The Church forever needs purification because of the reality of human weaknesses.
The monastic movement needed reform in St. Bernard’s time. A new monastery at Citeaux was a reform-based community rejecting laxity, riches, and the comfortable lifestyle. Their aim was to return to the originalintent of monasticism. He joined this monastery.
After some time, he was sent out to Clairvaux to start a new monastery. He remained there as Abbott for the rest of his life.
By the time of his death, the Order had grown from one to 343 houses. We now know them as the Cistercian Order.
Bernard was a holy and wise man. He did suffer a lot from poor health but did not let that stop him doing much good.
He strongly opposed the luxurious lifestyles of some of the clergy of his time. He also strongly opposed the persecution of Jewish people in this time.
Also, he stressed the role of faith in our life, and not just a heady rational approach to religion. This does not mean that he was anti-intellectual. He stressed a living relationship with a loving God as well as knowledge of theology.
Mary, Our Lady, also had a very important part in his spirituality.
What do we learn from Bernard?
We learn that we are all part of on-going reform in the Church.
Not to let disappointment stop our commitment to our faith and to the Church family.
Not to let physical challenges such as ill-health stop us from being active in the mission of Christ, in our own way following God’s call.
To lead a life poor in spirit. To value a simple life avoiding unhealthy attachments.
To keep Mary, Mother of the Church, as a role model.
To value true Christian friendship.
To keep on developing a personal relationship with God.
To let the light of the Gospel be our guide in daily living.