Friday, August 20, 2021

Saint Bernard and God’s Love

Happy Feast of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), the great Cistercian monastic reformer, the counselor of kings and popes, the wise and prolific “mellifluous doctor” of biblical theology, and above all the mystic, the contemplative who waited on the Lord, the tireless lover of God. (Texts from Saint Bernard below are in bold font.)

"For when God loves, all He desires is to be loved in return; the sole purpose of His love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love Him are made happy by their love of Him."

God loved us in creating us, and when we went astray in our own sins and in the narrowness of our self-destructive will to dominate one another, He loved us immeasurably more by coming to dwell with us, die for us, and restore us to His love.

"In the first creation He gave me myself; but in His new creation He gave me Himself, and by that gift restored to me the self that I had lost. 

"God deserves exceeding love from us, a love that has no measure… The reason is that He was first to love. He who is so great loves us so much; He loves us freely, little and poor as we are. 

"That is why I said there should be no measure of our love for God. For since love given to God is given to the Infinite and Measureless, what measure or what limit could it have? He, the Unmeasured and Eternal God, He who is Love beyond all human knowledge, whose greatness knows no bounds, whose wisdom has no end, loves. [He loves us "first," giving us existence and giving Himself to us in Jesus Christ.]

"Shall we then set a limit to our love for Him? 

"I will love you, O Lord my strength, my rock, and my defense, my Savior, my one desire and love. My God, my helper, I will love you with all the power you have given me; not worthily, for that can never be, but to my full capacity. Do what I will, I never can discharge my debt to you, and I can love you only according to the power that you have given me. But l will love you more and more, as you see fit to give further power" (texts from the Treatise On The Love Of God).