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transmission of ideas
Philippe Quantin, Saint Bernard écrivant
première moitié du XVIIe siècle
Dijon, musée des Beaux-arts
inv. CA443 - Photo : F. Jay
When the young Bernard of Fontaine entered Cîteaux in 1113, with thirty companions, reform again took wing. By his gifts as a teacher and a man of letters, he who would become Bernard of Clairvaux sparked a school of spirituality: a number of authors who gleaned from the heritage of the Fathers of the Church and forged a language of a noteworthy sensibility which gave voice to their spiritual experience. We recognize these authors as “our fathers” in the Cistercian life.
Four great themes particularly caught their attention:
• the Incarnation, and thus a living relationship with the Lord Jesus, as both man and God
• man created to the image and likeness of God, called to co-operate with grace without fearing a certain ascesis
• the special place of the Virgin Mary, and thus the love of communion and the communion of love
• the expression of an experience of God, and thus literature
La Vierge à l'enfant,
retrouvée dans la base du calvaire autour de 1880.
Photo : D. Gaden
For our Fathers, reading and writing were places of encounter with the Lord. For us who follow in their footsteps, reading their works and the search for new means of expression can also be an opportunity to welcome the presence of God.
Some centuries later, the movement of the Strict Observance and the reform of the Abbot de Rancé revitalized the Cistercian charism by insisting in particular on silence, austerity and the strictly contemplative dimensions of our life.