Daily Meditation

When his former disciple, Pope Eugene III, was elected Pope, St Bernard wrote an inspired letter to him, in which he counseled the Pontiff on governing the Church and, among other things, emphasised the importance of daily meditation.


If thou devotest to external activities all thy time and all thy attention, reserving nothing for consideration, “What shall I say to thee? Do I praise thee? In this I praise thee not” (1 Cor. 11:22). Neither, as I suppose, would anyone else who remembered the words of Solomon, “He that is less in action shall receive wisdom” (Ecclus. 38:25). Even for action itself it is expedient that it should follow, not precede, consideration.

The first effect of meditation is to purify the mind which has given it birth. Then it regulates the affections, directs the actions, cuts away all excesses, forms the character, orders and ennobles the life, and lastly, it endows the understanding with a knowledge of things divine and human.

It is meditation which distinguishes what is confused, unites what is divided, collects what is scattered, discovers what is concealed, searches out what is true, examines what is probable, exposes what is false and deceptive.

It is meditation which preordains what we have to do, and passes in review what has been accomplished, so that nothing disordered may remain in the mind, nor anything requiring correction.

It is meditation, finally, which in prosperity makes provision for adversity, and thus endures misfortune, as it were, without feeling it, of which the former is the part of prudence, and the latter the function of fortitude.

St. Bernard’s Treatise on Consideration (Browne and Nolan, 1921), pp. 13, 20