Thursday, June 14, 2012

Blessed Gerard

Today we remember Blessed Gerard of Clairvaux, the favorite brother of Saint Bernard. A soldier when Bernard entered Cîteaux, Gerard joined him after being wounded at the siege of Grancy and imprisoned. Gerard later followed Bernard to Clairvaux where he became cellarer. He was Bernard's confidant and assistant. Saint Bernard was deeply grieved at Gerard's death and lamented his passing in these tender words: 
... a loyal companion has left me alone on the pathway of life: he who was so alert to my needs, so enterprising at work, so agreeable in his ways. Who was ever so necessary to me? Who ever loved me as he? My brother by blood, but bound to me more intimately by religious profession. Share my mourning with me, you who know these things. I was frail in body and he sustained me, faint of heart and he gave me courage, slothful and negligent and he spurred me on, forgetful and improvident and he gave me timely warning. Why has he been torn from me? Why snatched from my embraces, a man of one mind with me, a man according to my heart? We loved each other in life: how can it be that death separates us? And how bitter the separation that only death could bring about! While you lived when did you ever abandon me? It is totally death's doing, so terrible a parting. Who would dare refuse to spare so sweet a bond of mutual love -- who but death, that enemy of all that is sweet! Death indeed, so aptly named, whose rage has destroyed two lives in the spoliation of one. Surely this is death to me as well? Even more so to me, to whom continued life is more wretched than any form of death. I live, and I die in living: and shall I call this life? How much more kind, O cruel death, if you had deprived me of life itself rather than of its fruit! ...How much better for me then, O Gerard, if I had lost my life rather than your company, since through your tireless inspiration, your unfailing help and under your provident scrutiny I persevered with my studies of things divine. Why, I ask, have we loved, why have we lost each other? O cruel circumstance! But pity pertains to my lot only, not to his.  
from Sermon 26: On The Song of Songs