St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 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, the counselor of popes! His sermons, from which there are many excerpts in the Breviary, are conspicuous for genuine emotion and spiritual unction. The celebrated Memorare is ascribed to him.
Bernard was born in 1090, the third son of an illustrious Burgundian family. He was of a noble family and received a careful education in his youth.
At the age of twenty-two, with his father, brother and thirty noblemen he entered the Benedictine monastery of Citeaux (where the Cistercian Order had its beginning) and persuaded thirty other youths of noble rank to follow his example.
Made abbot of Clairvaux (1115), he erected numerous abbeys where his spirit flourished. The monastic rule which he perfected at Clairvaux became the model for 163 monasteries of the Cistercian reform.
To his disciple, Bernard of Pisa, who later became Pope Eugene III, he dedicated his work De Consideratione. Bernard’s influence upon the princes, the clergy, and the people of his age was most remarkable.
He was a theologian, poet, orator, and writer. By penitential practices he so exhausted his body that it could hardly sustain his soul, ever eager to praise and honor God. St. Bernard died during the year of 1153 in Clairvaux, France.
Here is a selection of inspirational quotes from St Bernard:
‘In becoming conformed to Christ who lays down his life, we are transformed'.
‘Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it’.
‘God is incapable of suffering but capable of sharing another’s suffering’.
‘If you lack self-knowledge you will possess neither the fear of God nor humility’.
‘I myself am his food…I am digested as I am changed; I am assimilated as I am transformed…for if I eat and am not eaten, then he is in me but I am not yet in him’.
‘The lesser he has made himself in his humanity, the greater has he shown himself in kindness. The more he humbles himself on my account, the more powerfully he engages my love’.
‘What is more wicked than for a servant to usurp the glory due to his master?’
‘Those who are beginning in the school of fear carry the cross of Christ with patient submission; those who are progressing in hope bear it willingly and readily; but those who are consumed with love embrace it with ardour’.
'So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy'.
‘Only the man who has misery in his heart can console the miserable’.
'There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love'.
'Love seeks no cause beyond itself and no fruit; it is its own fruit, its own enjoyment. I love because I love; I love in order that I may love'.