St. Anselm, bishop and doctor of the Church
April 21 is the optional memorial of St. Anselm, bishop and doctor of the Church.
St. Anselm (1033-1109) was born in Aosta, Italy, and died in Canterbury, England. St. Anselm’s contributions to the Church consist of the following: First, as Archbishop of Canterbury he protected the rights and freedoms of the Church against the violations of the English kings, who looted the Church’s lands, obstructed the Archbishop’s communications with the Holy See, and claimed the right to invest prelates with ring and crosier, symbols of the Church’s spiritual authority. Second, as a philosopher and theologian he developed a method of cognition which prepared the way for the great thinkers of the Middle Ages. Third, he had a great devotion to Our Lady and was the first to establish the feast of the Immaculate Conception in the West.
“O God, let me know you and love you so that I may find joy in you; and if I cannot do so fully in this life, let me at least make some progress every day, until at last that knowledge, love and joy come to me in all their plenitude. While I am here on earth let me know you fully; let my love for you grow deeper here, so that there I may love you fully. On earth then I shall have great joy in hope, and in heaven complete joy in the fulfillment of my hope. “
“From the moment of her fiat Mary began to carry all of us in her womb.”
“The Mother of God is our mother. May the good mother ask and beg for us, may she request and obtain what is good for us.”
“No one will have any other desire in heaven than what God wills; and the desire of one will be the desire of all; and the desire of all and of each one will also be the desire of God.”
“I have written the little work that follows… in the role of one who strives to raise his mind to the contemplation of God and one who seeks to understand what he believes.”
“I acknowledge, Lord, and I give thanks that you have created your image in me, so that I may remember you, think of you, love you. But this image is so obliterated and worn away by wickedness, it is so obscured by the smoke of sins, that it cannot do what it was created to do, unless you renew and reform it. I am not attempting, O Lord, to penetrate your loftiness, for I cannot begin to match my understanding with it, but I desire in some measure to understand your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this too I believe, that “unless I believe, I shall not understand.” (Isaiah 7:9)
– From the Preface to the Proslogium, in St. Anselm: Basic Writings (La Salle: Open Court Publishing, 1962)
A Prayer Of Anselm
My God, I pray that I may so know you and love you that I may rejoice in you. And if I may not do so fully in this life let me go steadily onto the day when I come to that fullness …Let me receive That which you promised through your truth, that my joy may be full.
A Song Of Anselm
Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you: you are gentle with us as a mother with her children; Often you weep over our sins and our pride: tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds: in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us. Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life: by your anguish and labor we come forth in joy. Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness: through your gentleness we find comfort in fear. Your warmth gives life to the dead:your touch makes sinners righteous. Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us: in your love and tenderness remake us. In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness: for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.
Almighty God, who raised up your servant Anselm to teach the Church of his day to understand its faith in your eternal Being, perfect justice, and saving mercy: Provide your Church in every age with devout and learned scholars and teachers, that we may be able to give a reason for the hope that is in us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.