Monday 4th May 2015

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Norbert

June 3, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By CAROLE BRESLIN

Studying the history of the Church or simply reading about the saints, we find that the development of spirituality through the centuries is strikingly consistent. Just as the understanding of doctrine has become more clearly defined through the centuries, spiritual practices have become more and more understood with such saints as St. Teresa of Avila, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Francis of Assisi.
A noble from western Germany, St. Norbert, came before all of them — around the turn of the 12th century. Yet his life reveals that he started a third order and did a retreat with a general Confession similar to the third order of Franciscans and the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.
Also like St. Ignatius, St. Norbert was a courtier, having been born (in 1080) of very noble lineage. His father, Heribert, count of Gennup, was related to the emperor, while his mother, Hedwig of Guise, was of the House of Lorraine. As such, he seemed to have little no motivation to do anything but enjoy the life at court.
Nevertheless, most likely because of his family connections, he received minor orders, the subdiaconate, and became a canon of St. Victor at Xanten, the place of his birth. Eventually, he became the almoner of the emperor, Henry V. He enjoyed the life of the nobility.
The next stage of his life is reminiscent of the conversion of St. Paul. Norbert and his companions were riding their horses through a forest during a storm, when there was bright flash of lightning. The horse reared with fright, dumping its rider on the ground. St. Norbert lay on the ground completely unconscious for more than an hour.
Finally, he came to and — like St. Paul — he exclaimed, “Lord, what wilt thou have me do?” Then he heard a voice say to him, “Turn from evil and do good: Seek after peace and pursue it.” Also like St. Paul, he experienced an immediate conversion, returning to Xanten for a life of prayer, fasting, meditation, and a lifetime examination of conscience.
In 1115, Archbishop Frederick of Cologne ordained Norbert. Since he had appeared in lambskin tied by a rope for his Ordination and practiced other austerities, he became known as an eccentric and was denounced to Pope Gelasius II. However, when Norbert presented himself to the Holy Father — having walked barefoot to kneel at his feet, given his general Confession, and offered to do whatever penance the Pope asked of him, the Pope told him to go and preach the Gospel.
He, barefoot in the middle of winter, set out with his companions to Valenciennes. Sadly, his companions all fell ill and died. Soon, the archbishop of Cambrai met him and, astounded at the change in the young man, released his chaplain, Hugh, to follow Norbert. Hugh later became the head of the order that Norbert would establish.
When the Pope died, Norbert sought to renew his papal commission. Instead he met with the bishop of Laon, who convinced him to come and reform the canons regular of St. Martin’s at Laon. Not surprisingly, the order resisted, whereupon the bishop offered a piece of unproductive land to Norbert and his 13 followers. This became known as Prémontré. By Christmas Day 1121, there in the valley, Norbert had 40 companions, all of whom made their vows.
Despite its austerity, the order spread quickly to other countries, becoming widely popular among both men and women. With two nunneries and eight abbeys, Norbert went to Rome in 1125 to seek approval from Pope Honorius II. Upon his return, the canons of St. Martin’s who had previously rejected him then sought to join him.
The concept of a third order for the laity most likely began with St. Norbert when Theobald, count of Champagne, asked to be admitted to the order. St. Norbert refused him, sensing that he should remain a layperson. Theobald accepted this decision when St. Norbert gave him the white scapular and a set of spiritual practices to observe.
When Theobald had arranged a marriage, he took Norbert with him to Germany to conclude the details. During this journey, they stopped at Speyer where the emperor was having a meeting. The representatives from Magdeburg begged the emperor to name Norbert their bishop. Thus Norbert became a bishop.
As Norbert was dressed in his usual simple garb, barefoot, and appearing to be destitute, the porter at the bishop’s residence refused to let him in, sending him to join the other beggars outside. When those who had followed him heard of this, they protested. Yet Norbert remained calm and told the man, “You have judged me more truly than those who brought me here!”
As Norbert worked to reform the many transgressions in his see, he met with great resistance. In fact, two or three times he barely escaped those who sought to kill him. Finally, Norbert decided to leave the city and abandon the people to their own devices. It was not long before they realized just how much they needed Norbert and begged him to return. From then on they were submissive to his authority.
He spent the rest of his time implementing the needed reforms, while at the same time overseeing the Premonstratensian houses through Blessed Hugh.
In 1130, when Pope Honorius II died, a schism developed in the Church as two different men claimed the papacy. Pietro Cardinal Pierleone took the name of Anacletus II — he was favored by the Romans. Gregorio Cardinal Papareschi took the name Innocent II, being favored by the French. With the support of St. Bernard, St. Hugh of Grenoble, and St. Norbert, the emperor, Lohair, declared his support for Pope Innocent II.
Despite the support of most of Europe, with the Romans supporting the antipope Anacletus II, Pope Innocent was unable to enter Rome. It was through the persuasion of Norbert that Lohair entered the city with the Pope in 1133. This marked the culmination of Norbert’s activities for the past 20 years. In that short span of time, he accomplished more than many do their entire lives. He died on June 6, 1134.
Pope Gregory XIII declared Norbert a saint in 1582. In 1627, his remains were moved to the Premonstratensian abbey in Bohemia. His feast day is celebrated on June 6.
Dear St. Norbert, lover of poverty, model of chastity and obedience, help us. Obtain for us, we pray, the grace to resist temptation, to sacrifice our wants and desires, and to lead pure and holy lives. May we follow your example of spiritual poverty so that we, too, may win more souls for the great Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

+    +    +

(Carole Breslin home-schooled her four daughters and served as treasurer of the Michigan Catholic Home Educators for eight years. For over ten years, she was national coordinator for the Marian Catechists, founded by Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Pope’s doctrine chief under attack as he takes strong stand for marriage and family

muller

ROME, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ top advisor on Catholic doctrine is coming under attack as he continues to defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality amid a campaign by a “progressive” faction of prelates. On…Continue Reading

Obama Admin. Denies Visa to Nun Pleading For Persecuted Iraqi Christians – Will Media Cover?

The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea spotlighted the plight of a Catholic sister, who was denied entry to the U.S. by the Obama administration, in a Thursday item for National Review. She noted how “every member of an Iraqi delegation of…Continue Reading

States could force Catholic priests to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ or lose legal status: Justice Scalia

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) – If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right, one justice has said that the government could force clergy of all denominations to perform gay “weddings” or lose the ability…Continue Reading

The Attack on San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone–Who’s Behind It and Why?

In spite of a recent newspaper poll that showed 89% of the public supports San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a small but vocal group of people are keeping up a campaign to get Pope Francis to replace him as archbishop…Continue Reading

Christian Leaders Threaten Civil Disobedience

“We will not obey.” That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage. “We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,”…Continue Reading

Feminist Steinem Touts Abortion, Ridicules Church at St. Norbert College

gloria

Abortion advocacy, support for euthanasia and applause for excommunicated and “ordained” women priests—such were the highlights of last week’s “dialogue” with radical feminists Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks on the Catholic campus of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.…Continue Reading

Vatican hosts two leading pro-abortion, population control activists at climate conference

April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Two of the world’s leading pro-abortion advocates were addressing a Vatican workshop on the environment today. At the same time, a press conference at the Palazzo Cesi, in Rome, organised by the Heartland Institute, was…Continue Reading

Climate Change Skeptics Write Open Letter Urging Pope Francis to Rethink Global Warming

ROME, Italy, April 27, 2015 (Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.) – As the Vatican gears up for a high-level workshop on climate change this Tuesday, a group of 90 prominent scientists, religious leaders and academics have written an open letter to Pope Francis,…Continue Reading

Charlotte Bishop To LGBT-Advocate Nun Gramick: You’re Not Speaking in My Diocese

Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis has cancelled a speaking event by Sister Jennine Gramick that was scheduled to take place at one of the parishes in his diocese. Sister Gramick is the founder of New Ways Ministry, self-described as a “gay-positive…Continue Reading

OVER 500 PRIESTS . . .PRIESTS INVITING PRIESTS TO WITNESS TO THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

As Catholic priests we commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting the teaching of the Church on marriage in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke criticizes German cardinal’s ‘ridiculous’ claim that German Church is not a ‘subsidiary of Rome’

ROME, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview today with the prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who suggested German Catholic dioceses are not a “subsidiary of Rome” on the question of Communion…Continue Reading

Scandalous Commencement Honors Announced at Eight Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges have announced scandalous speakers or honorees at their 2015 commencement ceremonies, according to The Cardinal Newman Society’s annual review of college graduations. Many colleges wait to release the names of their honorees and speakers, so…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis Attends Swiss Guard Flag Ceremony

swiss

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis attended a Swiss Guard ceremony Friday afternoon — unexpected by most of the people present — and addressed the corps, speaking as well about the characteristics of a commander, according to the Gospel. Following the nomination in February of Christoph Graf as the new Commander of the Swiss Guard, the military corps held a ceremony May 1 for the inauguration and blessing of its new flag. Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Pope: Parish Must Be ‘Privileged Place’ Of Listening, Proclamation

(Vatican Radio) Faithful from the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro paid a return visit to Pope Francis on Saturday. The Pope received the pilgrims in an audience and recalled the message of solidarity he shared with them during his pastoral visit last July. He also spoke of the call of parishes to be missionary communities. “Every parish is called to be a privileged place of listening and of the proclamation of the Gospel; a house of prayer…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Saint Joseph And The Dignity Of Labour

pope770

(Vatican Radio)  To mark International  Labour Day which coincides with the Feast day of  Saint Joseph the worker, Veronica Scarisbrick takes a look at the special devotion Pope Francis has for this Saint. As well as focus briefly on one of the social issues central to his thinking: the dignity of labour. Let’s begin with his devotion to Saint Joseph as there’s quite a list of things that connect Pope Francis to this saint. Among…Continue Reading

Pope: History And Service, Two Traits Of Christian Identity

(Vatican Radio) “History and service.” In his homily on Thursday morning, Pope Francis spoke about these “two traits of Christian identity.” Beginning with “history,” Pope Francis said Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and the other disciples “did not proclaim a Jesus without a history: They proclaimed Jesus in the history of the people, a people God led through the centuries in order to arrive… at the fullness of time.” God enters into history and into the…Continue Reading

Reel Faith . . . An Interview With Catholic Actor And Filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui

By REY FLORES Eduardo Verastegui is a man on a mission. He is tirelessly traveling, either working on his latest film project or helping to promote his most recently completed one. On top of that, Verastegui (pronounced Ver-ah-steg-eeh) also helps run a crisis pregnancy clinic in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The…Continue Reading

Give Every Child In Baltimore A $17,329 School-Choice Voucher

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + “The education system has failed them.” That is part of the explanation that Billy Murphy, a lawyer representing the family of Freddie Gray — who died after his spine was…Continue Reading

John-Henry Westen . . . Addresses Developments In The Synod Of Bishops On The Family

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: Maike Hickson holds a doctorate in French literature from the University of Hannover. She is a contributor to LifeSiteNews.) + + + John-Henry Westen, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family website, LifeSiteNews.com, gave a talk in Front Royal, Va., at Human Life International (HLI), on April…Continue Reading

Biblical Values — Or Vegas Values?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN Almost all of the declared and undeclared Republican candidates for 2016 could be found the weekend of April 25 at one of two events, or both. The first was organized by the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, and held in Point of Grace Church in Waukee. Dominated by evangelical Christians, who…Continue Reading

Leadership Conference Of Women Religious . . . Agrees To Vatican Corrections, Will Continue to Dialogue

By ELISE HARRIS (Wanderer Editor’s Note: Reactions to and interpretations of the LCWR-Vatican joint report have been mixed. (Phil Lawler at catholicculture.org concluded that statements from Gerhard Cardinal Mueller and from Sr. Sharon Holland, IHM, president of LCWR, “do not guarantee that the Vatican intervention will prove successful. They do, however, demonstrate that the process…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Church is holy. Sanctam: The ultimate goal of the Church is personal holiness, identification with Christ, as St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is not merely covering oneself with the Blood of Christ, and allowing the inside to remain sinful…Continue Reading

The Mystery Of The Church

By DON FIER The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, as the “convocation” of God’s people, was prefigured from the beginning when our first parents sinned and were promised a Redeemer. Her remote preparation began with the calling of our father in faith, Abraham, and her immediate preparation began with the election of the Chosen People of Israel, a sign…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in his blog (http://johnkippley.com) about the long-term consequences of dissent from Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, John Kippley said that this dissent not only “entailed the rejection of the whole idea of natural law as the reasoned basis for Catholic moral teaching,” but it allowed Catholics to substitute personal preference for personal morality, which means…Continue Reading

True Love Of Others

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 1 John 4:7-10 John 15:9-17 In the second reading today, St. John calls us to love one another because love is of God. This last part of the sentence is very important, especially in light of what follows: Whoever loves is begotten by God and…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Affirms… “Our Church Is The Church Of Martyrs”

(Editor’s Note: In his daily homily of April 21 at Casa Santa Marta, the Holy Father reflected on martyrdom and the Church. Elise Harris, writing for Catholic News Agency, summarized some of the events that underlay Pope Francis’ talk. (Among those imprisoned for the faith is “Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi, who in 2010 was convicted of violating Pakistan’s strict blasphemy…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius V

By CAROLE BRESLIN Can anyone imagine a more challenging time in the history of the Church than the 16th century — besides this century? The Protestant Revolt north of Rome decimating the numbers of faithful Christians; to the west, England persecuting all Catholics; to the southeast, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquering at will place after place, setting their…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Isidore Of Spain

By CAROLE BRESLIN Saints come from all walks of life. There are scholars and illiterate, rich and poor, men and women, religious and laity, kings and peasants. There are those who are more active in their faith and those who are more contemplative. Despite the widely varying backgrounds of the saints, they all have several things in common. First of…Continue Reading