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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

St Bernard of Clairvaux

"Believe me, you will find more lessons in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you what you cannot learn from masters." (Bernard's Letter 106, Sec 2)

There are few people who changed the history of the Christian West as much as Bernard of Clairvaux. When Bernard looked at the state of monasticism at the end of the 11th century, he was scandalized and energized. Determined to do something about the sorry state of the society and the church, Bernard initiated the reform of the Cistercians and attracted large numbers of returning Crusaders to the Benedictine life.

Because he was recruiting adults, Bernard knew he needed to speak to them in a language they could understand. Using popular romantic literature, Bernard tapped into the returning Crusaders experience and helped them understand that they could transform their passion for war into a passion for God and the Gospel.

Were Bernard alive today he would surely have a Twitter account, be all over Facebook and Instagram and be writing a blog about 21st century spirituality. Not content with the a catechesis of  "same old, same old," Bernard opened up the world of the Spirit to anyone willing to look closely at the hand of God working with and among people everywhere, and his reforms continue to move people 1000 years after his death.

Today, think about the spiritual box you were handed as a child and ask yourself whether it is still leading you to God.

What spiritual movements most intrigue and attract you?

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