Prayers for the Seasons of the Year
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153)
Let your goodness, Lord, appear to us, that we, made in your image, may conform ourselves to it. In our own strength we cannot image your majesty, power and wonder; nor is it fitting for us to try. But your mercy reaches from the heavens, through the clouds, to the earth below. You have come to us as a small child, but you have brought us the greatest of all gifts, the gift of your eternal love. Caress us with your tiny hands, embrace us with your tiny arms, and pierce our hearts with your soft, sweet cries.
Let me hold fast to you, Lord, whom the angels themselves yearn to look upon. Wherever you go, I will follow you. If you pass through fire, I will not flinch; I fear no evil when you are with me. You carry my griefs, because you grieve for my sake. You passed through the narrow doorway from death to life, to make it wide enough for all to follow. Nothing can ever now separate me from your love.
You taught us, Lord, that the greatest love a man can show is to lay down his life for his friends. But your love was greater still, because you laid down your life for your enemies. It was while we were still enemies that you reconciled us to yourself by your death. What other love has ever been, or could be, like yours? You suffered unjustly for the sake of the unjust. You died at the hands of sinners for the sake of the sinful. You became a slave to tyrants, to set the oppressed free.
Lord, you have passed over into new life, and you now invite us to pass over also. In these past days we have grieved at your suffering and mourned at your death. We have given ourselves over to repentance and prayer, to abstinence and gravity. Now at Easter you tell us that we have died to sin. Yet, if this be true, how can we remain on earth? How can we pass over to your risen life, while we are still in this world? Will we not be just as meddlesome, just as lazy, just as selfish as before? Will we not still be bad-tempered and stubborn, enmeshed in all the vices of the past. We pray that as we pass over to you, our faces will never look back. Instead, let us, like you, make heaven on earth.
To complete your seamless robe, and so to complete our faith, you ascended through the air into the heavens, before the very eyes of the apostles. In this way you showed that you are the Lord of all, and are the fulfillment of all creation. Thus from that moment every human and every living creature should bow at your name. And, in the eyes of faith, we can see that all creation proclaims your greatness.
A Prayer at Christmas
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight in Bethlehem, in piercing cold! In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ and of His blessed Mother. Amen.