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On Loving God (With Active Table of Contents)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist (1090 – August 20, 1153) was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian order.  After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian … see full wiki

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1 review about On Loving God (With Active Table of Contents)

Spiritual Masterpiece

  • Dec 24, 2011
St. Bernard of Clairvaux was a French abbot and a reformer of the Cistercian monastic order. He is also one of the most influential Catholic saints. Hir spiritual insights have garnered her such a strong reputation and the following that he was recognized as one of the "Doctors of the Church," a group of 33 holy men and women who have over the centuries made an important impact on Catholic spirituality and theology. The list includes some true intellectual giants, such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. The depth and the breadth of their works have probably not been surpassed by the thinkers in any field of human intellectual endeavor. On the other hand there are those Doctors of the Church who may not have written much, but their particular insights and visions have proved to be so important and influential that their contributions deservedly need to be held in the highest esteem. Even though he has not written as many works as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Bernard's writings are as inspirational, insightful and elegantly written as anything coming from those two giants. "On Loving God" is a perfect example of this great saint's insights, intellectual depth, and clear and sophisticated writing style.

Love is one of the central Christian theological virtues. In fact, it could be argued that the entire message of Christianity can be summed in one short phrase: God is Love (1 Jn 4:16). However, the kind of love that God is, and how it relates to our human love can sometimes be very hard to grasp. St. Bernard aims to answer these questions in a systematic way that relies on Scripture, Tradition, and philosophical insights. The most important questions that he tries to answer have to do with our love of God: what does it mean to love God, how can limited human beings love an infinite God, and why does God "need" our love. St Bernard provides some brilliant and inspiring insights, and while reading this book I found myself reaching for the highlighter innumerable times. A few of my favorite quotes are:

"It is plain, therefore, that dignity without wisdom is useless and that wisdom without virtue is accursed. But when one possesses virtue, then wisdom and dignity are not dangerous but blessed."

"In His Death He displayed His mercy, in His Resurrection His power; both combine to manifest His glory."

"So, all the more, one who loves God truly asks no other recompense than God Himself; for if he should demand anything else it would be the prize that he loved and not God."

For a book that is this short, "On Loving God" contains an inordinate amount of wisdom and insight that are as relevant today as they are when these words were first written down. This is one of those rare books that I keep going back to well after I've finished reading it. It has become one of my treasured spiritual books.

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