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On Loving God

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  345 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Saint Bernard's On Loving God is one of his most delightful, and most widely read, works. It stands in the tradition of the Fathers of the Church, but it carries patristic teaching into the Middle Ages and into the cloister. Its famous affirmation that God is to be loved without limit, sine modo, is taken directly from the letters of Saint Augustine. While the tract is not ...more
Paperback, 219 pages
Published December 1st 1995 by Cistercian Publications (first published 1937)
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Listened to in one sitting. Can be read it on line here.

A sweet book on a sweeter topic! 'I do not promise to answer other questions you may raise. This one, as to loving God, I will deal with as He shall teach me; for it is sweetest, it can be handled most safely, and it will be most profitable. Keep the others for wiser men.'

St. Bernard's perfect little reflection on His Creator and Lover isn't lofty nor especially intellectual, but it typical of him. The Mellifluus Doctor has sprinkled this g
Peter B.
Dec 18, 2015 Peter B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(I didn't read the edition above. I began reading it at, and finished reading it in "Bernard of Clairvaux: Selected Works")

"The earth under the ancient curse brought forth thorns and thistles; but now the Church beholds it laughing with flowers and restored by the grace of a new benediction. Mindful of the verse, ‘My heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise Him’, she refreshes herself with the fruits of His Passion which she gathers from the Tr
Sep 28, 2013 Yolanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dove
This was a pleasurable read. The content is direct, true and you get a sense of the writers devotion. The references to the bible verses is nice if a person wants to add to their own reading, now or at a later time. I will reread this one.
Fr. Kyle
Jul 25, 2011 Fr. Kyle rated it liked it
Another Librivox recording, the reading was a bit fast and it was late at night driving that I listened to it. It'll probably take another listen or two plus maybe a reading for it to really sink in.
Mar 15, 2011 Tim rated it it was amazing
Bernard does not here reach the eloquence of some of his sermons on the Song of Songs, but this work makes evident the demands of love and makes winsome the pursuit of love.

"I owe all for having been created, what can I add for being remade, and being remade in this way? It was less easy to remake me than to make me.... In his first work he gave me myself; in his second work he gave me himself; when he gave me himself, he gave me back myself. Given, and regiven, I owe myself twice over. What c
Oct 25, 2012 Drury rated it it was ok
Shelves: georgetown
In Bernard of Clairvaux’s work, On Loving God, he outlines four degrees of love and relates them to the development of a relationship with God. The basest type of love is man’s love for himself for his own sake (192). In nature, without any other instruction, man will focus primarily on himself, because that is all that he knows. This focus is permissible up to a certain point, where man begins to focus on his own pleasure at the expense of others. This excess is countered by the commandment “l ...more
Skylar Burris
Jan 13, 2011 Skylar Burris rated it liked it
Shelves: christianity
Drawing broadly from the entire Scriptures (including the Apocrypha), but most especially from the Psalms, St. Bernard reflects on the “four degrees of loving God.” This is more a work of emotional intensity than of intellectual depth, and consequently it did not impress me as much, as say, the Confessions of St. Augustine did. Perhaps the book would have been better read in 5-10 minute increments, digested slowly, and meditated over. I read it straight through, and maybe I missed a lot doing it ...more
May 14, 2013 Melissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting Quotes:
"Not knowing himself [Man] as the creature that is distinguished from the irrational brutes by the possession of reason, he commences to be confounded with them because, ignorant of his own true glory which is within, he is led captive by his curiosity, and concerns himself with external, sensual things. So he is made to resemble the lower orders by not knowing that he has been more highly endowed than they."

"For although God would be loved without respect of reward, yet He wi
Michael Kornelis
Feb 16, 2014 Michael Kornelis rated it really liked it
A short read, this book provides a concise meditation on what true christian charity, or love of God, ought to look like and aspire toward. For me, among other things, it clarified that we both love God for God himself as well as for reward given that God himself is that very great reward.
Jan 27, 2010 §-- rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Christians
Shelves: religion, saints
Good. Though not mind-blowing analytically like St. Augustine or St. Aquinas, St. Bernard's firey passion, his intensity make for a great read. The text is energetic though peppered with Scriptural quotes. And because it is so short, it is definitely worth reading.

St. Bernard outlines the soul's ascent to loving God from natural selfishness to complete Christlike selflessness and argues that the most rational thing we can do is abandon everything to Christ and risk it all. He argues successfull
Luke Langley
Apr 02, 2015 Luke Langley rated it it was amazing
This is a short and largely spiritual or perhaps apologetic work. Benard sets forth the reasons God is to be loved above all things, the consequences of loving created things above God, and the sanctification affected from loving God above all else.
Joshua Bloor
Feb 20, 2014 Joshua Bloor rated it really liked it
Clairvaux's writings open something amazing inside of your soul. His four ways on loving God are exceptionally accurate and should be read by all Christians. There are some smashing quotations worth underlining on every page.
The only thing I knew about Bernard of Clairvaux prior to reading this book was that he was the main preacher of the second Crusade. As a borderline Anabaptist, I am not a fan of the crusades: those bloody wars do not bring to mind the idea of "loving God". Of course, the crusades are not mentioned in this book so they have really nothing to do with this review. On Loving God is very short, but filled with moving and inspiring text. My friends may think I am becoming Catholic as my list of Catho ...more
Bishop Bergland
Partly a stringing together of scriptures calling for Christians to love God and partly a disturbing look into the mind that preached both that love and the Crusades, for me this was more disturbing than anything else.
Magnus Itland
May 24, 2012 Magnus Itland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A classic Christian text, using numerous citations from the Bible (especially the poetic parts of the Old Testament) to outline the various reasons why people may love God. The saint then place these various motivations in an ascending order, from selfish to divine, presenting them as a path which anyone can start and that leads to perfection in love. The text is fairly short and stays well on topic.

Thinking of love as a process of spiritual evolution should be fairly acceptable to the modern re
John Medendorp
May 22, 2014 John Medendorp rated it it was amazing
Shelves: church-history
Great little treatise. Pretty quck read. On why we should love God.
Jun 25, 2008 Maggie rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
ancient but still accurate. Bernard's 4 degrees of love put me in mind of maslow's hierarchy of needs ... a series that is really a progression of growth starting with the center of the self and moving toward a universal and deep concern for the many culminating in love of the Creator for its own reason (vs. b/c Creator is a gumball machine in the sky who gives me what I "need" and who is a daddy to protects me). this writing draws out the higher order of love and its applications to our selves, ...more
Karen Blanchette
Sep 05, 2014 Karen Blanchette rated it really liked it
I found this short (I didn't read the Analytic Commentary that accompanied the work) treatise on love absolutely delightful and refreshing. It came across to me as a much softer perspective of our relationship with God that is often missing in other works focused more on right behavior. This helped put God's love and my own love for God into a greater context. Overall, I found it enjoyable and enlightening.
Joseph Bolin
Feb 06, 2009 Joseph Bolin rated it really liked it
I didn't actually read the book in this translation, but in the Latin original, De Diligendo Deo. I recommend this to those who know Latin well, or who know it somewhat and want to learn more.

The book On loving God is a beautiful and classic work, regardless. It is not so much a systematic treatise, as written from the saint's own lived experience.
Jul 06, 2013 Glory rated it really liked it
The author quotes Scripture a lot. I can feel his love and devotion to God as I read his writing. I do not agree with all his views, but I don't have to. He wrote his heart out, and successfully helped me to love God more. This book is best read meditatively, allowing your mind to digest every sentence.
Mar 11, 2012 Ben rated it it was amazing
Bernard challenges a Christian to love God for God Himself. By that, Bernard means that a Christian should not love God for the benefit he will receive from God. Instead, a believer should love God because He wholly deserves it and because He gives the most pleasure to anyone (Ps 16:10).
Adam Shaeffer
Mar 24, 2010 Adam Shaeffer rated it it was amazing
Bernard has lots to say about the nature of love and why we should love God. It is an insightful work and whoever translated it produced a piece that, in places, carries music in its language.
Oct 08, 2013 KnKnism rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
insightful and beautifully written. i loved his illustration of our relationship to God in progressive phases and his understanding of the flesh as a helper to the soul.
Jul 11, 2010 Allison marked it as to-read
I've heard a few sermons based on the four levels of love, and I can't wait to dive into the rest of his teachings.
Aug 29, 2012 Brad rated it it was amazing
Free, legal, public domain audiobook available here:
Dec 05, 2010 Monique rated it liked it
Read for Western Civ. or Honors Theology: Love in the Western Tradition.
Mar 02, 2011 James rated it really liked it
A short, but great devotional.
Jay D
Jul 11, 2013 Jay D rated it it was ok
A classic.
Peter J.
Feb 16, 2013 Peter J. rated it did not like it
Super boring.
BEN rated it it was ok
Feb 04, 2016
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Bernard of Clairvaux, O.Cist (1090 - August 20, 1153) was a French abbot and the primary builder of the reforming Cistercian monastic order. After the death of his mother, Bernard sought admission into the Cistercian order. Three years later, he was sent to found a new house, which Bernard named Claire Vallée, 'of Clairvaux', on 25 June 1115. Bernard would preach an immediate faith, in which the i ...more
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“The reason for loving God is God Himself. As to how He is to be loved, there is only one measure: It is immeasurable!” 2 likes
“He gives Himself as prize and reward: He is the refreshment of holy soul, the ransom of those in captivity.” 2 likes
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