The great Cistercian, St Bernard, spans the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Many of his writings have come down to us – conferences that he gave to his monks as Abbot. Of these, his ‘Sermons on the Song of Songs’ are among the best known.

Here is an extract: ‘Even you too, if recollected in spirit, if with a mind serious and devoid of cares, you enter the house of prayer alone, and standing in the Lord’s presence at one of the altars touch the gate of heaven with the hand of holy desire, if in the presence of the choirs of saints where your devotion penetrates, for “the prayer of the righteous man pierces the heavens,” you bewail pitiably before them the miseries and misfortunes you endure, manifest your neediness, implore their mercy with repeated sighs and groanings too deep for words, if, I say, you do this, I have confidence in him who said, “ask and you shall receive,” that if you continue knocking you will not go empty away’.

May St Bernard pray for us, and may God bless you this day.