By Fr. BERNARD BASSET, S.J.
THE spiritual life and ideals of a I whole century is often expressed in the life of one saint. Certain saints have an added importance because of their extraordinary power to fashion the spirit of an age. Thus St. Francis of Assisi affected all the art, the devotions, the religious life of the later middle ages, and St. Ignatius of Loyola coloured so much of the holiness of the century following his own. Neither of these two great saints had greater influence on the Church of their day than did St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the eighth centenary of whose death was kept last Thursday.
A leader of men
-coR so many today, St. Bernard is remembered as a saint who had a great devotion to Our Blessed Lady and as the author of certain famous prayers and hymns. It is forgotten that he was a born leader of men. As a young man he led his father and his brothers to the religious life. Later he was to attract hundreds in every part of Europe and to lead men to adopt one of the severest rules ever known. He became one of the greatest of the schoolmen, the spiritual director of Popes and the power behind the Crusades.
IHE miracle of his life is that so much activity never seems to have dissipated his recollection or removed him from a life of ceaseless prayer. Part founder of the Cistercian Order, he remained a contemplative all his life. His astonishing influence over others derived less from worldly gifts than from his spirit of prayer. In this he remains a model to us all. The marked increase in the spirit of prayer, the attraction tower& the monastic life and to the contemplative vocation would be a form of Catholic Action dear to his heart. Some people used to speak as though conternplatives "did nothing." but St. Bernard gives the lie to this narrow feverish view.
FEW would deny that the monastic ideal is growing increasingly popular in England and that abbeys like Buckfast and Prinknash arc achieving wonders for the Faith. It was a joy to pay a visit to Farnborough Abbey for Vespers on the feast of the Assumption and to see the size of the congregation on a warm Saturday afternoon. Farnborough is within easy reach of London and worthy of a visit. One visit would lead to another and quickly to a habit, for the singing and ceremonies are powerful enticements and the whole setting is one of peace and prayer. When I arrived, there was a most liturgical dog, sleeping peacefully at the bottom of the aisle. Believe it rir not, the dog opened one eye, raised its head and bowed slightly when the thurifer incensed the congregation at the end of the Magnificat.
Aucti more of Christmas later 1V1 when the present summer sunshine is over, but here is an advance announcement which may be of help to some. To solve the statue problem, Mr. A. H. Todd, who draws those excellent illustrations for Our Lady's Catechists and their productions, has perfected a large composition crib. The figures, nine of them, will not be damaged if placed out of doors. The complete crib, 4 ft. by 3 ft., coloured and with lighting, costs £35. Mr, Todd is also working on smaller cribs for outdoor use which may cost £2. He hopes also to otter individual figures large and small. The trouble as always is the shortness of time. Many orders. arriving together in October and November, would impose an impossible strain on a one-man firm. Make all enquiries to A. H. Todd. Esq., Cumberworth, Cranston Road, East Grinstead, Sussex.
T CAME across a very ancient joke 1.which may be new to some; it was of the Scotsman who died and appeared before St. Peter. "Where do you come from?" asked the saint. "Scotland," answered the man. "You cannot come in here," replied the Apostle brusquely, "we cannot be making porridge for one."