Liturgical Aids for the Memorial of Saint Godfrey
Suggestions for introducing the H. Mass:
- Inspired by St. Norbert
In November of 1121, an encounter of great consequence took place between
the two brothers, Godfrey and Otto of Cappenberg, and Norbert of Xanten, who
was preaching in Cologne at the time. The brothers were inspired by the apostolic
life to which the man of God bore witness in word and deed. The spark burst
into flame! Godfrey, who had just been married to Jutta of Arnsberg, decided
to give all his possessions to the recently founded Norbertine Order and entered
himself as a novice. The enthusiasm for the founder of the Order remained
a constant in Godfrey’s life: he followed Norbert to Prémontré
and later to Magdeburg, where he was made responsible for overseeing the German
monasteries. – How are things going with our own vocation, with our
own zeal for the things of the Lord as we continue to walk in the footsteps
of St. Norbert?
- Unbending but patient in achieving his purpose
Sometimes family matters can be very hard… Such was already the case
at the beginning of the twelfth century for Godfrey of Cappenberg who, inspired
by St. Norbert, wanted to turn his castle into a monastery. He did not count
on the adverse reaction of his brother and sisters, Otto, Beatrice and Gerberga,
his wife Jutta, and especially of his powerful father-in-law Frederick of
Arnsberg. The latter was so violently opposed that he came with an army and
laid siege to the family castle. But not even this could change Godfrey’s
mind. On May 31, 1122, he turned over all of his possessions to Norbert: and
the first foundation of the Order in Germany came into being. And after the
sudden death of his father-in-law, Godfrey himself entered the new Order,
together with his wife and brother. – At first sight the story seems
very far away in time and place, but there are still many around us who want
to exercise an influence on our decisions. Let us pray for the strength of
the Holy Spirit, that we can be faithful to the interior inspirations of grace,
come what may.
- Devoted to the poor and the sick
The Incarnation of God, which we have recently celebrated in the Christmas
season, has important consequences for us, because God sees the world through
the eyes of a small child. St. Godfrey of Cappenberg, whose feast we celebrate
today, underwent this change of perspective in his own life: once a wealthy
and influential Count, who took part in the military campaign which stormed
the city of Münster, Godfrey gave all his possessions to St. Norbert
in 1122 and entered the Norbertine Order himself as a novice in 1124. As a
member of the new Order, Godfrey served the poorest of the poor in great humility.
At Cappenberg he had a hospice built for the poor, the sick and the needy.
– May we learn from Godfrey the change of perspective that he experienced in
placing his crown at the foot of the Lord’s crib.
- Mass for Children: The crown at the foot of the crib
Not long ago I saw a picture in which several saints in white robes knelt
before the crib of the Child Jesus. One of them had taken off his crown and
laid it at the foot of the crib: this was St. Godfrey of Cappenberg, who gave
his whole castle to the Norbertine Order and entered the monastery himself.
He gave his golden crown, the sign of his former power, as a gift to the Christ
Child. – We too want to give Jesus a gift in this celebration: we want
to pay close attention, when we hear His Word and celebrate the Eucharist,
when we sing well and pray from our hearts...