Ecclesiasticus 15:1-6; Psalm 118(119):9-14; John 17:20-26
Bernard was born in 1090 at Fontaine, in France, of a good family. When he was 22, after having studied grammar and rhetoric, he entered the monastery founded by Robert of Molesme at Citeaux (in Latin, Cistercium -- the order centred around the monastery were thus known as Cistercians). Twelve companions joined him, including four brothers, an uncle, and a cousin. Following his example, many of his relatives undertook to enter religious life.
In his work On Loving God, Bernard points out the path of humility in order to achieve love of God. He exhorts us to love God without measure. For the Cistercian monk, there are four fundamental degrees or grades of love:
· Love of oneself for oneself: “First, one loves oneself for one’s own sake. Seeing, then, that by himself he cannot subsist, he begins to seek God by means of faith.”
· Love of God for love of self: “In the second grade, then, one loves God, but for oneself, not for Him. Beginning then to attend to God and to honour Him, in relation to one’s own needs.”
· Love of God for God: “The soul passes to the third grade, loving God not for oneself, but for Him. In this degree we stop for a long time; indeed, I do not know if in this life it is possible to reach the fourth grade.”
· Love of self for God: “That degree, that is, in which one loves himself only for love of God. Then, there will be a wonderful almost forgetfulness of self, almost abandoning of oneself so that everything tends toward God, so much so as to be one spirit only with Him.”
[Vatican News Website]