Bernard – Set solidly on rock

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From the

Saint Bernard (1091-1153), Cistercian monk and doctor of the Church
Sermons on the Song of Songs, no.61 (©Cistercian publications)

Set solidly on rock

«My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the crannies of the wall, show me your face, let your voice sound in my ears.» One writer… sees in the clefts of the rock the wounds of Christ. And quite correctly, for Christ is the rock. Good the clefts that strengthen our faith in the resurrection and the divinity of Christ. The apostle exclaimed: «My Lord and my God» (Jn 20,28). What was the source of these inspired words if not the clefts of the rock? Within them the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; in them the dove finds safety and fearlessly watches the circling hawk. This is why he says: «My dove in the clefts of the rock.» And the dove replies: «He has set me high upon a rock;» and again: «He set my feet upon a rock» (Ps 27,5; 40,3).

The wise man builds his house upon a rock, because there he will fear the violence neither of storms nor of floods. Is on the rock not good? Set high on the rock, secure on the rock, I stand on the rock firmly. I am secure from the enemy, buttressed against a fall, all because I am raised up from the earth. For everything earthly is uncertain and perishable. Our homeland is in heaven, and we are not afraid of falling or being thrown down. The rock, with its durability and security, is in heaven. «The rock is a refuge for the hedgehog» (Ps 103,18). And really where is there safe sure rest for the weak except in the Saviour’s wounds? There the security of my dwelling depends on the greatness of his saving power. The world rages, the body oppresses, the devil lays his snares: I do not fall because I am founded on a rock. I have sinned gravely, my conscience is disturbed but not confounded, because I shall remember the wounds of the Lord. For «he was wounded for our transgressions» (Is 53,5). What sin is so deadly as not to be forgiven in the death of Christ?

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