From “The New Song” (ca. 1150)
Make haste mothers and daughters, make haste all you who after Eve and because of Eve give birth in pain… Rejoice Adam, our father, and you, more especially, Mother Eve, exult. You were the parents of humanity and destroyers of humanity before you were our parents. Now both of you, I say, take great consolation in your daughter…
The time has come for the reproach to be taken away. No longer will man have any reason to accuse woman as he did long ago when, attempting cravenly to excuse himself, he did not hesitate cruelly to accuse her, saying, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree and I ate it.”
Eve, run then to Mary, run to your daughter… Instead of the tree of death, she offers you a taste of life; in place of the poisonous fruit of bitterness, she holds out the sweetness of eternity’s fruit. Change your words of evil excuse, [Adam], into a song of thanksgiving and say, “Lord the woman you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree of life and I ate; and it was sweeter than honey to the mouth, for by it you have given me life.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was one of the most influential preachers and spiritual writers of the Middle Ages. An important leader in the Cistercian reform, he was abbot at Clairvaux and an important advisor to other church leaders. This homily was preached to his brothers in the monastery, and is taken from the collection Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, trans. Marie-Bernard Said (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1993. St. Bernard’s feast day is August 20.