Seek Wisdom-Bernard of Clairvaux

Let us work for the food which does not perish – our salvation. Let us work in the vineyard of the Lord to earn our daily wage in the wisdom which says: Those who work in me will not sin. Christ tells us: The field is the world. Let us work in it and dig up wisdom, its hidden treasure, a treasure we all look for and want to obtain.

If you are looking for it, really look. Be converted and come. Converted from what? From your own wilfulness. “But”, you may say, “if I do not find wisdom in my own will, where shall I find it? My soul eagerly desires it. And I will not be satisfied when I find it, if it is not a generous amount, a full measure, overflowing into my hands”. You are right, for blessed is the man who finds wisdom and is full of prudence.

Look for wisdom while it can still be found. Call for it while it is near. Do you want to know how near it is? The word is near you, in your heart and on your lips, provided that you seek it honestly. Insofar as you find wisdom in your heart, prudence will flow from your lips, but be careful that it flows from and not away from them, or that you do not vomit it up. If you have found wisdom, you have found honey. But do not eat so much that you become too full and bring it all up. Eat so that you are always hungry. Wisdom says: Those who eat me continue to hunger. Do not think you have too much of it, but do not eat too much or you will throw it up. If you do, what you seem to have will be taken away from you, because you gave up searching too soon. While wisdom is near and while it can be found, look for it and ask for its help. Solomon says: A man who eats too much honey does himself no good; similarly, the man who seeks his own glorification will be crushed by that same renown.

Happy is the man who has found wisdom. Even more happy is the man who lives in wisdom, for he perceives its abundance. There are three ways for wisdom or prudence to abound in you: if you confess your sins, if you give thanks and praise, and if your speech is edifying. Man believes with his heart and so he is justified. He confesses with his lips and so he is saved. In the beginning of his speech the just man is his own accuser, next he gives glory to God, and thirdly, if his wisdom extends that far, he edifies his neighbor.

 

In this excerpt from a sermon on Proverbs by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (Sermo de diversis 15: PL 183, 577-579), wisdom is extolled as a hidden treasure and prudence as honey which delights the heart. Bernard himself came to be known as the “Mellifluous Doctor,” meaning the one from whose lips the wisdom of God flowed like honey. This selection is used in the Roman Catholic Office of Readings for Monday of the Sixth week in ordinary time.with the accompanying biblical reading being taken from Proverbs 3:1-20.

Tags:
Bernard of Clairvaux, St.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux is clearly one of the greatest preachers of all time. Born to a noble family near Dijon France in 1090 AD, St. Bernard was inspired by the example of a new religious congregation, the Cistercians, who had abandoned the relative ease and security of Benedictine monasticism of that day to live according to the primitive pattern of St. Benedict through hard manual labor, solitude, and rigorous prayer. When St. Bernard decided to abandon the privilege of noble life to enter the monastery, he brought over 30 noble relatives with him. Once professed, he was very soon made abbot and went on to found over 40 monasteries in his lifetime. St. Bernard’s magnetic preaching and exemplary character changed the lives of thousands and his writing continues today to inspire Christians everywhere. His words were so sweet that he came to be known as the Melifluous (“full of honey”) Doctor. St. Bernard died in 1153 and was later proclaimed a saint and a Doctor of the Church. His feast day in the Roman Calendar is August 20.