St. Bernard

Beloved in the Lord, today is the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux.
St. Bernard has been called the most influential theologian of the 12th century. He was a religious, a monk, yet he became a crucial public figure in many affairs of the Church.
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Europe in the 12th century was a rapidly changing world, with increasing population, the development of universities, growth in art, literature, and government – it was also a time of an increase of secularization.
At that time, nearly half a million religious monks and sisters lived in Europe, yet the monasteries were becoming more enmeshed in worldly affairs. For this reason, some men and women sought to recover the true spirit of religious life, and this led to the founding of new orders.
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There was also anxiety in those days; Islam was on the march, conquering Jerusalem in 1079, and preparing to conquer Constantinople; therefore, thousands of ordinary people volunteered to defend against the armies of Islam by forming the first crusade. St. Bernard watched all this happening when he was 9 years old. So it was a time of spiritual zeal, when the survival of countries was at stake.
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St. Bernard was born in 1090; one of seven children; At age 17, his mother, with whom he was very close, passed away. As he was very intelligent and from an influential family, any career would have been possible for him. Nevertheless, he decided to become a monk at age twenty-two. He chose the Cistercians. The Cistercians lived a very strict life of prayer and penance, and they were part of the new reforms of religious life.
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St. Bernard was a leader from the beginning. In fact, when he first came and knocked on the door of the monastery for admittance, he brought with him 30 other young men! He founded the famous abbey at Clairvaux, France, and there he perfected his monastic rule which would be the model for 163 other Cistercian monasteries.
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St. Bernard was called upon to preach the 2nd crusade, he advised popes and kings, and wrote important books on theology; His writings soar to the heights of joy and love, and he is perhaps best known for his love for Mother Mary. He believed that above all, our goal must be to conform our life to God’s will, in every detail of our daily life. To do God’s will in all things, no matter the cost.
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He is the patron saint of candle makers and beekeepers.

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