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Saturday, August 20, 2005
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 20
Double (1955 Calendar): August 20

Today the Church remembers St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), abbot and Doctor of the Church, who was canonized, 21 years after his death. He is referred to as the second founder of the Cistercians, the Mellifluous Doctor, the Apostle of the Crusades, the miracle-worker, the reconciler of kings, the leader of peoples, and the counselor of popes. In 1830, he was given the title of Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius VIII.

He was born in 1090, the third son of a noble Burgundian family. At an early age he was sent to college at Chatillon. He studied Holy Scripture and Theology. St. Bernard, at the age of 22, entered the monastery of Citeaux (where the Cistercian order began) following the death of his mother and fearing the ways of the world. He convinced 25 other youths in the noble class as well as four his brothers to follow him. His father and a fifth brother later followed. St. Stephen, the abbot at Citeaux, after seeing the great progress of Bernard in the spiritual life, sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery. St. Bernard would found the famous Abbey of Clairvaux. St. Bernard became abbot in 1115; he founded numerous other monasteries too. St. Bernard dedicated his work, De Consideratione, to his disciple, Bernard of Pisa, who later became Pope Eugene III. Pope Eugene III later asked St. Bernard to preach the second Crusade, so St. Bernard traveled France and Germany preaching. After the failure of the crusade, some people turned on St. Bernard. St. Bernard countered by saying that the knights failed because of their sinfulness.

St. Bernard's influence on the princes, clergy, and people of his time was remarkable. He was an advisor to King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young. St. Bernard attended the Second Lateran Council and both fought Albigensianism and helped to end the schism of anti-Pope Anacletus II. He was also endowed with the gift of miracles. He died on August 20, 1153. St. Bernard was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints.


“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

Doctor Mellifluus:
The "Doctor Mellifluus," "the last of the Fathers, but certainly not inferior to the earlier ones,"[1] was remarkable for such qualities of nature and of mind, and so enriched by God with heavenly gifts, that in the changing and often stormy times in which he lived, he seemed to dominate by his holiness, wisdom, and most prudent counsel. Wherefore, he has been highly praised, not only by the sovereign Pontiffs and writers of the Catholic Church, but also, and not infrequently, by heretics. Thus, when in the midst of universal jubilation, Our predecessor, Alexander III, of happy memory, inscribed him among the canonized saints, he paid reverent tribute when he wrote: "We have passed in review the holy and venerable life of this same blessed man, not only in himself a shining example of holiness and religion, but also shone forth in the whole Church of God because of his faith and of his fruitful influence in the house of God by word and example; since he taught the precepts of our holy religion even to foreign and barbarian nations, and so recalled a countless multitude of sinners . . . to the right path of the spiritual life."[2] "He was," as Cardinal Baronius writes, "a truly apostolic man, nay, a genuine apostle sent by God, mighty in work and word, everywhere and in all things adding luster to his apostolate through the signs that followed, so that he was in nothing inferior to the great apostles, . . . and should be called . . . at one and the same time an adornment and a mainstay of the Catholic Church."[3]



O God, Who didst give blessed Bernard to Thy people as a minister of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have had him for our teacher on earth, may deserve to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain


del_button August 20, 2005 at 3:50 PM
~ AleX said...

I have recently been struggling with being a 'fierce defender of the truth' and appearing to be understanding and compassionate. This is causing me to struggle in my faith--to the lowest possible point. I have a dear friend who is struggling with lots of things, but not only does this person refuse to admit that they are, indeed, struggles, but this person is also using others as a distraction from these struggles. It's hard--and I'm losing faith. And I have a feeling that my lack of faith is only making matters worse. How do you believe when everything seems so wrong?

del_button August 20, 2005 at 4:50 PM
Moneybags said...

You believe by taking a crucifix in your hands and kneeling down in adoration before the Eucharist and know that only God matters; He can do all things.

"Seek ye first the Kingdom and its righteousness and all things will be granted unto thee."

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