Tag Archives: St Aelred of Rievaulx

First Sunday of Advent

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx writes,

“Advent calls to mind the two comings of our Lord: the first coming of the ‘fairest of the sons of men’ and ‘the desire of all nations’, so long awaited and so fervently prayed for by all when the Son of God graciously revealed to the world his visible presence in the flesh, that is, when he came into the world to save sinners; the other that second coming to which we look forward no less than did the people of old. While we await his return our hope is sure and firm, yet we also frequently remind ourselves of the day when he who first came to us concealed in our flesh will come again revealed in the glory which belongs to him as Lord…How beautifully then at this season the Church provides that we should recite the words and recall the longing of those who lived before our Lord’s first advent!”

Apostles as earth’s pillars

St Peter & PaulYou can see from the three posts on this feast of Saints Peter and Paul that these blessed witnesses mean something to me, besides the obvious. One of the things to consider is to remember that we all need good formation in the Christian faith. How else to appreciate the roots of the faith but to know how the Church sees the pillars. Here is the Cistercian Father and Saint Aelred of Rielvaux’s (1110-1167), sermon (18; PL 195, 298), for the feast:

“upon this rock I will build my church” The earth moves with all its inhabitants, I even signed his columns” (Sl 75.4). All the Apostles are pillars of the Earth, but first the two whose feast we celebrate. They are the two columns which support the Church through his teaching, his prayer and example of their constancy. It was the Lord himself that strengthened these columns; because initially they were weak, unable to stand and support the other. And here pops up the grand plan of the Lord: they were always strong, one might think that his strength came from themselves. So before they build, the Lord wanted to show what they were capable of, to let everyone know that your strength comes from God. […] Pedro was released on Earth by a simple voice created […]; another column was also very weak: ‘ even though I have been a blasphemer, persecutor and insolent” (1 Tim 1.13). […]

That’s why we praise wholeheartedly these saints, our parents, who have suffered a lot for the Lord and who persevered with so much fortitude. It costs nothing to persevere in joy, happiness and peace; be great is to be stoned, scourged, flogged for Christ (2 Cor 11.25), and persevere with Christ. It’s great to be cursed and blessed as Paul, being chased and endure, be maligned and comfort, be like the garbage in the world and that take glory (1 Cor -13 4.12). […] And what about Peter? Even if he hadn’t endured anything for Christ, we would be happy to celebrate today, having been crucified for Him. […] He knew where he was the one whom she loved, one who wanted […]: its cross was your way to heaven.

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx: God is friendship


O God, who gave the blessed Abbot Aelred the grace of being all things to all men, grant that, following his example, we may so spend ourselves in the service of one another, as to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Saint Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167) (1110-1167), consider to be the “Saint Bernard of the North,” was abbot of Rievaulx in England from 1146 until his death. The author of Spiritual Friendship, Saint Aelred’s Pastoral Prayer is a profound meditation on the Rule of Saint Benedict which shaped his thinking and led him (and his disciples) to prefer nothing to the love of Christ.

So, with today’s liturgical memorial of Saint Aelred celebrated especially by Benedictines and Cistercians, the Church’s memory of the life and teaching of Saint Aelred of Rievaulx, ought to open for us a renewed interest in friendship with Christ and with one another, as well as a more sincere devotion to the Cross. It is the Cross that shapes the life of the Christian and more poignantly, that of the person professing monastic vows as a monk, nun or the oblate promise. In his well-known treatise, Spiritual Friendship, Saint Aelred has a well-known and bold teaching: “God is friendship.” This is clearly an understanding of Saint John’s theology, “God is love.” In any case, God is friendship is Saint Aelred’s personal experience of God’s intimacy with him.

If God is “friendship,” then implications are unbelievably beautiful. I will leave you to tease out the application to your life.

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Epiphany: The Light of Life

Epiphany.jpgThe star which leads us to Jesus is sacred Scripture. Behold our light has already come (Is 60:1), because for us and for our salvation God has become man. He was seen on earth and dwelt among us men and women, so that, by the might of his word and the example of his life he might enlighten those who are sitting in darkness and direct them into the way of peace (Lk 1:79).  It is no wonder that before the Lord’s coming, when they heard nothing of God, when they did not discern the light of Scripture, the pagans lay prostrate in their sins and in the darkness of their errors. But now lying prostrate in carnal desires and in the darkness of inequities is a matter for great agitation, for the true light that enlightens every one coming into this world (Jn 1:9), Christ Jesus, has now come. We cannot have further excuse for our sins, for Christ, who takes away the sins of the world and justifies, for the wicked, now speaks to us openly. Someone who follows me does not walk in darkness but will have the light of life (Jn 8:12).


Saint Aelred of Rievaulx

Sermon 4 for the Epiphany, 32-33

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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