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This text from Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 39:11 concluded the Hebrew Scripture reading for the Feast of Bernard of Clairvaux, celebrated today throughout Christendom.

If he lives long, he will leave a name greater than a thousand, and if he goes to rest, it is enough for him.

Bernard is in many ways one of the fathers of modern monasticism. Born to privilege he abandoned it all in order to spend his considerable gifts in the passionate pursuit of establishing truly Christian communities. Though few of us today in full-time pastoral ministry are setting out to establish monasteries we are engaged in very similar endeavor to that of Bernard.

Bernard’s passion (often at the expense of sleep and other frivolous activities) for building the Kingdom through the establishment of praying communities ought to be what the leader of every congregation would do well to imitate. Bernard sensed that the traditions of Jesus and The Way were threatened by an increasingly hostile or at least indifferent secular reality. If we’re honest with ourselves, we live in a similar age, asking for the same kind of compulsive, passionate and thorough proclamation by the Gospel by communities of praying, serving, studying and compassionate followers of Jesus.

We may, none of us, live long enough or cast as long a shadow as Bernard to remembered more than a thousand, but should we spend even a few days chasing as passionately¬† the life of discipleship for ourselves and those whom we pastor as did Brother Bernard—that will be enough.

Thanks be to God for Bernard.

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