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Tuesday, August 20, 2019


ST. BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX



Sirach, Chapter 15, Verse 1
Whoever fears the LORD will do this; whoever is practiced in the Law will come to Wisdom.

Practiced in the law means to follow the commandment of God and the commandment of God is love. Your freedom is a gift from God but with it comes human responsibility. God, who sees everything, is neither the cause nor the occasion of sin. We have the power to choose our behavior and we are responsible for both the good and the evil we do.

Deceivers are those who hold the Lord responsible for their sins.

We can choose to harm, or we can choose to heal.
As the former Archbishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu became a leading human rights advocate who has championed causes such as poverty, racism, homophobia, sexism, HIV/AIDS and war. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. In his newest work, The Book of Forgiving (co-authored with his daughter, Mpho Tutu), he offers four steps to forgiving and healing:

1.      Telling the Story
2.      Naming the Hurt
3.      Granting Forgiveness
4.      Renewing or Releasing the Relationship

Here, we discuss this process, how his experiences with apartheid relate to it, and how he answers those who’ve criticized it.

·         Your first step to forgiveness and healing is to “admit the wrong and acknowledge the harm.”

Doesn’t that just dredge up old pain? For both the offender and the victim, the pain is there, often unacknowledged and that is when it can cause harm through festering. When I ignore a physical wound, it does not go away. No, it festers and goes bad. It may be initially painful to open up a wound, but then it can be cleaned out and cauterized. And you can pour a healing balm.

·         Another step you list is “asking for…and granting forgiveness.”

How do you forgive someone who doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong? That is a very important issue. If forgiving depended on the culprit owning up, then the victim would always be at the mercy of the perpetrator. The victim would be bound in the shackles of victimhood. That is why forgiving is a gift to the forgiver as well as to the perpetrator. As the victim, you offer the gift of your forgiving to the perpetrator who may or may not appropriate the gift, but it has been offered and thereby it liberates the victim. Jesus prayed that His Father should forgive the men who were nailing Him to the cross even as they were doing so; He even found an excuse for them and so really offered His forgiveness thereby. He did not wait until they asked for His forgiveness. Of course, it would have been far better if they had been penitent and asked for His forgiveness. It was a gift He was giving to Himself as well, which released Him from being filled with self pity, an unhealthy psychological state. It would be grossly unfair to the victim to be dependent on the whim of the perpetrator. It would make him or her a victim twice over. The gift has been given. It is up to the intended recipient to appropriate it. The outside air is fresh and invigorating and it is always there. If you are in a dank and stuffy room, you can enjoy that fresh air if you open the windows. It is up to you.

·         RNS: In a post entitled, “Why Desmond Tutu is Wrong,” Lesley Leyland Fields suggests that your notion that we forgive “for ourselves” is “killing biblical forgiveness.” She says, “Biblical forgiveness is a gift first to the offender and to Christ.” How do you respond?

I have already pointed how it is important, very important to give oneself that gift, of letting go of resentment and anger which diminish oneself. The self is quite important in who we are. Jesus quoting the Torah answers the question, “Which is the greatest law?” by saying, “The first is Thou shalt love The Lord thy God with all….” And then He adds, “The second is, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”. That is the highest approbation one can hope for about a proper self-love. We know the havoc that has been caused by those with a feeble self image, weak self esteem. They will usually throw their weight around trying to fill the hollow inside them. Offering forgiveness prevents us from being destroyed by a corrosive resentment. It helps us grow in being magnanimous.

·         RNS: Fields also says that Biblical forgiveness is “not about letting go of the past, but about redeeming the past.

If “redeeming the past” means “not allowing the past to haunt you, to have a stranglehold on you” then I’m happy to let her use her phrase.

·         RNS: You mention that sometimes the final step is “releasing” rather than “renewing” the relationship. How do you know which is the right path?

There are the fairly obvious ones: an abusive relationship should be easy to identify though often one of the most difficult to end; or one where you are likely to be misled into risky behavior–like excessive drinking, experimenting with dangerous substances, etcetera. But there are other more subtle ones such as friendships that can lead to infidelity and other things. In the end, we know the relationships we should end.[1]

St. Bernard of Clairvaux[2]



Bernard, the second founder of the Cistercians, the Mellifluous Doctor, the apostle of the Crusades, the miracle-worker, the reconciler of kings, the leader of peoples, the counselor of popes! His sermons, from which there are many excerpts in the Breviary, are conspicuous for genuine emotion and spiritual unction. The celebrated Memorare is ascribed to him. Bernard was born in 1090, the third son of an illustrious Burgundian family. At the age of twenty-two he entered the monastery of Citeaux (where the Cistercian Order had its beginning) and persuaded thirty other youths of noble rank to follow his example. Made abbot of Clairvaux (1115), he erected numerous abbeys where his spirit flourished. To his disciple, Bernard of Pisa, who later became Pope Eugene III, he dedicated his work De Consideratione. Bernard's influence upon the princes, the clergy, and the people of his age was most remarkable. By penitential practices he so exhausted his body that it could hardly sustain his soul, ever eager to praise and honor God.

Patron: beekeepers; bees; candlemakers; chandlers; wax-melters; wax refiners; Gibraltar; Queens College, Cambridge.


Things to Do

·         Though of a rich and noble family St. Bernard continually asked the question: "For what purpose are you on earth?" Spend some time today in front of the Blessed Sacrament and ask yourself this question.
·         Because St. Bernard is the patron of candlemakers, a great project would be to learn how to make candles. Candles 101 discusses in brief about making homemade candles, rolled, dipped and molded. Practicing making candles now will help in preparing to make a family Christ Candle for Advent and Paschal Candle for Easter.
·         Read more about the life of St. Bernard.
·         This site — complete with words and midi files — features hymns written by St. Bernard.
·         Learn more about the Cistercian Order founded by St. Bernard.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Battle for the Soul of America-Day 6
·         Pray for our nation.

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