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Sunday, 5 July 2015

From The Soul of The Apostolate, Part Seven

The book, The Soul of the Apostolate, I have been using this week on the blog for meditations, praises my favourite, St. Bernard of Clairvaux many times, using his as a perfect example of the interior life leading to the active life.

Here is one reference:

 Take St. Bernard, for example. This oracle of his own time was one of those saints who showed most firmness in his zeal for God. But the attentive reader of his life will be able to see to what an extent the interior life had made this man-of-God selfless. He only fell back on strong measures when he had clear evidence that all other means were useless. Often, too, he varied between gentleness and strength. After having shown his great love for souls by avenging some principle with holy indignation and stern demands for remedies, reparation, guarantees, and promises, he would at once display the tenderness of a mother in the conversion of those whom his conscience had’ forced him to fight. Pitiless towards the errors of Abelard, he speedily became the friend of the one whom his victory had reduced to silence. When it was a matter of choosing means, if he saw that no principle was necessarily involved, he always stood before the hierarchy of the Church as a champion of nonviolent procedure. Learning that there was a movement on foot to ruin and massacre the Jews of Germany, he left his cloister without a moment’s delay and hurried to their rescue, preaching a crusade of peace. Fr. Ratisbonne quotes a document of great significance in his Life of St. Bernard. It is a statement of the most exalted Rabbi of that land, expressing his admiration for the monk of Clairvaux, “without whom,” he says, “there would not be one of us alive in Germany.” And he urges future generations of Jews never to forget the debt of gratitude they owe to the holy abbot. On this oc-casion St. Bernard uttered the following words: “We are the soldiers of peace, we are the army of the peacemakers, fighting for God and peace: Deo et pact militantibus. Persuasion, good example, loyalty to God are the only arms worthy of the children of the Gospel.” There is no substitute for the interior life as a means of obtaining this spirit of selflessness which characterizes the zeal of every saint.  

And, another:

As a member of the Cistercian Order, so completely consecrated to Mary, and as a child of that great saint who was, for half a century, the apostle of Europe, St. Bernard, how can we forget that the holy abbot of Clairvaux attributed to Mary all his progress in union with Jesus, and all his success in the apostolate? Everybody knows what tremendous effects were produced by the apostolate of this saint, who remains the most illustrious of the sons of St. Benedict: an apostolate that embraced nations and kings, Councils and even Popes. On all sides we hear the praises of the sanctity, the genius, the deep knowledge of Holy Scripture, and the penetrating unction of the writings of this the last of the Fathers of the Church. But one title above all others sums up all the admiration of the ages for this holy doctor: Cytha-rista Mariae, “the Harpist of Mary.” This “Bard of Mary” has never been surpassed by any of those who have proclaimed the glories of the Mother of God. St. Bernardine of Siena and St. Francis of Sales, as well as Bossuet, St. Alphonsus, St. Grignon de Monfort, and so on, all draw largely upon the treasures of St. Bernard when they want to speak of her, and find arguments to support that great truth which the holy Doctor so emphasized: “Everything comes to us through Mary.” “See, my brethren, with what sentiments of devotion God has desired us to honor Mary, He Who has placed in her the fullness of all good. If there is in us any hope, any grace, any pledge of salvation, let us admit that all this overflows upon us from her who is flowing with delights. . . . Suppose you were to take away the sun, which enlightens the world: what would become of the day? Take away Mary, that star of the sea, of our huge, vast sea, what is left but deep obscurity, the shadow of death, pitchy blackness? Therefore it is from the depths of our hearts, from the very vitals of our being, and with all our mind and will that we must honor the Virgin Mary: for such is the will of Him Who willed us to have all through Mary.”106 Strong with the strength of this doctrine we will not hesitate to lay down as a principle that no matter what the apostle may do to ensure salvation and spiritual progress and the fruitfulness of his apostolate, he runs the risk of finding that he has built on sand if his activity does not rest on a very special devotion to Our Lady. a. For His Personal Interior Life The apostle cannot claim to have a sufficient devotion to Our Lady if his confidence in her is not enthusiastic, and if his homage to her is almost entirely external. Like her Son, intuetur cor, she only looks at our hearts, and judges us to be her true children only by the power with which our love corresponds to hers. She looks to find a heart that is firmly convinced of the glories and privileges and offices of her who is at the same time the Mother of God and the Mother of men: A heart that is convinced of this truth: that the fight against faults, the acquisition of virtues, the Kingdom of Christ in souls, and consequently all guarantee of salvation and sanctity, are in proportion to the degree of our devotion to Mary;10T A heart that is gripped with the thought that everything is easier, more delightful, and progresses more rapidly in the interior life when we act in union with Mary.108 A heart full to overflowing of filial confidence, come what may, in her whose gentle tact, and wise anticipation of our needs, and whose tenderness and mercy and generosity we know by experience;108 My little children, she it is who is the foundation of all my trust and the whole reason for all my hope (St. Bernard). 

more more on this book