St Norbert detailBrian Fitzgerald’s 2014 essay, “Teaching by Word and Example: St Norbert of Xanten”(Crisis Magazine online) gives an insightful glimpse into a man we in the USA don’t know too much about but who continues to impact the way we live our common Catholic faith in communio. In some ways, the 11th century Norbert was a new “St Paul.” His contemporary Saint Bernard of Clairvaulx called Norbert “heavenly water pipe” yet no word of this text survives these centuries. Norbert founded a community of canons who followed the Rule of St Augustine which adhered to the idea: “docere verbo et exemplo” (to teach by word and example).

Several things that we ought to clue-in on from Norbert:

1. the centrality of preaching and Liturgy to the apostolic life;
2. the unity of the active and contemplative lives, the “mixed life”
3. Christians are to be “imitators of Christ’s disciples”
4. the Christian faith makes sense only in the communal aspect.

Saint Norbert, pray for us.