From the Pastor August 14, 2016

20th Sunday in

Ordinary Time – C


My next reflection on the 50 Saints with an Obligatory Memorial and full set of orations [Collect, Prayer over the Offerings and Prayer after Communion]
is on Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, 1091-1153, whose Feast Day is August 20. Depicted in a white Cistercian habit, Bernard is also often seen with three miters or bishop’s hats on the ground … for three times he rejected a Pope’s offer to become a Bishop!


Bernard was born into French nobility, the third of seven children, with only one sister; his pious parents sent him to college early, where he excelled in theology, Scripture, and in living a moral, humble life among revelers who even in those days considered college playtime! After his mother’s death when he was just 19, he sought to avoid worldly temptations by entering a Cistercian monastery. Modern day Cistercians are either very strict Trappist monks or monks of a more relaxed style. Here’s what his orations say about Bernard of Clairvaux.


Collect – Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church


O God, who made of the Abbot Saint Bernard

a man consumed with zeal for your house

and a light shining and burning in your Church,

grant, through his intercession,

that we may be on fire with the same spirit

and walk always as children of light.

Through our Lord … for ever and ever. Amen.


[from the Hebrew ‘Abba’] of the monastery, young Bernard often ruled with an iron fist and stern disposition; but all that stress caused such health problems that he eventually ‘eased up.’ Yet he never stopped seeking to achieve the ideal life of a monk for himself or for his ‘sons.’ His five brothers eventually joined him in the monastery; and even though his sister married, her husband allowed her to enter a convent! This may seem strange to us … but back then … not much holiness was seen outside of religious groups … or even within them! And while we may mock their ways of seeking holiness in a corrupt world – what do we do – for ourselves and our children – to keep all on the right path?


Prayer over the Offerings

Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church


We offer to your majesty, O Lord, the Sacrament of unity and peace, as we celebrate the memorial of the Abbot Saint Bernard, a man outstanding in word and deed, who strove

to bring order and concord to your Church.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


LOVE THE CHURCH, WARTS AND ALL. Saint Bernard faced a very wounded, very sinful world … and a very wounded, very sinful Church. Yet his ability to rouse and affirm the faithful was so well known, Popes asked him to ‘rally the troops’ of the Second Crusade’s attempt to stop the Moslem hope to eradicate Christianity from 12th Century Europe. [Again, how little things have changed!] However, the Crusaders failed – not because of Bernard’s preaching, which was exemplary … but because of the Crusaders’ immoral, unchristian behavior!


Bernard also dealt with Church schisms; more than one man claimed to be the ‘real’ pope … and he was asked to decide who was the true Pope! He also opposed secular rulers who usurped the Pope’s right to name Bishops and govern the Church! Yet amid all this darkness and sin, he stayed at the monastery at Clairvaux: a name that means ‘valley of light!’


Prayer after Communion

Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church


May the food we have received, O Lord, as we honor Saint Bernard, work its effect in us,

so that, strengthened by his example

and instructed by his teaching, we may be

caught up in love of your incarnate Word.

Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


ALWAYS LOVE THE INCARNATE WORD. While others gave up on the world in his time, Bernard did not … for like our Blessed Mother … who holds a special and revered place in his writing … he fully believed that God-is-with-us! So when we want to throw in the towel … we must remember that God had chosen to enter into and work though this world’s insanity! So just as our Blessed Mother accepted God’s ‘odd’ plan to be born among us … we must be open to how God wants to work through us! Saint Bernard … pray for us!


In His holy Name,



Rev. Thomas J. Serafin, KHS