Feast of Saints Robert, Alberic and Stephen, Founders of Citeaux
January 26, 2018
Robert Molesme (First Abbot of Cîteaux, d. 1110), Alberic (Robert’s successor, d. 1109), and Stephen Harding (Alberic's successor, d. 1134): Cistercian Abbots of Cîteaux
Readings of the day: RB 7:5-9Mass for celebration of the Cistercian Abbots: Sirach 44:1, 10-15; Resp. Psalm 115; Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-16; Mark 10:24b-30Mass for the Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus: 2 Timothy 1:1-8 or Titus 1:1-5; Resp. Psalm 96; Luke 10:1-9 or Mark 4:26-34 (Gospel for Friday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time)Their bodies are peacefully laid away.Their names live on and on. At gatherings their wisdom is retold,and the assembly proclaims their praise.(Sirach 44:14-15)Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.Because of it the ancients were well attested.(Hebrews 11:1-2)For God all things are possible with God.(Mark 10:27)Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory.(Psalm 115)
Although these passages are presented to us in the order given at Mass (for those celebrating the blessed Abbots), we could sing God’s praises in this way:
We give glory to you, God, Most High, for what is impossible for us, is possible for you. Your thoughts are not ours, nor your ways. Not relying on our strength, we pray for the grace of more faith to maintain the hope you give us. Those who have gone before us, namely, Robert, Alberic, and Stephen, hoped in a renewed monastic life lived according to the Rule of St Benedict. Sustained by grace, they gave birth to the Cistercian Order at the Abbey of Cîteaux: ‘these were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten. Their heritage remains with their descendants’ (Sirach 44:10-11).
What about those who have gone before you whom you loved and admired? What virtues did they have that inspire you to live the Gospel? What wisdom of theirs do you share with others? May God be praised!The first Cistercians were well-known for their distinctiveness of lifestyle and the separateness involved in living far from human habitation. Beneath this surface insistence on particular external forms, however, was a hidden pursuit of radical discipleship of Christ and fidelity to the Gospel.(M. Casey, in Exhordium Parvum)