“...The fool said in his heart: There is no God. They are corrupted, and become abominable in iniquities: there is none that doth good. God looked down from heaven on the children of men: to see if there were any that did understand, or did seek God. All have gone aside, they are become unprofitable together, there is none that doth good, no not one. Shall not all the workers of iniquity know, who eat up my people as they eat bread? They have not called upon God: there have they trembled for fear, where there was no fear...” [ Psalm 52]
St. Bernard was born of holy parents. His father Celestin was a devout knight; his mother, Aleth a valiant woman. She offered all of her children, 6 boys and a girl, to God as soon as they were born. While carrying Bernard, her third son she had a dream of things to come: she saw in her womb a white barking dog with a red back. A man of God interpreted this dream for her and told her “You will be the mother of a very good dog, who will be the watchman of the house of God and will bark against its foes, for he will be a renowned preacher and will cure many by the grace of the medicine of his tongue.”
He determined as a child to lead a chaste life. The ancient Enemy sent many tempting traps in his path in a vain attempt to overcome this resolution. These temptations helped to make Bernard determined to flee the world and enter the Cistercian Order. His brothers tried to dissuade him but in the argument he conquered them and many others. At the age of twenty-two in the year of the Lord 1112, Bernard arrived at the Cistercian monastery with thirty companions. There he constantly fought to subdue the flesh and do the works of the spirit.
A few years later he was sent to start the monastery of Clairvaux as Abbott. After that he built many monasteries. During his lifetime St. Bernard worked many miracles.
The psalmist, quoted above, regards the world and sees that there are none who truly seek to love God. St. Bernard’s greatness was that not only did he strive for perfection but that he was able to inspire others to want to love God with their whole heart, their whole mind, their whole will and all of their strength. He was able to start so many monasteries because he inspired so many men to leave the world and seek to become perfect. He taught them the vanity of the world.
Our Lord said “Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country.” This saying did not apply to St. Bernard who converted all his brothers, his father and even his worldly sister, causing all of them to leave the world and strive for perfection.
Today our world is as the psalmist describes. Those working iniquity have conquered the world. They have most men trembling for fear, where there is no fear. These are not the kind of men who will convert the world. We need to ask God to send a man like St. Bernard who can influence others to “seek first the Kingdom of Heaven.” Men who will detach themselves from the world. And be concerned more about the things of God.
A temptation in our day for those who love the truth is to spend much time becoming experts on Covid, the evils of vaccinations, swabs, face masks, lock downs etc., and insufficient time on prayer, meditation, spiritual reading and the things that teach us to know, love and serve God more faithfully in this wicked world. “And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things: But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Let us pray to St. Bernard for the grace to see with St. Mary Magdalen that only one thing, that is to Love God, is necessary. As he taught many others perhaps he can teach us.