St. Bernard - On the
pilgrim, The Dead Man, and The Man That is Crucified
St. Bernard deals in this sermon with the different degrees of perfection a Catholic can achieve during the lenten season. The first degree of perfection is to become as a pilgrim, because the pilgrim "does not desire to be burdened with superfluities" which means worldly affairs. The pilgrim longs for the homeland which his steps are directed to and the christians homeland is heaven which means that just as the pilgrims firm purpose is to reach his true homeland, so must the christians disposition also be never to delight in what may delay or hinder him from advancing to this ultmate goal. However good the pilgrims state is, the christian should strive even harder and become as "a dead man". The dead man does not have any concerns for superfluities, and likewise the christian should become dead to himself and instead be alive in Him who alone is worthy of our aspirations. The one thus disposed "..shall feel pleasure on beholding everything that is done for His honour, and pain at whatever [he] see[s] opposed to the interests of His glory." An even higher degree of virtue than the "dead mans" is that of the "crucified man", and therefore everyone should strive after to be cruficied to the world. This means that "the things the world reputes a cross, to them I attach myself, to them I cling, them I embrace with all the affection of my heart". The delights of this world and of the flesh then becomes a cross for the Christian because they are not true delights which are not disposed towards God. In whatever the world delights in that same thing the christian suffers and becomes therefore in a more perfect and sublime way attached to God. The christian should consider which of these three types he himself is and always strive to make progress and go forward. However the christians whatever of these types they represent are called for the annual combat against the devil. During this period of the year not only Our Lord's "regular soldiers" are ready to fight, but so to speak "the whole power of the empire is gathered together into one general army". Let's us therefore appriciate this calling and fight against the devil with a zeal that makes saints. St. Bernard explaims: "Happy you, who have been accounted worthy to belong to those domestic troops.." But let us not be satisfied in beeing called, unless we fall. Because "many are called, but few are choosen". But let us rather prove ourselves worthy of the calling by humbling our enemies under the cross of Christ.