Tag Archives: St Norbert

St Norbert and the spider

“Sometime later he was wearing himself out by severe fasting and abstinence, pushing himself day and night with vigils and prayer. While he was celebrating Mass as customary in a certain crypt, a spider fell into the already consecrated chalice.[6-2] When the priest saw it he was shocked. Life and death hovered before his eyes. The spider was large. What should the man do whose faith[6-3] was now deeply rooted in the Lord? Lest the sacrifice suffer any loss he chose rather to undergo the danger and consumed whatever was in the chalice.

When the sacrifice was finished he expected to die immediately. While he remained at his place before the altar he commended his awaited end to the Lord in prayer. When he was disturbed by an itching in his nose he scratched it and suddenly he sneezed expelling the whole spider. Once again God did not want the death[6-4] but the faith of his priest who he knew would be useful to him.”

-Life of Norbert B (Vita Norberti B)

Saint Norbert

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 his 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.

Saint Norbert

St Norbert with Eucharist and olive branch

This hymn text by J. Michael Thompson was published before, but it bears repeating again because as a prayer, it names the desires of the heart and puts us in right-relation to the Lord through the life of Saint Norbert.

“I myself shall lead my sheep,
Guarding them from danger;
They shall hear and follow me,
Not go with a stranger.
Into pastures rich and green—
God the Lord has spoken—
I shall bring my Israel,
With my love as token.”

Norbert, father of his flock,
Took to heart this warning,
And in all his works and words
Toiled from night to morning.
Guiding all within his cure,
He took time to nourish
With the love of Christ most fair,
Causing souls to flourish.

Father of the canon’s life,
Bishop of his city,
Prayed before the Eucharist,
Served the poor with pity.
Crowned a sacrificial life
With a death of glory;
Now we join with saints above
To retell his story!

Glory to the Father give,
Source of ev’ry blessing,
Glory to the Son we sing,
Who, our wrongs addressing,
Came to us as one of us!
To the Spirit, praises!
Hear the songs of thankfulness
Each believer raises!

J. Michael Thompson
Copyright © 2010, World Library Publications
76 76 D
ST. KEVIN, AVE VIRGO VIRGINUM

Norbertine sisters bless new monastery

Norbertine SistersThis past summer –so this is old news for some– the Sisters of the Mountain, the Norbertine Canonesses, established the first monastery for women in the USA. The Norbertine vocation is different from being a Dominican, Augustinian or Benedictine.

The new monastery, The Bethlehem Priory of St Joseph, is located in Tehachapi, California. A life of seclusion, separated from the outside world, opens the door to do the Lord’s work of prayer and sacrifice for the salvation of souls.

A seven minute video by a local news station did a very nice profile of the Canonesses giving a glimpse of the Norbertine vocation and the making of a monastery. How often do you hear of this type of news? I recommend it…

A print article on the monastery blessing is covered here.

Why is this important? It’s not. At least it is not important on the secular level. But, on the supernatural level, the new monastery’s creation and blessing is sign of God’s Providence and humanity’s response. On this level, a monastery is a place of healing, spiritual and intellectual growth, it is a place to do spiritual battle. The monastic presence is a sign for all Christians of the building of the Kingdom of God on earth so that we may enjoy God in heaven.

May God grant success to the work of their hands. May the Holy Theotokos, St Joseph and St Norbert protect.

A new Jesuit saint: Peter Faber

Peter FaberOn November 26, 2013, I noted here that Pope Francis was going to canonize a Jesuit beatus known mostly by Jesuits. His name was thrust into the lime light by Francis when he spoke about Faber in the summer interview with Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro. The interview revealed that the Pope loves Blessed Peter Faber:

“Faber’s “dialogue with all, even the most remote and even with his opponents; his simple piety, a certain naïveté perhaps; his being available straightaway; his careful interior discernment; the fact that he was a man capable of great and strong decisions but also capable of being so gentle and loving.”

John Allen quotes Stefania Falasca, who referred to Blessed Peter Faber as “an important reference point for understanding the Pope’s leadership style.”

Today, in a private audience, the Pope met with Angelo Cardinal Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, in which he gave us a new saint. Peter Faber is keenly remembered by the Jesuits as being among the early companions of Saint Ignatius, and very proficient in giving Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises; he died in Rome on 1 August 1546.

Some are likely wondering how can this papal act come about without the proper process of further investigation of miracles and the like. From New Advent we read:

 Equivalent canonization occurs when the pope, omitting the judicial process and the ceremonies, orders some servant of God to be venerated in the Universal Church; this happens when such a saint has been from a remote period the object of veneration, when his heroic virtues (or martyrdom) and miracles are related by reliable historians, and the fame of his miraculous intercession is uninterrupted. Many examples of such canonization are to be found in Benedict XIV; e.g. Saints Romuald, Norbert, Bruno, Peter Nolasco, Raymond Nonnatus, John of Matha, Felix of Valois, Queen Margaret of Scotland, King Stephen of Hungary, Wenceslaus Duke of Bohemia, and Gregory VII. Such instances afford a good proof of the caution with which the Roman Church proceeds in these equivalent canonizations. St. Romuald was not canonized until 439 years after his death, and the honour came to him sooner than to any of the others mentioned. We may add that this equivalent canonization consists usually in the ordering of an Office and Mass by the pope in honour of the saint, and that mere enrollment in the Roman Martyrology does not by any means imply this honour (Benedict XIV, l, c., xliii, no 14).

It would be smart to remember that formula was used for the equivalent canonization of Saint Hildegard of Bingen by Pope Benedict XVI; he also declared her a Doctor of the Church.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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