I doubt there is anyone who could claim to have been instrumental in the discovery of the religious vocation of so many than St Bernard of Clairvaux. When he preached in the local Church or town square, the men who listened often left everything and followed him back to the monastery! Some of the women folk would refuse to allow their sons and husbands to attend Mass if St Bernard was preaching for fear of losing them to the religious life! If only there were a few more with the skills of St Bernard around today, perhaps we would not see the Church lacking so many laborers in its vineyard.

 

St Bernard’s preaching and diplomatic skills were largely responsible for the rapid growth of the new Cistercian Order in the Eleventh Century. His prowess when preaching is legendary and his knowledge and memory of Scripture so great that he is considered the last of the Fathers of the Church, those who are generally considered to have quoted the Scriptures from memory alone and also contributed greatly to the theology of the Church.

 

Bernard had a great love for the Blessed Mother of God and is attributed with many prayers in her honor including the Memorare and a number of hymns. As we reflect upon his love for Mary and his desire to live a simple life glorifying God let us be inspired by his life so that we might more closely follow Jesus. It is not a matter of simply admiring what he achieved – our admiration needs to be translated into action on our part if it is to have any lasting meaning. An armchair sportsman will never get fit or achieve any personal milestones; similarly for the spectator disciple. They might attend all the right occasions but unless they contribute to their running or receive the grace of the event into their lives, it will have no lasting effect on them and will not carry them along the path of salvation.

 

Let  us ensure that we are not armchair disciples but followers of Christ in both word and deed.

 

Holy Spirit, help me to pen my heart to the Word of God today so that it can penetrate to the depth of my being and bring about deeper conversion in my life.