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Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France, the third son of Tescelin, the noble Lord of Fontaines, and Aleth, a daughter of the Lord of Montbard. He and his five brothers were well-educated and well-learned in Latin and military exercises, Bernard being educated with particular care by his parents, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny.

Bernard fought the temptations of youth with assiduous prayer and the practice of virtue, often to a heroic degree and, at an early age, determined upon a life of solitude. His ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, gave rise to some of the most sublime writings ever penned on the Queen of Heaven.

He studied the Holy Scriptures so intensely that the Word of God became as it were his own language. In the year 1112, Bernard left his home to join the monastery of Citeaux, which followed the very austere Cistercian rule. Bernard brought with him some thirty men, among them four of his brothers and an uncle, who had no previous thought of the religious life.

In 1115, the abbot of Citeaux sent Bernard and twelve monks to build a new house in the region of Champagne. The beginnings of what came to be known as Clairvaux, were trying and painful. The monks lived under their new abbot most poorly, surviving off what little the coarse land had to offer.

The austerities practiced were so severe that Bernard’s health was seriously impaired. Nevertheless, disciples flocked in droves to the new monastic community, and the monks soon numbered one hundred and fifty, among them his youngest brother and his own father.

Renowned for his wisdom, Bernard was often called upon by both Church and State authorities to settle disputes. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes and, in the schism that broke out in 1130, was chosen to judge between two rival popes. Until the death of the anti-pope in 1138, he was forced to leave the solitude of his cloister repeatedly by order of Pope Innocent II to combat the resurgence of the schism.

In 1139, heresy took the place of schism, and he was once again championing the Church’s cause in the public arena. The year 1145 saw one of Bernard’s Cistercian sons elevated to the throne of Peter. Pope Eugene III lost no time in calling for a new crusade against the Muslims and commissioned Bernard to preach the crusade throughout Europe. His preaching was accompanied by numerous miracles and thousands flocked to the Cross.

As Abbot of Clairvaux for forty years, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe. At his death, they numbered three hundred and forty-three. Having brought the Order out of obscurity, he is considered one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Bernard spent the last several years of his life in great pain. He saw the death of his contemporaries as a warning of his own approaching end and prepared himself accordingly.

He died in 1153 and was canonized in 1174. Pope Pius VIII named Doctor of the Church in 1830.

 


 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for May 25, 2020

“I will take away not the grace but the feeling of grace...

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May 25

 

“I will take away
not the grace but the feeling of grace.
Though I will seem to leave you
I will be closer to you.”

Our Lord to St. Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi


My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

Pope St. Gregory VII

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cri...

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Pope St. Gregory VII

Pope Gregory VII was born Hildebrand in Tuscany, Italy. Little else is known of his early life. Hailed, historically, as one of the greatest of the Church's pontiffs and one of the most remarkable men of all time, his name, Hildebrand, meant “bright flame”. Those who hated him, which were many, interpreted the name as “brand of Hell”.

Hildebrand was a Benedictine monk, for a time living in Cluny, from whence he certainly gleaned the monastery’s ideal of societal reform.

As a cleric, he became chaplain to Pope Gregory VI, and a few years later, under Leo IX was made Cardinal Deacon. A man of outstanding energy and insight, Hildebrand became a power in Rome. It is greatly due to him that the practice of electing popes through a college of cardinals was established.

In 1073 at the death of Alexander II, the people of Rome cried out for the holy genius who had helped steer the Church for twenty years, “Hildebrand for Pope! Holy Peter wants Hildebrand, the Archdeacon!” Once before the holy monk had eluded the tiara but this time a proper college of cardinals, seconding the popular cry, induced him to accept an honor duly his.

Hildebrand assumed the name Gregory VII, and threw his energy and zeal into a continued reform, especially fighting simony (the sale of ecclesiastical posts) and clerical incontinence.

He confronted Emperor Henry IV head- on about his practice of choosing men for ecclesiastical positions. On meeting with dogged resistance, the pontiff finally had recourse to excommunication which drastically curtailed the proud monarch’s power, ultimately bringing Henry on foot to the Pope at the Castle of Canossa. Because of Henry’s rebellious obstinacy, Pope Gregory saw fit to leave him out in the cold for three days before receiving and reinstating the royal penitent.

But Henry failed to make any true personal reform and alienated his princes who elected another ruler. Still, he later rallied and went as far as electing another Pope, a Clement III, calling down upon himself another sentence of excommunication. He also attacked and entered the Eternal City in 1084, which forced Pope Gregory into exile. Henry had his protégée “pope” crown him Emperor. Ultimately repelled by an army fighting for the true pope, the Emperor Henry left Rome, but complications sent Gregory VII again into exile, this time to die.

His last words before his death were a summary of how he had lived, “I have loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile.”

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion t...

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Mary and the Simple Country Wife

There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier. Little did she know that her soldier-husband had made a deal with the devil, that he would sell his wife for a certain sum of money.

One crisp, autumn morning the couple went out for their customary walk. Oddly, this time the young man insisted on heading towards the forest. It was at the forest where he intended to deliver his young bride over to the devil.

On their way to the forest, the couple passed in front of a Church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The wife, overtaken with a desire to enter the church begged her husband to allow her to pray a Hail Mary in that church.

As the young lady entered the church, Holy Mary came forth from it, taking the form of the wife and accompanied the man into the forest.

When they at last approached the devil at the forest, he said to the man, “Traitor! Why have you brought me instead of your wife, my enemy, the mother of God?”

“And you,” said Mary, addressing the devil, “how have you dared to think of injuring my servant? Go, flee to hell.”

And then, turning to the man, Mary said to him, “Amend your life, and I will aid you.”

She then disappeared and that wretched man repented, amended his life and became a husband worthy of his simple country wife.

From the Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.

 

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There was once a young country wife who practiced devotion to Holy Mary, just as her mother had taught her to do. This simple young lady considered herself fortunate to have married a handsome soldier.

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