Monday, June 7

Lessons from Saints - Norbert

Norbert was an 11th century noble who lived in what is now Germany. His father was a count and related to the Imperial line and the House of Lorraine. He was a member of the court of Emperor Henry V, and lived a life of ease and pleasure. Norbert became a canon as a career move, seeing the benefits of the ecclesiastical life but did not wish to enter the restrictive orders of the priesthood.

One day, as he was riding, a terrible thunderstorm blew up and a stroke of lightning spooked his horse, throwing the courtier to the ground and knocking him unconscious. When he came to, his first thoughts were "Lord, what would you have me do?" In response Norbert heard in his heart, "Turn from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it."

He returned to his birthplace of Xanten and promptly took the orders, becoming a priest. He gave his wealth and possessions away, adopted a rather extreme ascetic lifestyle and petitioned the Pope to become an itinerant preacher. He founded abbeys and reformed others. In time, he was made a bishop and, eventually, an archbishop.

Norbert had it all - wealth, power and a life of ease in a time when many lived a life of privation. Not only was he part of the system, but Norbert had an inside track to becoming one of the very rich and influential. Then, he had a moment when a choice for a different life was given to him - a chance to trade in his temporal wealth for that of spiritual treasures. Norbert gave up everything to follow Christ. He listened to the Voice Within and followed it, even when it meant turning his back on everything which he had worked for and was told was of value.

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