Today, the Church honors St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a French abbot and the primary reformer for the Cistercian order. He was the first Cistercian placed on the calendar of saints when he was canonized by Pope Alexander III on the 18th of January 1174. In 1830 Pope Pius VIII bestowed upon him the title “Doctor of the Church”.
Bernard’s greatest contribution was the identification of love with the contemplative life. Bernard declared amor ipse notitia est (love itself is a knowledge) to be the guiding principle of contemplative life. Bernard’s doctrine in De diligendo Deo (On Loving God) and his Sermons on the Song of Song were the manifestation of his bridal mysticism, which was not only communes with God through love, but also identifying God with love.
Jesus reminds us in today Gospel, “the greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Despite his great contribution to mystical naturalism, Bernard remains an inspirational figure. Nevertheless, there was no doubt that Bernard was one of the most influential persons of the twelfth century, not only upon the religious attitude of his time, but also its entire cultural outlook.