On the Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

The Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who almost single-handedly revived devotion to Our Lady in the Twelfth Century, is celebrated on August 20 each year.

Saint Bernard’s sanctity was known universally as well as his zeal in fighting heresy. Indeed, he was called upon by popes, including one who had been his own disciple, Pope Eugene III, to fight heresy and he defended the right of Pope Innocent II as the legitimate claimant to the papal throne in 1130 after the death of Pope Honorius II.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was a true reformer of Holy Mother Church who stressed the reformation of the lives of Catholics starts with the sanctity of the Successor of Saint Peter. He was a measured in actions as he was strong in his faith and his opposition to heresy, and he was always ready to be at the service of Holy Mother Church whenever he was asked to quell schisms and other conflicts.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, it is best to let Dom Prosper Gueranger relate the depth and breadth of Saint Bernard’s influence upon Christendom:

The valley of wormwood has lost its bitterness; having become Clairvaux, or the bright valley, its light shines over the world; from every point of the horizon vigilant bees are attracted to it by the honey from the rock which abounds in its solitude. Mary turns her glance upon its wild hills, and with her smile sheds light and grace upon them. Listen to the harmonious voice arising from the desert; it is the voice of Bernard, her chosen one. “Learn, O man, the counsel of God; admire the intentions of Wisdom, the design of love. Before bedewing the whole earth, he saturated the fleece; being to redeem the human race, he heaped up in Mary the entire ransom. O Adam, say no more: ‘The woman whom thou gavest me offered me the forbidden fruit;’ say rather: ‘The woman whom thou gavest me has fed me with a fruit of blessing.’ With what ardor ought we to honor Mary, in whom was set all the fullness of good! If we have any hope, any saving grace, know that it overflows from her who today rises replete with love: she is a garden of delights, over which the divine South Wind does not merely pass with a light breath, but sweeping down from the heights, he stirs it unceasingly with a heavenly breeze, so that it may shed abroad its perfumes, which are the gifts of various graces. Take away the material sun from the world: what would become of our day? Take away Mary, the star of the vast sea: what would remain but obscurity over all, a night of death and icy darkness? Therefore, with every fiber of our heart, with all the love of our soul, with all the eagerness of our aspirations, let us venerate Mary; it is the will of him who wished us to have all things through her.”

Thus spoke the monk who had acquired his eloquence, as he tells us himself, among the beeches and oaks of the forest, and he poured into the wounds of mankind the wine and oil of the Scriptures. In 1113, at the age of twenty-two, Bernard arrived at Citeaux, in the beauty of his youth, already ripe for great combats. Fifteen years before, on the 21st of March, 1098, Robert of Molesmes, had created this new desert between Dijon and Beaune. Issuing from the past, on the very feast of the patriarch of monks, the new foundation claimed to be nothing more than the literal observance of the precious Rule given by him to the world. The weakness of the age, however, refused to recognize the fearful austerity of these new comers into the great family, as inspired by that holy code, wherein discretion reigns supreme; for this discretion is the characteristic of the school accessible to all, where Benedict “hoped to ordain nothing rigorous or burdensome in the service of God.” Under the government of Stephen Harding, the next after Alberic, successor of Robert, the little community from Molesmes was becoming extinct, without human hope of recovery, when the descendant of the lords of Fontaines arrived with thirty companions, who were his first conquest, and brought new life where death was imminent.

“Rejoice, thou barren one that bearest not, for many will be the children of the barrn.” La Ferté was founded that same year in Châlonnais; next Pontigny, near Auxerre; and in 1115 Clairvaux and Morimond were established in the diocese of Langres; while these four glorious branches of Citeaux were soon, together with their parent stock, to put forth numerous shoots. In 1119 the Charter of charity confirmed the existence of the Cistercian Order in the Church. Thus the tree, planted six centuries earlier on the summit of Monte Cassino, proved once more to the world that in all ages it is capable of producing new branches which, though distinct from the trunk, live by its sap, and are a glory to the entire tree.

During the months of his novitiate, Bernard so subdued nature that the interior man alone lived in him; the senses of his own body were to him as strangers. By an excess, for which he had afterwards to reproach himself, he carried his rigor, though meant for a desirable end, so far as to ruin the body, that indispensable help to every man in the service of his brethren and of God. Blessed fault, which heaven took upon itself to excuse so magnificently. A miracle (a thing which no one has a right to expect) was needed to uphold him henceforth in the accomplishment of his destined mission.

Bernard was as ardent in the service of God as others are for the gratification of their passions. “You would learn of me,” he says in one of his earliest works, “why and how we must love God. And I answer you: The reason for loving God is God himself; and the measure of loving him is to love him without measure.” What delights he enjoyed at Citeaux in the secret of the face of the Lord! When, after two years, he left this blessed abode to found Clairvaux, it was like coming out of Paradise. More fit to converse with Angels than with men, he began, says his historian, by being a trial to those whom he had to guide: so heavenly was his language, such perfection did he require surpassing the strength of even the strong ones of Israel, such sorrowful astonishment did he show on the discovery of infirmities common to all flesh.

But the Holy Spirit was watching over the vessel of election called to bear the name of the Lord before kings and people; the divine charity which consumed his soul taught him that love has two inseparable, though sadly different, object: God, whose goodness makes us love him; and man, whose misery exercises our charity. According to the ingenious remark of William de Saint-Thierry, his disciple and friend, Bernard re-learned the art of living through men. He imbued himself with the admirable recommendation given by the legislator of monks to him who is chosen Abbot over his brethren: “When he giveth correction, let him act prudently, and push nothing to extremes, lest while eager of  extreme scouring off the rust, the vase get broke … When he enjoineth work to be done, let him use discernment and moderation, and think of holy Jacob’s discretion, who said: ‘If I cause my flocks to be overdriven, they will all die in one day.’ Taking, therefore, these and other documents regarding that mother of virtue, discretion, let him so temper all things as that the strong may have what to desire and the weak nothing to deter them.”

Having received what the Psalmist calls ‘understanding concerning the needy and the poor,” Bernard felt his heart overflowing with the tenderness of God for those purchased by the divine Blood. He no longer terrified the humble. Beside the little ones who came to him attracted by the grace of his speech might be seen the wise, the powerful, and the rich ones of the world, abandoning their vanities, and becoming themselves little and poor in the school of one who knew how to guide them all, from the first elements of love to its very summits. In the midst of seven hundred monks receiving daily from him the doctrine of salvation, the Abbot of Clairvaux could cry out with the noble pride of Saints: “He that is mighty has done great things in us, and with good reason our soul magnifies the Lord. Behold we have left all things to follow thee: it is a great resolution, the glory of the great Apostles; yet we too, by his great grace have taken it magnificently. Perhaps, even if I wish to glory therein, I shall not be foolish, for I will say the truth: there are some here who have left more than a boat and fishing nets.”

“What more wonderful,” he said on another occasion, “than to see one who formerly could scarce abstain two days from sin, preserve himself from it for years, and even for his whole life? What greater miracle than that so many young men, boys, noble personages, all those, in a word, whom I see here, should be held captive without bonds in an open prison by the sole fear of God, and should persevere in penitential macerations beyond human strength, above nature, contrary to habit? What marvels we should discover, as you well knew, were we allowed to seek out the details of each one’s exodus from Egypt, of his passage through the desert, his entrance into the monastery, and his life within its walls.”

But there were other marvels not to be hidden within the secret of the cloister. The voice that had peopled the desert was bidden to echo through the world; and the noises of discord and error, of schism and the passions, were hushed before it; at its word the whole West was precipitated as one man upon the infidel East. Bernard had now become the avenger of the sanctuary, the umpire of kings, the confidant of sovereign Pontiffs, the thaumaturgus applauded by enthusiastic crowds; yet, at the very height of what the world calls glory, his one thought was the loved solitude he had been forced to quit. “It is high time,” he said, “that I should think of myself. Have pity on my agonized conscience: what an abnormal life is mine! I am the chimera of my time; neither clerk nor layman, I have the habit of a monk and none of the observances. In the perils which surround me, at the brink of precipices yawning before me, help me with your advice, pray for me.”

While absent from Clairvaux he wrote to his monks: my soul is sorrowful and cannot be comforted till I see you again. Alas! Must my exile here below, so long protracted, be rendered still more grievous? Truly those who have separated us have added sorrow upon sorrow to my evils. They have taken away from me the only remedy which enabled me to live away from Christ; while I could not yet contemplate his glorious Face, it was given me at least to see you, you his holy temple. From that temple the way seemed easy to the eternal home. How often have I been deprived of this consolation? This is the third time, if I mistake not, that they have torn out my heart. My children are weaned before the time; I have begotten them by the Gospel and I cannot nourish them. Constrained to neglect those dear to me and to attend to the interests of strangers, I scarcely know which is harder to bear, to be separated from the former or to be mixed up with the latter. O Jesus, is my whole life to be spent in sighing? It were better for me to die than to live; but I would fain die in the midst of my family; there I should find more sweetness, more security. May it please my Lord that the eyes of a father, how unworthy soever of the name, may be closed by the hands of his sons; that they may assist him in his last passage; that their desires, if thou judge him worthy, may bear his soul to the abode of the blessed; that they may bury the body of a poor man with the bodies of those who were poor with him. By the prayers and merits of my brethren, if I have found favor before thee, grant me this desire of my heart. Nevertheless, thy will, not mine, be done; for I wish neither to live nor to die for myself.”

Greater in his Abbey than in the noblest courts, Bernard was destined to die at home at the hour appointed by God; but not without having had his soul prepared for the last purification by trials both public and private. For the last time he took up again, but could not finish, the discourses he had been delivering for the last eighteen years on the Canticle. These familiar conferences, lovingly gathered by his children, reveal in a touching manner the zeal of the sons for divine science, the heart of the father and his sanctity, and the incidents of daily life at Clairvaux. Having reached the first verse of the third chapter, he was describing the soul seeking after the Word in the weakness of this life, in the dark night of this world, when he broke off his discourses, and passed to the eternal face to face vision, where there is no more enigma, nor figure, nor shadow. (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Time After Pentecost—Book IV, Volume 13, pp. 431-437.)

Here is an account of the life of this wonderful client of Our Lady, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, a defender of the Catholic Faith and a Doctor of Holy Mother Church, as found in the readings for Matins in the Divine Office for August 20:

Bernard was born (in the year of salvation 1091) at a decent place in Burgundy called Fontaines. On account of extraordinary good looks, he was as a boy very much sought after by women, but he could never be turned aside from his resolution to keep chaste. To fly from these temptations of the devil, he determined at two-and-twenty years of age to enter the Monastery of Citeaux, whence the Cistercian Order took its rise. When this resolution of Bernard's became known, his brothers did all their diligence to change his purpose, but he only became the more eloquent and happy about it. Them and others he so brought over to his mind, that thirty young men entered the same Order along with him. As a monk he was so given to fasting, that as often as he had to eat, so often he seemed to be in pain. He exercised himself wonderfully in watching and prayer, and was a great lover of Christian poverty. Thus he led on earth an heavenly life, purged of all care and desire for transitory things.

He was a burning and shining light of lowliness, mercifulness, and kindness. His concentration of thought was such, that he hardly used his senses except to do good works, in which latter he acted with admirable wisdom. Thus occupied, he refused the Bishoprics of Genoa, Milan, and others, which were offered to him, declaring that he was unworthy of so high a sphere of duty. Being made Abbat of Clairvaux in 1115, he built monasteries in many places, wherein the excellent rules and discipline of Bernard long flourished. When Pope Innocent II., in 1138, restored the monastery of St Vincent and St Anastasius at Rome, Bernard set over it the Abbat who was afterwards the Supreme Pontiff Eugene III., and who is also the same to whom he addressed his book upon Consideration.

He was the author of many writings, in which it is manifest that his teaching was rather given him of God, than gained by hard work. In consequence of his high reputation for excellence, he was called by the most exalted Princes to act as arbiter of their disputes, and for this end, and to settle affairs of the Church, he often went to Italy. He was an eminent helper to Pope Innocent II., in putting down the schism of Peter Leoni, and worked to this end, both at the Courts of the Emperor and of Henry King of England, and in the Council of Pisa. He fell asleep in the Lord, (at Clairvaux, on the 20th day of August,) in the year 1153, the sixty-third year of his age. He was famous for miracles, and Pope Alexander III. numbered him among the Saints. Pope Pius VIII., acting on the advice of the Congregation of Sacred Rites, declared and confirmed St Bernard a Doctor of the Universal Church. He also commanded that all should use the Mass and Office for him as for a Doctor, and granted perpetual yearly plenary indulgences to all who should visit Churches of the Cistercian Order upon the Feastday of this Saint. (The Divine Office, Matins, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux.)

One of the most remarkable things about Saint Bernard is the sanctity that characterized every member of his family. Every one of his family members entered the religious life after his own holy example, including his father some years after his mother had died. They entered because they loved God and wanted to be in his holy service, something that Blessed Humbeline, the sister of Saint Bernard, explained to her husband Guy, who was about to give her permission to enter the religious life, how we must love God completely in this passing vale of tears:

"Guy, dear," she pressed, "it seems incredible. I know; but that is because we think so superficially. Now tell me: Were you not more ready and without fear to face your uncle after you had done some heroic deed in battle, after you had risked your life and sacrificed safety than you were after some escapade or boyish prank? Bring the principle to the touchstone of everyday life and you'll see its force. When did you face your uncle most gladly?"

"After I had sacrificed, as you say." came the thoughtful reply. "That is certainly true in the case of any knight."

"Then don't you see the parallel?"

"I do, Humbeline; more clearly than ever before. And I see that I have sacrificed very little for God. I can believe that religious souls such as Elizabeth de Forez and your brothers, if not completely without fear, are certainly more ready to face God than any of us in the world. It is most reasonable."

"And you have touched the real reason, Guy. It is giving to God! I am growing more convinced that life has only one purpose: that God gave us everything simply that we might freely give everything back to Him again. Daddy's death at Clairvaux last year taught me that most forcefully. I saw then that happiness here and hereafter is to be found in God alone."

"Do you mean that the world should be one large monastery?"

"Never!—But I do mean that everyone in the world should live as the inmates of the monastery; that is, fully God-conscious, God-centered, God-absorbed! My sister-in-law [Elizabeth de Forez, whom Saint Bernard convinced to enter religious life] has more happiness here than any hundred society women, and she is more sure of happiness hereafter than ay thousand of them. And why? Because she has made the total sacrifice and the unconditional surrender. She has given her all!" (Father M. Raymond, O.C.S.O., The Family That Overtook Christ: The Amazing Story of the Family of Bernard of Clairvaux, Boston, Massachusetts: Saint Paul Books and Media, 1986, pp. 278-279.)

Yes, it is the love of the true God of Divine Revelation, the Most Blessed Trinity, around which our lives must be centered and revolve, and true love for God is only possible if we love His Most Blessed Mother, who loved Him more perfectly and purely than any other human being who has ever lived until the end of time.

This is why Saint Bernard of Clairvaux sought to revive devotion to Our Lady, whose honor he was always ready to defend and who explained that she is truly our Queen of Martyrs:

The Martyrdom of the Virgin is set before us, not only in the prophecy of Simeon, but also in the story itself of the Lord’s Passion. The holy old man said of the Child Jesus, Luke ii. 34, Behold, this Child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; yea, said he unto Mary, a sword shall pierce through thine own soul also Even so, O Blessed Mother! The sword did indeed pierce through thy soul! for nought could pierce the Body of thy Son, nor pierce thy soul likewise. Yea, and when this Jesus of thine had given up the ghost, and the bloody spear could torture Him no more, thy soul winced as it pierced His dead Side His Own Soul might leave Him, but thine could not.

The sword of sorrow pierced through thy soul, so that we may truly call thee more than martyr, in whom the love, that made thee suffer along with thy Son, wrung thy heart more bitterly than any pang of bodily pain could do. Did not that word of His indeed pierce through thy soul, sharper than any two-edged sword, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, Heb. iv. 12, Woman, behold thy son! John xix. 26. O what a change to thee! Thou art given John for Jesus, the servant for his Lord, the disciple for his Master, the son of Zebedee for the Son of God, a mere man for Very God. O how keenly must the hearing of those words have pierced through thy most loving soul, when even our hearts, stony, iron, as they are, are wrung at the memory thereof only!

Marvel not, my brethren, that Mary should be called a Martyr in spirit. He indeed may marvel who remembereth not what Paul saith, naming the greater sins of the Gentiles, that they were without natural affection, Rom. i. 31. Far other were the bowels of Mary, and far other may those of her servants be! But some man perchance will say Did she not know that He was to die? Yea, without doubt, she knew it. Did she not hope that He was soon to rise again? Yea, she most faithfully hoped it. And did she still mourn because He was crucified? Yea, bitterly. But who art thou, my brother, or whence hast thou such wisdom, to marvel less that the Son of Mary suffered than that Mary suffered with Him? He could die in the Body, and could not she die with Him in her heart? His was the deed of that Love, greater than which hath no man, John xv. 13; her’s, of a love, like to which hath no man, save He. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Matins, Feast of the Seven Dolors of Our Lady.)

Saint Bernard was also a devotee of the cult of Saint Joseph, explaining that we must always be ready to serve the good God as readily as the foster-father of Our Blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the chaste spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Patron of the Universal Church and the Protector of the Faithful:

What and what manner of man the blessed Joseph was, we may gather from that title wherewith, albeit only as a deputy, God deemed him fit to be honoured he was both called, and supposed to be the Father of God. We may gather it from his very name, which, being interpreted, signifieth Increase. Remember likewise that great Patriarch who was sold into Egypt, and know that the Husband of Mary not only received his name, but inherited his purity, and was likened to him in innocence and grace.

If then, that Joseph that was sold by his brethren through envy, and was brought down to Egypt, was a type of Christ sold by a disciple, and handed over to the Gentiles, the other Joseph flying from the envy of Herod carried Christ into Egypt. That first Joseph kept loyal to his master, and would not carnally know his master's wife; that second Joseph knew that the Lady, the Mother of his Lord, was a virgin, and he himself remained faithfully virgin toward her. To that first Joseph it was given to know dark things in interpreting of dreams; to the second Joseph it was given in sleep to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

The first Joseph laid by bread, not for himself, but for all people; the second Joseph received into his keeping that Living Bread Which came down from heaven, not for him only, but for the whole world. We cannot doubt but that that Joseph was good and faithful to whom was espoused the Mother of the Saviour. Yea, I say, he was a faithful and wise servant, whom the Lord appointed to be the comfort of His own Mother, the keeper of His own Body, and the only and trusty helper in the Eternal Counsels. (Matins, Divine Office, Feast of Saint Joseph.)

Pope Pius XII explained some of the heroic virtues of this incomparable abbot who had such a fervent love for Our Lady and a zeal to oppose heresy and to convert the erring:

22. When the mystical body of Christ was torn by so grave a schism, that even good men on both sides became heated in dispute, he bent all his efforts to settling disagreements and happily restoring unity of mind. When princes, led by desire of earthly dominion, were divided by fearful quarrels, and the welfare of nations was thereby seriously threatened, he was ever the peacemaker and the architect of agreement. When, finally, the holy places of Palestine, hallowed by the blood of our Divine Savior, were threatened with gravest danger, and were hard pressed by foreign armies, at the command of the Supreme Pontiff, with loud voice and a still wider appeal of love, he roused Christian princes and peoples to undertake a new crusade; and if indeed it was not brought to a successful conclusion, the fault was surely not his.

23. And above all, when the integrity of Catholic faith and morals — the sacred heritage handed down by our forefathers — was jeopardized, especially by the activities of Abelard, Arnold of Brescia and Gilbert de la Poree, strong in the grace of God he spared no pains in writing works full of penetrating wisdom and making tiring journeys, so that errors might be dispelled and condemned, and the victims of error might as far as possible be recalled to the straight path and to virtuous living.

24. Yet, since he was well aware that in matters of this kind the authority of the Roman Pontiff prevails over the opinions of learned men, he took care to call attention to that authority which he recognized as supreme and infallible in settling such questions. To his former disciple, our predecessor of blessed memory Eugene III, he wrote these words which reflect at once his exceeding great love and reverence and that familiarity which becomes the saints: “Parental love knows nothing of lordship, it recognizes not a master but a child even in him who wears the tiara . . . Therefore shall I admonish thee now, not as a master, but as a mother, yea, as a most loving mother.”[33]

25. Then he addresses to him these powerful words: “Who art thou.? Thou art the High Priest and the Sovereign Pontiff. Thou art the prince of pastors and the heir of the apostles . . . by thy jurisdiction, a Peter; and by thy unction, a Christ. Thou art he to whom the keys have been delivered and the sheep entrusted. There are indeed other gate-keepers of heaven, and there are other shepherds of the flock; but thou art in both respects more glorious than they in proportion as thou hast inherited a more excellent name. They have assigned to them particular portions of the flock, his own to each; whereas thou art given charge of all the sheep, as the one Chief Shepherd of the whole flock. Yea, not only of the sheep, but of the other pastors also art thou the sole supreme Shepherd.”[34] And again: “He who wishes to discover something which does not belong to thy charge, will have to go outside the world.”[35]

26. In clear and simple fashion he acknowledges the infallible magisterium of the Roman Pontiff in questions of faith and morals. For, recognizing the errors of Abelard, who when he “speaks of the Trinity savors of Arius; when of grace, of Pelagius; when of the person of Christ, of Nestorious,”[36] “who . . . predicated degrees in the Trinity, measure in majesty, numbers in eternity”;[37] and in whom “human reason usurps for itself everything, leaving nothing for faith”;[38] he not only shatters, weakens and refutes his subtle, specious and fallacious tricks and sophisms, but also, on this subject, writes to Our predecessor of immortal memory, Innocent II, these words of utmost importance: “Your See should be informed of all dangers that may arise, especially those that touch faith. For I consider it meet that damage to the faith be repaired in the particular place where faith is perfectly whole. These indeed are the prerogatives of this See. . . It is time, most loving Father, that you recognized your pre-eminence. Then do you really take the place of Peter, whose See you hold, when by your admonitions you strengthen hearts weak in faith; when, by your authority, you break those who corrupt the faith.”[39]

27. How it was that this humble monk, with hardly any human means at his disposal, was able to draw the strength to overcome difficulties so thorny, to settle questions so intricate, and to solve the most troublesome cases, can only be understood when one considers the great holiness of life which distinguished him, and his great zeal for truth. For, as We have said, he was, above all, on fire with a most burning love of God and his neighbor (which as you know, Venerable Brethren, is the chief and, as it were, all embracing commandment of the gospel), so that he was, not only united to the heavenly father by an unfailing mystical bond, but he desired nothing more than to win men to Christ, to uphold the most sacred rights of the Church, and to defend as best he could the integrity of the Catholic faith.

28. Although he was held in great favor and esteem by Popes, princes and peoples, he was not puffed up, he did not grasp at the slippery and empty glory of men, but ever shone with that Christian humility which “acquires other virtues . . . having acquired them, keeps them . . . keeping them, perfects them”;[39] so that “without it the others do not even seem to be virtues.”[40] Wherefore “proffered honor did not even seem to be virtues.”[41] Wherefore “proffered honor did not tempt his soul, nor did he set his foot on the downward path of world glory; and the tiara and ring delighted him no more than the lecture platform and garden hoe.”[42] And while he undertook so often such great labors for the glory of God and the benefit of the Christian name, he was wont to call himself “the useless servant of the servants of God,”[43] “a vile worm,”[44] “a barren tree,”[45] “a sinner, ashes. . .”[46] This Christian humility, together with the other virtues, he nourished by diligent contemplation of heavenly things, and by fervent prayer to God, by which he called down grace from on high on the labors undertaken by himself and his followers.

29. So burning was his love, particularly of Jesus Christ Our Divine Savior, that, loved thereby, he penned the beautiful and lofty pages which still arouse the admiration and enkindle the devotion of all readers. “What can so enrich the soul that reflects upon it (the holy name of Jesus)? What can . . . strengthen the virtues, beget good and honorable dispositions, foster holy affections? Dry is every kind of spiritual food which this oil does not moisten. Tasteless, whatever this salt does not season. If thou writest, thy composition has no charms for me, unless I read there the name of Jesus. If thou dost debate or converse, I find no pleasure in thy words, unless I hear there the name of Jesus. Jesus is honey on the lips, melody in the ear, joy in the heart. Yet not alone is that name light and food. It is also a remedy. Is any one amongst you sad? Let the name of Jesus enter his heart; let it leap thence to his mouth; and lo! the light shining from that name shall scatter every cloud and restore peace. Has some one perpetrated a crime, and then misled, moved despairingly towards the snare of death? Let him but invoke this life-giving name, and straightway he shall find courage once more. . . Whoever, all a-tremble in the presence of danger, has not immediately felt his spirits revive and his fears depart as soon as he called upon this name of power? There is nothing so powerful as the name of Jesus to check anger, reduce the swelling of pride, heal the smarting wound of envy. . .”[47]

30. To this warm love of Jesus Christ was joined a most sweet and tender devotion towards His glorious Mother, whose motherly love he repaid with the affection of a child, and whom he jealously honored. So great was his confidence in her most powerful intercession, that he did not hesitate to write: “It is the will of God that we should have nothing which has not passed through the hands of Mary.”[48] Likewise: “Such is the will of God, Who would have us obtain everything through the hands of Mary.”[49]

31. And here it is well, Venerable Brethren, to bid you all consider a page in praise of Mary than which there is perhaps none more beautiful, more moving, more apt to excite love for her, more useful to stir devotion and to inspire imitation of her virtuous example: “Mary . . . is interpreted to mean ‘Star of the Sea.’ This admirably befits the Virgin Mother. There is indeed a wonderful appropriateness in this comparison of her with a star, because as a star sends out its rays without harm to itself, so did the Virgin bring forth her Child without injury to her integrity. And as the ray does not diminish the rightness of the star, so neither did the Child born of her tarnish the beauty of Mary’s virginity. She is therefore that glorious star, which, as the prophet said, arose out of Jacob, whose ray enlightens the whole earth, whose splendor shines out for all to see in heaven and reaches even unto hell. . . She, I say, is that shining and brilliant star, so much needed, set in place above life’s great and spacious sea, glittering with merits, all aglow with examples for our imitation. Oh, whosoever thou art that perceiveth thyself during this mortal existence to be rather drifting in treacherous waters, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, than walking on firm ground, turn not away thine eyes from the splendor of this guiding star, unless thou wish to be submerged by the storm! When the storms to temptation burst upon thee, when thou seest thyself driven upon the rocks of tribulation, look at the star, call upon Mary. When buffeted by the billows of pride, or ambition, or hatred, or jealousy, look at the star, call upon Mary. Should anger, or avarice, or fleshly desire violently assail the frail vessel of thy soul, look at the star, call upon Mary. If troubled on account of the heinousness of thy sins, distressed at the filthy state of thy conscience, and terrified at the thought of the awful judgment to come, thou art beginning to sink into the bottomless gulf of sadness and to be swallowed in the abyss of despair, then think of Mary. In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name leave thy lips, never suffer it to leave thy heart. And that thou mayest more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, see that thou dost walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, thou shalt never go astray; whilst invoking her, thou shalt never lose heart; so long as she is in thy mind, thou shalt not be deceived; whilst she holds thy hand, thou canst not fall; under her protection, thou hast nothing to fear; if she walks before thee, thou shalt not grow weary; if she shows thee favor, thou shalt reach the goal.”[50]

32. We can think of no better way to conclude this Encyclical Letter than in the words of the “Doctor Mellifluus” to invite all to be more and more devout to the loving Mother of God, and each in his respective state in life to strive to imitate her exalted virtues. If at the beginning of the twelfth century grave dangers threatened the Church and human society, the perils besetting our own age are hardly less formidable. The Catholic faith, supreme solace of mankind, often languishes in souls, and in many regions and countries is even subjected to the bitterest public attacks. With the Christian religion either neglected or cruelly destroyed, morals, both public and private, clearly stray from the straight way, and, following the tortuous path of error, end miserably in vice.

33. Charity, which is the bond of perfection, concord and peace, is replaced by hatred, enmities and discords.

34. A certain restlessness, anxiety and fear have invaded the minds of men. It is indeed to be greatly feared that if the light of the Gospel gradually fades and wanes in the minds of many, or if — what is even worse, — they utterly reject it, the very foundations of civil and domestic society will collapse, and more evil times will unhappily result.

35. Therefore, as the Doctor of Clairvaux sought and obtained from the Virgin Mother Mary help for the troubles of his times, let us all through the same great devotion and prayer so strive to move our divine Mother, that she will obtain from God timely relief from these grave evils which are either already upon us or may yet befall, and that she who is at once kind and most powerful, will, by the help of God, grant that the true, lasting, and fruitful peace of the Church may at last dawn on all nations and peoples. (Pope Pius XII, Doctor Mellifluus, May 24, 1953.)

Consider the following passage taken from Doctor Mellifuus and consider the fact that our last true pope emphasized that Catholicism is the sole foundation of social order and that the result when the true Faith does not guide the minds and hearts of men is restlessness and violence:

The Catholic faith, supreme solace of mankind, often languishes in souls, and in many regions and countries is even subjected to the bitterest public attacks. With the Christian religion either neglected or cruelly destroyed, morals, both public and private, clearly stray from the straight way, and, following the tortuous path of error, end miserably in vice.

33. Charity, which is the bond of perfection, concord and peace, is replaced by hatred, enmities and discords.

34. A certain restlessness, anxiety and fear have invaded the minds of men. It is indeed to be greatly feared that if the light of the Gospel gradually fades and wanes in the minds of many, or if — what is even worse, — they utterly reject it, the very foundations of civil and domestic society will collapse, and more evil times will unhappily result.


35. Therefore, as the Doctor of Clairvaux sought and obtained from the Virgin Mother Mary help for the troubles of his times, let us all through the same great devotion and prayer so strive to move our divine Mother, that she will obtain from God timely relief from these grave evils which are either already upon us or may yet befall, and that she who is at once kind and most powerful, will, by the help of God, grant that the true, lasting, and fruitful peace of the Church may at last dawn on all nations and peoples. (Pope Pius XII, Doctor Mellifluus, May 24, 1953.)

We are living in those more evil times prophesied by Pope  Pius XII sixty-seven years ago, which is why we must rely ever more and more upon Our Lady’s maternal intercession in imitation of the example of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. Our own times are those of moral dissolution and chaotic violence unknown to the world hitherto before, yes, even far worse than the times in which the incomparable Saint Bernard of Clairvaux lived and worked so many miracles by means of the Mother of God’s help.

Saint Bernard’s words below should give us great confidence in this time when we can see the convergence of the forces of Antichrist in the world and in the counterfeit church of conciliarism:

Whoever you are, when you find yourself tossed by storms and tempests upon this world's raging waters, rather than walking upon firm dry land, never take your eyes from the brightness of this start lest you be overwhelmed by the storm. When the winds of temptation blow, when you run upon the rocks of disaster, look the star. Cry out to Mary! If you are cast away upon the waves of pride or ambition, of detraction or jealousy, look to the star. Cry out to Mary!! When anger, avarice, or the lusts of the flesh assail the ship of your mind, look up to Mary. When you are worried by the enormity of your sins, troubled by a confused conscience, or terrified by the horrors of the judgment to come, when you begin to drown in the bottomless pit of sorrow or sink in the abyss of despair, think of Mary.

In danger, in difficulties, think of Mary. Call upon Mary! Never let her name be absent from your lips or absent from your heart. If you would obtain the help of her prayers, do not neglect to follow the example of her conduct. If you follow her, you will not stray; if you pray to her, you need not despair. If you think of her, you will not err; sustained by her, you will never fall; protected by her, you need not fear; guided by her, you will walk without weariness. If she smiles upon you, you will succeed. You will experience in your own heart with what justice it is said And the Virgin's name was Mary.

Dom Prosper Gueranger, himself an abbot who possessed a great love of Our Lady and the hatred of what she hates, heresy, explained that, rather to pray to Saint Bernard, who single-handedly revived fervent devotion to the Mother of God in the Twelfth Century, sing to Our Lady in imitation of his own example:

It was fitting to see the herald of the Mother of God following so closely her triumphal car; entering heaven during this bright Octave, thou delightest to lose thyself in the glory of her whose greatness thou didst proclaim on earth. Be our protector in her court; attract her maternal eyes towards Citeaux; in her name save the Church once more, and protect the Vicar of Christ.

But today, rather than to pray to thee, thou invitest us to sing to Mary and pray to her with thee; the homage most pleasing to thee, O Bernard, is that we should profit by thy sublime writings and admire the Virgin who, ‘today ascending glorious to heaven, put the finishing touch to the happiness of the heavenly citizens. Brilliant as it was already, heaven became resplendent with new brightness from the light of the virginal torch. Thanksgiving and praise resound on high. And shall we not in our exile partake of these joys of our home? Having here no lasting dwelling, we seek the city where the Blessed Virgin has arrived this very hour. Citizens of Jerusalem, it is but just that, from the banks of the rivers of Babylon, we should think with dilated hearts of the overflowing river of bliss, of which some drops are sprinkled on earth today. Our Queen has gone before us; the reception given to her encourages us who are her followers and servants. Our caravan will be well treated with regard to salvation, for it is preceded by the Mother of mercy as advocate before the Judge her Son.”

“Whoso remembers having ever invoked thee in vain in his needs, O Blessed Virgin, let him be silent as to thy mercy. As for us, thy little servants, we praise thy other virtues, but on this one we congratulate ourselves. We praise thy virginity, we admire thy humility; but mercy is sweeter to the wretched; we embrace it more lovingly, we think of it more frequently, we invoke it unceasingly. Who can tell the length and breadth and height and depth of thine, O Blessed one? Its length, for it extends to the last day; its breadth, for it covers the earth; its height and depth, for it has filled heaven and emptied hell. Thou art as powerful as merciful; having now rejoined thy Son, manifest to the world the grace thou hast found before God: obtain pardon for sinners, health for the sick, strength for the weak, consolation for the afflicted, help and deliverance for those who are in any danger, O clement, O merciful, O sweet Virgin Mary!’ (Dom Prosper Gueranger, The Liturgical Year, Time After Pentecost—Book IV, Volume 13, pp. 431-437.)

With confidence in Our Lady and praying as many Rosaries each day as our state-in-life permits, therefore, we continue our defense of the Faith as we also seek to make reparation for our sins and those of the whole world as her consecrated slaves of her Divine Son, Christ the King, through her own Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart. We bear each of the crosses of the present moment with joy and gratitude, knowing that the only thing that matters is dying in a state of Sanctifying Grace as a member of the Catholic Church, outside of which there is no salvation and without which there can be no true social order.

Our Lady seeks the conversion, not the reaffirmation, of sinners. We must beg her for our own conversion on a daily basis so that we will be better able to offer her all that we have and do during the course of a day to be disposed of as she sees fit the honor and glory of God and for the conversion of other poor sinners.

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

Saint Joseph, pray for us.

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, pray for us.