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St. Norbert, Archbishop of Magdeburg, Founder of the Canons Regular of Premontr

St. NorbertToday, June 6th, the universal Church honors St. Norbert (c. 1080-1134), a great reformer, Archbishop of Magdeburg and Founder of the Norbertines.

Norbert was born in the duchy of Cleves, in Xanten, on the left bank of the River Rhine, to a noble family; Norbert’s father was related to the emperor and his mother was from the House of Lorraine. He led a life of pleasure even though he received minor orders, as a subdiaconate, receiving a canonry in the church of St. Victor.

One day whilst he was riding his horse, he was struck down from his horse by a terrible thunderstorm. He laid upon the ground for about an hour. After he regained consciousness, he said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” An inner voice replied, “Turn from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it.”

Clearly, Norbert’s experience is much like that of the great St. Paul who was struck down from his horse on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christians, then seeing a vision of Our Lord Jesus Christ who said to him, “Saul, Saul, why dost thou persecute me?” And as we are all aware, Saul became St. Paul, the greatest evangelist and missionary who ever lived, bringing Our Lord to the gentiles and to everyone he possibly could. And so, like St. Paul, Norbert turned his life around to fulfill what the inner voice told him to accomplish.

Numerous heresies existed and the faithful became lukewarm. Accordingly, Father Norbert founded a religious Order called the Norbertines. He fought these heresies, particularly with regard to the Blessed Sacrament, revitalizing the lay people he served and making peace and effecting reconciliation among enemies. Father Norbert understood that he could only effect the changes necessary through Our Lord, wherein he emphasized devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, the true presence, body, blood, soul and divinity, of Jesus.

Father Norbert became the Archbishop of Magdeburg in central Germany, a community of Pagans and Christians. Archbishop Norbert took an important part in the politics of the papacy and the empire. He reformed the clergy and the laity, and was met with so much opposition that on occasions, he escaped assassination attempts. But this did not deter him and he consistently fought the good fight and ran the good race.

He died in Magdeburg on June 6, 1134, and he was canonized as a saint in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII.

On the day of his ordination, St. Norbert said in pertinent part:

O Priest!. . .You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not your own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing. What then are you? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the cross be said to you: ‘He saved others, himself he cannot save’.

St. Norbert fully recognized that in his capacity, he was
“In Persona Christ,” or “In The Person of Christ.” He understood the gravity of his status and the effect he had upon the salvation of the people he served. His bravery, courage, determination, effectiveness and pure love of God helped him to be an excellent reformer, assisting in turning the lukewarm into true followers of Our Lord, and proclaiming what was actually evil, and actually good, and not confusing them as is done constantly in today’s world, the devil’s tactics.

Dear St. Norbert, help us never to be lukewarm, for Jesus said he would vomit them out of His mouth. Help us to be fierce and loving Soldiers of the Triune God, to recognize “Jesus in disguise,” and to live out our Faith in word and deed. St. Norbert, pray for us!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources: Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh; Franciscan Media; Vatican website

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St. Agatha, Virgin & Martyr

St. Agatha

Today, February 5th, the universal Church honors St. Agatha, her name meaning “good,” one of the most highly honored virgin martyrs in Christian antiquity.

Agatha lived in the third century, having been born of a wealthy and noble family in Sicily.  At some time in her very early life, Agatha dedicated herself to Our Lord Jesus Christ.  At or about the age of 15, Agatha spurned the attempted amorous advances of Quintianus, the Roman prefect of Catania.  Because of this rejection, Quintianus made sure she was persecuted for her Christian faith.  St. Agatha prayed the following prayer before her persecution began:

Jesus Christ, Lord of all, thou seest my heart, thou knowest my desires.  Do thou alone possess all that I am.  I am thy sheep:  make me worthy to overcome the Devil.

Accordingly, he sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the madame so to speak, of a house of prostitution.  Agatha refused to work and present herself as a prostitute because of her pledge to Jesus that she had devoted herself to Him.  Quintianus then had her come before him, putting her in prison.

We must keep in mind the fact that this occurred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Decius, who hated Christianity and Christians.  Not only was it his desire to eliminate all Christians by torture and/or death, he wanted to completely eliminate the religion of Christianity.  Of course then, this policy was also adopted by the officials of Rome.  Quintianus then subjected Agatha to interrogation, wherein all along, Agatha declared that she was the servant of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, Quintianus made sure that she was to experience the most hideous and cruel tortures, which included but was not limited to having her breasts cut out.  But St. Peter appeared to her consoling her wherein she was miraculously healed.  She nevertheless remained in prison.

Before she died, she said this beautiful prayer to Jesus:

Lord, my Creator, thou has always protected me from the cradle; thou has taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer.  Receive now my soul.  

She died in prison in 253 A.D., succumbing to the continual torture and abuse.  Our dear St. Agatha is mentioned in the canon of the Mass.  In contemporary times, she is known as the patron saint of women who suffer from breast cancer.

Again, we study about a beautiful lady with nerves and a will of steel because she never abandoned her Faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ, no matter what the torture.  What she went through for Jesus we cannot ever imagine.  Her loyalty to Our Lord never ceased, which is a quality severely wanting in today’s society.  Because of your specific torture dear St. Agatha, I ask your intercession before the Triune God to help all women throughout the world who are suffering from breast cancer; please ask Our Lord to heal them and bring them rest and peace.  We honor you today dearest young lady, and pray that in our lives, we will live it with similar loyalty, courage, determination and love!

Respectfully,

Joan

Sources:  One Hundred Saints, Bulfinch Press; Vatican website; Butler’s Lives of the Saints, edited by Michael Walsh; Catholic Encyclopedia; Wikipedia

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