The Family That Overtook Christ

20 Aug

Today is the feast day of St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). For many people, unfortunately, St. Bernard is merely a big, lovable breed of working dog. Even those of us with Catholic sensibilities might not know too much about him. Maybe we remember that he was devoted to Our Lady (which saint wasn’t?), and that he is believed to be the author of the prayer commonly known as the Memorare (”Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary . . .”). But even that’s probably pushing it.

It’s a shame we don’t know more about him, because Bernard was no ordinary monk. His singular holiness, his amazing zeal, his prolific spiritual writing, his founding of dozens of monasteries, and his decisive, godly impact on ecclesial and world affairs during his incredible life are all a matter of historical record.

My wife, children, and I really enjoyed reading together as a family The Family That Overtook Christ. It’s the story of St. Bernard’s remarkable family. His father Tescalin has been declared “Venerable” by the Church, and his mother, Alice, his sister Humbeline, and his brothers Guy, Gerard, Andrew, Bartholomew, and Nivard have all been declared “Blessed.” It’s one of the most edifying things I’ve read in a long time. One of the most challenging, too. The holy siblings frequently attributed their exceptional religious formation to their parents, who truly raised a generation of saints. Isn’t that the goal of all of us Catholic parents? May we single-mindedly lead our families in pursuit of Christ!

Bernard was no ordinary monk. In fact, he is no ordinary saint. He is one of only 34 saints to have been declared a “doctor of the Church,” whose exceptional, timeless teaching is a sure guide for all of us in our own journey to God.

Now maybe some of us have heard of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and a few of us may even have known about the Memorare. But how many of us have bothered to pick up one of St. Bernard’s classic works, such as his Treatise on the Love of God or his commentary on the Song of Songs?

fulfillment3d.gifI realize that these spiritual classics aren’t as readily available in bookstores as the Da Vinci Code or Fifty Shades of Gray. And even if we found them, we might find them a bit daunting or intimidating. That’s why I’m so grateful to Ralph Martin for writing The Fulfillment of All Desire. In Fulfillment, he takes the writings of seven great doctors of the Western Church, including St. Bernard, and presents them in a systematic, easy-to-read way. Heck, even Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Pope’s personal preacher and retreat master, has heartily endorsed this book for all who want to grow in the spiritual life.

So, in gratitude to God for lifting up holy teachers like St. Bernard of Clairvaux, I’d like to conclude with the collect for today’s Mass:

O God, who made 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 Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

3 Responses to “The Family That Overtook Christ”

  1. Norma T. Molina August 20, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Beautiful article, Mr. Suprenant. Yes, St. Bernard was such a great man of God that when he joined the abbey he brought I believe about 30 other men with him to be monks.

  2. Mike Hogard August 26, 2012 at 2:32 am #

    Mr. Suprenant,

    Thank you for including me on this message. I would enjoy continuing to be on the email list if that is possible.

    Mike Hogard

    • Leon Suprenant August 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

      You’re welcome, Mike. You’re also most welcome to “follow” this blog (there should see a button for that purpose) which will notify you of new posts/articles. God bless you!

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