Thursday, August 20, 2009
Metropolitan Museum of Art - Saint Bernard of Clairvaux Presented by His Parents Blessed Aleth and Tescelin.
He was the third son of the aristocratic knight Tecelin and Blessed Aleth, a very pious lady, whose influence decided his future. His pious French mother offered all her seven children—six sons and one daughter—to God at birth and devoted herself to their upbringing. His parents were exceptional examples of virtue and took faith and morals seriously and all had a deep respect for mercy, justice, loyalty and charity to others. It is said that his mother, Aleth, exerted a virtuous influence upon Bernard only second to what Monica had done for Augustine of Hippo in the 5Th century. Her death, in 1107, so affected Bernard that he claimed that this is when his long path to complete conversion began.
(Here is a beautiful story that Mother's could read to their children for St Bernard's feast day illustrating beautifully the influence of his Holy Mother who embraced the devotion of Spiritual Motherhood for Priests toward her son).
When young he was popular and had a strong wit and natural charm and ability, he had a genuinely religious nature. He went away studying but envisioned a life of prayer and contemplation, considering giving up the world and his great love of literature to join the Cistercian Order. There is no other Saint that so influenced their family and friends to a life of service to God through religious vocation than St Bernard. He applied this quote “If you desire to live in this house, leave your body behind; only spirits can enter here" to himself and all others who joined him. His unique gift of eloquence, his exceptional ability to articulate and motivate others toward God through his fluent and forceful words, was a great grace for the 12th century, flowing all the way down to us in the 21st century .
He also helped to found the celebrated order of the Knights Templars. Although he was bitterly criticized for the failure of the second crusade he trusted in the divine mercy and it seems that the weakness and sins of men were at the root of the loss of this campaign.
His devotion to the Priesthood and his ability to inspire vocations is something that we can all pray for in our own Priests and Bishops. His mother was a wonderful example of Spiritual Motherhood guiding her children to a love of the Mass, Our Lady and Our Heavenly Father. Her aim was that her children be faithful to God not successful. In striving to be faithful, St Bernard became perhaps the most renowned religious figure in Europe of his day. Bernard's father and brothers all joined him in offering there lives to God as consecrated men.
He inspired great devotion to the Mother of God. His writings on Mary have helped set the standard for the theology of Mary and those who study, write and focus on Mariology have come to imbue the spirit of St Bernard in their works. St Bernard of Clairvaux wrote the second most prayed Marian prayer after the Hail Mary - The Memorare.
THE MEMORARE OF ST. BERNARD
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known
that any one who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
and sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins, my Mother,
to thee 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. Amen.
(Indulgence, 300 days, each time. Plenary, once a month, on the usual conditions.)
Here is a fitting excerpt to remind us and motivate us in light of our devotion to Spiritual Motherhood for Priests, from Father Michael D Griffin, O.C.D - Taken from his book Saint Joseph - A Theological Introduction found in the doctoral resource/link on the subject of devotion.
"Devotion to a particular saint always means that the saint in question is held in high personal regard. Not only do we have particular reverence for the saint, but we are spiritually fascinated by his life, works, and virtues. Somehow we are able spiritually to enter into his life: we seem to understand and grasp something of his unique spiritual genius. Not only that, but we want to be influenced by this saint, because the way he lived and practiced virtue on earth is viewed as a thing of compelling beauty." - All of this paints a picture of St Bernard.
“God used Bernard to light a spiritual fire. The Almighty has demonstrated throughout history that sincere prayer, dedication and devotion to noble causes will usher in amazing results even to this very day. Through this particular doctor of the church, God showed us that there was a divine power, force and gift behind Bernard. Great betterment for humankind can be achieved by each individual with divine influence and the power of God's holiness, the Holy Spirit, as one's Partner. God awaits us to do our part to effect similar and even greater results. With faith in the infinite One there is nothing that anyone can not achieve. All of us have special gifts for others to share in according to the wisdom and providence of God.”