St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s Tips on Love

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was a French Cistercian abbot during the “middle ages” and made a tremendous impact in Christendom through his reform of Benedictine monasticism (thus causing the formation of the Cistercian order) and his writings (which largely focus on the love of God).

Here are some tips from St. Bernard on love:

1. Just do it!

  • “[Love’s] profit lies in its practice. I love because I love, I love that I may love.”

Want to learn how to play an instrument? Start playing. Want to learn how to love? Start loving.

2. Study to love better.

  • “There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is Love.”

Why are you studying? To serve. To love. To make a better gift of yourself to others.

Tip: When you are studying a particular topic, think of who you can love better as a result of this increase of knowledge, then offer it up for them.

3. Gratitude fuels love.

  • “Ingratitude is the soul’s enemy… Ingratitude is a burning wind that dries up the source of love, the dew of mercy, the streams of grace.”

Fr. Timothy Gallagher said that “gratitude is the surest and most powerful way to grow in the love of God.”

Just as love’s profit lies in its practice, the same with gratitude. Click here for my blog post on 10 practical ways to grow in gratitude.

4. We need God to love.

  • “Love is a great thing so long as it continually returns to its fountainhead, flows back to its source, always drawing from there the water which constantly replenishes it.”

Prayer is one concrete way that we can continually return to the source of Love.

5. Become a reservoir of love through prayer.

When we do pray, we become a divine reservoir of love for others, rather than a human canal that will dry up:

  • “If then you are wise, you will show yourself rather a reservoir than a canal. For a canal spreads abroad water as it receives it, but a reservoir waits until it is filled before overflowing, and thus communicates, without loss to itself, its superabundant water. In the Church at the present day, we have many canals, few reservoirs.”

6. Love God if you want to be happy.

  • “Of all the movements, sensations and feelings of the soul, love is the only one in which the creature can respond to the Creator and make some sort of similar return however unequal though it be. For when God loves, all he desires is to be loved in return; the soul purpose of his love is to be loved, in the knowledge that those who love him are made happy by their love of him.”
  • “It is true that the creature loves less because she is less. But if she loves with her whole being, nothing is lacking where everything is given. To love so ardently then is to share the marriage bond; she cannot love so much and not be totally loved, and it is in the perfect union of two hearts that complete and perfected marriage consists.”
  • “What we love we shall grow to resemble.”

God loves you! Why? So that you may love Him in return! Why? So that you may be truly happy!

7. Strive for the highest degree of love.

  • “The measure of love is love without measure.”
  • There are 4 degrees of love: 1) Love of self for self’s sake. 2) Love of God for self’s sake. 3) Love of God for God’s own sake. 4) Love of self for God’s sake.

8. Receive the Eucharist with love.

  • “The Eucharist is that love which surpasses all loves in Heaven and on earth.”

Foster a deep love for the Eucharist daily. Receive our Blessed Lord with a loving heart that wants to love Him in return in a 1,000 different ways.


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