Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Medieval Remedy for Modernity’s Ills

From Crisis:
By 1109, at the age of nineteen, St. Bernard possesses certainty that God is calling him to the priesthood as a Cistercian monk. He enters the monastery at Citeaux in France. It was not long that his superiors recognize the superlative qualities of sanctity and intellectual prowess and send him to establish another foundation at Claire Vallee, which finally was abbreviated to the familiar, Clairvaux.

The twelfth century was no stranger to heresy, and St. Bernard’s love of the Cistercian silence was never an obstacle to heeding the call of the Church to do battle with it. With his quicksilver intellect he engaged hard-bitten heretics like Peter Abelard and the Cathars with impressive success. The Saint of Clairvaux full well knew that right Catholic living was intimately bound to right Doctrine. Doctrine is the flesh and bones of Christ himself. Thinking it unimportant is settling for an ad hoc Christ, designed according to the whims of the self, or the passing enthusiasm of the age. Admiration followed Bernard everywhere. Not only did popes, bishops and kings seek his counsel, but the saints’ humility prompted him to remonstrate those very notables when he observed them failing the duties of their high office. Well did the Saint make his own the words of St. Gregory the Great in his Pastoral Guide:

Pastors who lack foresight hesitate to say openly what is right because they fear losing the favor of men… The Lord reproach’s them through the prophet: ‘They are dumb dogs that cannot bark’… To advance against the foe involves a bold resistance to the powers of this world in defense of the flock. To stand fast in battle on the day of the Lord means to oppose the wicked enemy out of love for what is right.

(Read more.)

No comments: