TODAY, IN BOTH the old and new liturgical calendars, is the feast of Saint Bernard (1090-August 20, 1153), Abbot of the monastery of Clairvaux, and Doctor of the Church. Some of his writings, in English translation, may be found here. From his letters:
To LOUIS, the glorious King of France, Stephen, Abbot of Cîteaux, and the whole assembly of the abbots and brethren of Cîteaux, wish health, prosperity, and peace in Christ Jesus.— letter to King Louis VI, “le Gros,”, King of France
The King of heaven and earth has given you a kingdom on earth, and will bestow upon you one in heaven if you study to govern with justice and wisdom that which you have received. This is what we wish for you, and pray for on your behalf, that you may reign here faithfully, and there in happiness. But why do you of late put so many obstacles in the way of our prayers for you, which, if you recollect, you formerly with such humility requested? With what confidence can we now presume to lift up our hands for you to the Spouse of the Church, while you so inconsiderately, and without the slightest cause (as we think), afflict the Church? Grave indeed is the complaint she lays against you before her Spouse and Lord, that she finds you an opposer whom she accepted as a protector. Have you reflected whom you are thus attacking? Not really the Bishop of Paris, but the Lord of Paradise, a terrible God who cuts off the spirit of Princes (Ps. lxx. 12), and who has said to Bishops, He who despiseth you despiseth me (S. Luke x. 16).
That is what we have to say to you. Perhaps we have to say it with boldness, but at the same time in love; and for your sake we pray you heartily, in the name of the friendship with which you have honoured us, and of the brotherhood with which you deigned to associate yourself, but which you have now so grievously wounded, quickly to desist from so great a wrong; otherwise, if you do not deign to listen to us, nor take any account of us whom you called brethren, who are your friends, and who pray daily for you and your children and realm, we are forced to say to you that, humble as we are, there is nothing which we are not prepared to do within the limits of our weakness for the Church of God, and for her minister, the venerable Bishop of Paris, our father and our friend. He implores the help of poor religious against you, and begs us by the right of brotherhood to write in his favour to the Lord Pope. But we judge that we ought first to commence by this letter to your royal Excellence, especially as the same Bishop pledges himself by the hand of all our Congregation to give every satisfaction provided that his goods, which have been unjustly taken away from him, be restored, which it seems to us justice itself requires; in the meantime, we put off the sending of his petition. And if God inspires you to lend an ear to our prayers, to follow our counsels, and to restore peace with your Bishop, or rather with God which we earnestly desire, we are prepared to come to you wherever you shall pleased to fix for the sake of arranging this affair; but if it be otherwise, we shall be obliged to listen to the voice of our friend, and to render obedience to the priest of God. Farewell.