I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mother of the Bride: St Bernard on Church and Synagogue


A few years ago in an interview for the Association of Hebrew Catholics, Father Donald Arsenault told me about St Bernard of Clairvaux's view of Judaism.


Q. In that same line, St. Bernard says that the Church is the daughter of the synagogue, and that the Church wishes with all her soul to bring her mother into the chamber where she was conceived and wants to give to her mother the bridegroom.

A. I like that because the way many people think, they want to make the mother wear a mini-skirt and hot boots and dress like the daughter. They don’t actually want her to come as a mother with all her dignity and richness. They want her to come stripped and enter the Church. I want to see her come into the Church, Judaism coming into the Church, as a mother. We don’t need her to come in as a daughter, like two sisters. If she comes in as mother, she has her role, her dignity, in the body of Christ.

Q. I believe that St. Bernard keeps saying that the mother and the Church form the bride for the bridegroom … Who is seen as the bridegroom in Israel?

A. God.

Q. In the Church there is no divorce. So there can’t be any divorce between God and Israel when the Church comes into being …

A. Israel is the bride of God but then enters into the Church which is the universal bride. They live together.

Today I found the reference in St Bernards Sermon 79:


"...`I have hold of him and will not let him go until I bring him to my mother's house, into the bedchamber of her who bore me.' Great is the charity of the Church, who does not grudge her delights even to her rival, the Synagogue. What could be kinder than to be willing to share with her enemy him whom her soul loves? But it is not surprising, because `salvation is from the Jews.’ The Saviour returned to the place from which he had come, so that the remnant of Israel might be saved. Let not the branches be ungrateful to the root, nor sons to their mother; let not the branches grudge the roots the sap they took from it, nor the sons grudge their mother the milk they sucked from her breast. Let the Church hold fast the salvation which the Jews lost; she holds it until the fulness of the Gentiles comes, and so all Israel may be saved. Let her wish that the universal salvation come to all, for it can be possessed by everyone without anyone having less. This she does, and more, for she desires for the Jews the name and grace of a Bride. This is more than salvation.

This charity would be unbelievable, but that the words of the Bride herself compel belief. For you will observe that she said she wished to bring him whom she held not only to her mother's house but into her bedchamber, which is a mark of singular privilege. For him to enter the house would be enough for salvation; but the privacy of her bedchamber betokens grace, `This day has salvation come to this house,’ said our Lord. Salvation must necessarily come to a house once the Savior has entered it. But she who is found worthy to receive him in the bedchamber has a secret for herself alone. Salvation is for the house; the bridal chamber has its own secret delights. `I will bring him to my mother's house,’ she says. What house is this, unless it is the one foreshadowed to the Jews. `Behold, your house shall be left for you desolate.' He has done what he said, and you have his words in the writings of the prophet: `I have left my house and my inheritance,' and now she promises to bring him back and restore its lost salvation to her mother's house. And if this is not enough, hear the promise of good things which she adds: `and into the bedchamber of her who bore me.' He who enters the bridal chamber is the bridegroom. How great is the power of love! The Saviour had left his house and his inheritance in anger; now he has relented and inclined towards her in love, and thus returns not only as Saviour but as Bridegroom. You are blessed by the Lord, O daughter, for you have softened his anger and restored the inheritance! You are blessed by your mother, for it is through your blessing that his anger is turned away and salvation restored with him who says `I am your salvation.’ Nor is this enough. He goes on to say, `I will betrothe you to myself in justice and righteousness; I will betrothe you to myself in mercy and pity.' But remember that it is the Bride who has brought about this reconciliation. How can she give up her Bridegroom to another, and choose to do it willingly? But it is not so. She is a good daughter, and desires to share him with her mother, not to give him up. The one is enough for both, for they are one in him. He is our peace, he who made both one, that there might be one Bride and one Bridegroom, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is God above all, blessed for ever. Amen"
St Bernard's understanding owes much to his mystical Marian devotional reading and contemplation of Scripture. He also was a defender of the Jews of his time.

Also Brian Patrick McGuire discusses this in his book "A Companion to Bernard of Clairvaux".

There is a new discussion group on facebook called Messianic Jewish Catholics.