The Holy Rule and the Holy Habit

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.

Norbertus witte kleed X028048


Norbert gathered together almost forty clerics and very many lay people at Prémontré, and he encouraged them morning and evening with continuous consolation, and urged them with many sermons not to abandon their good intention and the voluntary poverty which they had undertaken. In thought and speech, he flew to rest as a dove, and made his hearers take flight, so that with the prophet he seemed to say: “I shall take on wings as a dove and I shall fly and I shall rest.”

They entrusted themselves to him so much and they clung to him with such affectionate friendship that they sought no day order, no rule, no institutes of the Holy Fathers to obtain the glory of eternal joy except what they heard from his mouth or discovered he had said. But knowing this, Norbert, prudent and circumspect in all things, lest his holy institute falter in the future, and the foundation, which he intended to place on solid rock, totter, he advised them about a rule and the institutes of the Holy Fathers, without which the apostolic and evangelical way of life could not be completely observed.

Norbert, whose work and plans depended on heaven, entrusted his foundation neither to himself nor to others, but rather to Him who is the beginning of all things. He pondered these things in his heart, as a wise man who is quick to hear, but who defers and postpones until later.

Lest he seem to betray their canonical profession to which he and those who wished to live with him had been dedicated since their youth, Norbert ordered that the rule be adapted which the Blessed Augustine had established for his followers. He had heard that this way of life was ordained and renewed by this same blessed man after the Apostles. This rule was brought to him and he carefully studied it, and afterwards he explained explained himself in the common chapter: “I know one of the confreres of our profession who has seen the Blessed Augustine. He was researching our rule rather seriously, not on his own, but at the request of his confreres. Augustine with his right hand held out the golden rule. He made himself known to him clearly, saying, ‘I, whom you see, am Augustine, Bishop of Hippo. Behold, you have the rule which I have written, under which, if your confreres, my sons, fight well, they will stand secure before Christ in the terror of the last judgement.’” Norbert told his story humbly as if about another. Nevertheless, it was he himself to whom this was revealed.

Immediately, on Christmas day in 1121, one by one they enrolled themselves under that rule into the city of blessed eternity for the sake of stability in place and profession.

The Holy Fathers teach that preachers and those following the canonical profession should be models of those angels who were the witnesses of the resurrection, and it is certain that these angels appeared in white, and those following canonical profession should not cause scandal regarding these white garments. Since also they are penitents, and if their duty forces them to go out among the people, they should not be opposed to woolen garments. But if they are going to enter the sanctuary, they should not fail to use linen, as was the custom in the old testament. Norbert did not teach this in order to detract from the other precepts of the Holy Fathers, of which there are many, but rather because he was shown these garments in a vision of the Queen of Heaven, who said to that just man: “My son Norbert, receive the white habit from my hands!”

℣ 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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