The glorious conversion of St Norbert

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful,
and enkindle within them the fire of Thy love.

℣ Send forth Thy Spirit, O Lord
℟ And Thou shall renew the face of the earth

Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us that by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His holy consolations. Through Christ our Lord. ℟ Amen.

The Conversion of St Paul. As the Lord said to the trembling Apostle, so too did he say to Norbert: "Why are you persecuting me?"

The Conversion of St Paul. As the Lord said to the trembling Apostle, so too did he say to Norbert: “Why are you persecuting me?”

Accompanied by a single servant, Norbert hastened alone to a place called Vreden. Why he went secretly or alone only He knows, who said: “I will surround your way with briars.” But while he was riding along in a pleasant green meadow dressed in silk and on a fine horse, suddenly clouds appeared, a storm came up, thunder roared and lightning flashed. The power of the storm struck them with terror and the thoughts of a fearful death. The unlettered boy called to his learned master, servant to lord, boy to elder: “Norbert, where are you going? Sir, what are you doing? Turn back, Father, turn back. The hand of the Lord is powerful against you.”

The Lord above is compassionate in calling back and not slow to change, as if He were saying: “Norbert, Norbert, why are you persecuting me? I have fitted you with a body. I have given you wealth with which to outfit yourself. You ought to have served me. Why do you rush to destroy others? It is hard for you to kick against the goad.”

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the ground before the horse’s feet. It scorched the grass, splitting open the earth to a great depth. The powerful hand of the Lord cast down the rider. The boy stood there, stunned. His master lay there, as did the horse, unconscious and almost to the point of death. The place and the man’s clothing stank. It was the stench of sulphur, like the fire of Hell.

After an hour the man rose as from a deep sleep. Coming to himself, he was touched with grief of heart and began to say to himself: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Immediately, as if He were responding: “Turn from evil and do good; seek after peace and pursue it.” Norbert went no farther, but reflecting on the Lord’s mercies, that He is good, that His mercy is forever, Norbert returned home.

From this time on the fire of divine love which had been ignited gradually expanded. He neither changed his garb suddenly nor immediately left the world. However, beneath his soft garments he wore rough haircloth to tame his members and fight against his lower nature. Then gradually and slowly the interior sword of the Word of God, penetrating the depths and burning his loins and searching his heart, began interiorly to reform what had been deformed, changing the wild and rapacious hawk into a simple and meek dove. As the Apostle says, where sin abounded, grace also abounded.

Imbued with the new grace of interior virtue, not yet having put off the old exterior garment, he modified his desire with the hope of a more abundant harvest. He chose to take on the garb of the new man and its mark of honour at the same time, the former with the religious habit, the latter with the dignity of the priesthood. The conferred gifts would be more pleasant the more they would be stronger from the double conferral, and thus the evil spirit would be more seriously damaged in the sight of onlookers the more the magnificent King gloriously triumphed in Norbert.

℣ Being found in the rugged paths of vice by the Guardian of the city,
℟ Stayed by lightning stroke, he put off the old man.

℣ He who was dead lives again;
℟ He who was lost is found.

℣ Having laid aside his earthly goods
℟ He put on the garment of poverty.

℣ When he found the valley of Prémontré, he cried:
℟ “This is the spot which the Lord has chosen for us.”

℣ What he preached in word, he fulfilled in deed
℟ Confirming the faithful by his miracles and wonderful actions.

℣ He entered Magdeburg barefoot
℟ And clothed in the garment of poverty

℣ Having given his support to the Holy Church of Rome in her afflictions,
℟ Blessing his brethren, he fell asleep in Christ.

Norbert, as a burning light placed on a candlestick, illumined all who dwelt with him.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

℣ Pray for us, O Holy Father Norbert,
℟ That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

O God, who did make of Blessed Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop, an excellent preacher of the Word, and by his means did enrich Thy Church with new offspring, grant, we beseech Thee, that through his intercession we may put into practice, by Thy grace, what he taught us, both in word and work.

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.

O Lord, grant to us Thy servant’s constancy in Thy faith and service, that, rooted in Divine charity, we may not be conquered by any temptation.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

℣ Praised be the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar
℟ And the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


About piusdcollins

Canon of the Premonstratensian Canonry of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Philip Benizi, Chelmsford.
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