Saturday, August 20, 2011

EDITOR’S NOTE: The daily postings may be delayed, incomplete or missing today due to travel. I may not have regular access to a computer. Sorry for any inconvenience.

A Prayer from Bernard of Clairvaux

Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills the breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find
A sweeter sound than Thy blessed Name,
O Savior of mankind!
O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!
O Jesus, light of all below,
Thou fount of living fire,
Surpassing all the joys we know,
And all we can desire.
Abide with us, and let Thy light
Shine, Lord, on every heart;
Dispel the darkness of our night;
And joy to all impart.

August 20, 2011
Memorial of Saint Bernard, 
abbot and doctor of the Church

Naomi had a prominent kinsman named Boaz,
of the clan of her husband Elimelech.
Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi,
“Let me go and glean ears of grain in the field
of anyone who will allow me that favor.”
Naomi said to her, “Go, my daughter,” and she went.
The field she entered to glean after the harvesters
happened to be the section belonging to Boaz
of the clan of Elimelech.
Boaz said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter!
Do not go to glean in anyone else’s field;
you are not to leave here.
Stay here with my women servants.
Watch to see which field is to be harvested, and follow them;
I have commanded the young men to do you no harm.
When you are thirsty, you may go and drink from the vessels
the young men have filled.”
Casting herself prostrate upon the ground, Ruth said to him,
“Why should I, a foreigner, be favored with your notice?”
Boaz answered her:
“I have had a complete account of what you have done
for your mother-in-law after your husband’s death;
you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth,
and have come to a people whom you did not know previously.”
Boaz took Ruth.
When they came together as man and wife,
the LORD enabled her to conceive and she bore a son.
Then the women said to Naomi,
“Blessed is the LORD who has not failed
to provide you today with an heir!
May he become famous in Israel!
He will be your comfort and the support of your old age,
for his mother is the daughter-in-law who loves you.
She is worth more to you than seven sons!”
Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nurse.
And the neighbor women gave him his name,
at the news that a grandson had been born to Naomi.
They called him Obed.
He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Responsorial Psalm

R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
blessed shall you be, and favored.

 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

You wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.

 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.

 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.

 See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

GospelMt 23:1-12
Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,

“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

August 20
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153)
Man of the century! Woman of the century! You see such terms applied to so many today—“golfer of the century,” “composer of the century,” “right tackle of the century”—that the line no longer has any punch. But the “man of the twelfth century,” without doubt or controversy, has to be Bernard of Clairvaux. Adviser of popes, preacher of the Second Crusade, defender of the faith, healer of a schism, reformer of a monastic Order, Scripture scholar, theologian and eloquent preacher: any one of these titles would distinguish an ordinary man. Yet Bernard was all of these—and he still retained a burning desire to return to the hidden monastic life of his younger days.
In the year 1111, at the age of 20, Bernard left his home to join the monastic community of Citeaux. His five brothers, two uncles and some 30 young friends followed him into the monastery. Within four years a dying community had recovered enough vitality to establish a new house in the nearby valley of Wormwoods, with Bernard as abbot. The zealous young man was quite demanding, though more on himself than others. A slight breakdown of health taught him to be more patient and understanding. The valley was soon renamed Clairvaux, the valley of light.
His ability as arbitrator and counselor became widely known. More and more he was lured away from the monastery to settle long-standing disputes. On several of these occasions he apparently stepped on some sensitive toes in Rome. Bernard was completely dedicated to the primacy of the Roman See. But to a letter of warning from Rome he replied that the good fathers in Rome had enough to do to keep the Church in one piece. If any matters arose that warranted their interest, he would be the first to let them know.
Shortly thereafter it was Bernard who intervened in a full-blown schism and settled it in favor of the Roman pontiff against the antipope.
The Holy See prevailed on Bernard to preach the Second Crusade throughout Europe. His eloquence was so overwhelming that a great army was assembled and the success of the crusade seemed assured. The ideals of the men and their leaders, however, were not those of Abbot Bernard, and the project ended as a complete military and moral disaster.
Bernard felt responsible in some way for the degenerative effects of the crusade. This heavy burden possibly hastened his death, which came August 20, 1153.

O Lord, open my lips.
And my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

Come, let us rejoice in the Lord,
let us acclaim God our salvation.
Let us come before him proclaiming our thanks,
let us acclaim him with songs.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

For the Lord is a great God,
a king above all gods.
For he holds the depths of the earth in his hands,
and the peaks of the mountains are his.
For the sea is his: he made it;
and his hands formed the dry land.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

If only, today, you would listen to his voice:
Do not harden your hearts
as you did at Meribah,
on the day of Massah in the desert,
when your fathers tested me –
they put me to the test,
although they had seen my works.”

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

For forty years they wearied me,
that generation.
I said: their hearts are wandering,
they do not know my paths.
I swore in my anger:
they will never enter my place of rest.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Let us listen for the Lord’s voice, so that we can reach his place of rest.


Great God of boundless mercy, hear!
Thou Ruler of this earthly sphere;
In substance one, in Persons three,
Dread Trinity in Unity!
Do thou in love accept our lays
Of mingled penitence and praise;
And set our hearts from error free,
More fully to rejoice in thee.
Our reins and hearts in pity heal,
And with thy chastening fires anneal;
Gird thou our loins, each passion quell,
And every harmful lust expel.
Now as our anthems, upward borne,
Awake the silence of the morn,
Enrich us with thy gifts of grace,
From heaven, thy blissful dwelling place!
Hear thou our prayer, almighty King;
Hear thou our praises, while we sing,
Adoring with the heavenly host
The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

True reverence for the Lord
Psalm 49 (50)

The Lord has summoned heaven and earth to witness his judgement of his people.

The Lord, the God of gods has spoken:
he has summoned the whole earth, from east to west.
God has shone forth from Zion in her great beauty.
Our God will come, and he will not be silent.
Before him, a devouring fire;
around him, a tempest rages.
He will call upon the heavens above, and on the earth, to judge his people.
Bring together before me my chosen ones, who have sealed my covenant with sacrifice.”
The heavens will proclaim his justice; for God is the true judge.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

The Lord has summoned heaven and earth to witness his judgement of his people.
Psalm 49 (50)

Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will come to free you.

Listen, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you.
I am God, your God.
I will not reproach you with your sacrifices,
for your burnt offerings are always before me.
But I will not accept calves from your houses,
nor goats from your flocks.
For all the beasts of the forests are mine,
and in the hills, a thousand animals.
All the birds of the air – I know them.
Whatever moves in the fields – it is mine.
If I am hungry, I will not tell you;
for the whole world is mine, and all that is in it.
Am I to eat the flesh of bulls,
or drink the blood of goats?
Offer a sacrifice to God – a sacrifice of praise;
to the Most High, fulfil your vows.
Then you may call upon me in the time of trouble:
I will rescue you, and you will honour me.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will come to free you.
Psalm 49 (50)

A sacrifice of thanksgiving will honour me.

To the sinner, God has said this:
Why do you recite my statutes?
Why do you dare to speak my covenant?
For you hate what I teach you,
and reject what I tell you.
The moment you saw a thief, you joined him;
you threw in your lot with adulterers.
You spoke evil with your mouth,
and your tongue made plans to deceive.
Solemnly seated, you denounced your own brother;
you poured forth hatred against your own mother’s son.
All this you did, and I was silent;
so you thought that I was just like you.
But I will reprove you –
I will confront you with all you have done.
Understand this, you who forget God;
lest I tear you apart, with no-one there to save you.
Whoever offers up a sacrifice of praise gives me true honour;
whoever follows a sinless path in life will be shown the salvation of God.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.

A sacrifice of thanksgiving will honour me.
We ceaselessly pray to God for you.
For you to have the fullest knowledge of God’s will.

Isaiah 37:21-35

Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah. ‘This’ he said ‘is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says in answer to the prayer you have addressed to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria. Here is the oracle that the Lord has pronounced against him:
She despises you, she scorns you,
the virgin, daughter of Zion;
she tosses her head behind you,
the daughter of Jerusalem.
Whom have you insulted, whom did you blaspheme?
Against whom raised your voice
and lifted your insolent eyes?
Against the Holy One of Israel.
Through your minions you have insulted the Lord;
you have said: With my many chariots
I have climbed the tops of mountains,
the utmost peaks of Lebanon.
I have felled its tall forest of cedars,
its finest cypresses.
I have reached its furthest recesses,
its forest garden.
Yes I have dug wells and drunk
of alien waters;
I have put down my feet, and have dried up
all the rivers of Egypt.
Do you hear? Long ago
I planned for it,
from days of old I designed it,
now I carry it out.
Your part was to bring down in heaps of ruins
fortified cities.
Their inhabitants, hands feeble,
dismayed, discomfited,
were like plants of the field,
like tender grass,
like grass of housetop and meadow,
under the east wind.
I know whenever you rise and whenever you sit,
your going out, your coming in.
Because you have raved against me
and your insolence has come to my ears,
I will put my ring through your nostrils,
my bit between your lips,
to make you return by the road
on which you came.
This shall be the sign for you:
This year will be eaten the self-sown grain,
next year what sprouts in the fallow,
but in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
The surviving remnant of the House of Judah shall bring forth
new roots below and fruits above.
For a remnant shall go out from Jerusalem,
and survivors from Mount Zion.
The jealous love of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.
This, then, is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria:
He will not enter this city,
he will let fly no arrow against it,
confront it with no shield,
throw up no earthwork against it.
By the road that he came on he will return;
he shall not enter this city. It is the Lord who speaks.
I will protect this city and save it
for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.”’
The Lord has comforted his people: he has redeemed Jerusalem, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

From a sermon by St. Bernard, abbot

I love because I love, I love that I may love

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. 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. Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.

The Bridegroom’s love, or rather the love which is the Bridegroom, asks in return nothing but faithful love. Let the beloved, then, love in return. Should not a bride love, and above all, Love’s bride? Could it be that Love not be loved?

Rightly then does she give up all other feelings and give herself wholly to love alone; in giving love back, all she can do is to respond to love. And when she has poured out her whole being in love, what is that in comparison with the unceasing torrent of that original source? Clearly, lover and Love, soul and Word, bride and Bridegroom, creature and Creator do not flow with the same volume; one might as well equate a thirsty man with the fountain.

What then of the bride’s hope, her aching desire, her passionate love, her confident assurance? Is all this to wilt just because she cannot match stride for stride with her giant, any more than she can vie with honey for sweetness, rival the lamb for gentleness, show herself as white as the lily, burn as bright as the sun, be equal in love with him who is Love? No. It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and total marriage consists. Or are we to doubt that the soul is loved by the Word first and with a greater love?


How abundant are your treasures of loving-kindness, O Lord, which you give to those who fear you.

They delight in the abundance of your house, they drink the waters of contentment which you give to those who fear you.

Let us pray.

Lord God, you made Saint Bernard burn with zeal for your house, and gave him grace to enkindle and enlighten others in your Church.

Grant that by his prayer we may be filled with the same spirit and always live as children of the light.

We make our prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.