Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mellifluous Teacher

Today is the feast of Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church. From Sermon 45 on the Song of Songs:

When the Word therefore tells the soul, "You are beautiful,” and calls it friend, he infuses into it the power to love, and to know it is loved in return. And when the soul addresses him as beloved and praises his beauty, she is filled with admiration for his goodness and attributes to him without subterfuge or deceit the grace by which she loves and is loved. The Bridegroom's beauty is his love of the bride, all the greater in that it existed before hers. Realizing then that he was her lover before he was her beloved, she cries out with strength and ardor that she must love him with her whole heart and with words expressing deepest affection. The speech of the Word is an infusion of grace, the soul's response is wonder and thanksgiving. The more she feels surpassed in her loving the more she gives in love; and her wonder grows when he still exceeds her. Hence, not satisfied to tell him once that he is beautiful, she repeats the word, to signify by that repetition the pre-eminence of his beauty.

Bernard is also known as the Doctor Mellifluus and the Last of the Church Fathers. He was one of the pre-eminent theologians of the twelfth century, and quite active despite constant illness. He was a supporter of the Knights Templar. And Dante selected him to be the final guide in the Divine Comedy, replacing Beatrice as Beatrice had replaced Virgil.

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