Thursday, April 20, 2017

Inflamed by a Tremendous Yearning

from a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot.
               Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us. 

The saints have no need of honor from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs.  Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them.  But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning.
               Calling the saints to mind inspires a longing to enjoy their company.  We long to share in the citizenship of heaven, to dwell with the spirits of the blessed, to join the assembly of patriarchs, the ranks of the prophets, the council of apostles, the great host of martyrs, the noble company of confessors and the choir of virgins.  In short, we long to be united in happiness with all the saints.
               But, our dispositions change.  The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it.  The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent.  The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.
               When we commemorate the saints we are inflamed with another yearning; that Christ our life may also appear to us as he appeared to them, and that we may one day share in his glory.  Until then we see him, not as he is, but as he became for our sake.  He is our head, crowned, not with glory, but with the thorns of our sins.  As members of that head, crowned with thorns, we should be ashamed to live in luxury; his purple robes are a mockery rather than an honor. 
               We should aim, hope and strive for blessedness.  We must above all seek the prayers of the saints.  Thus, what is beyond our own powers to obtain will be granted through their intercession.
               Come brothers and sisters, let us at length spur ourselves on.  We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven.  Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us.  We should not only want to be with the saints, we should also hope to posses their happiness.
               Saint Bernard's words echo in our hearts.  We say, we cannot be saints, yet many of the greatest saints were great sinners before their hearts were inflamed with the glory of God.  Think of St. Paul, he was there at the stoning of Stephen, he gained permission from the Pharisees to kill Christians, before he was struck blind, and learned to recognized the blindness that had ruled his life.  We all have blind spots; a major blindness is believing we can never be saints, but we can, they did, and they long for us to join them in glory!       kvs

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