Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

I wrote about Saint Bernard before, primarily in relation to his Five Books on Consideration, and secondarily in reference to maintaining a pure heart by following in the footsteps of the mythical knights of the Round Table, specifically Sir Galahad. This should give you an idea of the importance I place at the feet of Bernard.

Today I finished On Loving God by Bernard. I had started to read it quite some time ago, so I was long overdue finishing it. Maybe I will write something more detailed about my experience in reading it, or I will return to it to dwell on particular passages and/or themes.

It isn’t a large book – only 95 pages all told. I found Chapters 1 through 7 a bit of a slog, yet upon reading Chapter 8, I couldn’t put the book down. Now I don’t know if that is because of some change in me since I started reading it or something inherent in the text. Pope Pius XII, in his encyclical entitled Doctor Mellifluus, writes in admiration and praise of Bernard;

His style, which is lively, rich, easy flowing, and marked by striking expressions, has such pleasing function that it attracts, delights and recalls the mind of the reader to heavenly things. It incites to, nourishes and strengthens piety; it draws the soul to the pursuit of those good things which are not fleeting, but true, certain, and everlasting. For this reason, his writings were always held in high honor. So from them the Church herself has inserted into the Sacred Liturgy not a few pages fragrant with heavenly things and aglow with piety. They seem to have been nourished with the breath of the Divine Spirit, and to shine with a light so bright, that the course of the centuries cannot quench it; for it shines forth from the soul of a writer thirsting after truth and love, and yearning to nourish others and to make them like to himself.

The way in which Bernard speaks of the four degrees of love (for God) and the final glory of achieving the heavenly fatherland in Chapter 15 aptly summarises the book. We come to God reluctantly at first, we love him for selfish reasons, we begin to love others and see God as good, then if we purify ourselves totally (Bernard thinks this perhaps impossible without the resurrection) “we love God only and supremely, when we do not even love ourselves except for God’s sake, so that he himself is the reward of them who love him, the everlasting reward of an everlasting love.”[1]

I shall return to this subject soon, this will have to do for now.

[1] Bernard of Clairvaux, On loving God (Vancouver, 2010), p. 77.

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Author: Auld Wat

Delving into the depths of Medieval Europe; the last great Traditional Aryan civilisation.

5 thoughts on “Saint Bernard of Clairvaux”

  1. If you haven’t yet, you should look into his In Praise of the New Knighthood which he wrote on the Templars.

    I was recently reading some of Bernard’s sermons. I took a peek at the first on the Song of Songs. At the very beginning, he says that one should not read/hear his commentary on the Song unless they have conquered love of the world and inordinate self love (i.e. have mastered Ecclesiastes and Proverbs). Perhaps I’ll get there some day…

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    1. Yes I have read his work commending the ‘novae militiae’. I may have to reread it, for as I wrote above, one can change in a short time allowing for a different view of things.

      And I must thank you, I have heard of his sermons but not got round to reading any of them. I’ll take his warning seriously and I may not have read them yet because I was not ready. I shall pray for you that you may be worthy of Saint Bernard’s sermons; we all need brotherly support, not least in these times.

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