Opening Jubilee Strahov – 28/11/2020
It is a special grace for any Premonstratensian to be here, this moment, near to the relics of our Holy Father Saint Norbert, and a guest – even “on line” – in this house of a living community, which articulates in its own way the Premonstratensian charisma.During Advent, we are asked to be alert, to stay awake, so that we can perceive with whole our heart and spirit God’s active presence in history. His presence shapes history into a history of salvation. The consciousness of His presence enables us to understand history as a manifestation of the ongoing creation, while the Spirit hovers over what we would perceive as mere chaos, turmoil and disarray if we were not anchored profoundly in faith. A presence that finds his most complete expression in the mystery of the incarnation. The Word of God assuming our human nature, entering our reality and redeeming it from within, as a friend and as a lover. A watchful faith helps us to trust this larger perspective and to see the greatness in what worldly eyes see as small and insignificant. Who is graced with the knowledge of God’s presence never loses and can see the goodness in what are seemingly defeats and setbacks. Advent is an exercise in trusting watchfulness.We like our Saints to be simple. We tend to reduce them to one central virtue or one central devotional mystery. Poverty, charity, peace and reconciliation, missionary and pastoral zeal, the Holy Eucharist, veneration of our Lady… Every time I think about Saint Norbert, I find myself asking who he really was. Is it true that his meaning only became clear at the time of the counter-reformation? Would it be possible to reach out to him beyond this period that gave him the attributes of a time that was not his time and used him to answer challenges that were unknown to him. From the descriptions of his life and the history of his time, Norbert appears as a broad – minded man, with a vision on all aspects of the time he was living in. He saw and understood the need of the people and addressed their need on all levels he could move on. His life as preacher, inspiring a popular religious movement, as reformer of the canonical way of life, as a missionary bishop, as politician, show him interacting with the signs of his time. He knew what it meant to be open to Gods presence in the world and he gave all he had received to answer the appeal that came to him in the time that was given to him. He was flexible in order to be faithful.Our Order perpetuates one of the intuitions of this Holy man. He understood that preaching is not enough when it is not upheld by life itself. The Gospel needs to be seen and experienced, not only spoken about. Our heritage is the apostolic way of life, as lived and taught by Saint Augustine, living the mystery of the Church every day, Together, with God, among the People.The motto of our Jubilee-year can be understood as a life, filled with God’s holy presence as the point of gravity, meaning rest and peace, faith and trust, as the center of a deep sense of community: at home and beyond.May God’s Spirit grant us the watchfulness to sense His presence in our life.
+ Jos Wouters, abbot-general