We give thanks for the life and ministry of Saint Bernard, and for the privilege of being able to say the Daily Office in such wonderful surroundings as afforded by Seibels Chapel. And, we give especial thanks for our visitor this morning who is giving consideration to becoming an officiant.
So much has been written about Saint Bernard it would be repetitious and maybe boring for me to recite his biography from Lesser Feasts and Fasts or Holy Women Holy Men. So, beyond a few cursory remarks, I will leave that to the discretion of our readers to look into this on their own and maybe even go outside of those books to read about the Saint in more detail.
Personally, I was impressed by both scriptural readings which were assigned to celebrate Saint Bernard as well as the psalm assigned for the 20th day of the month.
The reading from Sirach reads particularly as if it was written as a description of the saint:
…he who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High will seek out the wisdom of all the ancients, and will be concerned with prophecies; he will preserve the discourse of notable men and penetrate the subtleties of parables; he will seek out the hidden meanings of proverbs and be at home with the obscurities of parables. He will serve among great men and appear before rulers; he will travel through lands of foreign nations for he tests the good and the evil among men.
Saint Bernard was a “fiery defender of the Church in the twelfth century” and was famed for his passion when he preached love for God “without measure”. (There is a very good discussion of Bernard’s view of the love of God in an article entitled ‘Praying with Bernard of Clairvaux” Christopher Yoder published this morning in the Living Church which has been posted on Facebook.)
Bernard was very concerned with the support of purity, doctrine, and prerogatives of the Church. When a former colleague monk was elected Pope as Eugenius III Bernard became a sort of like a presidential advisor and troubleshooter for him. He preached in favor of the Crusade against the Albigensians and the Second Crusade to liberate Jerusalem. Unfortunately, the failure of that crusade gave rise to many attacks and criticism of Bernard. He died soon thereafter in 1153 and was canonized in 1174.
“Among Bernard’s writings are treatises on papal duty, on love, on the veneration of Mary, and a commentary on the Song of Songs. And he is credited with writing a number of hymns “O sacred head sore wounded” “Jesus, the very thought of thee” and “Jesus thus joy of loving hearts.”
Remember the life and work of Saint Bernard today and pray the offices often.