Readings for Bernard of Clairvaux
“He serves among the great and appears before rulers; he travels in foreign lands and learns what is good and evil in the human lot. He sets his heart on rising early to seek the Lord who made him, and to petition the Most High; he opens his mouth in prayer and asks pardon for his sins.” (Ecclesiasticus 39:4 – 5)
I hope these words from Ecclesiasticus are fitting for Bernard of Clairvaux, whom we remember today, 20 August. The below is from “Great Cloud of Witnesses for August 20” (GCW Aug 20)
“Bernard was the son of a knight and landowner who lived near Dijon, France. He was born in 1090 and given a secular education, but in 1113 he entered the Benedictine Abbey of Citeaux. His family was not pleased with his choice of a monastic life, but he nevertheless persuaded four of his brothers and about twenty-six of his friends to join him. After only three years, the abbot of Citeaux deployed Bernard and a small company of monks to establish a monastery at Clairvaux in 1115.” (GCW Aug 20)
“The work at Clairvaux, and the extreme rigors of the Benedictine rule practiced by the Cistercian community, were taxing. Tasked with much, Bernard denied himself sleep to the detriment of his health that he might have time to write letters and sermons. He preached so persuasively that sixty new abbeys were founded, all affiliated with Clairvaux. Famed for the ardor with which he preached love for God “without measure,” he fulfilled his own definition of a holy man: “seen to be good and charitable, holding back nothing for himself, but using his every gift for the common good.” (GCW Aug 20)
“By 1140, his writings had made him one of the most influential figures in Christendom. His guidance was sought by prelates and princes, drawing him into active participation in all manner of controversy involving the Church, from settling disputes among secular rulers to sorting contentious theological debates. An ardent opponent of a growing movement of his time to reconcile inconsistencies of doctrine by reason, he felt that such an approach was a downgrading of the mysteries. This conflict took particular expression in his fierce opposition to the formidable theologian, Abelard.” (GCW Aug 20)
When a former monk of Clairvaux was elected Pope Eugenius III, papal reliance upon Bernard grew. (AGW Aug 20) Bernard preached a sermon that ignited the crusade that opened and protected roads to Jerusalem and the Holy Land. This was the birth of the Knights of the Temple or Knights Templar. And while the second crusade was a failure his first gallant effort is remembered by Masonic Knights Templar of today.
Knights Templar of today, of which I am one, continue to provide trips for Christian clergy (men and women of all Christian stripes) tours to the Holy Land, of which I have been blessed to benefit from.
I think Saint Bernard of Clairvaux would be proud of his legacy and what God continues to do working through us, and for us.
Let us ponder anew what the Almighty is doing.
Sir Knight John Thomas Frazier (Grand Prelate of Knights Templar of North Carolina 2017, 18, 19)