INTERVIEW WITH POPE ABOARD FLIGHT TO CROATIA
VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2011 (VIS) - As is traditional on international apostolic journeys, Benedict XVI granted a brief interview to the journalists who accompanied him on the flight to Croatia. (IMAGE SOURCE; RADIO VATICANA)
The first question was: Your Holiness, you have already been to Croatia on other occasions and your predecessor travelled there three times. Could you speak of a particular relationship between the Holy See and Croatia? What are the most meaningful reasons for and aspects of this relationship and this visit?
The Pope responded that he had travelled to Croatia on two other times, "the first for the funeral of Cardinal Franjo Seper, my predecessor at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who was a great friend. ... Later I visited again at the invitation of his personal secretary, Capek, who was also a man of great joy and great goodness, to take part in a celebration at a Marian sanctuary. There I witnessed the people's piety, which, I have to say, is similar to that of my own land. ... Thus I saw and experienced how Croatia, with its millennia-old Catholic history, is always very close to the Holy See and naturally with its prior history of the ancient Church".
Holy Father, Croatia may soon be united to the other 27 nations that make up the European Union. Recently, however, a certain skepticism toward the European Union has been growing among the Croatian people. In this situation, will you carry a message of encouragement to the Croatians, so that they might see Europe not solely from an economic prospect but also a cultural one and from Christian values?
Benedict XVI pointed out that Croatia "is a people who are at the center of Europe, of its history and of its culture. I think in this sense that it is logical, right, and necessary that they join the European Union. ... It is understandable that there might be a fear of an overly powerful centralized 'bureaucracy' or of a rationalistic culture that does not take its history sufficiently into account or the richness of that history and the richness of historical diversity. It seems to me that this could be precisely a mission for this people who are now entering: to renew, in unity, this diversity. European identity is precisely an identity of the richness of its different cultures, which converge in the Christian faith and in the great Christian values. It seems to me that it is also precisely a mission of the Croatians, who are now joining, to make this visible and efficient again: to reinforce the historicity of our cultures and the diversity that is our richness, against a certain abstract rationalism. In this sense I encourage the Croatians: the process of entering into Europe is a reciprocal process of giving and receiving. With its history, with its human and economic capacity, Croatia gives, and naturally it receives, thus broadening its horizon and living in this great commerce that is not only economic but above all cultural and spiritual as well".
The last question was: Many Croatians were hoping that, on the occasion of your visit, Blessed Cardinal Stepinac would also be canonized. What importance today, from your point of view, does his figure hold?
The Pope responded that "the cardinal was a great pastor and a great Christian as well as a man of exemplary humanism. I would say that Cardinal Stepinac had to live during two opposing dictatorships, which were however both anti-humanist. First, the Ustashe regime, which seemed to embody the dream of autonomy and independence, but which in reality was an autonomy based on a lie because it was used by Hitler for his own ends. Cardinal Stepinac understood this very well and defended true humanism against this regime, defending Serbs, Jews, and gypsies. ... Then there was the opposite dictatorship of communism, under which he again fought for the faith, for the presence of God in the world, and for the true humanism that is dependent on God's presence. Only if the human is an image of God does humanism flourish. This was his destiny: to fight in two different and opposing battles. It is precisely his decision for the truth against the spirit of the times, for this true humanism that comes from the Christian faith, which is a great example, not just for Croatians, but for us all".
VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 9:30 this morning the Holy Father left Rome's Fiumicino Airport and, after a flight of an hour and a half, landed in Zagreb's Pleso International Airport, thus beginning his nineteenth international apostolic visit, the first he has made to Croatia.
The Pope was welcomed by Mr. Ivo Josipovic, president of the Republic of Croatia, Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, and Archbishop Marin Srakic, president of the Croatian Bishops' Conference.
During his greeting to President Josipovic, Benedict XVI recalled the three pastoral visits to Croatia made by Blessed John Paul II and thanked the Lord for "for the long history of faithfulness that links your country to the Holy See. For over thirteen centuries", he said, "those strong and special bonds have been put to the test and strengthened in circumstances that were sometimes difficult and painful. This history is an eloquent testimony to your people's love for the Gospel and the Church".
"From its earliest days", he continued, "your Nation has formed part of Europe, and has contributed, in its unique way, to the spiritual and moral values that for centuries have shaped the daily lives and the personal and national identity of Europe's sons and daughters. In the face of the challenges posed by today's culture - marked as it is by social differentiation and instability, and by an individualism that gives rise to a vision of life without obligations and a constant search for 'private space' - there is a need for convinced witness and active dynamism aimed at promoting the fundamental moral values that underpin social living and the identity of the Old Continent".
The Pope emphasized that, "twenty years after the declaration of independence and on the eve of Croatia's full integration into the European Union, this country's remote and recent history can stimulate reflection on the part of all the other peoples of the Continent, helping them, individually and collectively, to preserve and to inject new life into that priceless common heritage of human and Christian values. So may this beloved Nation, in the strength of its rich tradition, help to steer the European Union towards a fuller appreciation of those spiritual and cultural treasures".
Noting that he had come to celebrate the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families, with the theme: "Together in Christ", the Holy Father hoped that "this important event will serve as an opportunity for proposing afresh the values of family life and the common good, for strengthening unity, renewing hope and leading people to communion with God, the foundation of fraternal sharing and social solidarity".
After the welcome ceremony, Benedict XVI travelled to the presidential palace for a courtesy visit to President Josipovic.
At 1:00pm, the Pope went to the apostolic nunciature in Zagreb where he received in audience Croatia's prime minister, Jadranka Kosor. At the end of the meeting the Holy Father had lunch with the members of his entourage.
MEETING WITH CULTURAL REPRESENTATIVES
VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2011 (VIS) - After greeting the national organization committee of the apostolic visit at the nunciature of Zagreb the Holy Father travelled to the National Theater at 5:45pm to meet with representatives of civil society and the political, academic, cultural, and business realms as well as with the diplomatic corps and religious leaders.
Benedict XVI was welcomed by a small musical ensemble and was greeted by Archbishop Zelimir Puljic, of Zadar, president of the Croatian Bishops' Conference Cultural Commission and Prof. Niko Zurak, chair of Ethics in Zagreb's Faculty of Medicine and member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.
The Pope began his address speaking of "the dimension of universality, characteristic of art and culture, [which] is particularly appropriate for Christianity and the Catholic Church. Christ is fully human, and whatever is human finds in him and in his Word the fullness of life and meaning".
"This splendid theatre", he continued, "is a symbolic place, expressive of your national and cultural identity. For me to come together with you in this place is a further cause of joy in spirit, because the Church is a mystery of communion and always rejoices in communion, in the richness of diversity. The participation of representatives from other Churches and Christian communities, as well as the Jewish and Muslim religions, helps remind us that religion is not a separate area marked off from society. Rather, it is a natural element within society, constantly recalling the vertical dimension: attentive listening to God as the condition for seeking the common good, for seeking justice and reconciliation in the truth. Religion places man in relation with God, the Creator and Father of all, and must therefore be a force for peace. Religions need always to be purified according to their true essence in order to correspond to their true mission".
The Holy Father then introduced the main topic of his reflection, the theme of conscience, which "is fundamental for a free and just society, both at national and supranational levels. Naturally", he said, "I think of Europe, to which Croatia has always belonged on the historical and cultural plane, and which it is now about to enter on the political and institutional level. Truly, the great achievements of the modern age - the recognition and guarantee of freedom of conscience, of human rights, of the freedom of science and hence of a free society - should be confirmed and developed while keeping reason and freedom open to their transcendent foundation, so as to ensure that these achievements are not undone, as unfortunately happens in not a few cases. The quality of social and civil life and the quality of democracy depend in large measure on this 'critical' point - conscience, on the way it is understood and the way it is informed. If, in keeping with the prevailing modern idea, conscience is reduced to the subjective field to which religion and morality have been banished, then the crisis of the West has no remedy and Europe is destined to collapse in on itself. If, on the other hand, conscience is rediscovered as the place in which to listen to truth and good, the place of responsibility before God and before fellow human beings - in other words, the bulwark against all forms of tyranny - then there is hope for the future".
Benedict XVI then emphasized that it is necessary to remember the Christian roots of many Croatian institutions "for the sake of historical truth, and it is important that we understand these roots properly, so that they can feed the present day too. It is crucial to grasp the inner dynamic of an event such as the birth of a university, of an artistic movement, or of a hospital. It is necessary to understand the why and the how of what took place, in order to recognize the value of this dynamic in the present day, as a spiritual reality that takes on a cultural and therefore a social dimension".
To this end, the Pope cited Fr. Ruder Josip Boskovic, S.J., who was born in Dubrovnik 300 years ago and who "is a good illustration of the happy symbiosis of faith and scholarship, each stimulating the other through research that is at the same time open, diversified and capable of synthesis. ... In Boskovic, there is analysis, there is study of multiple branches of knowledge, but there is also a passion for unity. This is typical of Catholic culture. Hence, the foundation of a Catholic University in Croatia is a sign of hope. I trust that it will help to foster unity among the various fields of contemporary culture, the values and the identity of your people, lending continuity to the fruitful contribution of the Church to the history of the noble Croatian Nation".
Benedict XVI returned to the theme of conscience as "the keystone on which to base a culture and build up the common good. It is by forming consciences that the Church makes her most specific and valuable contribution to society. It is a contribution that begins in the family and is strongly reinforced in the parish, where infants, children and young people learn to deepen their knowledge of the sacred Scriptures, the 'great codex' of European culture; at the same time they learn what it means for a community to be built upon gift, not upon economic interests or ideology, but upon love, 'the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity'".
"This logic of gratuitousness, learnt in infancy and adolescence, is then lived out in every area of life, ... and once it has been assimilated it can be applied to the most complex areas of political and economic life so as to build up a polis that is welcoming and hospitable, but at the same time not empty, not falsely neutral, but rich in humanity, with a strongly ethical dimension. It is here that the lay faithful are called to give generously of the formation they have received, guided by the principles of the Church's Social Doctrine, for the sake of authentic secularism, social justice, the defense of life and of the family, freedom of religion and education", the Holy Father concluded.
At the end of this meeting with representatives of civil society, Benedict XVI travelled in the Popemobile to Josip Jelacic Square where he is scheduled to meet with the youth at 7:30pm.
POPE INVITES YOUTH TO TRUST IN THE LORD
VATICAN CITY, 4 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 7:15pm Benedict XVI travelled by Popemobile to Josip Jelacic Square, Zagreb's main square, capable of accommodating 50,000 persons, where he held a prayer vigil with the youth.
Before the Pope's arrival some young persons carried in procession the image of the Virgin of the Stone Gate, protectress of Zagreb, and placed it at the podium.
After reading some verses of the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians, two young persons offered their witness.
Afterward, the Holy Father gave his address. Referring to the reading in which St. Paul invites the community to "rejoice in the Lord always", the pope said that the Apostle's experience, which he writes while imprisoned, "reveals how it is possible, along the journey of our lives, to preserve joy even in moments of darkness".
"We all know", he stated, "that lodged in the heart of every person is a strong desire for happiness. Every action, every decision, every intention holds hidden within itself this deep, natural desire. But all too often we realize that we put our trust in things that cannot fulfill that desire, things that turn out to be shifting sands. At such moments we recognize our need for something 'greater', capable of giving meaning to our daily lives".
"This time of youth...", he continued "is a time of vast horizons, of powerful emotions, but also a time of concern about demanding, long-term choices, a time of challenges in your studies and in the workplace, a time of wondering about the mystery of pain and suffering. What is more, this wonderful time of life is marked by a deep longing which, far from canceling everything else, actually lifts it up and fulfils it".
"Jesus speaks to you today, through the Gospel and his Holy Spirit. He is your contemporary! He seeks you even before you seek him! While fully respecting your freedom, he approaches each one of you and offers himself as the authentic and decisive response to the longing deep within your hearts, to your desire for a life worth living. Let him take you by the hand! Let him become more and more your friend and companion along life's journey. Put your trust in him and he will never disappoint you!".
"Jesus enables you to know at first hand the love of God the Father; he helps you realize that your happiness comes from his friendship, from fellowship with him. Why? Because we have been created and saved by love, and it is only in love, the love which desires and seeks the good of others, that we truly experience the meaning of life and find happiness in living it, even amid difficulties, trials and disappointments, even when it means swimming against the tide".
Benedict XVI emphasized that "Jesus is not a Teacher who deceives his disciples: he tells us clearly that walking by his side calls for commitment and personal sacrifice, but it is worth the effort". In this sense he encouraged the youth to not let themselves "be led astray by enticing promises of easy success, by lifestyles which regard appearances as more important than inner depth. Do not yield to the temptation of putting all your trust in possessions, in material things, while abandoning the search for the truth which is always "greater", which guides us like a star high in the heavens to where Christ would lead us. Let it guide you to the very heights of God!".
While stressing that the saints would give them support during their youth, the Pope pointed out that "here in Croatia, ... Blessed Ivan Merz ... discovered the beauty of the Catholic faith and came to understand that his own calling in life was to experience, and to help others experience, the friendship of Christ. ... He died on 10 May 1928, at only 32 years of age, after a few months of sickness, offering his life for the Church and for young people".
"This young life, completely given over to love, bears the fragrance of Christ; it invites all of us not to be afraid and to entrust ourselves to the Lord as did the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, who is venerated and loved here under the title of Our Lady of the Stone Gate," he concluded.
After the address there followed a moment of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which remained exposed throughout the night for the faithful who wanted to remain in prayer, preparing themselves for Sunday's Mass.
The Holy Father said goodbye to the youth and travelled to the nunciature for dinner and to spend the night.
CHRISTIAN FAMILY CALLED TO EVANGELIZATION
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - At 9:00am the Holy Father travelled from the apostolic nunciature to the Zagreb Hippodrome, which is eight kilometers distant and located on the banks of the Sava River. The hippodrome has a capacity of 300,000 persons.
Upon arriving, the Pope encircled the grounds in the hippodrome by Popemobile, traveling through the crowd to reach the altar to celebrate Holy Mass for the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. The stage had the form of two hands: one protecting the source of eternal life, that is, the altar, the point of human-divine encounter in Christ, while the other hand, which forms the canopy, symbolizes the pneumatological action and the presence of the Spirit of God in the Church.
"We have recently celebrated the Ascension of the Lord and we prepare ourselves to receive the great gift of the Holy Spirit", the Pope said in his homily. "In the first reading, we saw how the apostolic community was united in prayer in the Upper Room with Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is a picture of the Church with deep roots in the paschal event. ... Remaining together was the condition given by Jesus for them to experience the coming of the Paraclete, and prolonged prayer served to maintain them in harmony with one another. We find here a formidable lesson for every Christian community. Sometimes it is thought that missionary efficacy depends primarily upon careful planning and its intelligent implementation by means of specific action. Certainly, the Lord asks for our cooperation, but his initiative has to come first, before any response from us: his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church, to be invoked and welcomed".
Benedict XVI then thanked the Croatian Bishops for their invitation to visit the country on the occasion of the first National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. He spoke of his great appreciation "for this attention and commitment to the family, not only because today this basic human reality, in your nation as elsewhere, has to face difficulties and threats, and thus has special need of evangelization and support, but also because Christian families are a decisive resource for education in the faith, for the up-building of the Church as a communion and for her missionary presence in the most diverse situations in life".
"Everyone knows that the Christian family is a special sign of the presence and love of Christ and that it is called to give a specific and irreplaceable contribution to evangelization. ... The Christian family has always been the first way of transmitting the faith and still today retains great possibilities for evangelization in many areas. Dear parents, commit yourselves always to teach your children to pray, and pray with them; draw them close to the Sacraments, especially to the Eucharist, ... introduce them to the life of the Church; in the intimacy of the home do not be afraid to read the sacred Scriptures, illuminating family life with the light of faith and praising God as Father. Be like a little Upper Room, like that of Mary and the disciples, in which to live unity, communion and prayer!".
"By the grace of God, many Christian families today are acquiring an ever deeper awareness of their missionary vocation, and are devoting themselves seriously to bearing witness to Christ the Lord. ... In today's society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality! Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family - your concrete testimony - is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them".
"Dear families, be courageous!", the pontiff exclaimed. "Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person! Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: 'the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her ... And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a "small domestic church"'. Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!".
POPE ENTRUSTS CROATIAN FAMILIES TO MARY
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - After Holy Mass had ended, Benedict XVI prayed the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in Zagreb's Hippodrome.
"I have come here today to confirm you in your faith", the Pope said. "This is the gift I bring you: the faith of Peter, the faith of the Church! But at the same time you give me this same faith, enriched with your experience, your joys and sufferings. In a special way you give me your faith lived in the family, so that I may keep it in the patrimony of the whole Church. I know that you find great strength in Mary, the Mother of Christ and our Mother. So we now turn to her, spiritually oriented towards her Shrine at Marija Bistrica, and we entrust to her all Croatian families: parents, children, grandparents; the journey of husband and wife, the task of education, professional activities and home-making. We invoke her intercession that public institutions may always sustain the family, the basic cell of the social fabric".
The Holy Father also entrusted the celebration of the VII World Day of Families, which will be celebrated in Milan, Italy next year to the Virgin. He then noted that the Cathedral of Burgo de Osma, Spain was today celebrating the beatification of Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, "an outstanding bishop of seventeenth-century Mexico and Spain. He was a man of vast culture and profound spirituality and a great reformer, a tireless pastor and defender of the Indians. May the Lord grant to his Church many holy pastors like Blessed Juan".
At the end of the Regina Coeli, the Pope returned by Popemobile to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch.
BLESSED STEPINAC, VALIANT PASTOR, EXAMPLE OF CHRISTIAN FORTITUDE
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - After taking his leave of the apostolic nunciature, the Pope travelled to Zagreb's Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and to St. Stephen I of Hungary, where he celebrated vespers with the bishops, priests, religious, and seminarians.
"This evening", the Holy Father said in his address, "we gather for a devoted and prayerful remembrance of Blessed Aloysius Viktor Stepinac, a fearless pastor and an example of apostolic zeal and Christian fortitude, whose heroic life continues today to illuminate the faithful of the Dioceses of Croatia, sustaining the faith and life of the Church in this land. The merits of this unforgettable bishop are derived essentially from his faith: in his life, he always had his gaze fixed on Jesus, to whom he was always conformed, to the point of becoming a living image of Christ, and of Christ suffering. Precisely because of his strong Christian conscience, he knew how to resist every form of totalitarianism, becoming, in a time of Nazi and Fascist dictatorship, a defender of the Jews, the Orthodox, and of all the persecuted, and then, in the age of communism, an advocate for his own faithful, especially for the many persecuted and murdered priests. Yes, he became an advocate for God on this earth, since he tenaciously defended the truth and man's right to live with God".
"Blessed Aloysius Viktor Stepinac responded with his priesthood, with the episcopate, with the sacrifice of his life: a unique 'yes' united to that of Christ. His martyrdom signals the culmination of the violence perpetrated against the Church during the terrible period of communist persecution. Croatian Catholics, and in particular the clergy, were objects of oppression and systematic abuse, aimed at destroying the Catholic Church, beginning with its highest Authority in this place. That particularly difficult period was characterized by a generation of bishops, priests, and religious who were ready to die rather than to betray Christ, the Church and the Pope. The people saw that the priests never lost faith, hope, and charity, and thus they remained always united. This unity explains what is humanly inexplicable: that such a hardened regime could not make the Church bow down".
Benedict XVI asserted that "today too, the Church in Croatia is called to be united, to meet the challenges of a changed social context, identifying with missionary fervor new ways of evangelization, especially in the service of younger generations". In this sense he referred to the importance "above all for bishops priests to strive for reconciliation among separated Christians and between Christians and Muslims, following the footsteps of Christ who is our peace. Regarding your priests, do not neglect to offer them clear spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral directions. While the Christian community admits legitimate diversity within itself, it cannot render faithful witness to the Lord except in the communion of its members. This requires of you the service of vigilance, offered in dialogue and with great love, but also with clarity and firmness".
While recalling that Blessed Stepinac had said that "one of the greatest evils of our time is mediocrity in the questions of faith", the Pope noted that "the Church's moral teaching, often misunderstood today, cannot be detached from the Gospel. It falls particularly to the bishops to propose it authoritatively to the faithful, in order to assist them in evaluating their personal responsibilities and in harmonizing their moral choices with the demands of the faith".
The Holy Father urged the priests not to lose heart in spite of the scarcity of vocations and to "remain vigilant in prayer and in your spiritual lives, in order to perform your ministry fruitfully: to teach, to sanctify and to guide all those who are entrusted to your care. Welcome with magnanimity those who knock at the door of your heart ... Persevere in communion with your bishops and in mutual cooperation. Nourish your commitment at the life-giving waters of Scripture, the Sacraments, the constant praise of God, always open and docile to the actions of the Holy Spirit. You will thus be effective workers in the new evangelization, which you are called to realize together with the laity, in a coordinated way and without confusing what pertains to ordained ministry with what belongs to the universal priesthood of all the baptized. Keep close to your hearts the promotion of vocations to the priesthood".
He assured the consecrated men and women in attendance that "the Church expects much" of them. "May God himself", he said, "be your only treasure. Let yourselves be formed by him, thus making visible to the men and women of today a thirst for true values: the holiness, truth, and love of our heavenly Father".
Finally, he asked young people preparing for the priesthood or the consecrated life, that their "hearts always be ready. May the heroic testimony of Blessed Aloysius Viktor Stepinac inspire a renewal of vocations among the young people of Croatia".
At the end of the celebration, Benedict XVI prayed at the tomb of Blessed Stepinac.
BENEDICT XVI BIDS FAREWELL TO CROATIA
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2011 (VIS) - After visiting the residence of Cardinal Josip Bozanic, archbishop of Zagreb, where he signed the archbishopric's Golden Book and met with the archdiocese's auxiliary bishops, the Holy Father travelled to Pleso International Airport to take his leave of the Croatian authorities, concluding his apostolic visit to Croatia.
On arriving at the airport, he was received by Mr. Ivo Josipovic, president of the Republic of Croatia, but due to a strong storm neither the Holy Father nor the president could give the addresses they had planned. The pontiff's plane left 45 minutes late. Following is the text of the address that Benedict XVI would have given:
"My visit to your country is drawing to a close. Though brief, it has been graced with encounters that have made me feel part of you, and part of your history, and they have given me the opportunity to confirm the faith of the pilgrim Church in Croatia in Jesus Christ, our only Savior. That faith, which came to you through the brave witness of many of your brothers and sisters, some of whom did not hesitate to die for Christ and his Gospel, I have found to be alive and sincere. Let us give thanks to God for the abundant gifts of grace which he dispenses generously on the daily path of his sons and daughters! I wish to thank everyone who helped in the planning and the smooth progress of my visit.
"These days have left a deep impression on my mind and my heart. The people's participation in this morning's celebration of Mass on the occasion of the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families was unanimous and heartfelt. In yesterday's gathering at the National Theatre I was able to share some thoughts with representatives of civil society and religious communities. The young people present at the prayer vigil showed me the radiant face of Croatia turned towards the future, illumined by a sincere faith, like the flame of a precious lamp handed down by our forebears for us to guard and replenish along the way. The prayer at the tomb of Blessed Cardinal Stepinac reminded us in a special way of all who have suffered - and still suffer today - on account of their faith in the Gospel. Let us continue to invoke the intercession of this fearless witness of the Risen Lord, so that every sacrifice, every trial offered to God out of love for him and for our neighbor, may be like the grain of wheat fallen to the ground that dies so as to bear fruit.
"It was a joy for me to experience today the vitality of your people's long-standing Christian tradition. I could sense it in the warm welcome given to me by the people, just as they welcomed Blessed John Paul II on his three visits, recognizing them as visits from the Successor of Peter who comes to confirm his brothers and sisters in the faith. This ecclesial vitality, which must be maintained and strengthened, will surely have positive results for society as a whole, thanks to the cooperation between the Church and public institutions, which it is hoped will always be serene and fruitful. At a time when stable and trustworthy reference points seem to be lacking, Christians united 'together in Christ', the cornerstone, can continue to act as the 'soul' of the Nation, helping it to develop and to make progress.
"As I leave for Rome, I place all of you in the hands of God. May he who is infinite providence, the giver of all good things, always bless the land and the people of Croatia; may he grant peace and prosperity to every family. May the Virgin Mary watch over the historic journey of your homeland and of the whole of Europe. And let my Apostolic Blessing, which I offer you with great affection, accompany you on your way".
CONCLUSION OF FIRST PHASE OF APOSTOLIC VISIT IN IRELAND
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Following is the communique issued today at the conclusion of the first phase of the apostolic visitation in Ireland.
"In accordance with the time-scale indicated in the communique of 12 November 2010, the first phase of the Apostolic Visitation announced by the Holy Father in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, in order to 'assist the local Church on her path of renewal' (19 March 2010, par. 14), has now been concluded.
As indicated in the above-mentioned communique, the visitators set out to examine:
a) 'whether the mutual relationship of the various components of the local Church, seminaries and religious communities is now in place, in order to sustain them on the path of profound spiritual renewal already being pursued by the Church in Ireland';
b) 'the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse';
c) 'the current forms of assistance provided to the victims'.
The visitation to the four metropolitan archdioceses, the seminaries and the religious institutes has been very useful, thanks to the cooperation of everyone who took part in this initiative. The Holy Father's sincere thanks goes to them, especially to the four Metropolitan Archbishops.
The visitators' reports have been handed in to the competent dicasteries of the Holy See. Individually, and in the context of interdicasterial meetings specially convened for the purpose and conducted in a constructive atmosphere, the dicasteries in question have carried out an initial evaluation, from which it emerges that:
1) As far as the Irish dioceses and seminaries are concerned, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Catholic Education do not envisage further Apostolic Visitations. Having encountered various organizations and individuals, including the suffragan bishops, the visitators have been able to arrive at a sufficiently complete picture of the situation of the Irish Church with respect to the areas under investigation.
2) The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has analyzed the responses to the questionnaires that were sent to all institutes with religious houses in Ireland. In accordance with the method previously adopted, visits 'in loco' to some religious communities will follow.
3) In the coming months, the competent dicasteries will give indications to the bishops for the spiritual renewal of the dioceses and seminaries, and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will do likewise for the religious institutes.
4) By early 2012, the Holy See will publish an overall synthesis indicating the results and the future prospects highlighted by the Visitation, not least with a view to the nationwide mission announced in the above-mentioned letter of the Holy Father".
VATICAN CITY, 6 JUN 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father appointed Archbishop Alberto Bottari de Castello, apostolic nuncio to Japan, as apostolic nuncio to Hungary.
On Saturday, 4 June, the Holy Father appointed:
- Fr. Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, as bishop of Aberdeen (area 29,068, population 718,000, Catholics 18,600, priests 49, permanent deacons 11, religious 45), Scotland. The bishop-elect was born in 1952 in Emsworth Hants, England and was ordained a priest in 1982. He succeeds Bishop Peter Anthony Moran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Fr. Crispin Ojeda Marquez, pastor of Corazon Inmaculada de Maria Parish in the Diocese of Colima, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Mexico (area 1,429, population 8,852,000, Catholics 7,909,000, priests 1,797, permanent deacons, 128, religious 7,345), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in 1952 in Tecoman, Mexico and was ordained as a priest in 1979.
- Fr. Efrain Mendoza Cruz, rector of the Major Seminary of Tlalnepantla, Mexico, as auxiliary bishop of that same archdiocese (area 682, population 3,980,000, Catholics 3,184,000, priests 342, permanent deacons 11, religious 432), Mexico. The bishop-elect was born in 1959 in Tlalnepantla and was ordained as a priest in 1988.
- Cardinal Carlos Amigo Vallejo, archbishop emeritus of Seville, Spain, as his special envoy to the closing celebrations of the Jubilee Year of the 500th anniversary of the canonical erection of the first ecclesiastical circumscriptions of the Americas: Santo Domingo y La Vega, Dominican Republic and San Juan de Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico, scheduled for 7-8 August 2011.
The transition is being made with the prayerful support of Bishop John Bryson Chane of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Catholic Archbishop of Washington.
“We welcome the St. Luke community warmly into our family of faith. The proposed ordinariate provides a path to unity, one that recognizes our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognizing and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican Church,” Cardinal Wuerl said. “We also recognize the openness of the community to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their faith journey.”
In fall 2009, Pope Benedict XVI authorized the formation of “ordinariates” for former Anglican parishes seeking to enter the Catholic Church as a congregation. An ordinariate is a geographic region similar to a diocese, though typically is national in scope. Until one is established for the United States, St. Luke’s congregation, which has approximately 100 members, will come under the care of the Archdiocese of Washington.
“This was a transition achieved in a spirit of pastoral sensitivity and mutual respect,” said Bishop Chane. “Christians move from one church to another with far greater frequency than in the past, sometimes as individuals, sometimes as groups. I was glad to be able to meet the spiritual needs of the people and priest of St. Luke’s in a way that respects the tradition and polity of both of our Churches.”
Under the terms of a letter of agreement signed last week with the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the St. Luke congregation will continue to worship in their current church, at 4006 53rd Street, Bladensburg. The agreement is a lease with a purchase option. The community will begin preparations for reception into the Catholic Church later this year while Rev. Mark Lewis, rector of St. Luke’s, hopes to begin the process to be ordained a Catholic priest.
“I am deeply grateful to Cardinal Wuerl and to Bishop Chane for their support throughout this discernment. We look forward to continuing to worship in the Anglican tradition, while at the same time being in full communion with the Holy See of Peter,” Rev. Lewis said.
The first ordinariate was established in England in January 2011. Ordinariate parishes are fully Catholic, while retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage and liturgical tradition. Cardinal Wuerl is the Vatican’s representative for the implementation of Anglicanorum coetibus (pronounced Anglican-orum chay-tee-boose) in the United States, the papal document authorizing the establishment of ordinariates. This document and other material are online at www.adw.org.
ALL AFRICA REPORT; Attacks by members of the Islamic sect, Boko Haram in Maiduguri, Borno State continued yesterday, with twin bomb explosions at the main store of the Disease Control Unit of the Borno State Ministry of Health and St. Patrick Catholic Church.
Drugs, vaccines and property worth millions of naira were destroyed in the blasts, though no loss of lives was reported as at the time of going to the press.
When our correspondent visited the scene of the explosion yesterday, the stores were still burning while members of the fire fighting were busy trying to put the fire off.
A trader whose store was affected, Mohammed Mustapha told our correspondent that he lost over N25 million in the inferno.
He said: "The fire destroyed Chinese carpet, blanket, wrappers and other materials I kept in the store. It also destroyed the store of my neighbour who sales food stuffs.
Another bomb also exploded in the Saint Patrick Catholic Church opposite Borno state secretariat uprooting electric poles and cables and destroyed bishop's office.
Our correspondent gathered that the incident occurred at about 3:05 pm.
When our correspondent contact the State Police Public Relations Officer Asp Lawal Abdulahi or confirmations, he said he is waiting of the DPO in-charge of the area to brief him and that he will get back to newsmen
Meanwhile, 18 persons have been confirmed dead, while 31 persons are currently hospitalised following last weekend's multiple bomb blasts in Northern parts of the country during the May 29 celebrations.
This was as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has provided relief materials and medical supports to victims of bomb blasts that occurred on Inauguration Day in, especially in Military Barracks Bauchi, and Zuba on the outskirts of Abuja.
Director General of NEMA, Muhammad Sani-Sidi who disclosed this in Bauchi during on the spot-assessment of the situation said many lives were actually saved as result of proactive approaches, preventive measures as well as prompt response of relevant agencies before and during the incidents.
Sani- Sidi said NEMA has continued to deploy relief assistance and rallied medical supports for speedy recovery of victims of bomb blasts in the country.
"Our operational offices have commenced compilation of lists of the victims and damages for the required assistance."
While making cash donation and provision of relief materials, the NEMA boss further disclosed that the federal government is taking the responsibility for the treatment and feeding of victims that are still admitted in various public hospitals in Bauchi and Federal Capital Territory.
He also commended the stakeholders, particularly the State Emergency Management Agencies (SEMAs), military, the police, civil defence corps and the Red Cross for the prompt assistance rendered to those affected by the blast.
During the visit, the NEMA team was received by the state Deputy Governor Alhaji Sagir Aminu Saleh, Commander 33 Artillery Brigade, Brigadier General A. Robinson and the Emir of Bauchi, Alhaji Rilwanu Suleman Adamu.
Meanwhile, suspected Boko Haram members late on Wednesday set the office of the Borno State National Programme on Immunisation (NPI) in Unguwan Doki in Maiduguri ablaze.
Residents of the place said in Maiduguri yesterday that the fanatics attacked the building with explosives.
"We were at home watching the Nigeria/Argentina match when we heard large bang around 7.23 p.m.
"Shortly after, we began to hear sporadic gunshots outside, followed by noise of people running helter and shelter outside," Mallam Bello Isa said.
Isa said the incident was followed by a large smoke coming out of the building after it was gutted by fire.
Also, Mallam Usman Musa, a security guard, said some individuals entered the building around 7 p.m. and set the place ablaze.Madam Lizzy Umoh, another resident, corroborated Isa's claim, saying the fire subsequently, engulfed nearby stores where all items were completely destroyed.
"They chased out the old security man immediately they got in and planted explosives which went off and set the place on fire," Musa said.
When contacted, Mallam Lawal Abdullahi, the Police Public Relations Officer ruled out sabotage in the incident.
"It was purely a fire incident and the police have already commenced investigations into the cause.
"There was no life lost but we are yet to quantify the value of the property lost," Abdullahi said.
Film directors from Asia fared well at the 26th International Catholic Film Festival award ceremony held June 4 at Niepokalanow, near Warsaw.
The president of Signis Japan, Professor Shigeki Chiba opened the awards haul, receiving the prestigious “Multimedia at the Service of the Gospel Award.” There were two prizes in this category “for outstanding achievements in the area of evangelization through multimedia.”
Chiba, veteran director of 12 award-winning films including historical films on Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, St. Maxmilian Kolbe, and Blessed John Paul got the overseas award for promoting evangelization through media and producing films based on Christian spirituality.
The national award in the same category went to Salesian Father Roman Szpakowski, president of the Catholic Editors Association of Poland, and Founder organizer of the annual Catholic Editors Fair at the Royal Castle of Warsaw.
This is the seventh year of the award dedicated to Julian Kulenty (1922-2000), Polish film director, cameraman and author of more than 100 films, as well as president of the Warsaw branch of the Polish Association of Scientific Film.
The only first prize an Indian film won in any category was a 25-minute Don Bosco flash film by director of DB Image Kochi, Father Jiji Kalavanal. He won the first prize, a statuette and a certificate.
Other films by Asian directors that received special jury mention in various categories included a documentary entitled “Pool of Siloam” (25 minutes) by Indian director Father Biju Michael SDB from Israel.
Other films receiving a jury mention were a 10 minute documentary from Indonesia entitled “Harikartini” by Budiyanto, and “The Boy Who Stood Up” from Nairobi, Kenya, by Indian Salesian Father Sebastian Koladiyil.
Chiba is scheduled to meet with the president of the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications, Archbsihop Celli, and screen the films in the Vatican, June 7 and at the Salesian University Rome, June 8.
Special screenings of his two epic films “Auschwitz – A Miracle of Love”,produced in 1981, are being arranged to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the martyrdom of St. Maximilian Maria this year. “Living with Mother Teresa”, produced to commemorate Blessed Teresa of Kolkata’s 100th birthday last year, is also being screened to honour the veteran film director.
Feast: June 6
St. Norbert was born at Santen, in the duchy of Cleves, in 1080. His father, Heribert, count of Gennep, was related to the emperor, and his mother derived her pedigree from the house of Lorraine. The rank which his birth gave him was rendered more illustrious by the excellent qualifications of his mind and body. His application to his studies was equal to the quickness of his parts, and he went through his academical exercises with extraordinary applause. But being at first blinded by the flattery of the world, he suffered himself to be carried away by its pleasures and pastimes, and had no higher thoughts than how he might live in honor and at his ease. He even received the ecclesiastical tonsure with a worldly spirit; and though he was instituted to a canonry at Santen and ordained sub-deacon, he neither changed his spirit nor his conduct. Being naturally inclined to mirth and gayety, he was the soul of all parties of pleasure, and by living in a circle of diversions, he drowned his soul in a round of vanities and trifling amusements, and was a stranger to serious reflection on himself, which would have opened his eyes. He would not be prevailed on to receive any higher orders for fear of a greater restraint on his conduct; and he led the same manner of life in the court of his cousin, the emperor Henry IV., who appointed him his almoner. God beheld with compassion the heart of this young nobleman enslaved to the world, in which he in vain sought that contentment and quiet of mind which no earthly advantages can afford, and which it is in the power of virtue alone to give. But to break his secret chains an extraordinary grace was necessary; and God awakened him from his spiritual lethargy by an alarming accident. Norbert was riding to a village in Westphalia, called Freten, in pursuit of his pleasures, mounted on a horse richly caparisoned, and attended by only one servant, when, in the midst of a pleasant meadow, he was overtaken by a violent storm, accompanied with dreadful thunder and lightning. Finding himself at a great distance from any shelter, he was overwhelmed with perplexity and fear, and while he was going on briskly, having set spurs to his horse, a ball of fire, or lightning, with a loud clap of thunder, fell just before his horse's feet, burned the grass, and cleft the earth. The poor beast, thus affrighted, threw his rider who lay like one dead for near an hour. At last coming to himself, like another Saul, he cried out to God, in the bitter compunction of his heart, "Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?" To which the divine grace interiorly suggested this reply, "Turn away from evil, and do good: seek after peace, and pursue it." Being thus humbled in the full career of his passions, he became upon the spot a sincere penitent. Returning no more to the court, he withdrew to his canonry at Santen, there led a life of silence and retirement, wore a hair shirt next his skin, and spent his time in tears, holy prayer, and meditation. Now taking a serious review of himself and the world, he detested his past ingratitude to God, and his folly in serving a deceitful world which mingles in all its delights much gall and bitterness, far outweighing the false and momentary pleasure. The remembrance of the divine mercy which had spared him, while many others had been cut off in their sins, and in a moment been buried in hell, pierced his heart to the quick, and drew daily from his eyes streams of tears, by which he endeavored to wash away the stains of his soul. The fire of divine love thus kindled in his heart, gained strength every day by his fidelity, and by fresh supplies of grace. But his conversion was completed by a retreat which he made in St. Sigebert's monastery near Cologne, and by the pious exhortations of Conon, the holy abbot of that house, who was made soon after bishop of Ratisbon. Norbert was at this time in the thirtieth year of his age.
After his conversion, he employed two years in preparing himself for the priesthood, which he received from the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, together with the order of deacon, his fervor seeming a sufficient cause for such a dispensation. At the time of his ordination, he appeared in a lambskin cassock tied with a cord, and thus published to the world, that from that moment he renounced all its vanities. After his ordination, he returned to Conon, and made, under his direction, a severe retreat of forty days to dispose himself by tears, prayer, and fasting to say his first mass, which he came back to Santen to celebrate with his chapter. After the gospel was sung at high mass, he mounted the pulpit, and made a most pathetic sermon on the vanity of the world, the shortness of human life, and the insufficiency of all created beings to satisfy the heart of man; and he indirectly inveighed against the disorders of his colleagues. In a chapter which was held the next day, he pointed them out more distinctly, and pressed a reformation so vigorously, that several of them became perfect converts, and loudly condemned their past irregularities. But others, who could not bear that their sores should be touched to the quick, burst out into intemperate rage against him, and not content with ill-usage, they accused him to the pope's legate as an innovator, a hypocrite, and one who covered pernicious designs under the specious presence of zeal for a reformation of manners. The saint, having before his eyes the sins of his past life, confessed that he deserved all manner of contempt and ill treatment, and rejoiced under injuries and afflictions Nevertheless, reflecting on what he owed to God's honor, he purged himself before the legate, in a council held at Fritzlar, in 1118. Soon after, inflamed with an ardent zeal to live to God alone, he resigned all his ecclesiastical preferments into the hands of the archbishop of Cologne, and sold his own estate, giving the money to the poor, reserving only to himself ten marks of silver, a mule, and sacred vestments and ornaments for the altar. Thus divested of all that could engage his stay in his own country, he travelled barefoot to St. Giles's in Languedoc, where pope Gelasius II. was at that time. He threw himself at his holiness's feet, and with extraordinary compunction, made to him a general confession of his whole life, begging absolution of all his past disorders, especially of the irregularity committed in his receiving the holy orders of deacon and priest at the same time, with out observing the interstices prescribed by the canons, though it had been done by the dispensation of his diocesan; and cheerfully offered himself to make any satisfaction. He obtained of the pope faculties to preach the gospel where he judged proper. It was then the depth of winter. Yet he walked barefoot through the snow, and, inflamed with an ardent love of God, and desire of promoting his glory, seemed insensible to the rigors of the season. His whole life was a perpetual lent, and he never took his meal till evening, except on Sundays. He preached penance with incredible fruit over the provinces of Languedoc, Guienne, Poitou, and Orleanois. Till he came to Orleans, he had been accompanied only by two laymen; but, passing through that city, was joined by a subdeacon, who desired to assist him in his mission. His three disciples all fell sick, and died at Valenciennes, in Hainault, in 1119. In that city Burchard, bishop of Cambray, who had been acquainted with the saint in the emperor's court, meeting him, was extremely edified with his humility, penance, and zeal; and Hugh, his chaplain, quitting his hopes and prospects in the world, resolved to accompany Norbert in his apostolical labors: this great man afterwards succeeded him in the government of his order. With this companion, the saint preached penance through all Hainault, Brabant, and the territory of Liege. The people crowded to hear him wherever he came, and his sermons, enforced and illustrated by an evangelical life, procured the conversion of great numbers, reconciled those that were at variance, and engaged usurers and others to make restitution of their ill-gotten goods.
Pope Calixtus II. having succeeded Gelasius II. in 1119, Norbert went to Rheims, where his Holiness held a council soon after his exaltation. The prelates of that assembly were no less charmed with the eloquence, wisdom, and piety of this great servant of God, than amazed at the austerity of his penance, which some advised him in vain to moderate. He was introduced to the pope, who was one of the greatest men that had filled the apostolic chair, by Bartholomew bishop of Laon, and obtained a fresh grant of the privileges and faculties he had received from his predecessor. That prelate earnestly requested that his Holiness would allow him to fix the holy man in his diocese, that he might employ him in reforming the regular canons of St. Martin's church at Laon. The pope readily consented, but these canons could not be induced to submit to his severe regulations. Wherefore the zealous bishop gave the holy man the choice of several places to build a house. The saint pitched upon a lonesome valley called Premontre, in the forest of Coucy, where he found the remains of a small chapel, which bore the name of St. John, but stood in so barren a soil that the monks of St. Vincent at Laon, the proprietors of it, had abandoned it. The bishop bought of them this desert piece of land, and there built a monastery for the saint, who assembled out of Brabant thirteen brethren, desirous to serve God under his direction. Their number soon increased to forty, who made their profession on Christmas-day, 1121. The saint gave them the rule of St. Austin, with a white habit, destining them, in imitation of the angels in heaven, to sing the divine praises on earth. Their manner of living was very austere; but their order is no other than a reformation of regular canons. It was soon spread over several parts of Europe. Among the foundations made by our saint, that of St. Michael's at Antwerp was attended with circumstances which were illustrious proofs of his zeal. That town was then in the diocese of Cambray, and consisted at that time but of one parish, which fell into the hands of an unworthy pastor, by whose sloth and irregular conduct the flock was sunk into great disorders. Tankelin, a bold and eloquent heretic, took his advantage of this unhappy state of the church at Antwerp, and openly asserted that the institution of the priesthood is a fiction, and that the eucharist and other sacraments are of no service to salvation. He drew after him three thousand persons, who believed him a great prophet, and were ready to commit any outrages to support his impious extravagances. After he had spread his errors in the dioceses of Utrecht, Cambray, and the adjacent churches, luring the people with magnificent banquets, and practising the most filthy abominations of the Gnostics, he was slain in 1115, in those tumults which himself had raised, meeting with the usual fate of the authors of seditions and disturbers of the public peace.
The combustion, however, continued still to rage with no less fury than ever, and to fill the whole country with desolation. The reputation of the sanctity and erudition of Norbert attracted the eyes of all Europe; and the canons of Antwerp, in this distress of their church, being joined by Burchard their bishop, who resided at Cambray, implored his charitable assistance. The saint lost no time, and arrived at Antwerp with a select number of his canons who labored under his direction. Such was the success of this mission, that in a short time the people were undeceived, the heretics converted, abuses reformed, and the city restored to its former tranquillity and lustre. The clergy of Antwerp settled St. Michael's church on the saint and his order; and removed the ancient college of secular canons to our Lady's, which in 1559 was erected by pope Paul IV. into a cathedral, when Antwerp was made a bishop's see. The bishop of Cambray confirmed the donation of St. Michael's to the saint in 1124. St. Norbert revived the devotion of the people to the holy sacrament of the altar, and its frequent use, which heresy had interrupted, and had the comfort to see this church flourish in piety before he returned to his first settlement. His order was then much increased, and contained ten abbeys and eight hundred religious men. Among others who embraced his rule, count Godfrey, a nobleman of high renown in the empire, put on the habit at Floreff near Namur, and led an exemplary life in that convent, serving God in the humble quality of a lay-brother. Several other persons of distinction fled from the corruption of the world to the sanctuaries established by this great director in the paths of salvation. His institute had been approved by the legates of Calixtus II., but a more solemn confirmation being judged necessary, St. Norbert undertook a journey to Rome in 1125. Pope Honorius II., who had succeeded Calixtus II. in the close of the foregoing year, and was a great encourager of learning and of good men, received him with all possible marks of respect and affection, and granted all he desired, as appears by his bull, dated in the February following. The saint at his return to Premontre, put the abbey of St. Martin's at Laon under his rule, which the canons then demanded, though they had rejected it six or seven years before. The abbey of Viviers in the diocese of Soissons made the same step. Theobald, a prime nobleman of France, desired to embrace his order; but the saint diverted him from that design, showing him that God, by the situation in which he had placed him in the world, pointed out what he required at his hands; he made him sensible that his obligations to his family and bleeding country were ties in conscience, and that by faithfully acquitting himself of them, he would most effectually labor to advance the honor, and accomplish the will of God.
Norbert having completed the great work of the establishment of his order, was obliged to quit his monastery, to be placed in a more exalted station for the benefit of many. The count of Champagne, who did nothing of importance without the advice and direction of our saint, took him into Germany, whither he was going to conclude a treaty of marriage between himself and Maud, a niece to the bishop of Ratisbon. After the death of the unhappy emperor Henry V., Lothaire II., duke of Saxony, was chosen king of the Romans in 1125, though he was only crowned emperor at Rome in 1132, by pope Innocent II. This excellent prince, whose reign was equally glorious and religious, was holding a diet at Spire when the count and St. Norbert arrived at that city. Deputies from the city of Magdeburg were come to the same place to solicit Lothaire for an archbishop in the room of Roger, who died the year before. Two persons were proposed for that dignity; but Lothaire preferred Norbert to them both. At his name the deputies rejoiced exceedingly; and, indeed, the saint was the only person not pleased with the nomination. The pope's legate, cardinal Gerard, who afterwards sat in St. Peter's chair under the name of Lucius II., made use of his authority to oblige him to comply. The deputies of Magdeburg took him with them to that city, where he was met at a distance by the principal persons, and by his clergy. He followed the procession barefoot, and was conducted to the church, and thence to his palace. But his dress was so mean and poor, that the porter shut the door against him, saying: "Why will you go in to disturb my lords?" Those that followed cried out: "He is our bishop." The saint said to the porter: "Brother, you know me better than they do who have raised such a one to this dignity." In this high station the austerity of his life was the same he had practiced in a cloister, only his humility was snore conspicuous. By the joint weight of his authority, eloquence, and example, he made a great reformation both; in the clergy and laity of his diocese; and by his strenuous and undaunted resolution, he recovered a considerable part of the lands of his church which had fallen into the hands of certain powerful secular princes. But his zeal made those his enemies whom his charity could not gain to their duty They loaded him with injuries, decried him among themselves, and encouraged one another in their disobedience and contempt of his person, calling him a stranger, whose manners were opposite to theirs. To such an excess did their rage carry them, that some even made attempts upon his life. One who saw himself obliged by the saint to renounce his licentious manner of life, hired a villain to assassinate him under presence of going to confession on Maundy-Thursday. The saint was apprized of his design, as some authors affirm, by revelation, and he caused him to be searched as he came in, and a dagger was found upon him. Another shot an arrow at the saint, which only missed him to wound another that was near him. Of these villanies Norbert only said, without the least emotion: "Can you be surprised that the devil, after having offered violence to our divine Head, should assault his members?" He always pardoned the assassins, and showed himself ever ready to lay down his life in the defence of truth and justice. By this patience and unshaken courage, ha in three years broke through the chief difficulties which obstructed the reformation of manners he labored to introduce, and from that time he carried on the work, and performed the visitation of his diocese with ease and incredible success. He continued still to superintend the observance of discipline in his order, though upon his episcopal consecration he had left the government thereof to his first disciple Hugh. The fourth general chapter consisted of eighteen abbots.
After the death of pope Honorius II. an unhappy schism divided the church. Innocent II. was duly chosen on the 14th of February, 1130: notwithstanding which, Peter, the son of Leo, under the name of Anacletus II., was acknowledged at Rome, and by Roger duke of Sicily. The true pope was obliged to fly into France, where he held councils at Clermont, Rheims, and Puy in Velay. St. Bernard and St. Norbert labored vigorously to prevent or remedy the disorders which the schism brought into many places. St. Norbert assisted for this purpose at the council which the pope assembled at Rheims in 1131. Upon his return home, the emperor Lothaire, who resolved to march with an army to Rome to put Innocent II. in possession of the Lateran church in 1132, carried our holy bishop with him in that expedition, trusting that his piety, prayers, and zealous exhortations, would contribute very much to the success of his undertaking; and the event answered his expectations. The saint returned to Magdeburg, where he fell, ill, and after four months' tedious sickness, died the death of the just on the 6th of June, in the eighth year of his episcopal dignity, the fifty-third of his age, of our redemption 1134. He was canonized by Gregory XIII. in 1582. Pope Urban VIII. appointed his festival to be kept on the 10th of June. His body remained at Magdeburg till that city embraced the Lutheran doctrine and revolted. The emperor Charles V. laid siege to it; but was prevailed upon to withdraw his army for a great sum of money. In the reign of Ferdinand II. the Lutheran magistrates, at the request of the Norbertine order, and of many princes, consented that the body of St. Norbert should be removed out of their city. The emperor ordered that it should be translated to Prague; which was done with great pomp in 1627. The sacred treasure was carried into that city by fourteen abbots with their mitres on, and laid in the church called of Mount Sion, all the orders of the city attending the ceremony in the most solemn and magnificent procession.
St. Norbert is usually painted holding a ciborium in his hand. He is distinguished by this symbol on account of his extraordinary devotion to the blessed sacrament. He inculcated in all his sermons the frequent use of this divine food, being sensible from daily experience, and from the words of truth itself, that a neglect, and much more a distaste or loathing of the holy communion, is a deplorable symptom of a most dangerous state in a spiritual life. A short interval in order to a better preparation is often a wholesome counsel, and sometimes a necessary duty. But "he who seldom approaches, because he is tepid and cold, is like one who should say I never approach the fire, because I am cold: I have not recourse to the physician, because I am sick," as the devout Gerson writes. This divine sacrament is the most powerful strengthener of our weakness, the sovereign remedy of our spiritual miseries, and the source of heavenly comfort to alleviate the labors and sorrows of our mortal pilgrimage. The deeper sense we have of our spiritual indigence, with so much the greater eagerness ought we continually to cry out: If I shall but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be saved. Can we slight the most tender invitations of our divine Redeemer? Can we disobey his repeated commands, and contemn his threats? Above all, can we be insensible to that excess of infinite love by which he has wrought so many wonders, that he might here abide in us by the strongest alliance? That person cannot love Jesus who is not solicitous to unite himself often with him in this sacrament of love. The devil employs all his artifices to deprive us of this seed of immortality, as the fathers style it. Holofernes, when he besieged Bethulia, seeing the place impregnable, attempted to take it by stopping the pipes which conveyed water to the city, being sure by this stratagem to reduce it. In like manner the devil seeks to draw a soul from this banquet, that when she has lost her strength he may make her an easy prey. St. Ambrose applies to this spiritual food that passage of the psalmist: They that go far from thee, shall perish.