On this blog, I have already referred to the sermons of St. Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs, or
Canticle of Canticles. These sermons may be considered his masterpiece as a Doctor of the Church.
Today, I emphasize the love of the Bride for the Bridegroom, which is the love of the soul for Christ, by
noting his sermon on the angels.
Again, Bernard's sensitivity and insights indicate a man in the Unitive State. May we all aspire and ask God
for the graces necessary for perfection, which is our destination.
SERMON 19 THE LOVES OF THE ANGELS
The love-inspired bride will go on speaking, will chatter without end about her
Bridegroom's excellence; and in order to entice more favors from him she shows that
the ones already received have not been fruitless. To the words that have so long
preoccupied us she adds: "That is why the
maidens love you beyond measure." In
effect she means: "It was not in vain, not without purpose, that you emptied out the
power of your name, Beloved, and poured it on
my breasts; that is why the maidens
love you so much." But why exactly? Because of
the outpouring of your name, because
of the breasts it has suffused. It is this that aroused their love of the Bridegroom, this
that inspired their affections. No sooner had the bride received the infused gift than
they, who could never stay far from their mother's side, at once perceived its fragrance.
Filled with its sweetness they proclaim: "God's love has been poured into our hearts
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." The bride commends their
devotedness: "This, Beloved," she says, "is the fruit of the outpouring of your name, it
is why the maidens love you. They perceive the outpouring of something that surpasses
their capacity to absorb in its entirety; and so they give you their love." Thus, as far as
the maidens are concerned, the outpouring makes your name knowable, knowledge
makes it lovable. Those whose capacity is greater enjoy the name in its fullness without
the need for an outpouring.
What St. Bernard is saying is that we have little understanding of the movement of Love from God.
We ask and cooperate with grace without understanding. It is
part of the humility of the soul not to
understand until God gives us understanding.
The angels, looking with undeviating gaze into the
profound abyss of the divine
judgments, are filled with inexpressible joy at the sight of their supreme righteousness; it
is their glory that, through their ministry, these judgments are put into operation and
made known to men. For this reason they so rightly love
the Lord Christ. Scripture says:
"The truth is they are all spirits whose work is service, sent to help those who will be the
heirs of salvation. And the archangels - whom we must regard as differing in some
degree from those called angels - experience a delight that is filled with awe as they
enter more closely into the counsels of eternal wisdom, and are commissioned to
execute them with supreme skill at the proper place and time. Here you have the reason
why these in turn love the Lord Christ.
Do we stop and think that the angels have already been taken up into their reason for creation; that is, the
good angels have found their rest in the Love of God? How wonderful to think of how happy these spirits
are, knowing God completely and serving Him.
But this is the destiny of all of us. We are all called to this perfection in Love.
That is why we were created. That is who we are to become.
In some ways, the Song of Songs is the recapturing of Eden before the Fall.
Other blessed spirits are named Virtues because
their God-given vocation is to explore and admire with a
happy curiosity the hidden and
eternal causes of signs and wonders, signs that they display
throughout the earth
whenever they please by the powerful manipulation of the
elements. As a consequence.
these naturally burn with love for the Lord of Hosts, for Christ,
the power of God.
For it is
an occupation full of sweetness and grace to contemplate the obscure mysteries of
wisdom in Wisdom itself, a source of the greatest honor and glory that the effects
produced by causes hidden in the Word of God should be revealed for the world's
admiration by their ministry.