Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Saint Bernard and the Blessed Mother

Juan de las Roelas "Vision of St Bernard" 1611
We celebrate today the feast of Saint Bernard, (1090-1153) the primary builder of the Cistercian Monastic order. He was also very devoted to the Blessed Mother having written various prayers in her honor. The above painting seems strange for some people, but it reflects the nurturing instinct that Mary had on St Bernard. Mary is seen squeezing her breast to feed Bernard with her maternal milk, showing herself as a spiritual provider of food as any mother would see that her children are fed, physically and spiritually.
This is one of the prayers written by St Bernard.
O you, whoever you are, who feel 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 fall apart in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of the star, Mary, Your Mother.
When the wind of temptation blows up within you, when you strike upon the rock of tribulation, gaze up at the Star, call out to Mary, Your Mother.
When you are being tossed about by the waves of pride, or ambition, slander or jealousy, gaze up at the Star, Mary, Your Mother. When rage or greed or fleshly desires are battering against the protective shield of your soul, gaze up at Mary, Your Mother. When the immensity of your sins weighs you down and you are bewildered by your heavy conscience, when the terrifying thought of judgement appals you, and you begin to lose heart in the gulf of sadness and despair, think of Mary, Your Mother.
Keep her name on your lips, Keep her in your heart. Follow the example of her life and you will obtain the favor of her prayer. Following in her footsteps, you will not go astray. Asking for help, you will not fall into despair: thinking of her you will not err. While she keeps hold of your hand, you will not fall or stumble. With her protecting you, you will not be afraid. With her leading you, you will not tire. Enjoying her protection, you will reach the goal. Her kindness will see you through the end.