The Solemnity of Our Holy Father Norbert falls on June 6th. This year June 6th is, in many countries, the Sunday of which falls the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, therefore many of our communities, including our own, will be marking St. Norbert on June 7th, thus our novena begins one day later than usual.
St. Norbert and the Blessed Sacrament
Today our novena especially honours Our Holy Father’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Our Holy Father was devoted to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass from the very beginning of his priestly life, often saying Mass many times during the day. His chief miracles were always wrought in connection with the Blessed Sacrament and he was one of the first saints to be properly called ‘Eucharistic’. His chief claim to the title the Church has bestowed on him, that of ‘Apostle of the Blessed Sacrament’ is derived from his work in Antwerp. In the city of Antwerp, in what is known today as Belgium, there had been a rather troublesome character called Tanchelm. He campaigned against the hierarchy of the Church and their supposed immorality to such an extent that he taught that priests and bishops of ill repute could not validly say Mass. Whilst this was the main thrust of his teaching he also gathered about himself a crowd of citizens who he persuaded to abandon the sacraments and revere him as the Son of God. Whilst Tanchelm met his end, the people of the city were still very much caught up in the heresy when St. Norbert arrived to their aid.
Our Holy Father preached to them of the glories of the Blessed Sacrament and through him the city of Antwerp renounced the heresies of Tanchelm and returned to the Catholic Church. St. Norbert then made them search out the Hosts they had buried and They were found – entirely intact and bore in solemn procession back to Antwerp where St. Norbert replaced Them in the tabernacle. This episode is commemorated in the Norbertine Missal with a feast called ‘The Triumph of St. Norbert’.
St. Norbert’s devotion to the Blessed Sacrament was left to us his sons and, in each place where houses of the Order were established, devotion to the Holy Eucharist was greatly encouraged. The ardent desire of members of our Order that people should love Christ in the Blessed Sacrament has won for many of them the crown of martyrdom. In every age Norbertines have gone to their deaths rather than deny the love Our Lord shows us by His presence in the Holy Eucharist. This witness was recognised by Pope Pius XI, a great friend of the Order, who described us as ‘Gloriously Eucharistic and Eucharistically Glorious’.
Let us pray therefore that through the intercession of St. Norbert all Catholics may grow more fervent in their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.
V) Pray for us, O Holy Father Norbert,
R) That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray,
Awake O Lord, in Thy Church the Spirit by Whom St. Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop, was guided in order that, filled with the same Spirit, we may love what he loved, and live as he taught us. Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.