. Bernard was a most holy and zealous priest, as well as teacher, for the monks and people he served. At a time when some of the religious orders had pulled away from the Rule of St. Benedict, Bernard brought reform to the Cistercians. As a preacher he disputed the many heresies which had arisen during his life. A faithful pastor and shepherd, he sought to establish a unity amongst the many factions of the day. He used the mission and ministry of Jesus as his starting point in the various situations which he found himself in. The Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus were more than parts of a theology.

For St. Bernard it was very important for ones life to become a 'sign' of what we believed in. In the society in which Bernard lived, being a monk was a guarantee of food, clothing, and a bed. Bernard rejected what monasteries had become. Even worse was that some places were a great source of income for the Abbot and some of the monks. Bernard believed that these places needed to remain a place of prayer and solitude. More so, the monastery should be a space where men and women kept prayerful vigil awaiting the coming of the Lord.

To be sure his reforms were not all that well received. But the work of faith sometimes has to call us back to our source, our beginnings. At Easter we re-pronounce our baptismal promises. Unfortunately this too can become so rote that we do not pay attention to what we are saying. I is important to mean what we say we believe in. The invitation we have to to get in touch with that child, innocent and full of joy, who was brought to the Baptismal font so many years ago.

This week maybe we could re-read the Apostles Creed. Bless ourselves with holy water and consider why we are genuflecting before the Eucharist. We could have our own little Clairvaux experience and come out the other side renewed.

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