We all have a fundamental longing for authentic love and intimacy. But where can we find such an intimacy, and how do we express this need without fear? In these selections from his sermons on the Song of Songs, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux reflects on the biblical allegory of spiritual marriage between God the bridegroom, and our soul, the bride. Through this interpretation, he awakens you to God’s tender embrace, as well as God’s desire to have his affection reciprocated. By showing you how to accept God’s invitation to intimacy in your contemplative prayer, Saint Bernard reveals how you can fulfill your longing for pure and enduring love.
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“We each bring to our relationship with God the pieces of a heart that is wounded, sometimes even devastated and broken. We begin to discover, in the light of God’s love, the extent to which we have cheapened ourselves by offering so indiscriminately the most intimate aspects of our hearts, minds, and bodies to things and people. In the process, we realize how much we have lost in terms of our personal integrity and dignity and how far we have fallen into a web of lies and deceit concerning what it means to be truly human.” (Page xx)
“life’s ultimate significance and true end is discovered only through an intimate communion with God.” (Page xvi)
“Holy affection makes a saint, and this affection is twofold: holy fear of the Lord and holy love” (Page 7)
“We all need a Saint Bernard to guide us and keep us focused upon that which gives our lives ultimate significance” (Page xvi)
“God beckons us to himself so he may lavish upon us our hearts’ deepest longing.” (Page xxii)
Bernard of Clairvaux O. Cist (1090–1153) was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order. After his mother’s death, he sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new abbey at an isolated clearing in a glen known as the Val d’Absinthe, about 15 kilometers southeast of Bar-sur-Aube. According to tradition, Bernard founded the monastery on June 25, 1115, naming it Claire Vallée, which evolved into Clairvaux.