Saint Bernard, the great Cistercian Abbot, gave a Chapter talk to his monks during Lent. In it he admonished them:


St Bernard detail.JPG“Observe carefully what you love, what you fear, what makes you rejoice, what causes you to be sad. See whether under your religious habit you have a worldly soul, and whether, hidden by the cloth of conversion, your heart is perverse. The whole of the heart is in these four affections and in these four is comprised, as I see it, all that is involved when you turn to God with your whole heart” (Sermo 2.3 in Quadragesima PL 183: 172D).


It is interesting the way Saint Bernard speaks of the heart. Our own Holy Father, Saint Benedict began his Rule for Monasteries by teaching us to listen with the ear of our heart. Listen to the love, fear, rejoicing, and sadness that lie in our heart.  The life of the monk allows us to take seriously the heart, and to raise the heart in our prayer. Saint John Damascene put it this way in commenting upon the Transfiguration, an event the Church celebrates this coming Sunday, the Second Sunday of Lent:


“Why did he lead his disciples up the mountain? Scripture in its moral sense refers to the virtues as mountains. The apex of all the virtues and, as it were, their citadel is charity…. Accordingly, it is fitting that we leave behind all worldly concerns of the earth and pass beyond the body of lowliness as we ascend to the highest and divine eminence. There we may behold at last those things that transcend every other view”(Homilia in Transfigurationem Domini, 10 PG 96: 561-2).