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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Catholic News World : Sunday August 21, 2016 - SHARE

 2016

#PopeFrancis "The door of God’s mercy is narrow but always wide open..." FULL TEXT - Video - Angelus


Before the Angelus:
Dear brothers and sisters, Good morning!
Today’s Gospel passage invites us to meditate on the theme of salvation. The Evangelist Luke tells us of when Jesus was going toward Jerusalem and along the way, is approached by a man who asks him this question: “Lord, will only a few people be saved?”(Luke 13:23). Jesus does not give a direct answer, but he moves the discussion to another level, with a suggestive language, which, at first, perhaps, the disciples did not understand: “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough “(v.24). With the image of the door, He wants to explain to his listeners that it is not a question of numbers, of how many people will be saved. It doesn’t matter how many, but it is important that everyone knows which is the path that leads to salvation: the door.
To go along this path, one must pass through a door. But where is the door?  What is it like?  Who is the door?  Jesus himself is the door. He says in the Gospel of John; “I am the gate” (Jn 10,9). He leads us into fellowship with the Father, where we find love, understanding and protection. But why is this door narrow? One can ask. Why is it narrow?  It is a narrow door not because it is oppressive – no, but because it asks us to restrict and limit our pride and our fear, to open ourselves with humble and trusting heart to Him, recognizing ourselves as sinners, in need of His forgiveness. For this [reason], it is narrow: to contain our pride, which bloats us.  The door of God’s mercy is narrow but always wide open, wide open for everyone! God has no favorites, but always welcomes everyone, without distinction.  A door, that is narrow to restrict our pride and our fear.  Open because God welcomes us without distinction. And the salvation that He gives us, is a never-ending stream of mercy, which breaks down every barrier and opens up surprising perspectives of light and peace. The gate is narrow, but always wide open: do not forget this.
Jesus speaks to us today, once again, offering a pressing invitation to come to Him, to cross the threshold of full life, reconciled and happy. He waits for us, no matter what sin we have committed, no matter what, to embrace us, to offer us His forgiveness.  He alone can transform our hearts, He alone can give full meaning to our existence, giving us the real joy. Upon entering the gate of Jesus, the door of faith and of the Gospel, we can get out from worldly attitudes, bad habits, by selfishness and by our own closures. When there is contact with the love and mercy of God, there is a real change. And our life is illuminated by the light of the Holy Spirit: an inextinguishable light!
I would like to make a proposal. Let us think now, in silence, for a moment of the things we have inside of us and prevent us from going through the door: my pride, my sins, etc. And then, let us think of the other door, that opens us to the mercy of God, Who is waiting for us, to give forgiveness.
The Lord offers us many opportunities to save and enter through the door of salvation. This door is an opportunity, that must not be wasted: we must not make an ‘academic discourse’ on salvation, as the man who turned to Jesus, but we must seize the opportunities of salvation. Because at a certain moment “the master of the house had arisen and locked the door” (v.25), as mentioned in the Gospel. But if God is good and loves us, why does He close the door at some point? Because our life is not a video game or a soap opera; our life is serious and the goal to achieve is important: eternal salvation.
To the Virgin Mary, Door of Heaven, we ask you to help us seize the opportunities that the Lord gives us to cross the threshold of faith and thus, to enter into a wide road: it is the path of salvation that can accommodate all those who allow themselves to love and be loved. It is love which saves, the love here on earth is a source of happiness to those who, in meekness, patience and justice, forget themselves and give themselves to others, especially the weakest.
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Sad news has reached me about the bloody attack that hit dear Turkey yesterday. Let us pray for the victims, for the dead and the injured, and we ask for the gift of peace for all.
Hail Mary …
I cordially greet all the Roman pilgrims and those from various countries, in particular the faithful of Kalisz (Poland) and Gondomar (Portugal); I would also like to greet in a special way the new seminarians of the Pontifical North American College. Welcome to Rome!
I greet the Most Holy Redeemer Association of Manfredonia, the bikers of Polesine, the faithful of Delianuova and those of Verona, who have come on pilgrimage on foot. I greet the young people of Paddule, who came to help the soup kitchen of Caritas of Rome.
I wish you all a good Sunday. And please, do not forget to pray for me. Good lunch and goodbye!
[Original text: Italian] [Translation by Deborah Castellano Lubov]

Sunday Mass Online : Sun August 21, 2016 - 21st Ordinary Time - C


Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 123


Reading 1IS 66:18-21

Thus says the LORD:
I know their works and their thoughts,
and I come to gather nations of every language;
they shall come and see my glory.
I will set a sign among them;
from them I will send fugitives to the nations:
to Tarshish, Put and Lud, Mosoch, Tubal and Javan,
to the distant coastlands
that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory;
and they shall proclaim my glory among the nations.
They shall bring all your brothers and sisters from all the nations
as an offering to the LORD,
on horses and in chariots, in carts, upon mules and dromedaries,
to Jerusalem, my holy mountain, says the LORD,
just as the Israelites bring their offering
to the house of the LORD in clean vessels.
Some of these I will take as priests and Levites, says the LORD.

Responsorial PsalmPS 117:1, 2

R. (Mk 16:15) Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Praise the LORD all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R.. Alleluia.
For steadfast is his kindness toward us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Reading 2HEB 12:5-7, 11-13

Brothers and sisters,
You have forgotten the exhortation addressed to you as children:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord
or lose heart when reproved by him;
for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines;
he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
Endure your trials as “discipline”;
God treats you as sons.
For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?
At the time,
all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain,
yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness
to those who are trained by it.

So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees.
Make straight paths for your feet,
that what is lame may not be disjointed but healed.

Alleluia JN 14:6

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I am the way, the truth and the life, says the Lord;
no one comes to the Father, except through me.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GospelLK 13:22-30

Jesus passed through towns and villages,
teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.
Someone asked him,
“Lord, will only a few people be saved?”
He answered them,
“Strive to enter through the narrow gate,
for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter
but will not be strong enough.
After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door,
then will you stand outside knocking and saying,
‘Lord, open the door for us.’
He will say to you in reply,
‘I do not know where you are from.
And you will say,
‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’
Then he will say to you,
‘I do not know where you are from.
Depart from me, all you evildoers!’
And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last.”

Saint August 21 : St. Pope Pius X : Patron of #Pilgrims and 1st #Communicants


(Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto). Born 2 June, 1835, at Riese, Province of Treviso, in Venice. His parents were Giovanni Battista Sarto and Margarita (née Sanson); the former, a postman, died in 1852, but Margarita lived to see her son a cardinal. After finishing his elements, Giuseppe at first received private lessons in Latin from the arch-priest of his town, Don Tito Fusaroni, after which he studied for four years at the gymnasium of Castelfranco Veneto, walking to and fro every day. In 1850 he received the tonsure from the Bishop of Treviso, and was given a scholarship of the Diocese of Treviso in the seminary of Padua, where he finished his classical, philosophical, and theological studies with distinction. He was ordained in 1858, and for nine years was chaplain at Tombolo, having to assume most of the functions of parish priest, as the pastor was old and an invalid. He sought to perfect his knowledge of theology by assiduously studying Saint Thomas and canon law; at the same time he established a night school for adult students, and devoted himself of the ministry of preaching in other towns to which he was called. In 1867 he was named arch-priest of Salzano, a large borough of the Diocese of Treviso, where he restored the church, and provided for the enlargement and maintenance of the hospital by his own means, consistently with his habitual generosity to the poor; he especially distinguished himself by his abnegation during the cholera. He showed great solicitude for the religious instruction of adults. In 1875 he was made a canon of the cathedral of Treviso, and filled several offices, among them those of spiritual director and rector of the seminary, examiner of the clergy, and vicar-general; moreover, he made it possible for the students of the public schools to receive religious instruction. In 1878, on the death of Bishop Zanelli, he was elected vicar-capitular. On 10 November, 1884, he was named Bishop of Mantua, then a very troublesome see, and consecrated on 20 November. His chief care in his new position was for the formation of the clergy at the seminary, where, for several years, he himself taught dogmatic theology, and for another year moral theology. He wished the doctrine and method of St. Thomas to be followed, and to many of the poorer students he gave copies of the "Summa theologica"; at the same time he cultivated the Gregorian Chant in company with the seminarians. The temporal administration of his see imposed great sacrifices upon him. In 1887 he held a diocesan synod. By his attendance at the confessional, he gave the example of pastoral zeal. The Catholic organization of Italy, then known as the "Opera dei Congressi", found in him a zealous propagandist from the time of his ministry at Salzano. At the secret consistory of June, 1893, Leo XIII created him a cardinal under the title of San Bernardo alle Terme; and in the public consistory, three days later, he was preconized Patriarch of Venice, retaining meanwhile the title of Apostolic Administrator of Mantua. Cardinal Sarto was obliged to wait eighteen months before he was able to take possession of his new diocese, because the Italian government refused its exequatur, claiming the right of nomination as it had been exercised by the Emperor of Austria. This matter was discussed with bitterness in the newspapers and in pamphlets; the Government, by way of reprisal, refused its exequatur to the other bishops who were appointed in the meantime, so that the number of vacant sees grew to thirty. Finally, the minister Crispi having returned to power, and the Holy See having raised the mission of Eritrea to the rank of an Apostolic Prefecture in favour of the Italian Capuchins, the Government withdrew from its position. Its opposition had not been caused by any objection to Sarto personally. At Venice the cardinal found a much better condition of things than he had found at Mantua. There, also, he paid great attention to the seminary, where he obtained the establishment of the faculty of canon law. In 1898 he held the diocesan synod. He promoted the use of the Gregorian Chant, and was a great patron of Lorenzo Perosi; he favoured social works, especially the rural parochial banks; he discerned and energetically opposed the dangers of certain doctrines and the conduct of certain Christian-Democrats. The international Eucharistic Congress of 1897, the centenary of St. Gerard Sagredo (1900), and the blessing of the corner-stone of the new belfry of St. Mark's, also of the commemorative chapel of Mt. Grappa (1901), were events that left a deep impression on him and his people. Meanwhile, Leo XIII having died, the cardinals entered into conclave and after several ballots Giuseppe Sarto was elected on 4 August by a vote of 55 out of a possible 60 votes. His coronation took place on the following Sunday, 9 August, 1903.
In his first Encyclical, wishing to develop his programme to some extent, he said that the motto of his pontificate would be "instaurare omnia in Christo" (Ephesians 1:10). Accordingly, his greatest care always turned to the direct interests of the Church. Before all else his efforts were directed to the promotion of piety among the faithful, and he advised all (Decr. S. Congr. Concil., 20 Dec., 1905) to receive Holy Communion frequently and, if possible, daily, dispensing the sick from the obligation of fasting to the extent of enabling them to receive Holy Communion twice each month, and even oftener (Decr. S. Congr. Rit., 7 Dec., 1906). Finally, by the Decree "Quam Singulari" (15 Aug., 1910), he recommended that the first Communion of children should not be deferred too long after they had reached the age of discretion. It was by his desire that the Eucharistic Congress of 1905 was held at Rome, while he enhanced the solemnity of subsequent Eucharistic congresses by sending to them cardinal legates. The fiftieth anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception was an occasion of which he took advantage to enjoin devotion to Mary (Encyclical "Ad illum diem", 2 February, 1904); and the Marian Congress, together with the coronation of the image of the Immaculate Conception in the choir of St. Peter's, was a worthy culmination of the solemnity. As a simple chaplain, a bishop, and a patriarch, Giuseppe Sarto was a promoter of sacred music; as pope, he published, 22 November, 1903, a Motu Proprio on sacred music in churches, and at the same time ordered the authentic Gregorian Chant to be used everywhere, while he caused the choir books to be printed with the Vatican font of type under the supervision of a special commission. In the Encyclical "Acerbo nimis" (15 April, 1905) he treated of the necessity of catechismal instruction, not only for children, but also for adults, giving detailed rules, especially in relation to suitable schools for the religious instruction of students of the public schools, and even of the universities. He caused a new catechism to be published for the Diocese of Rome. As bishop, his chief care had been for the formation of the clergy, and in harmony with this purpose, an Encyclical to the Italian episcopate (28 July, 1906) enjoined the greatest caution in the ordination of priests, calling the attention of the bishops to the fact that there was frequently manifested among the younger clergy a spirit of independence that was a menace to ecclesiastical discipline. In the interest of Italian seminaries, he order them to be visited by the bishops, and promulgated a new order of studies, which had been in use for several years at the Roman Seminary. On the other hand, as the dioceses of Central and of Southern Italy were so small that their respective seminaries could not prosper, Pius X established the regional seminary which is common to the sees of a given region; and, as a consequence, many small, deficient seminaries were closed. For the more efficient guidance of souls, by a Decree of the Sacred Congregation of the Consistory (20 August, 1910), instructions were given concerning the removal of parish priests, as administrative acts, when such procedure was required by grave circumstances that might not constitute a canonical cause for the removal. At the time of the jubilee in honour of his ordination as a priest, he addressed a letter full of affection and wise council to all the clergy. By a recent Decree (18 Nov., 1910), the clergy have been barred from the temporal administration of social organizations, which was often a cause of grave difficulties.
The pope has at heart above all things the purity of the faith. On various occasions, as in the Encyclical regarding the centenary of Saint Gregory the Great, Pius X had pointed out the dangers of certain new theological methods, which, based upon Agnosticism and upon Immanentism, necessarily divest the doctrine of the faith of its teachings of objective, absolute, and immutable truth, and all the more, when those methods are associated with subversive criticism of the Holy Scripture and of the origins of Christianity. Wherefore, in 1907, he caused the publication of the Decree "Lamentabili" (called also the Syllabus of Pius X), in which sixty-five propositions are condemned. The greater number of these propositions concern the Holy Scripture, their inspiration, and the doctrine of Jesus and of the Apostles, while others relate to dogma, the sacraments, and the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. Soon after that, on 8 Sept., 1907, there appeared the famous Encyclical "Pascendi", which expounds and condemns the system of Modernism. It points out the danger of Modernism in relation to philosophy, apologetics, exegesis, history, liturgy, and discipline, and shows the contradiction between that innovation and the ancient faith; and, finally, it establishes rules by which to combat efficiently the pernicious doctrines in question. Among the means suggested mention should be made of the establishment of an official body of "censors" of books and the creation of a "Committee of Vigilance". Subsequently, by the Motu Proprio "Sacrorum Antistitum", Pius X called attention to the injunctions of the Encyclical and also to the provisions that had already been established under Leo XIII on preaching, and proscribed that all those who exercised the holy ministry or who taught in ecclesiastical institutions, as well as canons, the superiors of the regular clergy, and those serving in ecclesiastical bureaux should take an oath, binding themselves to reject the errors that are denounced in the Encyclical or in the Decree "Lamentabili". Pius X reverted to this vital subject on other occasions, especially in those Encyclicals that were written in commemoration of St. Anselm (21 April, 1909) and of St. Charles Borromeo (23 June, 1910), in the latter of which Reformist Modernism was especially condemned. As the study of the Bible is both the most important and the most dangerous study in theology, Pius X wished to found at Rome a centre for these studies, to give assurance at once of unquestioned orthodoxy and scientific worth; and so, with the assistance of the whole Catholic world, there was established at Rome the Biblical Institute, under the direction of the Jesuits. A need that had been felt for a long time was that of the codification of the Canon Law, and with a view to effecting it, Pius X, on 19 March, 1904, created a special congregation of cardinals, of which Mgr Gasparri, now a cardinal, became the secretary. The most eminent authorities on canon law, throughout the world, are collaborating in the formation of the new code, some of the provisions of which have already been published, as, for example, that modifying the law of the Council of Trent on secret marriages, the new rules for diocesan relations and for episcopal visits ad limina, and the new organization of the Roman Curia (Constitution "Sapienti Consilio", 29 June, 1908). Prior to that time, the Congregations for Relics and Indulgences and of Discipline had been suppressed, while the Secretariate of Briefs had been united to the Secretariate of State. The characteristic of the new rule is the complete separation of the judicial from the administrative; while the functions of the various bureaux have been more precisely determined, and their work more equalized. The offices of the Curia are divided into Tribunals (3), Congregations (11), and Offices (5). With regard to the first, the Tribunal of the Signature (consisting of cardinals only) and that of the Rota were revived; to the Tribunal of the Penitentiary were left only the cases of the internal forum (conscience). The Congregations remained almost as they were at first, with the exceptions that a special section was added to that of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, for indulgences; the Congregation of Bishops and Regulars received the name of Congregation of the Religious, and has to deal only with the affairs of religious congregations, while the affairs of the secular clergy are to be referred to the Congregation of the Consistory or of that of the Council; from the latter were taken the matrimonial cases, which are now sent to the tribunals or to the newly-created Congregation of the Sacraments. The Congregation of the Consistory has increased greatly in importance, since it has to decide questions of competence between the various other Congregations. The Congregation of Propaganda lost much of its territory in Europe and in America, where religious conditions have become regular. At the same time were published the rules and regulations for employees and those for the various bureaux. Another recent Constitution relates to the suburbicarian sees.
The Catholic hierarchy has greatly increased in numbers during these first years of the pontificate of Pius X, in which twenty-eight new dioceses have been created, mostly in the United States Brazil, and the Philippine Islands; also one abbey nullius, 16 vicariates Apostolic, and 15 prefectures Apostolic.
Leo XIII brought the social question within the range of ecclesiastical activity, Pius X, also, wishes the Church to co-operate, or rather to play a leading part in the solution of the social question; his views on this subject were formulated in a syllabus of nineteen propositions, taken from different Encyclicals and other Acts of Leo XIII, and published in a Motu Proprio (18 Dec., 1903), especially for the guidance of Italy, where the social question was a thorny one at the beginning of his pontificate. He sought especially to repress certain tendencies leaning towards Socialism and promoting a spirit of insubordination to ecclesiastical authority. As a result of ever increasing divergences, the "Opera die Congressi", the great association of the Catholics of Italy, was dissolved. At once, however, the Encyclical "Il fermo proposito" (11 June, 1905) brought about the formation of a new organization consisting of three great unions, the Popolare, the Economica, and the Elettorale. The firmness of Pius X obtained the elimination of, at least, the most quarrelsome elements, making it possible now for Catholic social action to prosper, although some friction still remains. The desire of Pius X is for the economical work to be avowedly Catholic, as he expressed it in a memorable letter to Count Medolago-Albani. In France, also, the Sillon, after promising well, had taken a turn that was little reassuring to orthodoxy; and dangers in this connection were made manifest in the Encyclical "Notre charge apostolique" (15 Aug., 1910), in which the Sillonists were ordered to place their organizations under the authority of the bishops.
In its relations with Governments, the pontificate of Pius X has had to carry on painful struggles. In France the pope had inherited quarrels and menaces. The "Nobis nominavit" question was settled through the condescension of the pope; but the matter of the appointment of bishops proposed by the Government, the visit of the president to the King of Italy, with the subsequent note of protestation, and the resignation of two French bishops, which was desired by the Holy See, became pretexts for the Government at Paris to break off diplomatic relations with the Court of Rome. Meanwhile the law of Separation had been already prepared, despoiling the Church of France, and also prescribing for the Church a constitution which, if not openly contrary to her nature, was at least full of danger to her. Pius X, paying no attention to the counsels of short-sighted opportunism, firmly refused his consent to the formation of the associations cultuelles. The separation brought some freedom to the French Church, especially in the matter of the selection of its pastors. Pius X, not looking for reprisals, still recognizes the French right of protectorate over Catholics in the East. Some phrases of the Encyclical "Editæ Sæpe", written on the occasion of the centenary of St. Charles, were misinterpreted by Protestants, especially in Germany, and Pius X made a declaration in refutation of them, without belittling the authority of his high office. At present (Dec., 1910) complications are feared in Spain, as, also, separation and persecution in Portugal; Pius X has already taken opportune measures. The new Government of Turkey has sent an ambassador to the Pope. The relations of the Holy See with the republics of Latin America are good. The delegations to Chile and to the Argentine Republic were raised to the rank of internuntiatures, and an Apostolic Delegate was sent to Central America.
Naturally, the solicitude of Pius X extends to his own habitation, and he has done a great deal of work of restoration in the Vatican, for example, in the quarters of the cardinal-secretary of State, the new palace for employees, the new picture-gallery, the Specola, etc. Finally, we must not forget his generous charity in public misfortunes: during the great earthquakes of Calabria, he asked for the assistance of Catholics throughout the world, with the result that they contributed, at the time of the last earthquake, nearly 7,000,000 francs, which served to supply the wants of those in need, and to build churches, schools, etc. His charity was proportionately no less on the occasion of the eruption of Vesuvius, and of other disasters outside of Italy (Portugal and Ireland). In few years Pius X has secured great, practical, and lasting results in the interest of Catholic doctrine and discipline, and that in the face of great difficulties of all kinds. Even non-Catholics recognize his apostolic spirit, his strength of character, the precision of his decisions, and his pursuit of a clear and explicit programme.Text from the Catholic Encyclopedia 

Today's #HolyMass Readings and Video : Sat. August 20, 2106

Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church
Lectionary: 424


Reading 1EZ 43:1-7AB

The angel led me to the gate which faces the east,
and there I saw the glory of the God of Israel
coming from the east.
I heard a sound like the roaring of many waters,
and the earth shone with his glory.
The vision was like that which I had seen
when he came to destroy the city,
and like that which I had seen by the river Chebar.
I fell prone as the glory of the LORD entered the temple
by way of the gate which faces the east,
but spirit lifted me up and brought me to the inner court.
And I saw that the temple was filled with the glory of the LORD.
Then I heard someone speaking to me from the temple,
while the man stood beside me.
The voice said to me: 
Son of man, this is where my throne shall be,
this is where I will set the soles of my feet;
here I will dwell among the children of Israel forever.

Responsorial PsalmPS 85:9AB AND 10, 11-12, 13-14

R. (see 10b) The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
I will hear what God proclaims;
the LORD–for he proclaims peace.
Near indeed is his salvation to those who fear him,
glory dwelling in our land.
R. The glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
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 glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.
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 glory of the Lord will dwell in our land.

AlleluiaMT 23:9B, 10B

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have but one Father in heaven;
you have but one master, the Christ.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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.”

Saint August 20 : St. Bernard of Clairvaux : Patron of #Climbers , #Beekeepers and #Candlemakers : Founder of Cistercians


Born:
1090, Fontaines, France
Died:
August 20, 1153, Clairvaux, France
Canonized:
January 18, 1174, Rome by Pope Alexander III
Major Shrine:
Ville-sous-la-Ferté
Patron of:
Cistercians, Burgundy, beekeepers, candlemakers, climbers
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 Cîteaux, 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 Cîteaux, 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 Cîteaux, to found a new house at Vallée d'Absinthe, or Valley of Bitterness, in the Diocese of Langres. This Bernard named Claire Vallée, 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 Châlons-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. n 1118, the Monastery of the Three Fountains was founded in the Diocese of Châlons; in 1119, that of Fontenay in the Diocese of Auton (now Dijon) and in 1121, that of Foigny, near Vervins, in the Diocese of Laon (now Soissons), 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 Châtillon. 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 Cîteaux. 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 Cîteaux 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 Sens, 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 Liège 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 Liège, 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 Cîteaux. 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 Angoulême. 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 Vézelay in Burgundy in 1146, 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 Porée, 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 multiplied 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 Cîteaux.
The works of St. Bernard are as follows:
"De Gradibus Superbiae", his first treatise;
"Homilies on the Gospel 'Missus est'" (1120);
"Apology to William of St. Thierry" against the claims of the monks of Cluny;
"On the Conversion of Clerics", a book addressed to the young ecclesiastics of Paris (1122);
"De Laudibus Novae Militiae", addressed to Hughes de Payns, first Grand Master and Prior of Jerusalem (1129). This is a eulogy of the military order instituted in 1118, and an exhortation to the knights to conduct themselves with courage in their several stations.
"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 Gratiâ 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.
His sermons are also numerous:
"On Psalm 90, 'Qui habitat'" (about 1125);
"On the Canticle of Canticles". St. Bernard explained in eighty-six sermons only the first two chapters of the Canticle of Canticles and the first verse of the third chapter.
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 Cloître", which is the work of Guigues, Prior of La Grande Chartreuse, les Méditations, l'Edification de la Maison intérieure, etc. Shared from The Catholic Encyclopedia


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