In the year 1112, the Desert of ly as in the monastery. Day by day Citeaux, within a few miles of Dijon, the ranks of the community were was a nearly inaccessible solitude . thinned by the loss of some dear “where the foot of man hath ne'er brother. At last as St. Stephen or rarely trod.” In the depths of knelt by the bedside of one of his this solitude was a monastery where dying children, a great weight of men dwell who had abandoned for agony seemed to overwhelm him ; Christ's sake all that the world holds he buried his face in his hands whilst dear. They had devoted themselves cold drops of perspiration fell from to a life of perfection and austerity, his brow. Must he see his beloved and their rigid practices had ob- spiritual children swept away one by tained a widespread fame, forming one until the order shall become exas they did so strong a contrast to tinct ? For the first time his confithe abuses and relaxed discipline dence wavered. A harassing doubt which had crept into religious orders. arose as to whether there might not That life of perpetual sacrifice was a be some truth in the accusation of tacit but true reproach to the de- his enemies. Yet in this moment of generate communities where luxury harrowing uncertainty, a consoling and self-indulgence were the portion spirit whispered to him to seek light of those who had vowed themselves from God himself, by a strange and to poverty. The reproach was too superhuman means. cutting to be silently borne, and the He rose from his knees and desired monks of Cluny-sadly prominent the other monks to be called. When among the communities which had all were assembled around the bed of fallen away from their first fervor, death, he said to the poor sufferer could not suffer the rise of an order lying there: “You see, my beloved which was to them an ever-speaking brother, in what affliction and trouble rebuke. Calumnies prompted by you are about to leave us. We beenvy burst forth on all sides. The lieve assuredly that we are walking in monks of the desert were denounced the narrow way which our blessed St. as innovators who carried asceticism Benedict traced for us, but that manto excess, and accused of introducing ner of life may not be pleasing to God. schism and division into religious Therefore in the name of our Lord orders.

Jesus Christ, for whose sake we have The Abbot of Citeaux at the time chosen the narrow path, I command was an Englishman, St. Stephen, you by your vow of obedience, that justly celebrated for his great virtue. when you shall be with God you will His patience never faltered, and to return to us at the time and in the calumny after calumny, his only an- manner which shall please him to swer was renewed zeal and vigilance. inform us, according to his will, Nevertheless his faith was put to a what we are to believe concerning severe test. Gloom and depression our state and the life which we are of spirits began to overcloud the leading." usually bright faces of the monks as The dying man answered in the they passed silently to their duties. same spirit: “Reverend father, I Death had laid its icy hand upon will most willingly do as you comtheir house.

mand me if you will aid me with A fatal malady had for some time your holy prayers, so that I may be been rife in the surrounding country, permitted to execute your orders,'' — but nowhere did it prevail so severe- and having thus spoken he expired.

Some days afterwards, as the Ab- val," writes William of St. Thierry, bot gave the usual signal for repose “that the house seemed filled with after working with his brethren, he the words of the prophet: “Give retired a little apart and began to praise, O thou barren that bearest pray, and looking up towards heaven not, sing forth praise and make a he beheld the deceased monk stand- joyful noise.'" ing before him all resplendent with The youthful leader of that chosen glory. St. Stephen asked how it group of aspirants to the habit of St. fared with him, and the monk an- Benedict, was St. Bernard. In the swered: “I am happy and wish you year III3 he entered the order of to be a sharer in my happiness, for Citeaux and at the age of three and to your constant care do I owe the twenty took up the cross of Christ, ecstatic bliss and peace which I en- which was to be henceforth the sole joy, and which surpass all that man enduring love of his heart. The can conceive. In obedience to your great ardor and sensibility of his nacommand, I return to tell you, my ture centred on the all high and unfather and all my brethren, that our seen God, for whom to labor and to Lord Jesus Christ looks upon this suffer was his dearest joy—the one new order with especial favor. Banish thought occupying his mind: “What your affliction then, and let it be more can I do? What more can I changed into joy, for behold God suffer for my God?'? Is this difficult will shortly make known to you the to understand? No! Bernard loved ! riches of his mercy, and will send Da amantem et sentit quid dico. (St. you a great number of novices, among Augustine.) whom there shall be many mighty, Bernard, the third son of Teclin, noble, wise, and holy persons; and Lord of Fontaines, near Dijon, and they shall so fill this house that they Elizabeth, daughter of Count Bershall go forth from it like a swarm of nard de Monthbar, was born tobees to overspread all parts of the wards the close of the eleventh cenworld."

tury. His mother had always been "'The monk," adds the ancient remarkable for piety, and had offered chronicle of the time, “having ut- her first two sons to God; but Bertered these words, asked and received nard she consecrated more especially the blessing of him who had been so to him, for, before his birth, a man long his guide in the school of of great sanctity had said to her: sanctity, and then disappeared, leav- “Behold, you shall be the mother of ing St. Stephen in an ecstasy of joy a child, who like a faithful dog shall and gratitude.”.

guard the house of the Lord and bark This revelation revived the courage loudly against the enemies of the of the monks, and henceforth they faith; for he shall be a great preacher, lived in the trustful expectation of and with his healing tongue he shall its fulfilment. At last one day, when cure the wounds of many souls." St. Stephen and the little remnant The mother accordingly watched of his community were praying be- and tended little Bernard as a most fore the altar of God for the speedy precious flower, and he amply repaid accomplishment of his divine prom- her love and care. Whilst yet almost ise, a troop of men, to the number an infant he often stole away to weep of thirty, headed by a youth of dis- over his faults and sob forth some tinguished appearance, knocked at simple, childish prayer for forgivethe monastery gate. St. Stephen ness. went to receive them full of joy and When of an age to go to school hope, and they fell at his feet be- Bernard was sent to the college atseeching admission into his order. tached to the church of Chatillon,

“Such was the effect of their arri- renowned in those days for the great erudition of its professors, and in a ed, when one day, as he rode along short time he distinguished himself unaccompanied, and in deep thought, in the various sciences, sacred and the world and its vicissitudes appearprofane. Poetry also was a favorite ed to pass before his sight as a mere study, and he became, perhaps, too show, and spirit voices filled the air passionately devoted to les belles-let- repeating, “Come to me, all you tres; yet even in the eager pursuit of that labor and are heavy laden, and learning he lost none of his early pi. I will give you rest." These words ety, it remained as fervent as in the penetrated Bernard's heart with a days of his childhood, exalted and new force, and seeing a church close deepened by the dawn of maturity. by he alighted froin his horse and

Bernard returned home just at this went in and prostrated himself becritical age, but there a bitter trial fore the altar. Then a deep peace awaited him. Six months had barely fell upon his weary soul; the old ferpassed when his mother, his idolized vor of his love returned, and he mother, was borne to the grave. vowed to consecrate himself to God Her death was the cause of keen forever. Comforted and at peace sorrow to all her dear ones, but to with himself, he returned home and Bernard the blow was heavier than announced his resolution to bid adieu he could bear without flinching. to the world. Shortly afterwards he She had been to him mother, sister, went to Chatillon to prepare for the friend, companion, all in one, and great change in his life. There his now that she was taken the sweetness words and example produced such of life was gone, no human consola- an effect that numbers of the students tion could reach the depths of that determined to follow him wherever grief, and even religion seemed cold he went, and among these there were and silent in the hour of desolation, four of his brothers. All that had All the fervor which but a short time then to be done was to fix on an order, ago had animated his devotion van and Bernard's favorite maxim being ished, and nothing remained save a Si incipis, perfecte incipe, "If thou sense of duty and unutterable weari- beginnest, begin well," he chose the ness. Earth and even heaven itself most austere—that of Citeaux, and had grown dark for him; yet his faith his companions readily concurred in stood firm, shining like a star through his choice. They settled their worldthe darkness, reminding him

ly affairs like men preparing for death, How sublime a thing it is and Bernard and his brothers went to To suffer, and be strong.

Fontaines to take leave of their faTo distract his thoughts it was ther. deemed well that he should adopt Having obtained the old man's some new way of life and sphere of blessing, they left him and rejoined activity. Now came the eventful rno- their companions, with whom they ment. Would he try to grasp and re- set out for Citeaux, where we have alize the dream of happiness in this already heard of their arrival at the world, or resign it here and secure its gates of the monastery. substance in eternity? Natural incli- From the time of his entrance into nation pleaded for the former; the religion Bernard's constant endeavor secret whispers of his conscience for was to realize in himself his favorite the latter. Young, handsome, clever, maxim, Si incipis, perfecte incipe, and and the son of a brave and chival- so prepare himself by practice for all rous knight, how brilliant a career that he was afterwards to teach. His was open to him-yet that impor- observance of rule was unvarying, extuning whisper!

· act, and united with a simple joyfulThus assailed by contrary forces, ness in the performance of the most he remained for some time undecid- humiliating and painful exercises of St. Benedict's discipline, and the aged Bernard was only five and twenty, Saint who governed this nursery of and his appointment as superior in laborers for Christ, watched with so difficult an undertaking was looked mingled admiration and surprise, the upon by all with astonishment. daily increase of his young novice's After the touching ceremony which virtue.

invested him with the rank of abbot, At length the ardently longed for Bernard left the church, and carrying day of profession arrived, in the his crosier, and followed by a little month of April, 1114. Bernard and band of twelve monks, set out on a his companions pronounced their long and weary journey. They were final vows with deep emotion. They obliged to cross tracts of uncultivated tasted the joy of attaining to the high- country and dense forests before they est summit of one's desires, of the re- reached the swampy valley of Abpose which can only come where the sinthea, and there, in spite of inheart's void is filled.

numerable difficulties, founded the Bernard's example drew so many new monastery, and changed its name novices to Citeaux that the monas- of Absinthea to Clair-Vallée (Clairtery could hardly contain them, and vaux). St. Stephen was obliged to seek a Years passed and St. Bernard beplace for a new foundation. In the came the most eminent man of his province of Langres there was a time. He was consulted by kings marshy desert where it was suggested and princes, the rich and the poor, the religious of Citeaux could easily the learned and the ignorant, the obtain permission to establish them- strong and the weak—all sought this selves. St. Stephen knew no one in man of God. He was the adviser that diocese who would help to main-, of the one, the consoler of the other, tain the new foundation, neverthe- the revered of all. He was ever less he resolved to begin it and trust ministering to others, though conto God for its success. Accordingly stantly suffering himself from severe he chose a certain number of monks, and prolonged attacks of illness, thus with St. Bernard as their leader, and his whole life became one of unin. desired them to go forth in God's terrupted devotedness and activity name.

in the great cause of good.


THE Dublin University Magazine is regard temporal loss as far more to be reorange-colored, both in external covering gretted than spiritual bankruptcy. A faand symbolically also, as its articles on the vorite Protestant argument for the ReformaChurch abundantly testify. The “ Silent tion is a comparison between the great Sister," as Trinity College is called, does earthly prosperity of Protestant countries not keep her tongue when she has any op- and the poverty of Catholic ones. Macauportunity of 'berating the Church. Then lay said, you can tell the difference between she is a veritable shrew. A leading article the two religions in passing from a Protestin the February number, entitled “ The ant county in Ireland to a Catholic county, Hands that hold the Keys of Peter," is a and from a Protestant Swiss canton to a coarse and vulgar critique upon the life and Catholic one. Money is not one of the character of Pope Pius IX, of blessed marks of the true Church, so far as our theomemory. The article, of course, was writ- logical studies inform us. Spiritual growth ten previously to the death of the Sovereign in holiness is not parallel with the growth

Pontiff. It charges him with the misfortunes of manufactories, nor does purity of heart • of the Church, with infidelity and apostasy, depend upon the excellence of underground and continues in a strain of weak and mali- drainage. There is no point in the argucious invective. What the University means ment. Catholicity is not an element of po. by misfortunes must be interpreted accord- litical economy; yet, even on their own ing to the Protestant idea, which seems to grounds, we can challenge Protestants to a

comparison. They make the fallacy of mis- passing their declining years with love in a taking effects for causes, and vice versa. cottage. The idiots that write these tales What has Protestantism to do with the pros- should be summarily strait-jacketed, and perity of England, as compared with Catho- some move should be made on the part of licity and the prosperity of France ? It parents and heads of families, and of edumay be said that religion has very little, if cational institutions, to prevent the issue and anything, to do with either. The stock sale of the more notorious and deleterious market and the chapel, whether Protestant of these papers. If Swift is right when he or Catholic, are not on the best of terms. tells us that no man has ripe sense until he Christianity came to teach men not how to is forty, and if not then, he is hopelessly a save money, but how to save their souls. fool, what sense have children just emergThere is no parity between the Church and ing from the nursery? What a miserable sects. The Church civilized mankind ages impression is left upon their receptive minds before Luther. She had all the heavy work by the perusal of these infamous papers ! to do. She was the pioneer of civilization. The less children know about certain subProtestantism coolly appropriated the results jects the better, and as childhood and youth of her labors, even to the meanness of vanish, alas, too suddenly, a wrong is done stealing her cathedrals and churches, rob- them by acquainting them at an earlier age bing her religious orders, and, most cruel with the trials, crimes, and “ general cussedof losses, spiriting away her children. ness” that will soon enough assail them in

But to return to the University Magazine. maturer life. The Church unfortunate under Pius IX! Hear it, ye heavens, and give ear, 0 earth! Why, she never enjoyed such glory. His THE two recent appointments to vacant was the grandest Pontificate since the days sees in the United States are of such imof St. Peter. Never did the unity, apostol- portance that we could not omit making icity, holiness, and catholicity of the mention of them here, notwithstanding the Church-her four glorious suns-make such fact that their lives have been so circumbrilliant showing in the world before. The stantially detailed in the more ephemeral heavens and the earth were filled with her daily and weekly press. The Sees of Vinglory. Obscured by the clouds of the cennes and Richmond have been supplied French Revolution, she was led out radiant with pastors who, before their elevation, as a bride by the hand of Pius IX. Un were eminent beyond their peers. Mgr. fortunate, forsooth! He canonized more Chatard, as rector of the American College saints, preconized more bishops, held the at Rome, may have become more widely greatest of councils, and paid the most known by his recent tour of the United glorious of honors to the Blessed Virgin, States in favor of the institution in the govthat history records. We only hope that ernment of which he showed the eminent the Church will continue to be overwhelmed qualities that fit a priest to rule a diocese; by such misfortunes as marked the reign of whilst Father Keane displayed the same the great and blessed Pontiff who has passed rare talent by his prudent management of away.

the important parish of St. Patrick, Washington, where he has been a faithful shep.

herd over a faithful flock ever since his A WRITER in one of our popular month

ordination. Indeed, the Catholics of both lies has a sensible article upon “What our dioceses have every reason to be grateful in Boys Read,” and he calls attention to the

ition to the piety for the excellent choice which the

piety for the exce dangerous quality of the boys and girls' Holy See has made in the case of each: weeklies that flood the country. This sort and we hope that this mission is only a preof literature is shown to be mawkish in

paratory step to high honors. sentiment, extravagant in statement, and fatal to morality. The idea of boys and girls being introduced to a class of ideas

growth cannot entertain without danger to nounced the death of Cardinal Louis Amat their souls, is clearly brought out. Our di San Felippo e Sorso. He was bishop of juvenile reading was confined to such books Ostia and Velletri, dean of the Sacred Colof healthy adventure and interest as Robin- lege, archpriest of the patriarchal basilica son Crusoe, the Swiss Family Robinson, of Santa Maria Maggiore, and prefect of the and the stories of Mayne Reid. Now, we Sacred Congregation of Rites. Born at Caunderstand, instead of the glorious prairie gliari, Sardinia, on June 21st, 1796, he had and the desert island, boys revel in luxur- almost completed his eighty-second year at ious apartments, and are frantically enam- the time of his death. Gregory XVI raised ored of fair Dulcineas, shoot their rivals, him to the cardinalate on May 10th, 1837, run off with the damsel, and at the preco- intrusted him with the See of Palestinia on cious age of thirteen speak solemnly of March 15th, 1852, and made him vice-chan

« ElőzőTovább »