Saint Aelred, whose feast we keep today, was born in 1109 in Northumbria, England, and became a Cistercian Monk in 1133.
In August of 1991 members of the North American Congregation of the SSJE made a three week visit to the U.K. to places significant in the life of our Society. After a week of retreat on Iona we made a short visit to the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey before going on to Durham Cathedral. Traveling east through the outskirts of Edinburgh we proceeded westward across England following the course of Hadrian’s Wall. At a point where we could just see York Minster at a distance, shrouded with scaffolding, we turned north onto a smaller road through wooded hills heading for Rievaulx. When we descended into the valley we came to the ruins of the abbey, high walls and no roof. It was hard to imagine what the Abbey Church must have looked like with windows and a roof. Nevertheless, it was thrilling to see the beautiful valley where Aelred had lived and prayed. After our visit to Durham we went on to other significant places before returning to Oxford and then the USA.
Today we remember Aelred, the 12th century abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx in Yorkshire. He is remembered especially for his writings on spiritual friendship and chaste fraternal affection. Quote: “No medicine is more valuable, none more efficacious, none better suited to the cure of our temporal ills than a friend to whom we may turn for consolation in time of trouble, and with whom we may share happiness in time of joy.”
http://www.azquotes.com/quote/1015945 Or, how about this: “As a result of a kiss, there arises in the mind a wonderful feeling of delight that awakens and binds together the love of them that kiss….” [http://www.azquotes.com/quote/773721] What do you think about that?
So…the focus this evening is love, that “many splendored thing”, which is the very essence of God [1 John 4:8]. Love, which is perfected in the lives of human beings when we love one another [1 John 4:12]. Love, which casts out all fear [1 John 4:18]. Love, which is the Summary of the Law and the Prophets.Love, which is central to Christian faith, life and understanding. I offer these reflections as one who stumbles along the way and very much depends on others for guidance.