19 May 2008

Great words for trying times

From Bernard of Clairvaux:
Lord, it is good for me to be in distress, provided that you are there with me; that is much better for me than to reign without you, rejoice without you, or be glorified without you. It is far better for me to cleave to you in distress, to have you with me in the crucible than to be without you in heaven. For what have I in heaven, and from you what have I wished upon earth? "Gold is tried in fire and the just in the trials of distress." It is there, among those who are gathered in your name that you are present, as once you were with the three young men [Daniel 3].

Why should we be afraid and make every effort to flee from the crucible? The fire burns, but the Lord is with us in distress. "If God is for us, who can be against us?" If it is also he who saves, who can charm us out of his hand? Who could snatch us from his hand? Finally, if it is God who glorifies, who can deprive us of glory and humiliate us?

"With length of days will I gratify you." answers the Lord. this says clearly: I know what you desire, what you thirst for, and what you crave. You do not crave gold or silver, sensual pleasures, curiosities, or dignities of any kind. All of these are of no help to you; there is no cure except for you to humble yourself in the depths of your heart and refuse to give your attention to what cannot satisfy you. You are not unaware in whose image you have been created and of what greatness you are capable; you do not want a meager profit to be for you the occasion of an immense frustration. Hence, "with length of days will I gratify you," for only the true Light can restore you, only the eternal Light can satisfy you--that Light whose length knows no end, whose brightness knows no dimming, and whose fullness knows no completion. (Commentary on Psalm 91, sermon 17, 4-6: PL 183, 252-253; cited in J. Robert Wright, Readings for the Daily Office from the Early Church, p. 243)

No comments: