Paths of Love: The Discernment of Vocation

Texts of St. Bernard cited in the book

Here you will find the text of St. Bernard of Clairveaux cited or mentioned in the book Paths of Love.

  • Commentary on the Song of Songs: The greatness of a soul is its love

    • "And I shall dwell in them, and move about in them" (2 Cor 6:16).
    • O how great breadth does that soul possess, and how great prerogatives of merits, which is found worthy to receive the divine presence into itself, and sufficient to hold it! What is she, for whom spacious galleries are at hand, for the work of majesty? She is not entangled in legal cases or secular cares, nor given over to her belly and luxury; not curious for sights, neither desiring power, nor puffed up with it. Indeed the soul must be empty of all these things, in order for it to become a heaven, and the dwelling place of God. How else could it go aside, and say that he is God? But also hate and envy and rancor must not be indulged at all, for wisdom shall not enter into a malevolent soul (Wis 1:4). Next it must grow and expand, so as to be capable of God. Again, its breadth is its love, as the Apostle says, "Widen yourselves in love" (2 Cor 6:13). For even if the soul in no way receives bodily quantity, since it is a spirit, grace confers upon it what nature has denied it. It indeed grows and extends, but spiritually; it grows not in substance, but in virtue; it grows also in glory, and unto a holy temple in the Lord; finally it grows and progress unto the perfect man, to the measure of the age of  the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:13). Therefore the greatness of each soul is judged by the measure of love that it has, so that, for instance, he who has great love is great, he who has little love is little, while he who has no love at all is nothing, as St. Paul says: ‘If I have not love, I am nothing. (1 Cor 13:3). But if it has begun ever so little, at least loving itself, it take care to love and to salute at least its brethren, and those who salute it; then I  say that this soul, which retains at least social love by way of given and received, is indeed not nothing. Yet according to the word of the Lord, what further does it do? (Mat 5:47) Not spacious, then, not great, but narrow and small do I reckon the soul that I see to be of so little love. (Emphasis added)

Read the whole work by St. Bernard of Clairveaux, On the Love of God (or the Latin text De Diligendo Deo)

Read St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs

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