Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mellifluous

Today is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, O. Cist., Doctor of the Church. He spent a great deal of his life trying, with a complete lack of success, to avoid conflict and controversy; he was a religious reformer, and thus inevitably became mired in controversy, and people kept thrusting him into responsibilities of arbitration and negotiation, with the result that he was continually criticized for meddling in matters that did not concern him. He established the Abbey of Clairvaux, helped to solidify the status of the Knights Templar, participated in the Second Lateran Council, and preached the Second Crusade. The most famous theological work of the Doctor Mellifluus is his Sermons on the Song of Songs, but he has a number of other works. The following is from the opening of his Life of St. Malachy:

It is indeed always worth while to portray the illustrious lives of the saints, that they may serve as a mirror and an example, and give, as it were, a relish to the life of men on earth. For by this means in some sort they live among us, even after death, and many of those who are dead while they live are challenged and recalled by them to true life. But now especially is there need for it because holiness is rare, and it is plain that our age is lacking in men. So greatly, in truth, do we perceive that lack to have increased in our day that none can doubt that we are smitten by that saying, Because iniquity shall abound the love of many shall wax cold; and, as I suppose, he has come or is at hand of whom it is written, Want shall go before his face. If I mistake not, Antichrist is he whom famine and sterility of all good both precedes and accompanies. Whether therefore it is the herald of one now present or the harbinger of one who shall come immediately, the want is evident. I speak not of the crowd, I speak not of the vile multitude of the children of this world: I would have you lift up your eyes upon the very pillars of the Church. Whom can you show me, even of the number of those who seem to be given for a light to the Gentiles, that in his lofty station is not rather a smoking wick than a blazing lamp? And, says One, if the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! Unless perchance, which I do not believe, you will say that they shine who suppose that gain is godliness; who in the Lord's inheritance seek not the things which are the Lord's, but rather their own.

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