Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Wisconsin on my mind

Wisconsin was in the news last night due to the nail-biter that was the gubernatorial election. As it was, the governor who was recalled has been re-elected. Governor Scott Walker said he'll have brats, burgers and "good Wisconsin beer" with his legislators to start the state up again.

St. Norbert in his white Augustinian robe carrying palms and a Monstrance
Wisconsin is also on my mind today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Norbert. The Norbertines, the order founded by St. Norbert, have an abbey in DePere, WI and a presence in the Diocese of Jackson. Norbert was born in the 11th century and founded the Pramonstratension Order of canons regular (aka "Norbertines") based on the Rule of St. Augustine. He and his adherents were dedicated to preaching, missionary work and austere simplicity. The original group lived in clay huts.

The hagiography ("story of a saint") tells us that Norbert was a bit like Governor Walker in being re-called and then "re-welcomed" albeit not by popular acclaim but because the pope and emperor desired it:

"It was on the trip accompanying Theobald to his marriage, that Norbert was spotted by Emperor Lothair and chosen as bishop of Magdebourg. Legend has it the porter refused to let Norbert into his new residence, assuming he was a beggar. When the crowd pointed out to the flustered porter that this was the new bishop Norbert told the porter, "You were right the first time." Norbert carried the love of reform that he had found in his own life to his new diocese. As usual, this made him many enemies and he was almost assassinated. Disgusted with the citizens desire to keep to their old ways, he left the city, but was soon called back -- not because the citizens missed him but because the emperor and the pope pressured them." 

The Norbertines of the Priory of St. Moses the Black (Raymond, MS)
The Norbertines stationed in Jackson are a diverse group. Many of them do come from the American mid-west while others are from countries in Africa. They have added an additional charism to their founder's mission: racial reconciliation. From their priory/retreat center, the Priory of St. Moses the Black, in Raymond, MS, they champion racial harmony by such means as joining the Bishop in regular protests at the State Capitol concerning immigration issues, writing in the Catholic newspaper about tolerance and peace, pastoring churches once occupied by the Diocese, assisting at rural churches and presiding over Spanish language Masses around the Jackson area.

They also like brats, cheese and the Packers. And usually they are wine guys instead of beer.