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New St. Bernard of Clairvaux film points upward and reaches out

Matthew Neugebauer

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Juanjo Gasch Reynal as a young Bernard, and Immaculada Sancho Gomez as Humbeline.
Out in a field under the shade of a tree, a young woman tells her brother she's concerned about his monotonous work and weighty responsibilities. They're both in their early twenties, but the brother is already a religious Brother and Father -- a fully-professed monk and priest of Citeaux Abbey in France, the birthplace of the Cistercian Order. His life is about to get more arduous, but for him that means he’ll be closer to his hope of reaching Christ in heaven. The young man, Bernard, is about to go and lead the new Cistercian foundation in Clairvaux.
You can watch this poignant scene between the future Doctor of the Church and his sister, Humbeline, in For the Only King, a new film commemorating the 850th anniversary of St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s canonization in 1174. It comes to us from Home of the Mother, a Spanish-based Public Association of the Faithful, and its media arm HM (Home of the Mother) Television/EUK Mamie. The film airs on Salt + Light TV on April 21 at 8:30 pm ET / 5:30 pm PT, in Spanish with English subtitles. It also airs tonight at 8:00 pm ET / 5:00 pm PT with French subtitles. The dramatization of St. Bernard's life builds on HM Television’s 2023 French-language documentary La flamme de l’Europe (“The Flame of Europe”), also about the 12th-century French monk.
HM Television Director Sr. Teresa Maria, a member of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother community, commented that while making La flamme de l’Europe, they "already had in mind  a short film taking advantage of some of the scenes that appear in the documentary." She mentioned that the film is intended "to reach a wider audience" than a more academic documentary would.
Presenting St. Bernard’s life in a more engaging way fits with Home of the Mother's charism for evangelization. "25 years ago, we dove into this apostolate [HM Television], aware of the great potential it has of reaching souls," Sr. Teresa Maria commented.
Now that they’ve devoted two projects to the life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, it’s clear that Home of the Mother's community members find him to be a deeply inspiring figure for our time. While he "deeply loved his community as well as the solitude of the monastery, he never said 'no' to the Lord," stated Sr. Teresa Maria. "All were eager for him to solve the problems that existed in his time: popes, bishops, kings, nobles, intellectuals. For that reason, he was always on the go from one place to another.”
The drama at the heart of the film is a "tug-of-war" for Bernard's attention between the needs of his monastic family and the summons to respond to the wider world's challenges with creativity and courage. "Despite this external turmoil, his soul remained serene in God,” Sr. Teresa Maria reflected. “The Gospel was his compass, and when he spoke, he could only externalize what he carried in his heart and transmit the Gospel.” 
Sr. Teresa Maria and Home of the Mother hope viewers are able to follow St. Bernard in our day. “God can do such great things with people as humble as St. Bernard was. [He is] a man who we are called to imitate.”
You can watch the trailer here:

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