Tuesday, August 20, 2013


The Memorare of St. Bernard

O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help,
or sought thy intercession was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly to 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.



Memorial of Saint Bernard
Abbot and Doctor of the Church

JGS 6:11-24A

The angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth in Ophrah
that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite.
While his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the wine press
to save it from the Midianites,
the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said,
“The LORD is with you, O champion!”
Gideon said to him, “My Lord, if the LORD is with us,
why has all this happened to us?
Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers
told us when they said, ‘Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt?’
For now the LORD has abandoned us
and has delivered us into the power of Midian.”
The LORD turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have
and save Israel from the power of Midian.
It is I who send you.”
But Gideon answered him, “Please, my lord, how can I save Israel?
My family is the lowliest in Manasseh,
and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.”
“I shall be with you,” the LORD said to him,
“and you will cut down Midian to the last man.”
Gideon answered him, “If I find favor with you,
give me a sign that you are speaking with me.
Do not depart from here, I pray you, until I come back to you
and bring out my offering and set it before you.”
He answered, “I will await your return.”

So Gideon went off and prepared a kid and a measure of flour
in the form of unleavened cakes.
Putting the meat in a basket and the broth in a pot,
he brought them out to him under the terebinth
and presented them.
The angel of God said to him, “Take the meat and unleavened cakes
and lay them on this rock; then pour out the broth.”
When he had done so,
the angel of the LORD stretched out the tip of the staff he held,
and touched the meat and unleavened cakes.
Thereupon a fire came up from the rock
that consumed the meat and unleavened cakes,
and the angel of the LORD disappeared from sight.
Gideon, now aware that it had been the angel of the LORD,
said, “Alas, Lord GOD,
that I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!”
The LORD answered him,
“Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.”
So Gideon built there an altar to the LORD
and called it Yahweh-shalom.

Responsorial Psalm
PS 85:9, 11-12, 13-14

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace
To his people, and to his faithful ones,
and to those who put in him their hope.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

Kindness and truth shall meet;
justice and peace shall kiss.
Truth shall spring out of the earth,
and justice shall look down from heaven.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

The LORD himself will give his benefits;
our land shall yield its increase.
Justice shall walk before him,
and salvation, along the way of his steps.

R. The Lord speaks of peace to his people.

MT 19:23-30

Jesus said to his disciples:

“Amen, I say to you, it will be hard for one who is rich
to enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Again I say to you,
it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said,
“Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said,

“For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible.”

Then Peter said to him in reply,
“We have given up everything and followed you.
What will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them,

“Amen, I say to you
that you who have followed me, in the new age,
when the Son of Man is seated on his throne of glory,
will yourselves sit on twelve thrones,
judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters
or father or mother or children or lands
for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more,
and will inherit eternal life.
But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”


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 Western Europe's “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 our lips.
And we shall praise your name.

Invitatory Psalm
Psalm 94 (95)

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

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.

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

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.”

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

“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.”

The Lord is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.

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 is the source of all wisdom:
come, let us adore him.


O God of truth and Lord of power,
whose word their course to things assigns,
whose splendor lights the morning hour,
whose fiery sun at noonday shines:
Within us quench the flames of strife,
the harmful heat of passion quell;
give health of body to our life
and give true peace of soul as well.
In this, most loving Father, hear,
and Christ, co-equal Son, our prayer:
with Holy Ghost, one Trinity,
you reign for all eternity.

Psalm 101 (102)
Prayers and vows of an exile

Let my cry come to you, Lord:
do not hide your face from me.

Lord, listen to my prayer
and let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me:
whenever I am troubled,
turn to me and hear me.
Whenever I call on you,
hurry to answer me.
For my days vanish like smoke,
and my bones are dry as tinder.
My heart is cut down like grass, it is dry –
I cannot remember to eat.
The sound of my groaning
makes my bones stick to my flesh.
I am lonely as a pelican in the wilderness,
as an owl in the ruins,
as a sparrow alone on a rooftop:
I do not sleep.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
they burn with anger and use my name as a curse.
I make ashes my bread,
I mix tears with my drink,
because of your anger and reproach –
you, who raised me up, have dashed me to the ground.
My days fade away like a shadow:
I wither like grass.

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 my cry come to you, Lord:
do not hide your face from me.

Psalm 101 (102)

Turn, Lord, to the prayers of the helpless.

But you, Lord, remain for ever
and your name lasts from generation to generation.
You will rise up and take pity on Zion,
for it is time that you pitied it,
indeed it is time:
for your servants love its very stones
and pity even its dust.
Then, Lord, the peoples will fear your name.
All the kings of the earth will fear your glory,
when the Lord has rebuilt Zion
and appeared there in his glory;
when he has listened to the prayer of the destitute
and not rejected their pleading.
These things shall be written for the next generation
and a people yet to be born shall praise the Lord:
because he has looked down from his high sanctuary,
– the Lord has looked down from heaven to earth –
and heard the groans of prisoners
and freed the children of death
so that they could proclaim the Lord’s name in Zion
and sing his praises in Jerusalem,
where people and kingdoms gather together
to serve the Lord.

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.

Turn, Lord, to the prayers of the helpless.

Psalm 101 (102)

You founded the earth, Lord,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.

He has brought down my strength in the midst of my journey;
he has shortened my days.
I will say, “My God, do not take me away
half way through the days of my life.
Your years last from generation to generation:
in the beginning you founded the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will pass away but you will remain;
all will grow old, like clothing,
and like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed.
“But you are always the same,
your years will never run out.
The children of your servants shall live in peace,
their descendants will endure in your sight.”

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.

You founded the earth, Lord,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.

Listen, my people, to my teaching;
– open your ears to the words of my mouth.

First Reading
Isaiah 7:1-17

In the reign of Ahaz son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Razon the king of Aram went up against Jerusalem with Pekah son of Remaliah, king of Israel, to lay siege to it; but he was unable to capture it.

The news was brought to the House of David. ‘Aram’ they said ‘has reached Ephraim.’ Then the heart of the king and the hearts of the people shuddered as the trees of the forest shudder in front of the wind. The Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go with your son Shear-jashub, and meet Ahaz at the end of the conduit of the upper pool on the Fuller’s Field road, 
and say to him:

“Pay attention, keep calm, have no fear,
do not let your heart sink
because of these two smouldering stumps of firebrands,
or because Aram, Ephraim and the son of Remaliah
have plotted to ruin you, and have said:
Let us invade Judah and terrorise it
and seize it for ourselves,
and set up a king there,
the son of Tabeel.
The Lord says this:
It shall not come true; it shall not be.
The capital of Aram is Damascus,
the head of Damascus, Razon;
the capital of Ephraim, Samaria,
the head of Samaria, the son of Remaliah.
Six or five years more
and a shattered Ephraim shall no longer be a people.
But if you do not stand by me,
you will not stand at all.”’

Once again the Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’

Then he said:

Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: the maiden is with child
and will soon give birth to a son
whom she will call Immanuel.
On curds and honey will he feed
until he knows how to refuse evil
and choose good.
For before this child knows how to refuse evil
and choose good,
the land whose two kings terrify you
will be deserted.
The Lord will bring times for you
and your people and your father’s House,
such as have not come
since Ephraim broke away from Judah
(the king of Assyria).


Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son,
and he shall be called Immanuel, for God is with us.

Do not be afraid, Mary.
You will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and he shall be called Immanuel, for God is with us.

Second Reading
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.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Let us praise the Lord.
– Thanks be to God.