St. Norbert

Friends in Christ, today is the Feast of St. Norbert. St. Norbert was born near Cologne, in present-day Germany, about the year 1080. His father was a Count, and he was even related to the Emperor.[i] Norbert had become a minor cleric, called a sub-deacon, and although he was in minor orders, he seemed to be interested in nothing more than a life of leisure. When he was appointed to the court of the Emperor, he easily joined in all the diversions of an easy life with little thought of God. His life was not good.
But all of that suddenly changed. He was one day riding his horse through open land in Westphalia, when a violent thunderstorm approached. A flash of lightening struck just in front of him, at which point his frightened horse threw him to the ground. Lying on the ground unconscious for nearly an hour, God did something to him; When he came to, he said the same words as St. Paul: ‘Lord, what will you have me do?’ He seemed to hear an inner voice say: ‘Norbert, turn from evil and do good.’
Well, he changed his life on the spot, almost as completely as did St. Paul. He then continued his studies to become a priest, but this time with seriousness. He sold off all of his wealth, keeping only a few vestments, a chalice a paten, and a mule. He then undertook a long pilgrimage of penance, walking barefoot over 650 miles, to kneel at the feet of the Holy Father, Pope Gelasius, to whom he made a general confession of his sins. The Pope then sent him on his way to preach the Gospel wherever he chose.
Norbert preached the gospel throughout Germany and France, urging everyone to turn away from sin, to take their spiritual life seriously, to pray daily, and to follow Christ. Along with 13 others he founded the Premonstratensian Order. Since his conversion to the Lord, his whole life had been about reform of Christian life, of each person, of the clergy, and of the Church.
St. Norbert was known to be friendly and charming with every person. He was equally at ease with the poor and the rich, the simple and the great. He knew how, like St. Paul said, to be ‘all things to all people, so that he could bring many to Jesus Christ.
We should be the same.


[i] This was part of the Holy Roman Empire

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