“Sermons on the Song of Songs (36:3)” in Lane, Tony, “A 12th Century Man for All Seasons The Life and Thought of Bernard of Clairvaux,”

Bernard of Clairvaux

Christian History Institute

p. 1

“There are some who long to know for the sole purpose of knowing, and that is shameful curiosity; others who long to know in order to become known, and that is shameful vanity . . . There are others still who long for knowledge in order to sell its fruits for money or honors, and this is shameful profiteering; others again who long to know in order to be of service, and this is charity. Finally there are those who long to know in order to benefit themselves, and this is prudence.”


p. 2

“Humility is a virtue by which a man has a low opinion of himself because he knows himself well . . . Just as pure truth is seen only by the pure of heart, so also a brother’s miseries are truly experienced only by one who has misery in his own heart. You will never have real mercy for the failings of another until you know and realize that you have the same failings in your soul. When a man has been bragging that he is better than others he would feel ashamed of himself if he did not live up to his boast and show how much better than others he is . . . He does not so much want to be better as to be seen to be better. He is not so much concerned about leading a better life as appearing to others to do so . . . When a man thinks he is better than others will he not put himself before others? He must have the first place in gatherings, be the first to speak in council. He comes without being called. He interferes without being asked. He must rearrange everything, redo whatever has been done. What he himself did not do or arrange is not rightly done or properly arranged.”