In one of the chapters in Seasons of Celebration, Thomas Merton reflects upon “The Sacrament of Advent in the Spirituality of St. Bernard.”
St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), from a noble family in the French province of Burgundy, became a monk at the monastery of Cîteaux, which had been established in 1098 with a mission to restore the Rule of St. Benedict. (He thus formed part of the original Cistercian order to which Merton belonged centuries later.) In a few years, Bernard moved to found a new house, Clairvaux Abbey, and his name has been associated with it ever since. Bernard was noted for his personal charisma, homilies, and literary gifts. His profound influence is seen in the fact that he personally saw to the establishment of sixty-five of the three hundred Cistercian monasteries founded during his thirty-eight years as abbot.
In his writings on Advent, Bernard emphasized that there are, in fact, three Advents to keep in mind.