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Bernard was born in 1090 in Dijon, France, the third son of Tescelin, the noble Lord of Fontaines, and Aleth, a daughter of the Lord of Montbard. He and his five brothers were well-educated and well-learned in Latin and military exercises, Bernard being educated with particular care by his parents, because, while yet unborn, a devout man had foretold his great destiny.

Bernard fought the temptations of youth with assiduous prayer and the practice of virtue, often to a heroic degree and, at an early age, determined upon a life of solitude. His ardent devotion to the Blessed Virgin, gave rise to some of the most sublime writings ever penned on the Queen of Heaven.

He studied the Holy Scriptures so intensely that the Word of God became as it were his own language. In the year 1112, Bernard left his home to join the monastery of Citeaux, which followed the very austere Cistercian rule. Bernard brought with him some thirty men, among them four of his brothers and an uncle, who had no previous thought of the religious life.

In 1115, the abbot of Citeaux sent Bernard and twelve monks to build a new house in the region of Champagne. The beginnings of what came to be known as Clairvaux, were trying and painful. The monks lived under their new abbot most poorly, surviving off what little the coarse land had to offer.

The austerities practiced were so severe that Bernard’s health was seriously impaired. Nevertheless, disciples flocked in droves to the new monastic community, and the monks soon numbered one hundred and fifty, among them his youngest brother and his own father.

Renowned for his wisdom, Bernard was often called upon by both Church and State authorities to settle disputes. He defended the rights of the Church against the encroachments of kings and princes and, in the schism that broke out in 1130, was chosen to judge between two rival popes. Until the death of the anti-pope in 1138, he was forced to leave the solitude of his cloister repeatedly by order of Pope Innocent II to combat the resurgence of the schism.

In 1139, heresy took the place of schism, and he was once again championing the Church’s cause in the public arena. The year 1145 saw one of Bernard’s Cistercian sons elevated to the throne of Peter. Pope Eugene III lost no time in calling for a new crusade against the Muslims and commissioned Bernard to preach the crusade throughout Europe. His preaching was accompanied by numerous miracles and thousands flocked to the Cross.

As Abbot of Clairvaux for forty years, he founded one hundred and sixty-three monasteries in different parts of Europe. At his death, they numbered three hundred and forty-three. Having brought the Order out of obscurity, he is considered one of the founders of the Cistercian Order.

Bernard spent the last several years of his life in great pain. He saw the death of his contemporaries as a warning of his own approaching end and prepared himself accordingly.

He died in 1153 and was canonized in 1174. Pope Pius VIII named Doctor of the Church in 1830.

 


 

 

DAILY QUOTE for February 24, 2019

God wishes to be served to the last breath, to the exhaustio...

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February 24

God wishes to be served
to the last breath, to the exhaustion of the last drop of strength,
and He multiplies our capacities for suffering and doing
so that our dedication may reach the extreme limit
of the unforeseeable, the improbable, the miraculous.
The measure of the love of God is
to love Him without measure, said Saint Francis de Sales.
The measure of fighting for God consists
in fighting without measure, it may be said.

Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

  
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SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Praetextatus

Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman res...

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St. Praetextatus

Praetextatus became the bishop of Rouen, France, in 549. The thirty-five years during which he occupied the position of bishop were riddled with troubles involving the Frankish monarchy, a result of which was a time of exile for the saint.
Among the players of this political drama was Fredegund, mistress of King Chilperic, a murderous woman responsible for several deaths in the royal family. Fredegund despised Praetextatus and opposed his return from exile, but a council in Rouen overruled her interference and reinstated the holy bishop to his see.

“The time is coming when you shall revisit the place of your exile.” She threatened the saint shortly before his death. “I was a bishop always, whether in exile or out of exile, and a bishop I shall remain; but as for you, you shall not always enjoy your crown.” He said, as he urged the queen to convert.

The wicked queen refused to reform her life, and in 586 as Praetextatus was offering Holy Mass, Fredegund had an assassin stab him under the arm. The mortally wounded bishop managed to drag himself to the altar and receive Holy Communion before he died.

WEEKLY STORY

Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”

Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of...

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Holding Hands with The “Gate of Heaven”


Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title gained a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears. Her mother, Marie Jeannine Michel, a native from Haiti, had suffered a massive heart attack the day before and was now dying.

I was more than happy to take the statue to visit her at Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was painfully clear, when we arrived in the Intensive Care Unit, that this poor soul was reaching the end.

Over the next couple of hours we prayed numerous rosaries, litanies and the prayers for the dying by her bedside. We also struggled to provide the dying women with all the spiritual assistance we could.

As we prayed, the attending nurse, who happened to be Catholic, kept calling local Churches to find a priest who would administer last rites. Whenever she entered the room to care for Mrs. Michel she would join in the responses to the Hail Mary. Overwhelmed by the scene, she exclaimed, “I hope when I am dying someone will bring the statue to visit me and pray the rosary.”

Moments before the priest arrived, Dominique asked me if I had an extra scapular for her mother. I did not. As the priest administered the last rites I scurried from the room in search of this precious sacramental, only to find I was the only person wearing one. Mrs. Michel was in much more need of it than me, so with the help of a doctor we temporarily removed her oxygen mask and placed my scapular around the dying woman’s neck. Dominique then took her Miraculous Medal and pinned it on to the scapular.

The most moving part of this visit occurred when Mrs. Michel opened her eyes and showed signs she wanted to speak. When they removed the oxygen mask, Dominique told her mother, in their native tongue, that “Momma Mary” was in the room.

Since Mrs. Michel seemed to be already looking into eternity, with a type of “fog of death” in her gaze, I carried the statue over next to her bed. Surprisingly she reached up and took hold of our Lady’s hands and held on for some moments. The oxygen mask was then replaced as the nurse administered morphine to deaden the pain she was experiencing.

Mrs. Michel died at 6:00 AM the following morning with Dominique praying beside her bed.

While the America Needs Fatima home visitation program is a very rewarding apostolate, nothing on earth compares to the satisfaction of a visit like this. A person going through such a moving ordeal, however, could naturally ask, “Was there something more we could have done?”

In the case of Mrs. Michel, the answer is a resounding no. She received the last rites of Holy Mother Church, was clothed in the brown Scapular, and was almost continuously surrounded by the melodious sound of the Angelic Salutation.

Hours before she passed into eternity, Mrs. Michel also had the grace to hold hands with She who truly is the Gate of Heaven.

By: Norman Fulkerson

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Of all the invocations to our Lady, Gate of Heaven is one of the most beautiful. This title had a new meaning for me when I arrived for a Fatima home visit at the house of Dominique McGuire and found her in tears.

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