Solemnity of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
(Wisdom 7: 7-10, 15-16, Philippians 3:17-4:1, John 17: 20-26)
Following the example of Saint Bernard, we should strive to serve the Church. We are called to be a sacrament to the world of the risen Lord in simplicity and truth. All of us are familiar with the story of how Bernard bringing 30 relatives and friends to the fledgling monastery of Citeaux. After he was named abbot of a new foundation, Bernard transformed the valley of Wormwood or Bitterness into the valley of light, Clairvaux. He was dedicated to a sober and measured life, at the table, in clothing and monastic buildings. He was also dedicated to the support and care of the poor.
Following in his footsteps, we are called to be aglow with the Fire of Divine Love and walk as children of Light. With our ancestor in faith, Solomon, let us cling to Wisdom Incarnate, whose radiance never fades. Following the example of Saint Bernard, let us find light and life in our communal life and prayer as we await the return of our savior. Faith is first and foremost a personal, intimate encounter with the living Lord. It is having an experience of his closeness, his mercy, and his love. Love is the strongest force of the spiritual life. God, who is love, created us for love, and through love He redeems us. The salvation of all human beings, mortally wounded by original sin and overwhelmed by personal sins consists in clinging tenaciously to that divine love, which was fully revealed to us in Christ Crucified and Risen. Ponder these words: “Are you troubled? Think of Jesus – speak the name of Jesus, the clouds disperse, and peace descends anew from heaven. Have you fallen into sin? So that you fear death? ..invoke the name of Jesus and you will soon feel life returning. No stubbornness of the soul, no weakness, no coldness of heart can resist this holy name – every heart will soften and open in tears at the mention of this holy name.”
Let us follow the example of Saint Bernard and strive to bring harmony and communion to the Church. The Word of Truth and the Bread of Life are offered to us as food for the journey and guides to our heavenly homeland. “All food of the soul is dry unless it is moistened with this oil; insipid unless it is seasoned with this salt.” By pondering the inspired Word, we grow in wisdom. By eating the Bread of Life we gain a foretaste of heaven. Saint Bernard closed his reflections on consideration with these beautiful words: “The search for God who is not yet sufficiently sought must be continued, yet it may be easier to search for him and find him in prayer rather than in discussion. So let us end the book here, but not the search and journey toward God.”
In the afterglow of the Assumption, allow me to conclude these reflections on St Bernard with his invocations to Mary. “In danger, in distress, in uncertainty, think of Mary, call upon Mary. She never leaves your lips, she never departs from your heart; and so that you may obtain the help of her prayers, never forget the example of her life. If you follow her, you cannot falter; if you pray to her, you cannot despair; if you think of her, you cannot waver. If she sustains you, you will not stumble; if she protects you, you have nothing to fear; if she guides you, you will never flag; if she is favorable to you, you will attain your goal…” (Hom. II super Missus est, 17: PL 183, 70-71).