walked along in silence, thinking about God and praying to themselves. They only spoke when they prayed together. When they returned, Stephen joined a very poor and holy community of monks. Their abbot was another saint, St. Robert. For a while he served God joyfully, but then the monks in that monastery did not want to live such a hard life any more. So St. Robert and St. Stephen, with twenty other fervent monks, went to start a new monastery in a wilderness in France called Citeaux. Here they lived a life of work and great poverty—to imitate the poverty of Jesus. They kept silence very strictly and were very devout and humble.
When St. Stephen became Superior, he had many troubles. There was so little food that he was forced to go out and beg from door to door. Then over half of the monks fell sick and died. It looked as though the community would come to an end, but St. Stephen prayed with faith. And his prayer was rewarded. God sent to this Cistercian monastery the great St. Bernard with thirty other gentlemen.
When he lay dying, St. Stephen heard those around him whispering that he had nothing to fear. Had he not led a virtuous life of hard labor and love of God? But St. Stephen told them that he was afraid he had not been good enough. That shows us how humble this great saint was.
We cannot get to Heaven only by praying. We have to work, too. That means we have to do every one of our duties without being lazy.