Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012.08.19 Bernard of Clairvaux

I don’t remember much about this mystic and saint whose day marks the liturgical calendar. But I do remember one precious gem of his wisdom.

Bernard founded and was the Abbott of a Benedictine monastery in Clairvaux France in 1115.  Apparently a fiery and passionate man with ascetical practices, he preached the purity of church doctrine and argued against Peter Abelard’s attempts to make the whole thing more consistent with reason and human lived experience. I’m not much for the purity of the church I pray will revisit itself, but I am a fan of Abelard, a kind of empirical Jesus guy.

 Bernard also preached the Crusades against Albigensians and another to liberate Jerusalem.  When that latter one was a disaster Bernard was attacked for having supported it.  Rightly so I’d say!  Not my kind of guy.

He died in 1153 shortly after the failed crusades. He was canonized a saint in 1174. There you have it. 

Bernard, nevertheless was most known for his ardor for the love of God. We don’t journey toward divine love we’re already embedded in it.  Still, Bernard was wise and knew there was an evolving maturation process. The process of Love is not a ladder but a series of spirals, cycling round and back again.  You’ll recognize it and be able to identify where you are today. Don’t critique yourself. All of it is Love. 
    -Love of God for self’s sake
    -Love of self for self’s sake
    -Love of God for God’s sake
    -Love of self for God’s sake.

The most divine kind of love is love of self for God’s sake. 
Saints can be jerks and heroes at once, graces and disgraces.