For Abelard, the death of Christ on the Cross did not, strictly speaking, redeem man: it only offered him an example of supreme humility, charity, and self-sacrifice. Bernard asserts, against Abelard, that Christ became man precisely in order to redeem mankind from sin, deliver man from the power of the devil, and to become, instead of fallen Adam, the new head of a redeemed and sanctified human race. Jesus, says Saint Bernard, not only taught us justice but gave us justice. He not only showed us His love by dying for us on the Cross, but by the effects of His death He really and objectively causes His charity to exist and act in our hearts. In, doing so, He actually destroys sin in our souls and communicates to us a new life which is totally supernatural and divine. The effect of our redemption is therefore a complete and literal regeneration of those souls to whom its fruits are applied. Without this dogmatic basis the whole mystical theology of Saint Bernard would be incomprehensible. The purpose of all his mystical and ascetic teaching is to show us how to co-operate with the action of divine grace so that our redemption and regeneration may not remain a dead letter but may actually influence all our conduct and find expression in every part of our lives


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