Bernard (1090 - 1153), from Burgundy in France, was the dominant spiritual influence in Europe in the 12th century. This great Cistercian’s writing is much admired; it is passionate and profound, and concerns essentially the human relationship to God. His was also a life of intense activity: he made sixty-eight monastic foundations in thirty-five years. The text below is from his classic, On Loving God.

God is not loved without reward - although God should be loved without thought of reward…. Love is an affection of the soul, not a contract: it cannot rise from a mere agreement, nor is it so to be gained. It is spontaneous in its origin and impulse; and true love is its own satisfaction. It has its reward; but that reward is the object beloved. For whatever you seem to love, if it is on account of something else, what you really love is that something else, not what you claim to love…. True love does not demand a reward, but it deserves one.  


In their many different idioms the classical spiritual writers have attempted to throw light on the eternal question of union with God. 
Every month we give you a brief passage from a spiritual classic.