Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Mellifluous Doctor

Did I spell that right?

Today is the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Mellifluous Doctor. He was THE saint of the 12th century and almost single-handedly revitalized Western monasticism. He led a very eventful life. He preached the Second Crusade, healed schisms with antipopes, clashed with Peter Abelard, and was a major influence at the Second Lateran Council that condemned the errors of Arnold of Brescia.

I'm going to mention something else, though, namely, the aforementioned zeal St. Bernard had for the monastic life. This is important and something that we very much need today. People talk a lot about the shortage of priests, but when was the last time you heard somebody mention the dwindling numbers of our monastics? Yeah, that's what I thought. St. Bernard left a legacy of 68 monastaries at his death. He was only 63 years old. All those things that he accomplished in his life were because he either felt or actually was compelled to do them. What he really wanted was the life of the monk. Why is this so difficult today? Because the call of the world has never been stronger. Let's pray that St. Bernard will intercede for those with a religious vocation, that they may discern it and answer the call.

I confess with some embarassment that I am almost completely unfamiliar with St. Bernard's writings. While I am working to remedy that, I do know one tidbit that is quite relevant:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

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