Notebook

Mellifluity

‘The Doctor Mellifluus‘, wrote Pius XII of St Bernard, ‘was remarkable for such qualities of nature and of mind, and so enriched by God with heavenly gifts, that in the changing and often stormy times in which he lived, he seemed to dominate by his holiness, wisdom, and most prudent counsel.’ He was also an exceptional communicator, as his epithet suggests. In a marvellous text read at Vigils today, Bernard anticipates interactive media. He has all of humanity hanging on the Blessed Virgin’s lips as she ponders her response to the Angel Gabriel’s Annunciation. ‘Answer quickly’, he urges her: ‘this is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence!‘ There is rhetorical delight in this passage; there is also great seriousness. Bernard reminds us that Christmas concerns each one of us. The Virgin’s ‘Yes’ is the source of our hope. We are called to make it our own.