He came down to be near those whose heart is distressed

Reblogged from Vultus Christi:

Only the Eternal Light Can Satisfy Thee

S Bernardus "Amplexus"

We are blessed at Silverstream to have a rich treasury of patristic lessons at Matins. Our patristic lectionary, complete with proper responsories for each lesson, is the on–going work of Dom Benedict, who has a special gift for assorting appropriate patristic texts to the lessons from Sacred Scripture read each morning at Matins.

Today’s lesson, taken from Saint Bernard’s well–known sermon on Psalm 90 (Qui habitat), is a kindly light for souls journeying in darkness and distress.

From a Sermon on Psalm 90 by St Bernard, Abbot & Doctor

To be Near God is My Good

“I will be with thee in distress,” says God.  What else then should I long for but distress?  “For me, to be near God is my good”; and even more, “to make the Lord God my refuge,” for he says, “I will deliver thee and glorify thee.”  “I will be with you in distress”: and he adds: “I found delight in mankind”.  Emmanuel, God with us.

Near Those Whose Heart is Distressed

He came down to be near those whose heart is distressed, to be with us in distress.  But a day will come when we “will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord. Thenceforth we shall be with the Lord unceasingly.”  If we take care to have him always as a companion along the way, he will give us the kingdom in return; better still, he will be the Kingdom for us, provided that he is now our Way.

Gold is Tried in Fire

Lord, it is good for me to be in distress, provided that thou art there with me; that is much better for me than to reign without thee, rejoice without thee, or be glorified without thee.  It is far better for me to cleave to thee in distress, to have thee with me in the crucible than to be without thee in heaven.  “For what have I in heaven, and from thee what have I wished upon earth?”  “Gold is tried in fire and the just in the trials of distress.”  It is there, among those who are gathered in thy Name that thou art present, as once thou wert with the three young men.  Why should we be afraid and make every effort to flee from the crucible?  The fire burns, but the Lord is with us in distress.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  If it is also he who saves, who can charm us out of his hand?  Who could snatch us from his hand?  Finally, if it is God who glorifies, who can deprive us of glory and humiliate us?

No Cure Except for Thee to Humble Thyself

“With length of days will I gratify thee”, answers the Lord.  This says clearly: I know what thou desirest, for what thou thirsteth, and what thou cravest.  Thou cravest not gold and silver, sensual pleasures, curiosities, or dignities of any kind.  All of these are no help to thee; there is no cure except for thee to humble thyself in the depths of thy heart and refuse to give thine attention to that which cannot satisfy thee.  Thou art not unaware in whose image thou hast been created, and of what greatness thou art capable; thou desirest not a meagre profit to be for thee the occasion of an immense frustration.  Hence, “with length of days will I gratify thee,” for only the true Light can restore thee, only the eternal Light can satisfy thee — that Light whose length knows no end, whose brightness knows no dimming, and whose fulness knows no completion.

Call out to Mary

“O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, if you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star.  When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of temptation, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  Whether you are being tossed about by the waves of pride or ambition or slander or jealousy, gaze up at this star, call out to Mary.  When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering the skiff of your soul, gaze up at Mary.  When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by the loathsomeness of your conscience, when the terrifying thought of judgment appalls you and you begin to founder in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary.  In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary.  Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life and you will obtain the favor of her prayer.  Following her, you will never go astray.  Asking her help, you will never despair.  Keeping her in your thoughts, you will never wander away.  With your hand in hers, you will never stumble.  With her protecting you, you will not be afraid.  With her leading you, you will never tire.  Her kindness will see you through.” (Bernard of Clairvaux}

 

A tremendous yearning

For those of you who do not have access to the Office of Readings for today, All Saints Day–a magnificent reading from a sermon by St. Bernard:

Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us

Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
Calling the saints to mind inspires, or rather arouses in us, above all else, a longing to enjoy their company, so desirable in itself. We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins. In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints. But our dispositions change. The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
Come, brothers, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us. We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to possess their happiness. While we desire to be in their company, we must also earnestly seek to share in their glory. Do not imagine that there is anything harmful in such an ambition as this; there is no danger in setting our hearts on such glory.
When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning: that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them and that we may one day share in his glory. Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake. He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins. As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honour. When Christ comes again, his death shall no longer be proclaimed, and we shall know that we also have died, and that our life is hidden with him. The glorious head of the Church will appear and his glorified members will shine in splendour with him, when he forms this lowly body anew into such glory as belongs to himself, its head.
Therefore, we should aim at attaining this glory with a wholehearted and prudent desire. That we may rightly hope and strive for such blessedness, we must above all seek the prayers of the saints. Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.

And one last short little word from St. Katharine Drexel:

We are called to be saints, all of us; do not forget that.

(The photo above is of a tapestry panel in Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. If you want to see more go here and click on the “Art” tab, then click on “Tapestries”, then “View North Tapestries” or “View South Tapestries.”)