Friday, 12 May 2017

Tribulation & Trials by St. Bernard, abbot

St. Bernard of Clairvaux

I am with him in tribulation

From a sermon St. Bernard, abbot

I am with him in tribulation, says God.  Shall I then seek anything here below apart from tribulation?  For me it is good to cling to God, and also to put my hope in the Lord God, because he has said: I will rescue him and glorify him.

I am with him in tribulation.  My delight, he says, is to be with the sons of men—Emmanuel, God with us.  

He himself descended to be near those 
who are saddened in spirit, to be with us in our tribulation.  

One day we shall be caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord—provided, however, that we are concerned here below to have him with us, as our companion on the journey, who will restore us to our true country or, better, as one who is now our way and our true country hereafter. 

It is good for me to be sad, O Lord, as long as you are with me, rather than to be a king apart from you, to feast without you, to boast without you.  It is better for me to embrace you in tribulations, to have you with me in the furnace, than to be without you in heaven.  For what do I have in heaven apart from you?  What have I desired on earth?  Gold is tested in the furnace, and the just by the trial of tribulation.  There, yes there, you are present with them, Lord.  You are there in the midst of those gathered in your name, as you were once with the three young men in the fiery furnace.

Why are we afraid, why do we hesitate, 
why do we flee from this furnace?  

The fire rages, 
but the Lord is with us in tribulation.  

If God is with us who can be against us?  And if he then rescues us, who will steal us from his hand?  Lastly, if he honors us, who can dishonor us?  If he honors us, who can humiliate us?

I will fill him with length of days.  It is as if he said more clearly:  I know what he desires, I know what he thirsts for, and what he likes.  He likes neither silver nor gold, pleasure nor curiosity, nor any of the honors of the world.  All this he considers as loss; all this he despises, counting it as dung.  He has totally emptied himself, and he does not allow himself to be concerned with things he knows can never satisfy him.  He knows in whose image he had been made, of what greatness he is capable; he does not strive to raise himself up only to be cut down from the highest state.

So I will fill him 
with length of days
for only the true light can refresh, 
only the eternal can fill him.  

Indeed this length of days 
has no end, 
this light knows 
no setting, and 
this fullness can never 
turn to disgust.

Taken from the Liturgy of the Hours, According to the Roman Rite, Ordinary Time, Catholic Book Publishing Corp.  New York, 1975