OREMUS: 20 August 2005

Steve Benner steve.benner at oremus.org
Fri Aug 19 20:20:50 GMT 2005

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OREMUS for Saturday, August 20, 2005 
Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Teacher of the Faith, 1153

O Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth shall proclaim your praise.

Blessed are you, O God,
on whom our faith rests secure
and whose kingdom we await.
You sustain us by Word and Sacrament
and keep us alert for the coming of the Son of Man,
that we may welcome him without delay.
For these and all your mercies, we praise you:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
Blessed be God for ever.

An opening canticle may be sung. 


Psalm 95

Come, let us sing to the Lord;*
 let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving*
 and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,*
 and a great king above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,*
 and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it,*
 and his hands have moulded the dry land.
Come, let us bow down and bend the knee,*
 and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture
   and the sheep of his hand.*
 O that today you would hearken to his voice!
'Harden not your hearts,
   as your forebears did in the wilderness,*
 at Meribah, and on that day at Massah,
   when they tempted me.
'They put me to the test,*
 though they had seen my works.
'Forty years long I detested that generation and said,*
 "This people are wayward in their hearts;
 they do not know my ways."
'So I swore in my wrath,*
 "They shall not enter into my rest."'

A Song of the Blessed (Matthew 5:3-10)
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger
and thirst after righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.

Blessed are those who suffer persecution
for righteousness' sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 149

   Sing to the Lord a new song;*
 sing his praise in the congregation of the faithful.
Let Israel rejoice in his maker;*
 let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.
Let them praise his name in the dance;*
 let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people*
 and adorns the poor with victory.
Let the faithful rejoice in triumph;*
 let them be joyful on their beds.
Let the praises of God be in their throat*
 and a two-edged sword in their hand;
To wreak vengeance on the nations*
 and punishment on the peoples;
To bind their kings in chains*
 and their nobles with links of iron;
To inflict on them the judgement decreed;*
 this is glory for all his faithful people.

READING [2 Kings 6:8-23]:

Once when the king of Aram was at war with Israel, he
took counsel with his officers. He said, 'At such and
such a place shall be my camp.' But the man of God sent
word to the king of Israel, 'Take care not to pass this
place, because the Arameans are going down there.' The
king of Israel sent word to the place of which the man of
God spoke. More than once or twice he warned such a place
so that it was on the alert.
The mind of the king of Aram was greatly perturbed
because of this; he called his officers and said to them,
'Now tell me who among us sides with the king of Israel?'
Then one of his officers said, 'No one, my lord king. It
is Elisha, the prophet in Israel, who tells the king of
Israel the words that you speak in your bedchamber.' He
said, 'Go and find where he is; I will send and seize
him.' He was told, 'He is in Dothan.' So he sent horses
and chariots there and a great army; they came by night,
and surrounded the city.
When an attendant of the man of God rose early in the
morning and went out, an army with horses and chariots
was all around the city. His servant said, 'Alas, master!
What shall we do?' He replied, 'Do not be afraid, for
there are more with us than there are with them.' Then
Elisha prayed: 'O LORD, please open his eyes that he may
see.' So the LORD opened the eyes of the servant, and he
saw; the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire
all around Elisha. When the Arameans came down against
him, Elisha prayed to the LORD, and said, 'Strike this
people, please, with blindness.' So he struck them with
blindness as Elisha had asked. Elisha said to them, 'This
is not the way, and this is not the city; follow me, and
I will bring you to the man whom you seek.' And he led
them to Samaria.
As soon as they entered Samaria, Elisha said, 'O LORD,
open the eyes of these men so that they may see.' The
LORD opened their eyes, and they saw that they were
inside Samaria. When the king of Israel saw them he said
to Elisha, 'Father, shall I kill them? Shall I kill
them?' He answered, 'No! Did you capture with your sword
and your bow those whom you want to kill? Set food and
water before them so that they may eat and drink; and let
them go to their master.' So he prepared for them a great
feast; after they ate and drank, he sent them on their
way, and they went to their master. And the Arameans no
longer came raiding into the land of Israel. 

For another Biblical reading,
Acts 17:15-39

Words: Edward Henry Bickersteth, 1875
Tune: Pax Tecum, Song 46  
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Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin?
The blood of Jesus whispers peace within.

Peace, perfect peace, by thronging duties pressed?
To do the will of Jesus, this is rest.

Peace, perfect peace, with sorrows surging round?
On Jesus' bosom naught but calm is found.

Peace, perfect peace, with loved ones far away?
In Jesus' keeping we are safe, and they.

Peace, perfect peace, our future all unknown?
Jesus we know, and he is on the throne.

Peace, perfect peace, death shadowing us and ours?
Jesus has vanquished death and all its powers.

It is enough: earth's struggles soon shall cease,
and Jesus call us to heaven's perfect peace.

The Benedictus (Morning), the 
Magnificat (Evening), or 
Nunc dimittis (Night) may follow.

God of all time,
we bless you for the gift of this day
and for our hope in Christ Jesus.
In the midst of all that demands our attention,
free us to love you with all our hearts
and to love the world with your mercy and justice.

Let our love be genuine:
Kyrie eleison

Let our affections be tempered with holiness:
Kyrie eleison

Let our desires be shaped by the vision
of a new heaven and a new earth:
Kyrie eleison

Let our actions reflect the balance of love
for your reign in all things:
Kyrie eleison

Let our perceptions and feelings be ordered
by the hope we have in Christ:
Kyrie eleison

We remember your Church, especially the Diocese of
Ripon and Leeds, England, The Rt Revd John Richard Packer, Bishop.
Kyrie eleison

Creator of all,
we give you thanks for a world full of wonder,
but above all because you have called us
into a holy fellowship with you and with each other. 
Guide us in the ways of your new creation,
rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Merciful Redeemer, 
who, by the life and preaching of your servant Bernard, 
rekindled the radiant light of your Church: 
grant us, in our generation, 
to be inflamed with the same spirit of discipline and love, 
and ever walk before you as children of light; 
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gathering our prayers and praises into one,
let us pray as our Savior has taught us.

- The Lord's Prayer

Draw us nearer to Jesus,
that, following his way of sacrificial love,
we may come to the banquet of eternal life.  Amen.

The psalms and the invitation to the Lord's Prayer are from _Celebrating
Common Prayer_ (Mowbray), (c) The Society of Saint Francis
1992, which is used with permission.

The canticle is from _Common Worship: Daily Prayer, Preliminary
Edition_, copyright (c) The Archbishops' Council, 2002.

The biblical passage is from The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized
Edition), copyright (c) 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education
of  the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by
permission. All rights reserved.

The opening prayer of thanksgiving and the closing prayer use sentences from 
prayers in _Opening Prayers: Collects in Contemporary Language_.
Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1999.

The intercession is reprinted from _THE DAILY OFFICE: A Book of
Hours of Daily Prayer after the Use of the Order of Saint Luke_, (c)
1997 by The Order of Saint Luke. Used by permission.

The first collect is from _Daily Prayer_, copyright (c) The
Scottish Episcopal Church, 1998. Used with permission. 

Bernard, third son of a Burgundian nobleman, was born in 1090. His brothers
were trained as soldiers, but Bernard from youth was destined for scholarship.
One Christmas Eve as a child he had a dream about the infant Christ in the
manger; and the memory of it, and consequent devotion to the mystery of the
Word made flesh, remained with him throughout his life.
Bernard had good prospects of success as a secular scholar, but he began to
believe that he was called to the monastic life, and after a period of prayer for
guidance, he decided at age 22 to enter the monastery of Citeaux, an offshoot
of the Benedictines which had adopted a much stricter rule than theirs, and
became the founding house of the Cistercian order. He persuaded four of his
brothers, one uncle, and 26 other men to join him. They were the first novices
that Citeaux had had for several years. After three years, the abbot ordered
Bernard to take twelve monks and found a new house at La Ferte. The first
year was one of great hardship. They had no stores and lived chiefly on roots
and barley bread. Bernard imposed such severe discipline that his monks
became discouraged, but he realized his error and became more lenient. The
reputation of the monastery, known as Clairvaux, spread across Europe. Many
new monks joined it, and many persons wrote letters or came in person to seek
spiritual advice. By the time of his death, 60 new monasteries of the Cistercian
order were established under his direction.
For four years after 1130 Bernard was deeply involved with a disputed papal
election, championing the claims of Innocent II against his rival Anacletus II.
He travelled throughout France, Germany, and Italy mustering support for his
candidate (and, it should be added, preaching sermons denouncing injustices
done to Jews), and returned from one of these journeys with Peter Bernard of
Paganelli as a postulant for the monastery. The future Pope Eugenius III spent
the next year stoking the monastery fires. Years later, Bernard wrote a major
treatise of advice to Eugenius on the spiritual temptations of spiritual power.

The papal election was not the only dispute in which Bernard became involved.
He was highly critical of Peter Abelard, one of the most brilliant theologians of
the day. Bernard believed that Abelard was too rationalistic in his approach,
and failed to allow sufficiently for the element of mystery in the faith. When
Abelard rejected some of the ways of stating Christian doctrines to which
Bernard was accustomed, Bernard concluded, perhaps too hastily, that this was
equivalent to rejecting the doctrine itself. A conference was scheduled at Sens,
where Abelard's views were to be examined, but soon after it began Abelard
decided that he was not about to get a fair hearing, announced that he was
appealing to Rome, and left. He set out for Rome and got as far as Cluny,
where he stopped. Peter the Venerable, the abbot, was a friend of both Abelard
and Bernard, and managed to reconcile them before they died.
One of Bernard's most influential acts, for better or worse, was his preaching
of the Second Crusade. The First Crusade had given the Christian forces
control of a few areas in Palestine, including the city of Edessa. When Moslem
forces captured Edessa (now called Urfa and located in eastern Turkey) in
1144, King Louis VII of France (not to be confused with St. Louis IX, also a
Crusader, but more than a century later) was eager to launch a crusade to
retake Edessa and prevent a Moslem recapture of Jerusalem. He asked Bernard
for help, and Bernard refused. He then asked the Pope to order Bernard to
preach a Crusade. The pope gave the order, and Bernard preached, with
spectacular results. Whole villages were emptied of able-bodied males as
Bernard preached and his listeners vowed on the spot to head for Palestine and
defend the Sacred Shrines with their lives.
As for the Crusade, things went wrong from the start. The various rulers
leading the movement were distrustful of one another and not disposed to
work together. Of the soldiers who set out (contemporary estimates vary from
100,000 to 1,500,000), most died of disease and starvation before reaching
their goal, and most of the remainder were killed or captured soon after their
arrival. The impact on Bernard was devastating, and so was the impact on
In 1153, Bernard journeyed to reconcile the warring provinces Metz and
Lorraine. He persuaded them to peace and to an agreement drawn up under his
mediation, and then, in failing health, returned home to die.
If Bernard in controversy was fierce and not always fair, it partly because he
was a man of intense feeling and dedication, quick to respond to any real or
supposed threat to what he held sacred. It is his devotional writings, not his
polemical ones, that are still read today. Among the hymns attributed to him
are the Latin originals of "O Sacred Head, sore wounded," "Jesus, the very
thought of Thee," "O Jesus, joy of loving hearts," "Wide open are Thy hands
(to pay with more than gold the awful debt of guilt and sin, forever and of
old--see the Lutheran Book of Worship et alibi)," and "O Jesus, King most
wonderful." His sermons on the Song of Songs, treated as an allegory of the
love of Christ, are his best-known long work. [James Kiefer, abridged]

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