Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of Matthew (23: 1-12) in which Jesus calls out the hypocrisy of those who do not practice what they preach. After reading the Gospel Fr Paul shares a little about the life of St Bernard of Clairvaux, whose memorial we celebrate today.

Fr Paul says, Bernard was born near Dijon, in France, in 1090, into a noble family. In 1112 he joined the new monastery at Cîteaux. This had been founded fourteen years before, in a bid to reject the laxity and riches of the Benedictine Order and to return to a life of poverty and austerity.

Bernard arrived at Cîteaux with four of his five brothers and two dozen friends. Within three years he had been sent out to found a new monastery at Clairvaux, in Champagne, where he remained abbot for the rest of his life. By the time of his death, the Cistercian Order had grown from one house to 343, of which 68 were daughter houses of Clairvaux itself.

Bernard was a man of great holiness and wisdom, and although he was often in very poor health, he was active in many of the great public debates of the time. He strongly opposed the luxurious lives of some of the clergy and fought against the persecution of the Jews. He was also a prolific writer, of an inspiring, yet rather than a technical kind. He died in 1153.

Today, Fr Paul invites us to join him in praying, St Bernard…pray for us!