Father Anthony Skurla - reading the Gospel

St Bernard gives the reason by demonstrating the immutability of God who has neither past nor future and whose present IS  (the I AM which Moses heard); the only uncreated, interminable, immutable present that IS, is God. For us to  'contemplate God  without cessation, lacking nothing, with our will fixed on Him and  desiring nothing more"  means [for such a one] to be also fixed in "this eternal present". With this clarification we can agree with the saint that  "this vision is not for the present life but reserved for the next life". In his first Epistle  St John encourages us: " We know that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is".  Saint Bernard gives us hope in our present [imperfect] condition: "Even now He appears to whom He pleases, not as He is, but as He pleases" and this "pleasure" is according to our capacity.  What I like about St Bernard is that he finds us  where we are and brings the spiritual to us.  Bernard shows us a "height" and the "danger" of stretching too soon towards it. The Lord will find us and He will come to us as He pleases- which is always for our good. Bernard is always a  blessing and a lesson. In a later section (which we pass over) Bernard details why and how our approach to God should be gentle, respectful and humble.
The conclusion of Sermon 31 is both beautiful and very fitting for the Christmas season. Bernard writes:  "Faith is a shadowy blessing because it is a protection from light, from  truth that our weakness cannot handle in this life," much as sunglasses are for our eyes from a brightness they cannot handle without injury. He continues : "Our Lord's Mother herself lived in the shadow of faith, for she was told 'Blessed is she who believed'.  Even the body of Christ was a shadow for her as implied in the words 'the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow' … that overshadowed the Virgin since by means of His vivifying body she was able to bear His majestic presence, and endure the unapproachable light, a thing impossible to mortal woman. We therefore who walk in faith live in the shadow of Christ; we are fed with his flesh as the source of our life .For Christ's flesh is real food. And perhaps for that reason He is described here (in the Song of Songs 1:6) in the guise of a shepherd.
The full text is in CF  2, St Bernard of Clairvaux: Song of Songs.
 St. Bernard's  84 Sermons on the Song of Songs were  very popular in the Middle Ages, describing the encounter of the Word as Bridegroom with the Soul - according to Sacred Scripture... and the tradition of the Fathers.
Christ is born. Glorify Him!

Dear Friends,        

It is always a great joy to send greetings to you as we celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  From December 16th until and including Midnight Christmas Eve Liturgy, the "intention" for each Divine Liturgy, offered daily in our Chapel, will be for you.  May the immense love of God, given to us in Christ, swell your hearts and homes. To this, we Sisters add our humble daily prayers for  you and your intentions. Be assured of gratitude for your friendship and generous support of our way of life. May the New Year  bring you the blessing of  deep faith, peace of heart and in your home and good health.

Faithfully in the Christ Child,

Mother Marija  and  the Sisters

St Paul is very conscious that his vocation is "to preach of the obedience of faith" [ROMANS 1:5]. Our own experience  witnesses to the inter-relation of faith and obedience. For Mary of Nazareth, the visit of the Archangel Gabriel brought both into play.

Gabriel brought his incredible message to Mary. Once she heard the message, and understood God's  request, the ensuing "time"  was probably the most important interval in world history! A woman's assent was sought to allow the Incarnation of the Word of God. Certainly a momentous decision, and one to affect the fate of humanity - forever!  St Bernard, sensitive to what was at stake,  describes the reality of that moment when so much hung in the balance : The Eternal Word waiting upon the word of Mary of Nazareth, to begin the work of our redemption and restoration! Bernard addresses the Virgin Mary:
       - You have heard and believe in the message, namely that by the Holy Spirit you  will conceive and bear a son; so do not delay the return of Gabriel to heaven. He is waiting to depart - and we are waiting to hear your reply.
      -Your reply will be a word of mercy for all of us weighed down by the sentence of condemnation following original sin.
        -God is offering you the price of our salvation. If you assent we will be free!
       -Doleful Adam exiled from Paradise implores you.
       -David, Abraham and all the Patriarchs implore you.
      -The whole world is waiting, bowed down at your feet, and rightly so because on your answer  depends the comfort of the afflicted, the redemption of captives, deliverance of the damned, the salvation of the sons of Adam, your whole race.
       -If you will let him hear your voice you will see His salvation. He says: "O fair among women let me hear your voice".
Only say the word and receive the Word; give yours and receive God's Word…Blessed Virgin, open your heart to faith, your lips to consent and your womb to your Creator.
"Behold," she says, "I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word."
And the WORD was made Flesh and dwelt among us.

The above is a brief excerpt  from the Fourth Homily of St Bernard on the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archbishop William Skurla
Pope Benedict inaugurated a Year of Faith  on October 11th, a day or so after I found St Bernard's  Sermon 31st, "The Various Ways of Seeing God" and  I resolved to include it in our Christmas 2012 Myrrhbearing.  St. Bernard's polished style, very close doctrinal reasoning and incredible inclusion of Scripture  impresses all who read him.  Any "treatment" of his writings seems to tamper with the text, diminish its beauty, lessen its impact -  and hopefully  not distort his teaching.  With this in mind,  invoking  his help and blessing, I proceed cautiously!

Saint Bernard tells us that "the Word who is Bridegroom often makes himself known under more than one form to those who are fervent" and  "but He cannot be seen yet as He is."  Then the saint addresses why God " cannot be seen yet as He is".   Moses wanted to see God and the Lord's reply was "You cannot see Me and live."

Icon of Fathers of Nicea
In January we lost our much-loved Bishop William Skurla,  but rejoiced in April at his ceremony of Enthronement  as the Metropolitan Archeparch of Pittsburgh. It was an impressive and joyous ceremony on a flawless April day.

~  A holy Profession is a wonderful event and we had one on June 3rd that of Sister Mariangela of Jesus Crucified. Her family and friends were here to mark this most important  milestone in the life of Sister and our Community.

Sister Mariangela
~ On June 30th a double jubilee celebration  marking Sr Andreja Vladia's and Sr. Bohdana's 25th anniversary of  Profession   was a truly glorious occasion and remembered as one of our happiest celebrations in our 30 year history.  The Canadian families of both Sisters were present, with over  100 guests, which has now become a bright memory

Sister Andreja with her mom
Sister Bohdana with her mom
Monsignor Buyachok - Homilist
Fr. Leonard Martin - Concelebrant
~ In late September Father Jude Peters, OCD preached a memorable eight day novena to St. Therese.

~ On November 21st,  Feast of the  Presentation of  Mary in the Temple, our new member Sr. Maria Lily received our Habit, and began the  period of instruction before Solemn Vows in our community.

Father Jude Peters