Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Priests and Religious,
Dear Rectors and Formators,
Dear Friends, I am very pleased to celebrate Holy Mass with you who aspire to be Christ’s priests for the service of the Church and of man, and I thank you for the kind words with which you welcomed me. Today, this holy cathedral church of Santa María La Real de la Almudena is like a great Upper Room, where the Lord greatly desires to celebrate the Passover with you who wish one day to preside in his name at the mysteries of salvation. Looking at you, I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world. As seminarians you are on the path towards a sacred goal: to continue the mission which Christ received from the Father. Called by him, you have followed his voice and, attracted by his loving gaze, you now advance towards the sacred ministry. Fix your eyes upon him who through his incarnation is the supreme revelation of God to the world and who through his resurrection faithfully fulfills his promise. Give thanks to him for this sign of favour in which he holds each one of you.
The first reading which we heard shows us Christ as the new and eternal priest who made of himself a perfect offering. The response to the psalm may be aptly applied to him since, at his coming into the world, he said to the Father, “Here I am to do your will” (cf. Ps 39:8). He tried to please him in all things: in his words and actions, along the way or welcoming sinners. His life was one of service and his longing was a constant prayer, placing himself in the name of all before the Father as the first-born son of many brothers and sisters. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states that, by a single offering, he brought to perfection for all time those of us who are called to share his sonship (cf. Heb 10:14).
The Eucharist, whose institution is mentioned in the Gospel just proclaimed (cf. Lk 22:14-20), is the real expression of that unconditional offering of Jesus for all, even for those who betrayed him. It was the offering of his body and blood for the life of mankind and for the forgiveness of sins. His blood, a sign of life, was given to us by God as a covenant, so that we might apply the force of his life wherever death reigns due to our sins, and thus destroy it. Christ’s body broken and his blood outpoured – the surrender of his freedom – became through these Eucharistic signs the new source of mankind’s redeemed freedom. In Christ, we have the promise of definitive redemption and the certain hope of future blessings. Through Christ we know that we are not walking towards the abyss, the silence of nothingness or death, but are rather pilgrims on the way to a promised land, on the way to him who is our end and our beginning.Dear friends, you are preparing yourselves to become apostles with Christ and like Christ, and to accompany your fellow men and women along their journey as companions and servants.
How should you behave during these years of preparation? First of all, they should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify.
Meditate well upon this mystery of the Church, living the years of your formation in deep joy, humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live. No one chooses the place or the people to whom he is sent, and every time has its own challenges; but in every age God gives the right grace to face and overcome those challenges with love and realism. That is why, no matter the circumstances in which he finds and however difficult they may be, the priest must grow in all kinds of good works, keeping alive within him the words spoken on his Ordination day, by which he was exhorted to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross. To be modeled on Christ, dear seminarians, is to be identified ever more closely with him who, for our sake, became servant, priest and victim. To be modeled on him is in fact the task upon which the priest spends his entire life. We already know that it is beyond us and we will not fully succeed but, as St Paul says, we run towards the goal, hoping to reach it (cf. Phil 3:12-14). That said, Christ the High Priest is also the Good Shepherd who cares for his sheep, even giving his life for them (cf. Jn 10:11). In order to liken yourselves to the Lord in this as well, your heart must mature while in seminary, remaining completely open to the Master. This openness, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, inspires the decision to live in celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of heaven and, leaving aside the world’s goods, live in austerity of life and sincere obedience, without pretence.
Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders. Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice.
Under the guidance of your formators, open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you. Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts. With this confidence, learn from him who described himself as meek and humble of heart, leaving behind all earthly desire for his sake so that, rather than pursuing your own good, you build up your brothers and sisters by the way you live, as did the patron saint of the diocesan clergy of Spain, St John of Avila. Moved by his example, look above all to the Virgin Mary, Mother of Priests. She will know how to mould your hearts according to the model of Christ, her divine Son, and she will teach you how to treasure for ever all that he gained on Calvary for the salvation of the world. Amen.
On Saturday, to the joy of Spaniards, priests and Catholics around the world Pope Benedict XVI declared St John of Avila Doctor of the Universal Church.
Madrid’s neo-gothic cathedral of Santa María la Real de La Almudena filled with the voices of young men raised in prayer Saturday morning, the future pastors of the Spanish Church. “Looking at you”, - Pope Benedict told them, - “I again see proof of how Christ continues to call young disciples and to make them his apostles, thus keeping alive the mission of the Church and the offer of the Gospel to the world”.
The Mass with the young seminarians, was the Pope’s second appointment of the day. Earlier in the morning, as the sun rose over the city, he had travelled to the vast park in the very heart of the capital, the Jardines del Buen Retiro. There since midweek priests – from all over the world – have been on hand to offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to pilgrims. 200 open-air white wooden confessionals line the park, and there on Saturday morning - for the first time ever during WYD events - Pope Benedict joined the confessors to administer the Sacrament to four young pilgrims- two French speaking, one German speaking and one Spanish speaking.
Later, in his homily in Almudena cathedral, he returned to the role of the priest as minister of God’s forgiveness: “Ask him to let you imitate him in his perfect charity towards all, so that you do not shun the excluded and sinners, but help them convert and return to the right path. Ask him to teach you how to be close to the sick and the poor in simplicity and generosity. Face this challenge without anxiety or mediocrity, but rather as a beautiful way of living our human life in gratuitousness and service, as witnesses of God made man, messengers of the supreme dignity of the human person and therefore its unconditional defenders”.
Pope Benedict XVI also gave words of advice to the over 6,000 young men many of whom assisted in the celebration from the courtyard outside the Cathedral. He said their years in the seminary “should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church”.
He told them to model themselves on Christ, supreme pastor: “ Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives. You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice”.
“Approach the priesthood – Pope Benedict said - only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts”.
Then to the joy of the young men before him and the priests and lay faithful around the world, Pope Benedict XVI declared the great XVIth century preacher,St. John of Avila , doctor of the universal Church
There are currently 33 doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine, St. Francis de Sales and St. Teresa of Avila. St. Therese of Lisieux was the last to be proclaimed doctor of the Church in by Blessed John Paul II in 1997.
MEXICO CITY, August 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In the wake of the legalization of abortion in Mexico City in 2007, pro-life activists came together to create a memorial to the victims of the deadly procedure, which has since claimed more than 51,000 lives. Unveiled in 2008, the site is ensconced in one of Mexico City’s most prestigious cemeteries, where a mass is offered once a month for an end to the murder of the unborn.
LifeSiteNews visited the site in April and learned the inspiring, and arguably even miraculous, story of its construction. The donor of the land, who wishes to remain anonymous, told LSN that the plot seemed particularly appropriate, because it was adjacent to the children’s section of the Dolores Civil Cemetery. The site had been abandoned as a family burial location and was unused.
The donor’s dream of a memorial to the victims of abortion at first seemed to be an impossible one, because of the presence of two ancient trees on the site, which government authorities would not permit to be removed. However, to her surprise, one of the trees soon perished in a thunderstorm, and the other died of a disease. With the barriers to construction suddenly removed, two pro-life organizations “Rights of the Unborn” (Derechos del Concebido) and “Union of Wills” (Unión de Voluntades), began to erect the memorial, aided by generous donors.
The site was designed by architect Fernando Ogarrio and constructed by José Delgado, neither of whom charged for their work. An altar was constructed above the plot’s crypt, and a massive figure of the crucified Christ was donated by sculptor Gogy Farías, which was almost exactly the same color as a large metallic cross that had been obtained separately. And the large Christ figure fit the metal cross, whereas the sculptor had no knowledge of the cross having been erected. A beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was placed to the side of the crucifix.
The rear of the plot contains a stone sculpture of the Virgin Mary as the “Mother of the unborn children” that portrays her cradling numerous children in her arms, and a plaque with the prayer, “Jesus protect and save the unborn.” The sculpture, too, was donated, in this case by the Armada Blanca Association, whose apostolate is to pray the rosary with children.
Other plaques, some of which cover the crypt, read, “This sanctuary is a place of prayer and healing where all innocent children, victims of abortion, are honored. In the face of this human tragedy various civil and religious groups decided to erect this Sanctuary, as a place of prayer and encounter with the merciful love of God.”
Another asks God to “take away the veil of deception that Satan has placed into hearts, which presents promiscuity as liberty, and reveal what it in reality is: slavery to sin. Place into the heart of the world a renewed respect for life, from the moment of conception. Amen.”
A vertical plaque to the right of the crypt contains a quote from Pope John Paul II: “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”
Thus far, no unborn children have been buried at the memorial, despite the availability of the crypt. Authorities in Mexico City reportedly will not permit it, citing health regulations. However, the site is prepared to receive such remains if they become available, and may also inter the ashes of cremated fetuses if the opportunity arises.
The sanctuary is open to the public every day from 8 am to 5 pm, and a mass is offered on the eighth day of each month at 12 pm. Several prolife groups pray the rosary regularly at the site.
The address is:
Santuario de los No Nacidos
Colonia 16 de Septiembre
Delegation Miguel Hidalgo, C.P. 11810
Ciudad de México
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MADRID11.COM REPORT: “JESUS DOENS'T PROMISE US PERFECT WEATHER”
Bangalore (AsiaNews) - The victims of anti-Christian pogrom in Kandhamal are not allowed to rebuild their church, indeed, they have been ordered by the authorities to suspend the construction of small building (already stopped due to lack of funds) to satisfy the radical Hindus in the region. The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) has appealed to the Chief Prosecutor of the Supreme Court of India to stop the government of Orissa.
The refugee victims of the 2008 pogroms were relocated to Nandagiri, in the G. Udayagiri Tahasil area, many Christian families have not in fact been allowed to return to their original villages. 54 Catholic families and 17 Pentecostal families live in Nandagiri. Since June 2009, the date of their arrival, they began to celebrate their functions in a plot of land and build a church, a small building, with their voluntary contributions.
Usually, when there is a new village, the government provides land for the place of worship. When families came to Nandagiri, they were given a verbal assurance that over time they would receive a parcel of land for the church. For this they began to build one. The local Christian leader, Krisant Mallick, made a formal request for a permit for the plot, and was given assurances in that regard. But suddenly he was asked to appear in court Aug. 17 over the construction of the church. And finally, the local offical wrote to him and ordered them to evacuate the land and demolish the church within 30 days.
The GCIC complained to the Supreme Court that natural justice is being denied to the Christians of the state, and that the conduct of the government of 'Orissa seems an attack on all citizens who believe in Jesus Christ in India and outside. The Supreme Court, said the GCIC, must correct this serious error by the State Government.
For Sajan George, president of the GCIC "These are dramatic times for the Christians of Kandhamal as we draw near to thethird anniversary of the pogrom in Orissa, which occurred with the complicity of the authorities." "We call on the Chief Minister not to repeat the mistakes made in these three years - says the activist - during which the administration has not protected the victims and their property, has delayed the delivery of compensation and left the witnesses of the pogroms defenceless in the face of the death threats of the Hindu extremists. " (CN)
ARCHDIOCESE OF PERTH REPORT: Article by Fr R Cross.
Photos courtesy of The Record
On Friday 12 August, in a packed Cathedral and with family and friends in attendance from interstate and overseas, three men were Ordained to the Priesthood by Archbishop Barry James Hickey.
All three priests will soon take up positions in different parishes of the Archdiocese as assistant priests. Fr Christian Webb has been appointed to the Parish of Ballajura, Fr Mark Payton to the Parish of Bateman and Fr Thomas Zureich to the Parish of Clarkson.
In his homily, the Archbishop said the newly ordained priests will be entering a world that is very different to that in which he was ordained 53 years ago, a world in which family life and children were under great stress.
According to a note sent to Fides by Don Lambert Niciteretse, Secretary General of the Episcopal Conference of Burundi (CECAB), on August 16 the President of the Republic, Pierre Nkurunziza, received in audience the Bishops of the country.
The president of the Conference, Mgr. Gervais Banshimiyubusa, Bishop of Ngozi, gave the message prepared for the occasion by CECAB to the Head of State. Each Bishop had the opportunity to intervene to supplement or reinforce the message.
The Bishops thanked the President for the good cooperative relations between Church and State, the policies undertaken in order to stabilize democracy, strengthen the peace process and help the people out of poverty.
The members of the Episcopal Conference also pointed out to the Head of State their concerns about the socio-political life. In particular the conditions of insecurity that plague some areas of Burundi, although the government continues to ensure that everything is calm and that this attitude, the Bishops stressed, can undermine the democratic process. Another problem is poverty that heavily affects the population.
The Bishops also discussed the Commission "truth and reconciliation", whose results are likely to be undermined by insecurity and distrust that prevail among politicians. The Bishops call for a real inclusive dialogue between the various protagonists in the national life to avoid further violence.
The Bishops concluded their speech promising to continue to provide their contribution to peace and social human development, through prayer for peace, the proclamation of the Word of God, the diocesan synods that commit Christians to building a culture of peace and reconciliation, social works, education and development, the constant invitation to all Burundians to leave the path of violence and learn to resolve their differences through dialogue.
In his response, the President of the Republic thanked the Catholic Church for her contribution and assured the Bishops that the situation is under control and that the Country is in a phase in which all hopes are permitted. (L.M.)
St. Bernard of Clairvaux
ABBOT, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH
Feast: August 20
Born in 1090, at Fontaines, near Dijon. France; died at Clairvaux, 21 August, 1153. His parents were Tescelin, lord of Fontaines, and Aleth of Montbard, both belonging to the highest nobility of Burgundy. Bernard, the third of a family of seven children, six of whom were sons, was educated with particular care, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny. At the age of nine years, Bernard was sent to a much renowned school at Chatillon-sur-Seine, kept by the secular canons of Saint-Vorles. He had a great taste for literature and devoted himself for some time to poetry. His success in his studies won the admiration of his masters, and his growth in virtue was no less marked. Bernard's great desire was to excel in literature in order to take up the study of Sacred Scripture, which later on became, as it were, his own tongue. "Piety was his all," says Bossuet. He had a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, and there is no one who speaks more sublimely of the Queen of Heaven. Bernard was scarcely nineteen years of age when his mother died. During his youth, he did not escape trying temptations, but his virtue triumphed over them, in many instances in a heroic manner, and from this time he thought of retiring from the world and living a life of solitude and prayer.
St. Robert, Abbot of Molesmes, had founded, in 1098, the monastery of Citeaux, about four leagues from Dijon, with the purpose of restoring the Rule of St. Benedict in all its rigour. Returning to Molesmes, he left the government of the new abbey to St. Alberic, who died in the year 1109. St. Stephen had just succeeded him (1113) as third Abbot of Citeaux, when Bernard with thirty young noblemen of Burgundy, sought admission into the order. Three years later, St. Stephen sent the young Bernard, at the head of a band of monks, the third to leave Citeaux, to found a new house at Vallee d'Absinthe, or Valley of Bitterness, in the Diocese of Langres. This Bernard named Claire Vallee, of Clairvaux, on the 25th of June, 1115, and the names of Bernard and Clairvaux thence became inseparable. During the absence of the Bishop of Langres, Bernard was blessed as abbot by William of Champeaux, Bishop of Chalons-sur-Marne, who saw in him the predestined man, servum Dei. From that moment a strong friendship sprang up between the abbot and the bishop, who was professor of theology at Notre Dame of Paris, and the founder of the cloister of St. Victor.
The beginnings of Clairvaux were trying and painful. The regime was so austere that Bernard's health was impaired by it, and only the influence of his friend William of Champeaux, and the authority of the General Chapter could make him mitigate his austerities. The monastery, however, made rapid progress. Disciples flocked to it in great numbers, desirous of putting themselves under the direction of Bernard. His father, the aged Tescelin, and all his brothers entered Clairvaux as religious, leaving only Humbeline, his sister, in the world and she, with the consent of her husband, soon took the veil in the Benedictine Convent of Jully. Clairvaux becoming too small for the religious who crowded there, it was necessary to send out bands to found new houses. In 1118, the Monastery of the Three Fountains was founded in the Diocese of Chalons; in 1119, that of Fontenay in the Diocese of Auton (now Dijon) and in 1121, that of Foigny, near Veirins, in the Diocese of Lain (now Soisson), Notwithstanding this prosperity, the Abbot of Clairvaux had his trials. During an absence from Clairvaux, the Grand Prior of Cluny, Bernard of Uxells, sent by the Prince of Priors, to use the expression of Bernard, went to Clairvaux and enticed away the abbot's cousin, Robert of Chatillon. This was the occasion of the longest, and most touching of Bernard's letters.
In the year 1119, Bernard was present at the first general chapter of the order convoked by Stephen of Citeaux. Though not yet thirty years old, Bernard was listened to with the greatest attention and respect, especially when he developed his thoughts upon the revival of the primitive spirit of regularity and fervour in all the monastic orders. It was this general chapter that gave definitive form to the constitutions of the order and the regulations of the "Charter of Charity" which Pope Callixtus II confirmed 23 December, 1119. In 1120 Bernard composed his first work "De Gradibus Superbiae et Humilitatis" and his homilies which he entitles "De Laudibus Mariae". The monks of Cluny had not seen, with satisfaction, those of Citeaux take the first place among the religious orders for regularity and fervour. For this reason there was a temptation on the part of the "Black Monks" to make it appear that the rules of the new order were impracticable. At the solicitation of William of St. Thierry, Bernard defended himself by publishing his "Apology" which is divided into two parts. In the first part he proves himself innocent of the invectives against Cluny, which had been attributed to him, and in the second he gives his reasons for his attack upon averred abuses. He protests his profound esteem for the Benedictines of Cluny whom he declares he loves equally as well as the other religious orders. Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, answered the Abbot of Clairvaux without wounding charity in the least, and assured him of his great admiration and sincere friendship. In the meantime Cluny established a reform, and Suger himself, the minister of Louis le Gros, and Abbot of St. Denis, was converted by the apology of Bernard. He hastened to terminate his worldly life and restore discipline in his monastery. The zeal of Bernard did not stop here; it extended to the bishops, the clergy, and the faithful, and remarkable conversions of persons engaged in worldly pursuits were among the fruits of his labours. Bernard's letter to the Archbishop of Sens is a real treatise "De Officiis Episcoporum". About the same time he wrote his work on "Grace and Free Will".
In the year 1128, Bernard assisted at the Council of Troyes, which had been convoked by Pope Honorius II, and was presided over by Cardinal Matthew, Bishop of Albano. The purpose of this council was to settle certain disputes of the bishops of Paris, and regulate other matters of the Church of France. The bishops made Bernard secretary of the council, and charged him with drawing up the synodal statutes. After the council, the Bishop of Verdun was deposed. There then arose against Bernard unjust reproaches and he was denounced even in Rome, as a monk who meddled with matters that did not concern him. Cardinal Harmeric, on behalf of the pope, wrote Bernard a sharp letter of remonstrance. "It is not fitting" he said "that noisy and troublesome frogs should come out of their marshes to trouble the Holy See and the cardinals". Bernard answered the letter by saying that, if he had assisted at the council, it was because he had been dragged to it, as it were, by force. "Now illustrious Harmeric", he added, "if you so wished, who would have been more capable of freeing me from the necessity of assisting at the council than yourself? Forbid those noisy troublesome frogs to come out of their holes, to leave their marshes . . . Then your friend will no longer be exposed to the accusations of pride and presumption". This letter made a great impression upon the cardinal, and justified its author both in his eyes and before the Holy See. It was at this council that Bernard traced the outlines of the Rule of the Knights Templars who soon became the ideal of the French nobility. Bernard praises it in his "De Laudibus Novae Militiae".
The influence of the Abbot of Clairvaux was soon felt in provincial affairs. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes, and recalled to their duty Henry Archbishop of Sense, and Stephen de Senlis, Bishop of Paris. On the death of Honorius II, which occurred on the 14th of February, 1130, a schism broke out in the Church by the election of two popes, Innocent II and Anacletus II. Innocent II having been banished from Rome by Anacletus took refuge in France. King Louis le Gros convened a national council of the French bishops at Etampes, and Bernard, summoned thither by consent of the bishops, was chosen to judge between the rival popes. He decided in favour of Innocent II, caused him to be recognized by all the great Catholic powers, went with him into Italy, calmed the troubles that agitated the country, reconciled Pisa with Genoa, and Milan with the pope and Lothaire. According to the desire of the latter, the pope went to Liege to consult with the emperor upon the best means to be taken for his return to Rome, for it was there that Lothaire was to receive the imperial crown from the hands of the pope. From Liege, the pope returned to France, paid a visit to the Abbey of St. Denis, and then to Clairvaux where his reception was of a simple and purely religious character. The whole pontifical court was touched by the saintly demeanor of this band of monks. In the refectory only a few common fishes were found for the pope, and instead of wine, the juice of herbs was served for drink, says an annalist of Citeaux. It was not a table feast that was served to the pope and his followers, but a feast of virtues. The same year Bernard was again at the Council of Reims at the side of Innocent II, whose oracle he was; and then in Aquitaine where he succeeded for the time in detaching William, Count of Poitiers, from the cause of Anacletus.
In 1132, Bernard accompanied Innocent II into Italy, and at Cluny the pope abolished the dues which Clairvaux used to pay to this celebrated abbey—an action which gave rise to a quarrel between the "White Monks" and the "Black Monks" which lasted twenty years. In the month of May, the pope supported by the army of Lothaire, entered Rome, but Lothaire, feeling himself too weak to resist the partisans of Anacletus, retired beyond the Alps, and Innocent sought refuge in Pisa in September, 1133. In the meantime the abbot had returned to France in June, and was continuing the work of peacemaking which he had commenced in 1130. Towards the end of 1134, he made a second journey into Aquitaine, where William X had relapsed into schism. This would have died out of itself if William could have been detached from the cause of Gerard, who had usurped the See of Bordeaux and retained that of Angoul EAme. Bernard invited William to the Mass which he celebrated in the Church of La Couldre. At the moment of the Communion, placing the Sacred Host upon the paten, he went to the door of the church where William was, and pointing to the Host, he adjured the Duke not to despise God as he did His servants. William yielded and the schism ended. Bernard went again to Italy, where Roger of Sicily was endeavouring to withdraw the Pisans from their allegiance to Innocent. He recalled the city of Milan, which had been deceived and misled by the ambitious prelate Anselm, Archbishop of Milan, to obedience to the pose, refused the Archbishopric of Milan, and returned finally to Clairvaux. Believing himself at last secure in his cloister Bernard devoted himself with renewed vigour to the composition of those pious and learned works which have won for him the title of "Doctor of the Church". He wrote at this time his sermons on the "Canticle of Canticles".
In 1137 he was again forced to leave his solitude by order of the pope to put an end to the quarrel between Lothaire and Roger of Sicily. At the conference held at Palermo, Bernard succeeded in convincing Roger of the rights of Innocent II and in silencing Peter of Pisa who sustained Anacletus. The latter died of grief and disappointment in 1138, and with him the schism. Returning to Clairvaux, Bernard occupied himself in sending bands of monks from his too-crowded monastery into Germany, Sweden, England, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, and Italy. Some of these, at the command of Innocent II, took possession of Three Fountains Abbey, near the Salvian Waters in Rome, from which Pope Eugenius III was chosen. Bernard resumed his commentary on the "Canticle of Canticles", assisted in 1139, at the Second General Lateran Council and the Tenth Oecumenical, in which the surviving adherents of the schism were definitively condemned. About the same time, Bernard was visited at Clairvaux by St. Malachi, metropolitan of the Church in Ireland, and a very close friendship was formed between them. St. Malachi would gladly have taken the Cistercian habit, but the sovereign pontiff would not give his permission. He died, however, at Clairvaux in 1148.
In the year 1140, we find Bernard engaged in other matters which disturbed the peace of the Church. Towards the close of the eleventh century, the schools of philosophy and theology, dominated by the passion for discussion and a spirit of independence which had introduced itself into political and religious questions, became a veritable public arena, with no other motive than that of ambition. This exaltation of human reason and rationalism found an ardent and powerful adherent in Abelard, the most eloquent and learned man of the age after Bernard. "The history of the calamities and the refutation of his doctrine by St. Bernard", says Ratisbonne, "form the greatest episode of the twelfth century". Abelard's treatise on the Trinity had been condemned in 1121, and he himself had thrown his book into the fire. But in 1139 he advocated new errors. Bernard, informed of this by William of St. Thierry, wrote to Abelard who answered in an insulting manner. Bernard then denounced him to the pope who caused a general council to be held at Sens. Abelard asked for a public discussion with Bernard; the latter showed his opponent's errors with such clearness and force of logic that he was unable to make any reply, and was obliged, after being condemned, to retire. he pope confirmed the judgment of the council, Abelard submitted without resistance, and retired to Cluny to live under Peter the Venerable, where he died two years later.
Innocent II died in 1143. His two successors, Celestin II and Lucius, reigned only a short time, and then Bernard saw one of his disciples, Bernard of Pisa, Abbott of Three Fountains, and known thereafter as Eugenius III, raised to the Chair of St. Peter. Bernard sent him, at his own request, various instructions which compose the "Book of Consideration", the predominating idea of which is that the reformation of the Church ought to commence with the sanctity of the head. Temporal matters are merely accessories; the principal are piety, meditation, or consideration, which ought to precede action. The book contains a most beautiful page on the papacy, and has always been greatly esteemed by the sovereign pontiffs, many of whom used it for their ordinary reading.
Alarming news came at this time from the East. Edessa had fallen into the hands of the Turks, and Jerusalem and Antioch were threatened with similar disaster. Deputations of the bishops of Armenia solicited aid from the pope, and the King of France also sent ambassadors. The pope commissioned Bernard to preach a new Crusade and granted the same indulgences for it which Urban II had accorded to the first. A parliament was convoked at Vezelay in Burgundy in 1134, and Bernard preached before the assembly. The King, Louis le Jeune, Queen Eleanor, and the princes and lords present prostrated themselves at the feet of the Abbot of Clairvaux to receive the cross. The saint was obliged to use portions of his habit to make crosses to satisfy the zeal and ardour of the multitude who wished to take part in the Crusade. Bernard passed into Germany, and the miracles which multiplied almost at his every step undoubtedly contributed to the success of his mission. The Emperor Conrad and his nephew Frederick Barbarossa, received the pilgrims' cross from the hand of Bernard, and Pope Eugenius, to encourage the enterprise, came in person to France. It was on the occasion of this visit, 1147, that a council was held at Paris, at which the errors of Gilbert de la Poree, Bishop of Poitiers, were examined. He advanced among other absurdities that the essence and the attributes of God are not God, that the properties of the Persons of the Trinity are not the persons themselves in fine that the Divine Nature did not become incarnate. The discussion was warm on both sides. The decision was left for the council which was held at Reims the following year (1148), and in which Eon de l'Etoile was one of the judges. Bernard was chosen by the council to draw up a profession of faith directly opposed to that of Gilbert, who concluding by stating to the Fathers: "If you believe and assert differently than I have done I am willing to believe and speak as you do". The consequence of this declaration was that the pope condemned the assertions of Gilbert without denouncing him personally. After the council the pope paid a visit to Clairvaux, where he held a general chapter of the order and was able to realize the prosperity of which Bernard was the soul.
The last years of Bernard's life were saddened by the failure of the Crusade he had preached, the entire responsibility for which was thrown upon him. He had accredited the enterprise by miracles, but he had not guaranteed its success against the misconduct and perfidy of those who participated in it. Lack of discipline and the over-confidence of the German troops, the intrigues of the Prince of Antioch and Queen Eleanor, and finally the avarice and evident treason of the Christian nobles of Syria, who prevented the capture of Damascus, appear to have been the cause of disaster. Bernard considered it his duty to send an apology to the pope and it is inserted in the second part of his "Book of Consideration". There he explains how, with the crusaders as with the Hebrew people, in whose favour the Lord had multiplies his prodigies, their sins were the cause of their misfortune and miseries. The death of his contemporaries served as a warning to Bernard of his own approaching end The first to die was Suger (1152), of whom the Abbot wrote to Eugenius III: "If there is any precious vase adorning the palace of the King of Kings it is the soul of the venerable Suger". Thibaud, Count of Champagne, Conrad, Emperor of Germany, and his son Henry died the same year. From the beginning of the year 1153 Bernard felt his death approaching. The passing of Pope Eugenius had struck the fatal blow by taking from him one whom he considered his greatest friend and consoler. Bernard died in the sixty-third year of his age, after forty years spent in the cloister. He founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe; at his death they numbered three hundred and forty-three. He was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints and was canonized by Alexander III, 18 January 1174. Pope Pius VIII bestowed on him the title of Doctor of the Church. The Cistercians honour him as only the founders of orders are honoured, because of the wonderful and widespread activity which he gave to the Order of Citeaux.
The works of St. Bernard are as follows:
"De amore Dei" wherein St. Bernard shows that the manner of loving God is to love Him without measure and gives the different degree of this love; "Book of Precepts and Dispensations" (1131), which contains answers to questions upon certain points of the Rule of St. Benedict from which the abbot can, or cannot, dispense; "De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio" in which the Catholic dogma of grace and free will is proved according to the principles of St. Augustine; "Book of Considerations", addressed to Pope Eugenius III; "De Officiis Episcoporum", addressed to Henry, Archbishop of Sens.
There are also eighty-six "Sermons for the Whole Year"; his "Letters" number 530. Many other letters, treatises, etc., falsely attributed to him are found among his works, such as the "l'Echelle du Cloitre", which is the work of Guigues, Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, les Meditations, l'Edification de la Maison interieure, etc. SOURCE: EWTN
Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/saintsHoly/saints/B/stbernardofclairvaux.asp#ixzz1VZOIyena
|Matthew 23: 1 - 12|
|1||Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples,|
|2||"The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat;|
|3||so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.|
|4||They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.|
|5||They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,|
|6||and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues,|
|7||and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men.|
|8||But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren.|
|9||And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.|
|10||Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ.|
|11||He who is greatest among you shall be your servant;|
|12||whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.|