St Bernard of Clairvaux
1090 - 1153
Sermons on the Song of Songs
The name of Jesus is…a medicine.
"Does one of us feel sad? Let the name of Jesus come into his heart, from there let it spring to his mouth, so that shining like the dawn it may dispel all darkness and make a cloudless sky. Does someone fall into sin? Does his despair even urge him to suicide? Let him but invoke this life-giving name and his will to live will be at once renewed.
The hardness of heart that is our common experience, the apathy bred of indolence, bitterness of mind, repugnance for the things of the spirit – have they ever failed to yield in presence of that saving name? The tears dammed up by the barrier of our pride – how have they not burst forth again with sweeter abundance at the thought of Jesus’ name?
And where is the man, who, terrified and trembling before impending peril, has not been suddenly filled with courage and rid of fear by calling on the strength of that name?
Where is the man who, tossed on the rolling seas of doubt, did not quickly find certitude by recourse to the clarity of Jesus’ name? Was ever a man so discouraged, so beaten down by afflictions, to whom the sound of this name did not bring new resolve?
In short, for all the ills and disorders to which flesh is heir, this name is medicine.
For proof we have no less than his own promise: “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”
Nothing so curbs the onset of anger, so allays the upsurge of pride. It cures the wound of envy, controls unbridled extravagance and quenches the flame of lust; it cools the thirst of covetousness and banishes the itch of unclean desire. For when I name Jesus I set before me a man who is meek and humble of heart, kind, prudent, chaste, merciful, flawlessly upright and holy in the eyes of all; and this same man is the all-powerful God whose way of life heals me, whose support is my strength."
“What we love we shall grow to resemble.”
“A saint is not someone who never sins, but one who sins less and less frequently and gets up more and more quickly.”
“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is Curiosity.
There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is Vanity.
There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love."
“Many of those who are humiliated are not humble. Some react to humiliation with anger, others with patience, and others with freedom. The first are culpable, the next harmless, the last just.”
“Neither fear nor self-interest can convert the soul. They may change the appearance, perhaps even the conduct, but never the object of supreme desire... Fear is the motive which constrains the slave; greed binds the selfish man, by which he is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed (James 1:14). But neither fear nor self-interest is undefiled, nor can they convert the soul. Only charity can convert the soul, freeing it from unworthy motives.”
“I have ascended to the highest in me, and look, the Word is towering above that. I have descended to explore my lowest depths, and I found Him deeper still.”
“To them that long for the presence of the living God, the thought of Him is sweetest itself: but there is no satiety, rather an ever-increasing appetite...”
“You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.”