“The measure of love is love without measure.”
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernard was a Cistercian monk considered to be a mystic as well as the last of the Fathers of the Church. St. Bernard took the vows of poverty and chastity, and lived keeping “all things common” in the abbey with his brothers. He is a Doctor of the Church, known as the doctor mellifluus, or the honey-sweet doctor, because he spoke and wrote with incredible eloquence and far-reaching influence. The Virgin Mother filled his heart, and he worked with zeal for the good and furthering of our mother, the Church.
One of St Bernard’s continual directives concerns the exhortation to love God without distraction. This requires detachment from worldly desires, replaced, instead, by generous love of God and neighbor. According to Bernard, love is the spiritual route disciples of Christ are called to follow.
“What we love . . . we shall grow to resemble.”
The Gospel reading for today (Mt 19:23-30) describes the importance of the type of love St. Bernard encouraged. All must be God’s, and all must be done for the sake of loving God, that our lives may be ordered according to the riches of abundance that is truly glorious and fulfilling in this life and the next.
We cannot truly know our purpose and experience fulfillment in our motherhood if our hearts are divided. A divided heart is given to displacing God with “false joys.” As mothers we must ask ourselves: do we escape into doing? Into having? Into working? Into performance outcomes for ourselves or for our children? We experience so much spiritual, stagnant sadness in this life because we are given to chasing and looking for escape in every direction except in the very place we will find ultimate peace and purpose—in the loving heart of God. St. Bernard said, “There is no greater misery than false joys.” We must cultivate a healthy detachment from our possessions, our desires, and even our ambitions, in order that they may fall in line and we might love God above all else. And in loving God, we must even find joy in loving the poverty we encounter in our relationships. Most often we have only to look right in our own household to practice acts of generosity and detachment as the spiritual medicine we need to keep our hearts unified in holy purpose.