St. Bernard of Clairvaux (+1153) is one of 33 “Doctors of the Church” in the Anglican Communion. Such a title is bestowed upon those whose insights are particularly illuminating for the Universal Church. Bernard was born in Burgundy, France, near Dijon (yes, where in the famous mustard originated in 1856!). At a young age, he was already conspicuous for his remarkable faith and interior life and his avid interest in theology. After the death of his mother, he resolved to embrace the newly established and rather austere Cistercian Order (reform of the Benedictine Order), of which he was destined to become one of its brightest lights. He also persuaded several of his brothers and his friends to follow his example. In fact, in 1113, along with thirty young men, Bernard presented himself to the Abbot at Citeaux. After his formation and ordination, he was sent with twelve other monks to found a new monastery, which would become known as the celebrated Abbey of Clairvaux. He was at once appointed Abbot.
St. Bernard otherwise founded numerous other monasteries. Several Bishoprics were offered him, but, in order to protect his monastic calling, he refused them all. He was commissioned by Pope Eugene III to preach the second Crusade. Finally, he was endowed with the gift of miracles. But, his love for Jesus and for Mary surely shines most brightly in in his contemplative prayer expressed in his writings. He spent eighty-six sermons explaining the first two chapters of the Song of Songs. In one of them, he says the following, which perhaps captures well Jesus in today’s gospel, in which Jesus movingly responds to a man so sick that he is unable really to engage Jesus. We witness the gratuitousness of love. Jesus loves this man because, well, this is what Jesus does. “God is love”. (I John 4:8)
Love is sufficient of itself.
It gives pleasure by itself and because of itself.
It is its own merit, its own reward.
Love looks for no cause outside itself, no effect beyond itself.
Its profit lies in its practice.
I love because I love.
I love that I may love.
From the desk of the Rector