"Saints of Empowered Prayer: St. Bernard of Clairvaux"
St.Bernard of Clairvaux:St. Bernard was a young man who threw everything away for God when he
was scarcely out of his teens, became a
leader of men before he was twenty-five,
and became the conscience of the West for awhole
generation. He was known as the "Harpist of Mary", "Our Lady's
Troubadour", and the "Panegyrist of the Mother of God".
Bernard was born in 1090, six
years before the first crusade, and his father was Tescelin Sorrel, a noble belonging
to a prominent Burgundian family.Tescelin
and his wife, Aletha, had many sons and daughters, and the sonsof the family were dedicated to arms. Bernard
found a different kind of adventure, and when he was twenty-two,
having gathered an "army" of friends and relatives
to follow him, he entered the abbey
of Citeaux, the strictest monastery
of the day. His coming revitalized the monastery, and before he died there were
over three hundred Cistercian monasteries, scattered
from England to Palestine.
At the age
of twenty-five, St.
Bernard became abbot of Clairvaux and began there a preaching and teaching mission
that made him the symbol of his age.
He became embroiled in political and theological controversies, battled the
dubious teaching of men like Peter Abelard, and
attacked the soft livingof the monks of his
day who had settled into a comfortable way of life.
He became the adviser of kings, princes,cardinals, and even the popes themselves when one of his
monks became Pope Eugene III.
In the midst of his travels Bernard wanted to remain at
Clairvaux and called himself the riddle of his age since he had to spend so
much time outside his monastery. It was said that mothers hid their sons and
wives hid their husbands when Bernard was in the territorysince so manyfollowed himinto the cloister.
For over forty years, Bernard was the light of the Church,
and when he died in 1153 he had influenced every
major figure in his century. His memory is kept
alive in the Cistercian Order, and the Church honors him as
the "Honey-Tongued Teacher," the one who spoke so
sweetly and so eloquently of God and His mysteries.
Dante enshrined him in his Divine Comedy and made him the spokesman for the
mystical life and for those who love and honor Mary. "Look
to the Star,Look upon Mary,"St. Bernard wrote, "and she will rescue you from every
sin,temptation and misery." This shining
devotion to the Blessed Virgin Maryis
at the very heart of Catholic devotion, and Bernard best exemplifies this
childlike love of the Mother of God. It
is something to be imitated. Bernard was canonized in 1174
and was declared a Doctor of the Church in
1830. His feast day is August 20th.
1)The life of St. Bernard shows us what God
can do when someone hands their life over completely to God. Have I done so, or
am I still living for myself?