|Your Teachers Were Wrong: the Crusades Where Good.
The Memorial of Saint Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church.
Lessons from the secondary feria, according to the ordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ezekiel 43: 1-7.
• Psalm 85: 9-14.
• Matthew 23: 1-12.
…or, from the proper:
• Sirach 15: 1-6.
• Psalm 119: 9-14.
• John 17: 20-26.
…or, any lessons from the common of Doctors of the Church, or the common of Holy Men & Women for Religious.
The Third Class Feast of Saint Bernard, Abbot & Doctor of the Church.
First lesson from the proper, the rest from the common "In médio…" of a Doctor, according to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite:
• Ecclesiasticus 39: 6-14.
• Psalm 36: 30-31.
• Matthew 5: 13-19.
The Thirteenth Saturday after Pentecost; a Postfestive Day of the Dormition; the Feast of the Holy Prophet Samuel; and, the Feast of the Holy King Stephen of Hungary.*
Lessons from the pentecostarion, according to the Ruthenian recension of the Byzantine Rite:
• I Corinthians 4: 1-5.
• Matthew 23: 1-12.
8:09 AM 8/20/2016 — We celebrate today the Memorial of the Holy Abbot and Doctor of the Church, Bernard of Clairvaux, the celebration of which is paradoxical. We have his relic displayed in the Holy House Chapel. The brief biography of him in the Roman Missal, as well as the extended one in the Roman Breviary, wax eloquent about his many treatises on theology, his love for the Mother of God, his fight against heresy and in defense of the unity of Holy Mother Church, his personal holiness; but, try as you might, you can't find a single reference to what is one of the most significant events in his life: the preaching of the Second Crusade. When I was a young priest on pilgrimage in France, I stood in the shadow of the Abbey of Citeaux, on top of the hill from which Saint Bernard blessed a thousand young men of noble birth, sending them forth to drive the Muslims from the Holy Land. I won’t bore you with my theory of why the Crusades were good, and how everything you were taught about them was wrong; suffice it to say Bernard is a saint not in spite of the fact that he promoted the Crusades, but because he did, and current events should be enough to convince you of that.
Now, I'm a faithful priest, and if Holy Mother Church decides that it's prudent to ignore certain aspects of a saint's life because they're politically incorrect, that's her business; but no one is permitted to ignore any part of the Holy Gospel, as we saw when we looked yesterday at our Lord responding to the Sadducees regarding the Two Great Commandments. It all fits in with today’s Gospel lesson from Matthew, which contains our Lord’s own rant against hypocrisy and “know-it-all-ism.” It's important to note—and we've mentioned this before—that our Lord doesn't challenge the authority of the Scribes and Pharisees; quite the contrary, they sit “on the chair of Moses,” says our Lord, and charges His followers to “observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example” (23: 2-3 NABRE).
That's an important distinction for all of us. How often do we find ourselves griping and moaning about the Pope, about the Bishop, about our parish priest, or even the Shrine Chaplain;—what a warm and fuzzy individual he is—but, we always, thank God, manage to stop ourselves because we know that we're all in the same boat. We're all human, and each one of us can only perform according to his or her gifts. And this is self-evident in every aspect of life, not just religion. We get annoyed with our spouses, we get annoyed with our kids, we get annoyed with our parents, but that doesn't mean we don't love them. It means we're all different; and, thank God for that, otherwise this world would be a very boring place. Think back, if you can, to the maxim I gave you from the Rule of Saint Bruno on Ash Wednesday: we've got enough of a job purifying our own souls; we don't need to be policing everybody else's.
* The Ruthenian Catholic Church is unique among the Eastern Churches in that it is not organized around nationalistic or cultural identities, as are all other Eastern Churches. Although a Roman Catholic, the patron saint of Hungary is commemorated in the Ruthenian Church because a significant number of Ruthenian Catholics are in or from that country. The Ruthenian Church boasts a number of Hungarian national parishes, and Hungarian serves as a liturgical language in many of them.