St. Bernard is a really amazing saint. He was born over 900 years ago, but there’s a thing or two he can teach us today.
It’s worth saying that Bernard had a head-start in life. His mum and dad were important nobles of 'high descent', which means not only did they have titles, land, money and influence…
…their families also had a reputation and a lot history, which was very important back then. Bernard’s parents were basically A-listers in 11th Century Burgundy, in France.
Bernard was 22 when he felt that God was calling him to become a monk.
To be honest, Bernard probably could have enjoyed quite a comfortable life in a monastery. He was educated and he was of noble birth, so he wouldn't necessarily have to peel potatoes with the other other monks.
However, Bernard did not go for the easy option. Despite the reputation that some monasteries had for being really cushy..
...Bernard opted for a relatively new monastery called Cîteaux Abbey. Cîteaux Abbey was pretty hardcore: it had been founded a few years prior, in order to return to a very basic way of life.
It is said that Bernard’s testimony inspired other people: so much so, that about 20 of Bernard’s (also noble) friends decided to become monks, as well as 4 of his 5 brothers.
And if you're wondering what became of the fifth and final brother, we'll come on to him in a minute.
Within 3 years, Bernard and some of the other monks were sent to found a new monastery. Before long Bernard became the abbot. Again life was pretty basic at the new monastery, but Bernard's reputation for holiness meant that people flocked to join the community.
130 new monks joined up in fact. Including, Bernard's own Dad. Yep that's right. Bernard's own high-born father decided to become a monk and live under his son's guidance (Bernard's mum had died when Bernard was 18).
And guess who else would eventually come to join the monastery?
Yep that's right. It was Bernard's remaining brother. And just for good measure, this last brother went on to become a saint, Saint Gerard of Clairvaux.
The only member of Bernard's family not in the monastery was his sister. But guess what? At her brother's urging, she became a Benedictine nun and she was later beatified, Blessed Humbeline of Jully.
St. Bernard did a whole bunch of other amazing things in his life, including settling disputes about who should be the Pope, being a major player in the reforms that introduced the Cistercian monastic order and preaching to combat heresy.
But before all of that, by simply being holy and listening to God's call, Bernard inspired his whole family on the journey to sainthood. And Bernard didn't give up, even when things took a bit longer, e.g. for Gerard and Humbeline.
Think about your own family context for a second. God wants to use your example as a way of helping the people in your family grow in holiness. Isn't that cool? Just remember, even when you think that aren't taking any notice, miracles can happen!
St. Bernard of Clairvaux: Pray for us
St. Gerard of Clairvaux: Pray for us
Blessed Humbeline of Jully: Pray for us