Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sweet Sweet Bernard...

I have returned to the devotional For All The Saints as my daily devotions, and am reading it now when I enter my office as the first thing I do. Trying to read right when I go to bed is a problem since I have many many times fallen asleep while I read, only to have my set my book on the nightstand and turn out the light for me. Moving this practice to when I enter my office is very helpful... I am able to give the texts my undivided (mostly) attention and then I often tweet a verse or two or three from the readings, both scriptural as well as others. Today I had in my readings, a passage from Bernard of Clairvaux. In a culture which demands the individual response to the gospel, these words of Bernard are such a clear and distinct speaking of the gospel that they soothe and relieve my irritated nerves, worn away by the constant demand that I must choose, that I must believe. He writes:
I said before that God is the cause of loving God. I spoke the truth, for he is both the efficient and final cause. He himself provides the occasion. He himself creates the longing. He himself fulfills the desire. He himself causes himself to be (or rather, to be made) such that he should be loved. He hopes to be so happily loved that no one will love him in vain. His love both prepares and rewards ours (cf. 1Jn 4:19). Kindly, he leads the way. He repays us justly. He is our sweet hope. He is riches to all who call upon him (Rm 10:12). There is nothing better that himself. He gave himself in merit. He keeps himself to be our reward. He gives himself as food for holy souls (Wis. 3:13). He sold himself to redeem the captives.
Lord, you are good to the soul which seeks you. What are you then to the soul which finds? But this is the most wonderful thing, that no one can seek to be found so that you may be sought for, sought so that you may be found. You can be sought, and found, but not forestalled. For even if we say, "In the morning my prayer will forestall you" (Ps 87:14), it is certain that every prayer which is not inspired is half-hearted. Now let us see where our love begins, for we have seen where it finds its end.
The promise of the gospel is not that we can find God, but that God allows himself to be found. Even if we have a world-shaking conversion experience, or make a decision to follow Jesus, or sit quietly in the pew trusting in full confidence that God has called us through the waters of baptism, we must give thanks that God has made this all possible, that he has granted us faith to believe and the power to become children of God.

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