Wednesday, March 31, 2010
St. Bernard on the Love of God
This morning I woke up and in preparing for the day, I listened to a YouTube recording of Thomas Merton talking to the novices about Bernard's De Deligendo Deo. He was relating that to St. Bernard, the monastery was simply a School of Love, which reminded me of the prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict where he stated that his intention was "to establish a school for the Lord's service." As I accept that God is love, this is an easy transition for me from Benedict to Bernard (as I assume it should be). The English version of the text carries the title On the Love of God.
Having spoken to the nuns a day or two before, this was reinforced by that conversation when the nuns referenced the Course in Miracles' affirmation that our human purpose is to listen with our hearts and respond in love. While some may take issue with the Course, it nevertheless summarizes the monastic impulse or at least the version of it that has moved me over the years.
Not being able to exempt myself from the larger cultural experience of alienation, I find that the search for meaning and significance in life is completely dependent upon grace, i.e., namely the graces received in the knowledge and love of God. Like any American, I can easily translate meaningfulness with work or some activity, while the only real significance in life is the realization of the presence of God.
While the nuns and I are not living in a monastic community, the community nature of our spiritual friendship allows for the mutual compassionate acknowledgement that we are here to love God and one another.
A video of the Dali Lama was on this morning, calling all of us as global brothers and sister to the experience of global compassion. A call to the commitment of love and non-violence. Between the nuns, St. Benedict, St. Bernard, the Dali Lama and myself, the old addage that when the student is ready, the teacher appears seems to hold true. As we prepare to celebrate Easter, I believe that love and compassion are the true power that produced the Resurrection.
Bernard said "the reason for loving God is God himself, and the measure, is to love without measure." Such is the love that is celebrated on Good Friday!